Saturday, 24 June 2017

23rd June - Showing Wings They Borrowed From a Rainbow

After the clear skies of yesterday evening, the morning dawned sunny and clear which was not as the forecast, which was for an overcast day.  Through the morning the cloud did build up, but there was still plenty of sunshine at lunchtime to encourage me to go out to see what was about.  I headed once again to Swellinghill pond, and started by walking around the edge of the water in search of damselflies.  I was After a Red-eyed Damselfly, but couldn't find any on the irises or the lily pads.  There were though still plenty of Azure Damselflies.

From the pond the first place to check was the field to the south of the road and Old Down.  I am convinced the this meadow if allowed to stay, and not cut will deliver.  There were brighter signs as I walked along the side of the field with Large Whites and several Small Tortoiseshells sunning on the bare ground, and on the flowers within the grass.

The meadow was full of Meadow Browns, and the yellow trefoil that was in full flower last week was now looking a little tired.  A dash of orange revealed a Large Skipper in amongst the grass.

But what I was looking for was the Marbled Whites.  I walked to the bottom of the field where there was some shelter.  All I was flushing from the grass were the Meadow Browns until finally a Marbled White appeared, but it flew straight past me.  Then another appeared and this time it stopped within the grasses, and I was able to get close.

It looked like a newly emerged butterfly, the markings immaculate, and standing out amongst the green of the surrounding grasses.

I followed a very dark brown butterfly that I was convinced was a Ringlet, but it never stopped to allow me to confirm the identification.

As I left the meadow and walked towards Old Down there were more Small Tortoiseshells, and a single Red Admiral.  Walking into Old Down I was struck by the amazing number of Meadow Browns on the wing, in all I estimated there must have been over a hundred on the wing in the wood.  However another very dark butterfly caught my eye and this one stopped and was indeed a Ringlet.

Yet another early butterfly for the year, being eight days earlier than I have recorded previously.  After warming up it closed the wings and revealed the rings on the underside of the wings that give it the name.

I walked to the crossroads and then turned to the west.  The bramble here has increased significantly, and is now all coming into bloom.  Whether it was due to the bramble or the cooler temperatures, but the place was covered in butterflies, completely different to last week.  They were mostly Meadow Browns but also a few Small Whites.  An orange butterfly stood out though and I was quite excited at what might be maybe a fritillary.  It wasn't though, but it was first for the year, an unusually late first record of a Comma.

Then another orange butterfly settled on the bramble flowers in a sheltered spot.  This time though it was a Silver-washed Fritillary, and a striking specimen at that.

Just like the Ringlet this is my earliest for the patch by eight days, this year is breaking all records.

It never raised its wings to show the lovely silver wash on the underside of the wings, but did give a tantalising glimpse.

I saw two flying above the bramble, their size allowing them to bully the other smaller Meadow Browns, then settling back down on the flower heads, a stunning butterfly.

My time was coming to an end, and I had to make my way back to the car, but a Speckled Wood on a leaf in the open couldn't be resisted.

And yet another Ringlet, this time in a better position to show the lovely white fringe to the chocolate upper wings.

Only a brief visit, and unexpected after seeing the forecast yesterday.  The sun brought out the butterflies in force, and in good numbers,and again very early.  The dry conditions must be contributing to this.  Hopefully this year will be recognised as a good one for butterflies and they can enjoy a revival.

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