It was the final day of my five-day visit with my friend Jill in East Sussex and she very kindly indulged my wish to look again for the butterflies we don’t see in my part of south Wales. The weather so far had not been kind, with heavy rain some days and almost constant wind, and the huge clouds rolling through Sunday’s skies didn’t augur well, but we would at least enjoy some fresh air and exercise. Our first stop was Butterfly Conservation’s Rowland Wood reserve, a site neither of us had previously visited. Apart from the almost constant dog pooh (which someone had sprayed with pink fluorescent paint making it much easier to avoid), the reserve was lovely, with mature woodland interspersed with large areas of heathland. I imagine it would be a paradise for fritillaries in early summer.
We’d spotted a small number of the more common butterfly species – Gatekeeper, Speckled wood, Common blue, Small heath, when I stopped in my tracks, almost unable to believe what my eyes were seeing – a Long-tailed blue, sitting on a bramble leaf right next to the path!
This is a European butterfly, which sometimes makes the journey across the Channel to spend a little time in the summer sunshine along England’s southern coast. I’d been told two or three had been seen along the Sussex coast in the previous ten days, and had been keeping an eye out for them on our earlier walks, but I never expected to see one on the north side of the South Downs, especially in a location where there was none of the Everlasting pea it uses as a larval plant. I guess the wind had done me a huge favour by blowing the butterfly further inland than usual.
Except for opening and closing its wings ever so slightly, this little beauty didn’t move and we didn’t disturb it. I took rather a lot of photos and we continued on our walk. As you might imagine, I was amazed / delighted / overjoyed – in fact, I’m still buzzing from the excitement of spotting such a special butterfly. The Fates were kind to me that day.