They’re early, but I’m certainly not complaining. It was with huge surprise and supreme delight that I spotted my first two Small coppers for 2022, glowing in the grass at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park last Sunday afternoon.
Tuesday’s sighting of a single Common blue butterfly (Polyommatus icarus) was the earliest in my five years of butterfly recording, which could be due to climate change (apparently, many moths are appearing early this year as well), though it could also be that I’ve got to know my local area more thoroughly and know better where to look. Yesterday, though the weather wasn’t brilliant, I found four more Common blues, including this gorgeous mating pair.
Sometimes I can be a bit slow. During today’s walk, I was ambling along the edge of a meadow when I spotted a male Orange-tip butterfly flitting from one small patch of Cuckoo flower to the next. Then it stopped at one spot longer than usual so I walked quickly over to get some photos. I could see its tongue was out so knew it was feeding but, still, I was amazed at how long it was staying put on the one flower. And then I saw why …
The poor butterfly had been grabbed by a lurking, very well camouflaged Crab spider.
The latest butterfly species in my locale to flit up and say ‘Look at me’ is the Dingy skipper and, for all its supposedly dingy appearance, it’s a little cracker, a subtle blending of 50 shades of brown. And it seems to me that all the skipper species have attitude; they punch above their weight in terms of stroppiness, defending their territory with a tenacity that belies their diminutive size. Welcome back, little skippers!
Our warm sunny Easter weekend weather is bringing out the butterflies again. During yesterday’s long walk I saw Speckled wood, Peacock, Holly Blue, Brimstone, Comma, Small white, and, my very first Orange-tips, my eighth species of the year, both males and this beautiful female.
S was for a sunny Sunday saunter and a superb surprise Slow-worm and this stunning Speckled wood,
My first two Speckled woods of the year appeared during a walk on 23 March and then another three graced a local walk on 28 March but I hadn’t seen any more until this little beauty fluttered up from a bush on Sunday. After our week of glorious warm weather in March, it’s been mostly cold and wet and windy so the butterflies have disappeared again.
Much to my surprise, a Small tortoiseshell was the very first butterfly I saw this year, back on 27 February, and there have been 11 more that have blessed me with their presence so far. The February date was earlier than usual for me – I don’t normally see Small tortoiseshells until mid to late March. These particular butterflies have not fared well in Britain in recent decades so I’m hoping the good numbers I’ve seen so far augur well for the rest of the year, and for their population numbers in general.
I’ve skipped a few butterfly firsts but all the species I see will get their turn over time. Today, I am simply too excited at seeing my first Holly blue of the year to choose anything else, as there’s just something extraordinary about a butterfly this colour.
The screensaver on my laptop is a slideshow of my best butterfly photos, one per species, and every time it plays, my heart yearns for butterflies. I know some people have already seen the odd butterfly that’s emerged from hibernation on a particularly warm day but I’ve yet to see my first. Maybe I need to change my screensaver.