Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Chequered Skippers at Glasdrum, Argyll

May 28, 2012:
A long-standing ambition to see the scarce and local Chequered Skipper butterfly was finally achieved yesterday with a 600+ mile round-trip to western Scotland. Long since exinct from all of their former southern England localities they can still be found locally in suitable habitat within a 50 km radius of Fort William.

Glasdrum Wood, a nature reserve on the shores of Loch Creran, is such a place managed for the butterfly and where an area of cleared woodland below overhead power lines has provided an especially ideal habitat. These skippers are fast-flying and very difficult to pick out against the similarly-coloured background of faded grasses and reeds. They are also small and equally difficult to locate when at rest. Nevertheless several were seen and photographed today.They are an early season, single-brooded butterfly whose flight period is complete by mid-June and often earlier. One seen was well-worn suggesting it had already been on the wing for a few weeks. 

A few kilometres to the west of Glasdrum, two more were seen on the flowery verge of a disused railway line. They are apparently especially attracted to bluebells or other blue-coloured flowers (such as Bugle, Ground Ivy) of which there are plenty within the area.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Eight species of butterfly at Gaitbarrows NNR, Lancashire

May 22, 2012:
At long last today was ideal butterfly weather and many species were flying. The Duke of Burgundy was very scarce, only one (or possibly a second one) seen. A Pearl-bordered Fritillary flew urgently along the rides but never settled although Dingy Skippers were more approachable when resting on the short turf. A single Green Hairstreak remained well concealed, perched on a similarly-coloured bramble leaf and a Small Copper regularly patrolled one small area. Also flying were Speckled Woods, Orange-tips and Brimstones.

The recently re-introducd Lady's Slipper orchid was in full flower whilst at nearby Leighton Moss Broad-bodied Chasers perched amongst last year's dead Phragmites spikes.

The following day, in equally good weather, two Duke of Burgundy and three Pearl-bordered Fritillaries were seen on Whitbarrow, across the county border in Cumbria

 A Pearl-bordered Fritillary on Whitbarrow (May 23)

Monday, 14 May 2012

Orange-tips at Brockholes Wetlands, Lancashire

May 14, 2012:

Since the end of March, Orange-tips have been on the wing here and probably the most frequent butterfly so far seen. Fast-flying and wary, they are not an easy subject to approach closely for photographs. Occasionally though, they will return to a favoured perch such as on flowers of the Lady's Smock, the larval food plant, or even onto the apparently much less attractive plantains. The underside markings of the wing contrast strongly with those on the upperside (especially so in the male). A short series of photos of two male are below.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Cyprus Dragonflies

April 22-27, 2012:
Prolonged wet weather during the past winter has resulted in some of the best dragonfly pools such as those below the Asprokremnos dam being washed away by the fast outflowing water whilst flooded ground near other pools as at Phassouri made them unapproachable. The best views were at shady streamsides such as near Kidasi where Epallage fatime (Odalisques) and Calopterxy splendens (Banded Demoiselles) were frequent. The Epallage are especially interesting as they occupy a taxonomic position between the Demoiselles and the Lestes (Emerald damselfly) species, all of which perch with their wings spread rather than closed.

Males (above)


A tandem pair

Female Banded Demoiselle

Cyprus butterflies

April 22-27, 2012: A few early butterflies were seen at low levels in the south-west of the island. Close to the coast, the Paphos Blue was very frequent and Cyprus Meadow Browns were seen occasionally. Further inland Eastern Festoons were found in leafy places where their larval foodplant Aristolochia sempervirens occurs. One very flowery area near Kedares also had a resident Swallowtail. Clouded Yellows and Common Blues were also seen but failed to perch long enough for a photograph to be taken.

Eastern Festoon (male, both above)

Paphos Blue (male above, female below)

Swallowtail (above)

Cyprus Meadow Brown (above)

Wall Brown (above)