Thursday, 13 June 2013

In the footsteps of giants

Now summer's over (last week, you blinked, you missed it) it's time to reminisce about sunshine and butterflies. Between blinks last week, I managed a trip to Cerne Abbas, whose Giant is famous for his butterflies among other things. The chalk figure is thought by some to be a fertility symbol, and it seems to be working for the Lepidoptera this year at least. Good job too - they had an appalling year in 2012 which was ranked by Butterfly Conservation as 'officially the worst since records began'. The wet weather contributed to declines in 52 of out 56 species with moths faring just as badly - not just a problem for them but all the other critters that rely on them for food. Hopefully, the range of species and good numbers of each on show last week is a sign that they can bounce back quickly.
This Marsh Fritillary was freshly emerged - blood was still being pumped into the wings

Marsh Fritillary underwing - one of the most attractive of all the butterflies
Another view of the underwing
Marsh Fritillary - numbers fell by 71% last year...
...but reasonable numbers seem to be getting reported so far this year
Common Blue - another species suffering a big decline in 2012 (60%)
Common Blue underside
Duke of Burgundy - already one of our rarest butterflies, this suffered a 47% decline last year
A surprisingly small butterfly if you've not seen one before
This was one of at least half a dozen seen in a short visit
Duke of Burgundy - a stunning underwing pattern
Another Duke of Burgundy underwing
Brown Argus was also on the wing... were Dingy Skipper...
...Green-veined White...
...Grizzled Skipper...
...and Small Heath

The view from Giant's Hill

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