Sunday, 31 July 2016

Jurassic life

Recent weekends have provided just enough time and sunshine to check out the butterflies of Dorset's Jurassic Coast - or, to be geologically correct for a moment, the cretaceous bit of it at least: the younger, chalkier bit at the eastern end of our 95 mile World Heritage Site. This is a stunning area for butterflies, with over 30 breeding species and a few rarities recorded besides.

A couple of weekends ago saw the family and I on a breezy but warm Ballard Down, looking for Dark Green Fritillaries and Lulworth Skippers. The Fritillaries were hard to pin down, the Skippers less so, but the sheer diversity of butterflies and moths on display was the main talking point. If you like dramatic landscapes, rich wildlife and heavy summer traffic, you really should pay us a visit.
Dark Green Fritillary - a powerful and fast flier
We saw many, but only this one stopped to nectar and pose for photos
More obliging was this fresh Brown Argus
The Brown Argus will be from the second generation of 2016
A male Gatekeeper sat out nicely with wings held almost flat
Large Whites are now becoming more ubiquitous as summer progresses
A male Lulworth Skipper - a speciality of the Jurassic Coast
Lulworth Skipper - this is a female - are found in the UK only between Swanage and Portland
A busy insect which often goes unseen unless disturbed
A fresh, male Small Skipper - much brighter than the Lulworth
And for comparison, Large Skipper
Small Copper was also out: a popular species with butterfly enthusiasts for obvious reasons
And finally from Ballard, Marbled White
A quick walk around Studland after Ballard produce a Silver-washed Fritillary...
...and a Red Admiral
Studland from Ballard with my family in the foreground

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