Sunday, 16 July 2017

Purple reign

Yes I realise the terrible pun in the headline would be more fitting for the Purple Emperor than the humble Purple Hairstreak - but I haven't had the opportunity to look for the former so far this summer, whereas a spare Sunday morning a few weekends ago provided just enough time to look for the latter at Butterfly Conservation's superb reserve at Alners Gorse. Like the majestic Emperor, the Purple Hairstreak reveals its colourful sheen when light refracts from the wings at certain angles. I had never really managed to photograph this feature well so that was one objective of the visit. It was easily achieved as tens of this characterful insect were seen, many down at eye level in the relative cool of the morning. As usual my time was a bit limited but a White-letter Hairstreak feeding low down on brambles as I made to leave was a huge bonus.
Male Purple Hairstreak at Alners Gorse
This is the same individual at a slightly different angle - note how the extent of the purple varies with the angle of the light
Another angle on the same individual
Another male complete with short tails
All the Purple Hairstreaks I saw with wings open appeared to be males
Purple Hairstreak underwing shows an eye-spot near the short tail
Buds of Buckthorn appeared as cat-nip to the Purple Hairstreaks
They were present on one small tree in double figures
An attractive species - compare to....
...White-letter Hairstreak, which never sits with the wings open
Comma also on the wing at Alners Gorse...
...and plenty of Ringlet
A fresh Southern Hawker also present...
...and one of our most impressive British species, the Silver-washed Fritillary
A pristine male Silver-washed Fritillary
A slightly worn female Silver-washed Fritillary...
...and here a mating pair
Purple Hairstreak at Alners Gorse - a superb reserve, hats off to BC for making it so

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