Thursday 26 May 2016

Bewitched on the Downs

Blue butterflies weren't the only things on the wing at Ballard Down on Sunday - a few day-flying moths were also in evidence, the most numerous of which was the Mother Shipton, named after a 16th century Yorkshire prophetess whose visage is replicated in the wing pattern of the moth. She is said to have foretold, among other things, the Great Fire of London, the invention of iron ships and the defeat of the Armada, insights which saw her reputation deteriorate rapidly from 'soothsayer' to 'witch'. Seems a bit harsh. Good job she didn't claim to know about climate change, or the latter day equivalent of Donald Trump would have had her fried. Fortunately, Tudor overlords were more tolerant than modern day Presidential candidates, and, despite predicting the end of the world, she was left to die of natural causes in her 70s. Such is her legend that Mother Shipton is the only British moth to share its name with a cave-based visitor attraction in Yorkshire. Fact.
Mother Shipton - the hooked nose and protruding chin of the witch's face can be seen in the wing pattern  
Also on the wing was a smart Wood Tiger
I was surprised to find this Angle Shades roosting out in the open
And representing the micros, Pyrausta ostrinalis - related to, but a different species from, the Pyrausta purpuralis I saw on Melbury Down a few weeks ago
Had to phone a friend to identify this one: Cydia ulicetana, a common and widespread species in Britain, but not one I had photographed before
As well as blues doing the wild thing, these Dingy Skippers were also at it
Always a pleasure to see a male Orange Tip nectaring
Ditto a roosting Small Heath
It started to rain at Ballard so I retired to Wareham, picked up the family and we headed to Morden Bog for a late afternoon walk - a Green Hairstreak near Morden Park Lake was a pleasant surprise
It was perched up on Rhododendron...
...along with another of my favourite species - the Beautiful Demoiselle
This is the female of the species - perhaps not lovelier than the male, but still a stunner


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