A flutter of wings

I completed a reptile survey on a local reserve last week, and found surprisingly little. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There was a handful of slow worms, and a good scuttle of common lizards, but I failed to find a single snake which is a first for this site.

I wasn’t unduly concerned. I deliberately opted to survey in the morning in order to wear more clothing (in the cooler air) to protect myself from the rampant ticks, and although the temperature was more bearable for me, it did mean that many of the tins had yet to be warmed by the sun.

Without the snakes to excite me, I was instead treated to a different spectacle.

It has been another slow year for butterflies and moths, but in recent weeks some of the grassland specialties have emerged in decent number.

Their apparent abundance might be skewed by the absence of many species associated with early spring, but nevertheless the sight of so many wings across the rough scrub

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Large skipper (Ochlodes venata)

and meadowland was mesmeric in the soft morning light.

The bulk of the butterflies were made up of ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus), meadow brown (Maniola jurtina) and my favourite of all, the marbled white (Melanargia galathea).

All three species were present in good number, certainly too many for me to keep a mental count.

As the day warmed, so the skippers came out to play, while in the wooded edges, at least a dozen silver-washed fritillaries were dazzling on rounded wings including a valezina form that reminded me of a giant speckled wood as it dropped through the canopy.

And everywhere I looked it seemed a six-spot Burnet moth was on the move. Their slow, almost laboured flight cutting contrast to the ease on the air with which the butterflies flitted.

It was remarked to me today about how the most simple and straightforward of moments can bring so much pleasure. My own morning amble certainly reinforced that point.

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Six-spot Burnet (Zygaena filipendulae)

 

 

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