This afternoon I decided to take a gentle stroll down to the old tram way, below the NT White Cliffs car park. On the way down I had a brief view of a male Ring Ouzel, as it disappeared into the thick undergrowth in a gully. There were a lot of both Small and Large Whites around, with the occasional glimpse of an Orange-tip, a butterfly that seems to be continuously on the move.
The old tramway has two great assets on a day like today. It is sheltered, so the cold northerly wind has little affect and it has lots of Wayfarer Trees. The tiny flowers on this shrubs have a great draw for butterflies as they have some of the earliest nectar available. One one bush I found three small Coppers.
The Small Copper will have three broods in a year if the weather is good, but the first broods are particularly bright. One of the ones I saw was continually vibrating, presumably to attract a mate. It seem quite early to me to see Small Coppers, I normally think of them being out in May, but the "micro climate" on this warm slope, with the White Cliffs on one side and the concrete desert of the docks parking area on the other may help to speed them up.
Two Wall butterflies were chasing around. When the chase broke up one landed briefly in the sunshine, but soon flew off, just giving me long enough to get a record shot. Another early record.
Orange-tips have been flying for a while, but that's the problem they always seem to be flying. Once again it was the Wayfarer Tree to the rescue. This one found it irresistible and stopped for a while to feed.
From this angle you can see the wonderful dappled pattern on the under-wing, making it really difficult to see when the wings are closed. The female doesn't have the orange tips to the wings, so this pattern on the underside is a good identification character. HWile I was watching the butterflies I could here recently arrived Whitethroats and Lesser Whitethroats singing in the scrub, but today was the butteflies day.