Wednesday, 4 May 2011

I guess that's why they call it the Blues

A walk along the old tramway below the N.T. White Cliffs car park was somewhat more productive than on Sunday afternoon when I saw not a single butterfly.

Wall Butterfly (Lasiommata megera)

Near the top of the slope I saw the only Wall of the walk. They often perch on bare areas or bits of white rock or chalk. Although not our most colourful butterfly I've always liked the camouflaging underwing pattern. Unfortunately it is no longer as common as it was when I was a fledgling naturalist.

Dingy Skipper (Erynnis tages)

The first Dingy Skipper I saw was on the path down from the car-park, but it disappeared quickly. Near to the area the Wall was flying I saw another that landed near by. It was a rather tatty individual, with chunks out of each wing.

Adonis Blue (Lysandra bellargus)

The real gem of the early season butterflies on the chalk is the Adonis Blue. I only saw one or two (was the one one the way back the same one as the one on the way down?).

Dingy Skipper (Erynnis tages)

There were three patches where two or more Dingy Skippers were chasing each other around. I don't know if my eyes are getting worse, but I found following then in flight difficult today, and I had to concentrate hard to find them landed. I was pleased that after the first one, those that I found were in good condition.

Small Blue (Cupido minimus)

At the beginning of the tramway walk I saw one Small Blue, but one it flew I lost it and failed to refind it. At the end of the grassy area, in a very sheltered patch there was a small colony of this beautiful little butterfly. Somehow when they fly they look very blue, but not so when they are perched.

Small Blue (Cupido minimus)

I think that the mixture of the pale blue underwing, very like a small Holly Blue, and the brownish upperwing, dusted blue, react together as it flies with rapid wing beats to look much brighter in flight than when resting.

Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines)

There seem to be larger than usual numbers of orange tips around this year and today was no exception.

Small Blue (Cupido minimus)

The bluish dusting is most apparent near the body of the Butterfly. I'm not sure when the specific scientific name "Cupido" comes from, although as in most blues the males are very attentive to the females.

Adonis Blue (Lysandra bellargus)

Walking back up I again came across a single Adonis Blue, possibly the same individual as an hour earlier on the way down. The black lines through the white border, that distinguish it from Common Blues, are very obvious on this butterfly.

Dingy Skipper (Erynnis tages)

Another perfect, fresh Dingy Skipper was summing itself at the top of the slope. I didn't count the Dingy Skippers today, but they seemed to be fairly widespread. This area of grassland seems to enjoy a small mini climate, sheltered and warmed by the heat from the ferry car parks below and reflected from the cliffs that form the back drop.


Derek Faulkner said...

I enjoyed that posting, it was a great little lesson in the ID of butterflies, none of which I'm likely to find in my neck of the woods. I must say that the Dingy Skipper looks very moth like.

Susan said...

The French butterfly survey is reporting unusually high numbers of Orange Tips this year, so I'm not surprised you are getting them too. Keep an eye on your Blues - the Provencal Short-tail is coming your way. I have them breeding in my orchard, but they first appeared here in lowland central France 4 years ago and are moving north rapidly.

Tony Morris said...

Thanks Derek, on the other hand the Common and Lattice Heath moths, should be out soon, look very butterfly-like. Hope you enjoyed Sunday's game!
Susan, now that would be a real surprise, I've had a 2nd for Britain moth here, but a first Butterfly! I'll keep looking.