Monday, 27 July 2009

Defying the drizzle

A new butterfly for this year, and a sturdy one. The weather's been pretty dreadful and I had just been mowing the lawn half-heartedly in light drizzle when this Gatekeeper fluttered up from some phlox. Then followed a little chase round the garden as I tried to get near enough to photograph it. in the course of that, it was interesting to see how on settling it very rapidly hides its more brightly-coloured forewings and the dull brown and eye-disorientating pattern of the hind ones makes it hard to see among plants' leaves. Without sun, it seldom spreads its wings to bask, but there's a picture of one doing that way back in the blog, on 30 September last year. The name comes from its preference for the fringes of fields, whereas the Meadow Brown (which it much resembles) likes the middle.
Talking of such archives, I looked back through my trapping records (which started in May 2004) and found that an Angle-striped Sallow (see post immediately below) visited the trap in July 2006. Over the years, we have had 19 species of butterfly here regularly. Rather than diminishing, as journalists invariably like to suggest, they have increased both in numbers and actual species. The Speckled Wood, White-letter Hairstreak and most recently Brimstone are among the newcomers. Here's another of them, a Green-veined White, which was easy to photograph by contrast with the Gatekeeper. It was dead. (Sorry, Lorry). I'm still counting the number of moth species. If anyone would like to guess the total, you would be very welcome, and I will immortalise the winner's brilliance in this journal in due course.

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