Wednesday, 11 August 2010

The colour of china

Famously, if you dig anywhere in an English garden, you find scraps of blue and white china. If you butterfly-watch in Paxos, you soon see the flutter of blue and white wings. Two species which are highly elusive in the UK were common there: the delicate little Wood White (right,) which weaves about in the olive groves, and the Long-tailed Blue (left), which was constantly on the go above a mixture of vines and wisteria which spilled over the balcony of our villa. It also enjoyed a pea-like flower, as in the picture, whose veins slightly resemble the Blue's underwing pattern. I found it impossible to get a full picture of the blue topwings, which flash in the sun as it whizzes by. As soon as it settles, its wings fold and all you can see is the - admittedly pretty - underwing. The same applies to the Wood White, but because it flies much more slowly, I managed to get one in flight with all four wings spread out (below). Since they are all monochromatically white, it isn't terribly interesting. The picture of the blue does at least have just a glimpse of the much more glorious colours within. One day...

Just to top and tail my Paxiot adventures, I'm logging three final butterflies seen there, below: the local versions of the Small Copper, Wall and Meadow Brown. Meanwhile, to keep the Leeds end up, we were visited yesterday by our first Red Admiral of 2010's new season (as previously recorded, we saw a gallant old one on a walk in the Spring.) I didn't get a picture of yesterday's, but managed a couple of a Speckled Wood and a very small Gatekeeper, or Hedge Brown. I initially thought that it was a Small Copper, and it's made even smaller by wing damage. (Note that, too, on the Paxiot Wall, below left. It doesn't seem to affect flight until things get really tatty). This is my 300th post, something I never imagined when I started back in 2008. Many thanks to all whose interest has added greatly to the fun.

Sorry - rather a lot of pictures today and I'm not the cleverest sub-editor in terms of combining them with wraparound text. But here are the two Leeds butterflies, below: the Speckled Wood and then the little Gatekeeper (whose two alternative names both derive from its fondness for the edges and hedges of fields, rather than open land).

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