Twelve years ago, I reported a Speckled Wood here in our part of Leeds to the local Butterfly Conservation recorder, and got a reply saying that I would be a celebrity if I could provide a photograph. That was in 1998. I saw the butterfly again in each of the following years but it wasn't until 2003 that I managed to get a picture (no digital macro then) and claim my moment of fame. By then it was too late. Others had overcome his scepticism and this excellent success story among Northern butterflies was generally acknowledged. Now I can be confident of seeing one in our garden almost every day from May to September, sunshine permitting.
The spread of the species isn't confined to Leeds. Yesterday I had a day off and we took friends to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, between Wakefield and Huddersfield, and there were plenty of them about, including the amorous pair above whose close association suggests that a whole lot more lie in store in 2011. I must check with Yorkshire Butterfly Conservation whether anyone is studying this phenomenon to find out why things are going so well for the Speckled Wood. Like most 'good news' stories, it is unlikely to get much attention from the national media.
The sun shone all day on the Henry Moores et al, incidentally, and we saw 20 Peacocks, two Commas, a Red Admiral and two Green-veined Whites on just one Buddleia, as well as small clouds of butterflies on the meadows' sea of thistle fluff. They included the Comma above, kindly showing the very precise punctuation mark on its underwing which accounts for the name. I didn't Photoshop it on, I promise. The park is greatly worth visiting - vast and lovely grounds and an excellent, current exhibition on the wood-sculpting specialist David Nash. See www.ysp.co.uk. One small tragedy, though, was that one of those 'grass moths' which flit about the fields, thin as pencils, crashlanded in a cup of tea at the cafe, and perished.