Monday, 5 September 2011

Familiar friends - plus a new one

As with the white and yellow butterflies, so with the browns. Our cottage in France was in the heart of the countryside and we were surrounded by Meadow Browns (the two top pictures), the occasional Wall butterfly basking in the sun (small pic on left) and Small Heaths tripping across the roughly-mown lawn (next two pics below). Sorry my instructions re pics are rather confusing but I'm trying to cram as many in as possible as a record of the butterflies I found.

Whether these are continental versions of our familiar friends, I am not sure, but they look exactly the same to my (somewhat untrustworthy) eye, although I briefly thought that I'd found an unusual variety in this one, below. In fact the pronounced ribbing is the effect of low sunlight. It illustrates well how the wings of a butterfly resemble the sail of a yacht when stiffened by wooden battens or strakes.

(Either that, or it's some sort of Ringlet. I'm hoping an expert on European butterflies may chance across these French bulletins and put me right when wrong, as my moth buddies do).

There was one novelty, though, which initially I took to be a White Admiral because of the white barring of its topwings - which alas, it hardly ever shows when at rest. The best effort I can make at showing them is below but it was taken at long range and is characteristically blurred. There are actually two butterflies in the pic, an amorous pair which I felt it would have been unfair to pursue too closely. And there were a lot of brambles.

I think that this mystery insect is a Woodland Grayling; certainly it liked shade and one of the several which lived around the cottage was always to be found under a clump of trees where the owner kept his pile of chopped wood. Like the UK Grayling, it is expert at camouflaging itself when at rest; not only by folding its wings tightly and slipping the forewing down as far as possible, but by turning to cast the smallest possible shadow when it was caught in the sunlight. Normally it tried to settle in shade.

Finally, in this notably picture-infested post, here's that Wall butterfly again, taking off. Blurring rules, OK.

No comments: