Saturday, 24 March 2012

The year's first butterflies

Tomorrow sees me debating the merits of moths and butterflies with my excellent colleague Patrick Barkham at the Guardian.

As an omen, possibly of doom, I saw my first butterflies of 2012 yesterday. Penny and I were down in Oxfordshire and the weather was like July, as indeed it was the day before in Manchester where I was working. I didn't have the moth trap, although it will be all bundled up and London-bound later today; but the floodlights on the lovely old Thames bridge by the lovely and friendly Rose Revived formed an unofficial one, as per my rather unenlightening picture here.

There were only a few tinies jinking about when we had a look at 11pm. But yesterday morning in the allotments at Longworth, the butterflies were about. A Brimstone was energetically exploring, a Small Tortoiseshell swooped around the churchyard and a Small or possibly Green-veined White disappeared down a well-kept ginnel past an admonitory notice about dog dirt. Butterflies have a deplorable fondness for faeces, but there's quite enough in the fields for them.

Three years ago, we were engulfed in flocks of Brimstones not far from here, at Tadpole bridge a little higher up the Thames. I wasn't clever enough to get a picture of yesterday's, but here's a Tadpole one. Some say that the term 'butterfly' comes from the Brimstone, as the 'butter-coloured fly' which is often the earliest on the wing in the UK. Since this a moth blog, here's a little picture of the Brimstone Moth too, right, (although don't show it to Patrick, because in this case the butterfly is clearly the winner).

No comments: