Saturday, 14 July 2012

A false - but handsome - Admiral

Back to France today for another butterfly, but there are some moths here too.  The butterfly, below, is one which first deceived me five or so years ago when I thought I had seen a White Admiral at a cottage near the southern end of the Pyrenees.

I've always loved the WA with its simple but handsome uniform of black and white, with the black turning out to be streaked and tinted with iridescent petrel blue when caught by the sun. But when I followed the butterfly, whose powerful flight also seemed characteristic of an Admiral, it turned out to have a completely different underwing as in the picture below.

This looks like a Grayling, that clever butterfly which reinforces its camouflage by tilting at rest so that it casts the minimum shadow. And so it was, and in the case of the one show here from Tarn ten days ago, so it is: the Great Banded Grayling, which has the extra appeal of a butterfly not found in the UK. There were plenty of them around this year, but catching one with its wings open was tricky since they almost always fold them as soon as coming to rest. The one at the top obliged, briefly, and for once I was in time.

Moths now, and here is a series of arrivals in the last couple of days, led by the lovely Buff Arches whose wing patterns are so reminiscent of those swirling patterns which they do for you on a Flat White at Costa Coffee. Thinking of that pale, creamy froth, we then have a delicate Common Wave, a Marbled Minor and a chiaroscuro couple of arches, Dark and Grey. That's it for now, because I must get on with packing presents for Penny's birthday weekend...

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