Saturday, 2 May 2015

Firsts: Duke of Burgundy & Grizzled Skipper

Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus malvae), Ivinghoe Beacon, 2 May 2015

Mmm...forgive me for neglecting this corner of the internet these past 2 weeks. I’ve failed to blog about Ring Ouzels dropping in, Cuckoos arriving and more Wheatears passing through but I will endeavour to stop the rot. Today, I saw my first Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis lucina) and Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus malvae) butterflies at Ivinghoe Beacon. Hurrah! I had no idea how small the Duke’s were. Same size as the dinky little Green Hairstreaks (Callophrys rubi) but, dare I say it, even more beautiful. They have the advantage of possessing wings that are adorned both above and below. Also, something I didn’t know until this evening, the females have 6 fully functioning legs whilst the males only have 4. Now, there’s trivia gold to throw casually into dinner party conversation, not.

I hadn’t really intended to go butterfly hunting today. I’d started at Incombe Hole, watching 3 Ring Ouzels trying to out manoeuvre the numerous walkers that kept disturbing them. There was a cold easterly breeze and it was fairly cloudy. But, I just thought I’d give it a go. And, I wasn’t the only one with the same idea. Ultimately, there was a group of 6 of us, plus Lawrence the Ashridge Warden, all scouring the vegetation for movement. In fact, pickings were slim and between us, we only found 1 Duke of Burgundy, 1 Grizzled Skipper, 2-3 Green Hairstreaks, 1 Holly Blue, 1-2 Dingy Skippers and a snazzy Yellow-tail moth caterpillar. Blustery conditions, changing light and just one tiny flying Duke made for a plethora of difficulties when it came to photographs. However, Dave James, the butterfly whisperer from Northants, wasn’t hampered. Oh no, he coaxed the little fella onto his finger! Many thanks for sending me the photo Dave and for allowing me to include it in this post.

Photograph by Dave James: Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis lucina), Ivinghoe Beacon, 2 May 2015 

Yellow-tail moth (Euproctis similis) caterpillar, Ivinghoe Beacon, 2 May 2015

I'm looking forward to a spell of warmer, calmer weather and hopefully the emergence of a few more Dukes at Ivinghoe...

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