Sunday, 2 August 2015

The Blues on chalk hillsides

The forecast for last Friday morning seemed to suggest wall-to-wall sunshine. It was actually more like wall-to-wall cloud, with the occasional ray of warmth. Plus, a stiff breeze. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Anyway, the foot of Ivinghoe Beacon, on the west side, was peppered with splashes of sky blue. Delicate, tissue paper thin Harebells matched the males of the Chalkhill Blues fluttering low over the chalk grassland….the very butterflies I was hoping to see and photograph.

Almost immediately after I arrived, I spotted a mating pair. The light was flat and dull and so I decided to sit down beside them and wait for the clouds to pass. I offered them my finger, seeing if they might like to climb on. The promise of warmth was obviously appealing and they settled quickly, finding a position whereby both their bodies were in contact with my skin so as to absorb as much heat as possible. I was glad to be of service!

Nearly half an hour we waited, me and the butterflies, nestled patiently amongst the Harebells. At long last, the sun popped its head out, the temperature rose instantly, the stiff, chilling breeze dropped, and the male opened his wings in welcome. I took a few photos and then returned the pair to the ground, glad to have been an inadvertent part of their courtship.

In the afternoon, I checked out another chalk hillside, the verge of the A41 in Bourne End/Hemel Hempstead, where I’d discovered the Small Blue colony earlier this Spring. I have been visiting regularly over the last few weeks, seeing how the larvae have been developing and wanting to catch the first of the second generation adults, if there were any. I was as pleased as punch to find 3 fresh Small Blues! And, on the westbound slip-road, in one small area, I counted 32 Six-Spot Burnets, including numerous mating pairs, all on Field Scabious! I’ve never seen so many at once.

All in all, a good day with the Blues on chalk hillsides.

Hemel Hempstead Small Blues: from larva to adult

1 comment:

  1. What beautiful butterflies! Stunning photography as ever. You are very clever (and also very patient). From ARF