Friday, 26 June 2015

A Treasure Of The Woods....The Silver Washed Fritillary

The Butterfly Whisperer and I met up at a local Ancient Woodland this morning to look for Purple Emperors. Despite the presence of a number of Large Oaks and plenty of Sallow and the provision of some smelly dog poo (the butterfly's favourite delicacy) and, by the smell of it, something dead not far away in the undergrowth (another favourite- yuk), it seems we were a tad early as there were no Imperial Majesties to be seen. We will try again next week as I'm on a Mission to photograph a male Purple Emp so I can show you the incredible purple iridescence on his wings.

What we did see was the first Small Skippers and Ringlets of the Season, along with several very beautiful Silver Washed Fritillaries....
  

The name Fritillary comes from the latin fritillus meaning dice-box. It was given to these butterflies in the mid 1850s, but long before that (mid 1600s) it had been attached to a genus of flowering plants that belong to the lily family - think Snakeshead fritillary, which does resemble a dice-box, or chequerboard, and you can see why.

Possibly, the markings on the butterfly resembled a dice-box sufficiently for them to also gain the name.

Most frits (there are eight UK species) belong to July, with one or two (pearl bordered for eg) coming out earlier in May/ June time. I always look forward to seeing the Silver Washed, although photographing them today proved tricksy as they were Far Too Busy seeing each other off in angry vibrant upward twirls through the air, or racing up and down the woodland glades and rides and high up into the trees trying out their new wings. Next week they should have quietened down a bit :o)

It's unusual to witness a butterfly in the posture of the pic below: he has pushed his wings right down to maximise the light of the sun on them, flutters being cold-blooded creatures.




As mentioned, the first Small Skippers have also emerged....but I didn't get any pictures. The two below are Large Skippers. The Smalls and Essex lack the mottled appearance of the wings of the Large and are smaller by a few mm


I did get pictures of my first Ringlet of the year (once he stopped darting about for 5 seconds). Once we'd seen one loads appeared- evidently a recent emergence had occurred as they were all perfect and all Very Flighty too :o)


There was the odd Comma about. The pic below neatly illustrates how this flutters gets his name- see the white 'comma' mark on the wing?


And a fair few Speckled Woods...


I found loads of spiky Peacock caterpillars on nettle. Wouldn't fancy handling those, eh?



 
And Dave was led a Merry Dance by a Red Admiral who wasn't all that keen on being photographed....


I found Common Spotted Orchids deep in the woods..


And we watched an Emperor Dragonfly patrolling one of the rides (no pics as he was very busy hunting and had no time to land and sit still).

Today's flutters take my 2015 total so far to 30 species. There are 58 in the UK, a few of which only live in Scotland so I won't get to see them, so I wonder what my total will be by the end of the year? Last year it was 36 and I've already seen a few this year that I missed last. Is that a bit train-spotter-ish of me, or is it not?

All in all it was a lovely morning. Can there be a nicer way to spend time then meandering along sunlit ancient woodland paths beneath the bows of old trees looking for butterflies?

I'll leave you with fields of Linseed growing on The Chalk on the way up to the Woods...

 
...and wish you all a pleasant evening and a peaceful weekend ahead.

CT :o)

24 comments:

  1. Those are such fantastic images of the butterflies they are so sharp. The Linseed almost looks like snow! Wishing you a good weekend. Sarah x

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  2. It's brilliant to count how many species you've seen. I'm enjoying your photos of them all very much, they really are very good indeed. I shall look forward to the purple emperor once you pin him down (not literally). Wishing you all an excellent weekend. CJ xx

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    1. Can't remember if you were following last summer when a female purple emp fluttered down out of no-where and landed next to our house? Folks obsess about seeing emperors and spend lifetimes looking for them so I really couldn't believe it when one just appeared. Haven't seen the boys yet tho so really hoping July will oblige! xx

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  3. Now that's how to spend a sunny morning...
    Amanda xx

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  4. You are just the queen of the butterfly!

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    1. PS. Someone on Twitter was after new blogs to read, with beautiful photographs. I sent them your way x

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    2. Bless you, Rach. Just about to pop over to yours and see how the diet's going (been away this weekend so playing catch up) xx

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  5. Thank you for the etymological explanation of the name fritillary, the naming of plants and animals is a fascinating study in itself. Wonderful photos as usual CT, fritillaries are the butterflies I see when I cycle through the woods on a sunny day. The Purple Emperor butterfly is found on the ancient wooded common next to my allotment. A few years ago I went with a knowledgeable group to look for PEs but to no avail although we did spot the first Brown Hairstreak of the season and someone took a photo and uploaded it to a special site which was quite exciting I remember! I really must make the effort to walk more on the common, but it is very popular with dog walkers ... I love linseed in flower, the blue variety shimmers like water on a hot sunny day.

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    1. The trick with Emperors (in case you don't know already) is to go early in the morning (9am-11am) because by late morning they're often high up in the canopy. Look out for muddy puddles or dog poos, because they descend to feed on the salts. Anywhere that has mature oaks and sallow is potential Emperor habitat. I shall be sooo excited for you if you see one. Don't forget your camera! Oh, and July is their month so now is perfect to start looking.

      That was well done to find a Brown Hairstreak. I saw one at the end of last summer- they are elusive flutters too, no wonder it caused great excitement. We usually survey for them by looking for eggs because the adults are so hard to find. August is Brown Hairstreak time so they don't usually cross over with the Emps. x

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  6. Indeed m'dear, there is nothing nicer that I can think of than meandering through ancient woodlands along paths dappled in sunlight in search of such beautiful winged creatures, well perhaps with the company of the terrible twosome ;-)

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    1. Absolutely- doggy people make a walk complete :o)

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  7. A fabulous section of beautiful butterflies in this post.Not always easy to shots but worth the patience spent on them as seen in your shots today. Have a lovely weekend.

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    1. Thanks, Margaret. Hope you've had a good weekend too :o)

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  8. I am amazed at your patience in taking these photographs. I have a friend who is into all things which fly - moths, butterflies, dragon flies and the like. She takes good photographs too. I always send her a link to your site.

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  9. Hi
    CJ suggested a pop over to your blog as you know all things butterflies! Fantastic photos. I walked through a field earlier this week and there were hundreds of moths flying - there is a picture of one on my blog. If you have time could you take a look and identify it for me? I'm wondering if it was a large skipper? But that's mostly from the description in a book I have! Thank you. Wishing you a great weekend. Sara
    x

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    1. Thanks for the update. I shall pop back with my proper camera and see if they are still there. :) x

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    2. Hi Sara and welcome to C Tales. Glad to be able to help- I'll look forward to more flutters pics from you in due course.

      The skips will be out until the end of August and they are grass butterflies so you should see more of them. Depending on which bit of the country you are, look out for Marbled Whites too- they also like meadows and grasses (mainly in the south of the UK- Somerset, Devon, Hants, Wiltshire, Glos etc) :o) x

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  10. Not at all trainspottery!! It is wonderful seeing so many different things and learning about them!!! You are going to be a wonderful teacher!!! xx

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    1. It's such a lovely time of year for beautiful things. Watching butterflies is always a peaceful occupation. I am sending some of that peace your way, my dear xx

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x