Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Seeking Adonis On the Ancient Chalk Hills Of Hampshire

Not the archetypal Handsome Youth, nor even the God who presided over Natural Cycles as the annually renewed God Of Vegetation (although that is perhaps closer). No, the one I was after is Blue (or Brown if you're a girl Adonis), rather small, has wings and lives high up on The Chalk.

Uncle Bulgaria (who makes regular appearances here under the Blog Name of The Butterfly Whisperer, but is also occasionally known as Uncle Dave and now as Uncle Bulgaria after M corrupted Uncle Dave to a Womble-Themed term of endearment - I'm afraid our house is that Bonkers, and Dave doesn't even know yet, although of course he will do if he reads this) and I spent the morning searching for these most beautiful butterflies beneath cloudy skies in gusty wind conditions up on Broughton Down.

Not ideal Flutter Weather and the male Adonis stayed firmly away with ne'er a flash of their extraordinary blue to be seen. However, Uncle B thought he might have glimpsed a female Adonis and when I got home and sorted through the pictures I think he might be right. It's all to do with under wing spots and broken or unbroken wing fringes. My head is hurting after picking through all the pics with flutter book in one hand and a chocolate biscuit to steady the nerves in the other trying to label everything correctly.

If I am right (and I'll happily be corrected) this is the Lady In Question, and the sole representative of the species on show today....

 

There were plenty of other small flying people about, which was rather a treat. Here they are for your delectation, starting with the Common Blues (blue for a boy, brown for a girl, although as you'll see, one of the Mrs CBs is blue/brown, a variation known as mariscolore which is very common in Scotland and Ireland apparently...).








Next up the Brown Argus Brigade (both sexes are brown, the girls have orange dots all the way up their upper wings, the boys' peter out before that...)


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Then the Chalkhills (boys are blue, girls brown, with both sexes having a broken white fringe on the under wing that distinguishes them from Common Blues whose fringe is unbroken, but makes them similar to Adonis, from whom they can be told by the colour of the pale crescents under the spots on the upper side of the wing, which are blue in Adonis and white in Chalkhill. Are you exhausted yet? I know I am....)





D'you mind if we get off Blue butterflies now? Before my head explodes.

Here are some Skippers instead, mightily lovely and FAR easier to tell apart, thank God :o)

First up, the Very Rare (although you wouldn't have thought it today- we were tripping over them) Silver Spotted Skipper. Would you believe that last summer I didn't get a single picture of one of these? This summer, I have about thirty :o)

I think the top pic is a boy and the second one a girl as they seem to be darker. SS Skips are Chalk Downland flutters and as such are only found in a handful of sites here in the UK, which mark the Northernmost reach of their range and we are extremely fortunate to have such a strong colony nearby.





 
I also found a Small Skipper, who was very obliging about posing for pics, even though I told him he was too big for his second flower :o) They are distinguished from the very similar Essex Skip by the lack of black on the underside of the antennae.



There were five rather ancient, faded and doddery Dark Green Fritillaries fluttering about in the wind...

As well as several Whites (this one Large)...


And a couple of Small Heaths (widespread but rare, as their grassland homes are quickly destroyed by aggressive management)...


We looked in vain for Clouded Yellows but found none. I am beginning to wonder whether I will ever get a photograph of that species :o)

I'll leave you with some shots taken around the Down and wish you all a pleasant afternoon.




CT :o)

35 comments:

  1. I really need a butterfly and moth ID book...but then again,I don't want the headaches!
    Jane x

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    1. You could always avoid the section on blue flutters and the one on small brown moths :o) x

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  2. You really do have the most incredible variety of butterflies down there in Hampshire. And the same goes for wild flowers too. Are they chalk downs?

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    1. Yup- Chalk Downland, my Favourite Place To Be :o)

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  3. Your post are so interesting, and your photography stunning.

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  4. an amazing collection of shots of Butterflies, all very beautiful.

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    1. Thanks Margaret- it won't be long before they're all gone for the winter so we're making the most of them x

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  5. Hey CT,
    All dreamy. I have my fingers crossed for a Clouded Yellow. I thought I saw one a couple of years ago, but my I skills were very scant indeed.
    Leanne xx

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    1. I will be extremely chuffed for you when you see one- have you got the FSC (field studies centre) UK butterfly guide? Not expensive (3 or 4 quid) but SO useful. xx

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  6. If you had sought Adonis a little further West, you would have found him much quicker. I'm here, babe (and have been for about 45 years).

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    1. There had to be one, didn't there? And I'm not at all surprised it was you, Mr Stephenson.....:o)

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  7. I need a proper guide or release a couple from one of the bookcases! You must have oodles of fun with your very own Uncle Bulgaria, I'm trying hard to spot a Ringlet, too many Meadow Browns and a pesky Jack Russell get in the way xx

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    1. Ringlets have more or less finished here now (haven't seen one for a few days) but you may get lucky. xx

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  8. Lots of little teeny brown moth things in the garden today. Beigy cream with quite a triangular wing. Might not even be a flutter! But one landed on me and wasn't even bothered by a flick of my knitting needle!

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    1. Ooh, wonder what those were? I have a great mental image of you knitting in the garden now :o)

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  9. Wonderful photos again, they really are. I love that fluffy intense blue of the chalkhills, gorgeous. There have been lots of flutters at the allotment site lately. I saw something today, only the underside of closed wings, a big butterfly, very dark - purple or purplish brown or almost black. No idea what it was, and it vanished before I could see any more. I shall look out for it again though. The biggest boy saw a green woodpecker down there earlier this week which he was thrilled about. Nice to see the Wombles are alive and well with you. I like to call out, "Coo-eee, Wum-bulls" from time to time, a la Madame Cholais. They're just about my favourites ever. CJ xx

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    1. I love the fluff too- it isn't obvious to the naked eye so it's always pleasing to see it in a picture.
      Your large, dark flutter was probably a Peacock- they are virtually black with wings closed. It will probably be back so is worth keeping eyes peeled.
      I LOVED the wombles when I was little. We had a cat called Womble much later in their honour and a pony called Madame Cholet :o) xx

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    2. Thanks for the ID, I think you're right, I've Googled "peacock butterfly underside" and that's what I saw. We went to Bristol Museum today and I got to see specimens of lots of our native flutters. Also exotic things like Apricot Sulphurs, fantastic, although it's not good that so many were killed for collections. Thanks too for the correct spelling of Cholet, I've made a mental note! CJ xx

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    3. I tell myself that if they hadn't collected and pinned specimens in the past there are some (now extinct) we'd have no record of at all. It's not something I'm comfortable with either, but I can see the value to science. The only reason I know the Cholet spelling is because I wrote it out countless times as a child on numerous pony show schedule entries! Ours was a small, fat, round shetland x welsh pony with springs under her hooves and bags of attitude xx

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  10. Lovely day on chalk streams today on Avon and the Wylie. Funnily enough when I went to school in Salisbury the dormitories were all named after local chalk streams so I can truths claim to have slept in both the Avon and Wylie as well. Countryside looking particularly fine, partridges were particularly stupid and the trout were far cleverer than me. Lovely day out from London, looking forward to being twice the husband for half the money, what a bargain for the other half!

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    1. Good weather for it, eventually. I bet it was a tonic after London.

      The partridges on the Down were misbehaving loudly too, Quite Hysterical in fact.

      I spent two hours by the Test after dark this week surveying for Bats along two of the fishing beats- such lovely countryside.

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  11. oh, remember you're a womble....

    fairly much my favourite program when i was little -- and so ahead of it's time, them picking up rubbish and recycling before it was fashionable!

    i've been reading a lot of Robert Macfarlane lately and he writes a lot about the Chalk and the treasures therein....and you always have proof of that in your photos.

    underground, overground, wombling free....

    xo

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    1. I agree- well ahead of their time, as was much of 1970s kids' TV.

      Chalk is such a special place, unique I feel. xx

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  12. Such beautiful pictures of the flutterbyes! Aren't they gorgeous! Your friend would be Orinoco if I was calling him after a Womble as he was my favourite! xx

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    1. Orinoco was a star too- actually, I loved them all. xx

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    2. What isn't to love in a Womble hey! Oh, and there was Madame Cholet - or however you spell it! - too! xx

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  13. Super collection of photos CT.

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  14. Stunning photos. I think blue butterflies are my favourite. I must look out for a mariscolore (colour of the sea?) one. On a grey day seeing these photos has made my day!

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    1. I'd never thought of that before! I like it! x

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  15. Another lovely and soothingly educational post CT, I do look forward to my little visit to Hampshire with my morning coffee. xx

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    1. Thank you, Shauna, a lovely thing to say xx

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  16. Wow you managed to see a wonderful selection of butterflies on your walk. I'm glad you had a chocolate biscuit to assist you in identifying them! Sarah x

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    1. It was a good morning, contrary to expectations :o) 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