Early Spring Butterflies

Life got a whole lot better today. My lunchtime walk was enriched by three species of butterflies on what I call the butterfly bank. A pair of  Commas chased amongst the emerging bugloss and a Peacock supped from spring blossom. Further up the butterfly bank a pair of Lesser Tortoiseshells courted or maybe fought in the shadow of the gorse bush.

Spring View of The Southern End of the Butterfly Bank without butterflies
Spring View of The Southern End of the Butterfly Bank

Butterflies – Commas

First Flight of the Comma (Polygonia c-album)
First Flight of the Comma

Spring sunlight bathed the southern part of the bank in warmth. Life suddenly felt a whole lot better. A Comma (Polygonia c-album) was the first to catch my eye resting on a large bugloss leaf. Occasionally disturbed by the the patrolling queen bumblebees it moved from leaf to leaf. The arrival of another drew the pair into a spiralling dog fight amongst the bare trees on the bank.

Butterflies – Peacock

Peacock in the blossom
Peacock in the blossom

High above the bank in a blossom tree a Peacock (Inachis io), to far away to get a good photograph indulged itself. It finally fluttered down to warm itself on the trunk of tree. Too flighty for its own good, it was gone before I could get my camera onto it.

Butterflies –  Tortoiseshells

Lesser Tortoiseshell
Lesser Tortoiseshell

Further up the bank at the southern end of Hyde Vale, Greenwich, I was surprised to see a Lesser Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae). Sadly these butterflies are in serious decline and I rarely see them on the butterfly bank. To see one let alone two chasing one another above the gorse was a surprise. I only saw one last year in late July. Perhaps 2014 will a good year for these jewels. Lets hope.

The Butterfly Count

There is four months until the official big butterfly count but there will be others species I hope to see before July. Painted Ladies, Holly and Common Blue and the eponymous Large and Small Whites. By July the first Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, Skippers and Small Coppers will be emerging to dance across Blackheath. Let’s hope it will be a good year for butterflies, here in London and across the UK.

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