Thursday 24 May 2012

A very Pleasant Surprise on Patch

Yesterday afternoon I went out looking for more butterflies, I didn't have anything rare or unusual in mind just Common Blues. I knew of a good spot for them and headed for that, it was swelteringly hot ( yippee!)  so I was very hopeful that good numbers would be on the wing. I saw one almost immediately and very nice it was too.

Lovely new male Common Blue

As I wandered along looking for any good photo opportunities, my eye was drawn to some movement, it was two butterflies engaged in an aerial battle. They were small, dainty and orange and looked for all the world like a couple of fritillaries to me. They couldn't be though, could they? After all I'd never seen fritillaries of any sort here before . I decided I must have been letting my imagination run wild and they were just going to be a couple of Wall Browns. I saw one land and when I got to where it was I was astonished to see this....

No mistaking this...
 A pristine shiny new male Marsh Fritillary!

I never saw the second individual again but it was getting late in the afternoon hence all the butterflies were becoming much less active. Today I went back with Dave and we  almost immediately saw four males up in an aerial battle. There were definitely five individuals and quite probably seven. They were all males and all very new. As far as we are both aware this is a previously unrecorded colony. It will be very interesting to see how many individuals eventually emerge here and to see if they breed successfully and reappear next year. I'll definitely be keeping a close eye on developments. There are historical records of Marsh Fritillary in East Devon but I'm not sure how long ago the last ones were. It was certainly a massive thrill to find something so unexpected. Here's some photos of a couple of today's individuals.

Marsh Fritillaries... On patch too!

We also saw lots of Dingy Skippers which seem to be having a very good year this year. A first for both of us was spotting and photographing a mating pair.

Dingy Skippers

Larval web of Small Eggar Moth
I think the caterpillars were feeling a bit too warm and were all dangling down below the web.


Rob said...

What a marvellous experience with the Marsh Fritillary - aren't they beautiful, and photos to match.

kirstallcreatures said...

How wonderful, what great sightings Karen and a cracking set of photos. I bet you were over the moon, the marsh frittilary are really beautiful. I must admit I'm finding it difficult to be at work during thie favourable flutterby weather. Linda

JRandSue said...

Stunning captures,fantastic ticks,lucky you.
Well done.

Karen Woolley said...

Thanks for commenting folks :-)

I agree Marsh Fritillaries are really beautiful!

I was really lucky to have chosen the week of work that I did Linda, Like you I'd have found it very difficult to go in!