The earlier pictures were taken on my wee compact Canon ixus 970IS, which involved sneaking up on the butterflies. This can be very frustrating when they fly off, but very rewarding when they don't!

Since 2012 I have been using a Panasonic Lumix FZ150, which allows me to zoom in to the butterflies from a couple of metres away.



Monday, 15 September 2014

Speckled Wood Invasion

Last Thursday a friend and I went to a woodland to look for signs of Purple Hairstreak butterflies (Favonius quercus), after being told of a possible sighting there five or six years ago. Sadly, we didn't see any Hairstreaks, but we were almost overwhelmed by Speckled Woods!


Up until 2009 we had no records of Speckled Woods, Pararge aegeria, in East Lothian. In recent years they have been extending their range northwards from northern England into the Scottish Borders and in 2009 one was seen just over the boundary in East Lothian. As with other species, their expansion seems to be blocked by the Lammermuir Hills, but they are able to get around the hills on the east coast. Later that year we had a second sighting reported to us further up the coast and each year since the number has gone up as they spread westwards right across East Lothian.


In an area of woodland about 200 metres by 400 metres we saw hundreds of Speckled Woods. Probably about 400, or more. Everywhere we looked they were dropping out of the trees, basking on the path or sunning themselves on a leaf. It is remarkable to see so many butterflies anywhere, but considering that they have only been here for five years, I couldn't believe how many there were.


There were quite a number of darker individuals among them, which I hadn't seen before.


I particularly liked this Sycamore and Ash tree that have fused together in a loving embrace!


I feel so lucky that we have Speckled Woods up here now. I have never seen so many butterflies in one place. The weather is becoming rather autumnal and there are not as many butterflies flying as there were a few weeks ago. Apart from the Speckled Woods, I only saw four other butterflies.


12 comments:

  1. That is excellent news Nick and hopefully bodes well for the future..

    I am also seeing large numbers this month and noting far more darker sedentary males.

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    1. Frank,
      That is interesting to know. I was wondering if it was just the front line of their expanding range that was doing so well, or if they were in such large numbers across the country. I have never noticed dark males before, but I suppose I wasn't seeing very many to compare previously!

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  2. I'm so glad they have migrated to your neck of the woods! They are really lovely. So interesting how fast they have become established. They must really like the new environment. Wow...I can't believe how many you saw in one place. I've been in some places that have an awful lot of butterflies, but never that many of one species in one place! Phenomenal. When will it be too cold for butterflies there? We are having a bit of Indian Summer here, and even up on the mountain, there are still quite a few. Tomorrow we are going out a lot higher though, and it will be interesting to see if there are still any flying out on the plateau.

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    1. Sylvia,
      I feel so lucky that we now have Speckled Woods here. They have really extended the butterfly season for us. After a great year, August was rather dull and the number of butterflies has really dropped off. I guess we will still see the odd one or two during the next couple of weeks if there are any warm days.
      Good luck with your butterfly search. I would be interested to hear what you see. I wonder if the higher areas will have a later butterfly season, or if it is just shorter!

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  3. Excellent captures of all these beauties Nick. It's amazing that you saw so many all in one place, good news indeed. Have also seen them here on the farm, but not many of the darker variety.

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    1. Hi Sonjia,
      You will have the lovely sub-species with orange spots there!

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  4. Beautiful, as usual. They are quite colorful.

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    1. Thanks Maria. The Speckled Woods that occur in mainland Europe are more colourful with orange markings, but I think I prefer the more subtle colours of those in the UK.

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  5. Hi Nick, those shots are fantastic!
    So sharp and so graphic, especially pic n° 4 and 6!
    Too bad some of them were not Purple hairstreaks ;-)
    Although I see them in the woods here, I'd rather run after dragonflies! LOL!
    Too little time unfortunately so I have to make choices!
    Keep well Nick!

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    1. Thanks Noushka. It seems to have been a good year for dragonflies too! Sadly two days ago I deleted, by a mistake, all of the butterfly pictures I have taken since July!! I was confused with my new tablet and thought they were copies!!

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  6. Nick, I enabled a feature in WordPress, so now you just fill out your name and email with blog address, and when commenting it should link your blog. Do you want to try it?

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  7. What you did was fine, but you can also fill out a form with your name, email, and blog address, and that's without logging in to WP.
    This link might help:
    http://en.support.wordpress.com/who-can-comment/

    ReplyDelete