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.



Sunday, 21 June 2015

Borders Butterflies

Last week a friend and I went down to the Scottish Borders to have a look for butterflies. There were three sites that we intended to visit. Unfortunately the first area where we were hoping to see Large Skippers drew a blank. I think we were just a little too early in the season.
Next we drove down to the coast, just north of the English Border. Here there is a rocky scree where there is a colony of Small Blues, Cupido minimus. These are the UK's smallest butterfly and they are a real pleasure to see. Despite them being rare, if you know where to look they are easy to find.

Almost as soon as we arrived we spotted our first Small Blue and while we were there we estimate we saw about 40 individuals.


There were also a lot of Small Heaths, Coenonympha pamphilus, flying in the area.

There were also one or two Wall Browns, Lasiommata megera, flying, although they wouldn't let me get very close!

We noted that the number of other butterflies was down on previous visits. This has been the case all over this part of Scotland after a cold spring.
Next we headed only a mile or so up the coast where there is a good colony of Northern Brown Argus, Aricia artaxerxes, on a steep slope above some cottages.

I hadn't been to this site before, but I was delighted to see so many Northern Brown Argus at the side of a steep track on some Valarian plants. The hillside above here was covered in their caterpillar foodplant, Rockrose, Helianthemum nummularium.


We also saw my first Common Blue, Polyommatus icarus, of the year.

Despite the poor weather and low numbers of butterflies I have been very lucky so far with the butterflies I have seen.

13 comments:

  1. My goodness they are gorgeous! You got very good images with the flowers. How small is small?

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    1. Maria, The Small Blues and Northern Brown Argus are very obliging and they tend to not fly off when approached carefully. Small Blues only have a wingspan of between 16 to 20mm. They are the UK's smallest butterfly. The Northern Brown Argus have a wingspan of between 20 to 30mm and the Common Blue has a wingspan up to 35mm. I am always surprised at the differences in sizes between these species. After seeing the Small Blues the Common Blues appear to be enormous!!

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  2. That is very small! I'm used to seeing moths with that size instead of butterflies.

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  3. Great picture of the blues!
    I don't see the Small blues as often any more but I must admit I am not so much after butterflies these days!!
    I bet you will see more of what you're looking fore into July...
    Take care Nick, enjoy your day :)

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    1. Thanks Noushka, I believe that generally Small Blues are in decline, although enthusiasts in the Scottish Borders have found that they have been spreading to new colonies in recent years, at least on the coast. I really hope we get some good weather soon so that butterfly numbers pick up. June is often quiet, between generations of butterflies, but soon we should have a whole lot of fresh new butterflies!

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  4. Hi Nick, seems like there is also that blue here, same shape. I have been chasing butterflies, moths and spiders in the past, but when i got hitched with the hoyas, i shelved my affair with them. I have only little time at home so not much spare for them. If only i have a companion in our property in the province, maybe i will do what you are doing too. Come over and we will photograph butterflies, hahaha!

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    1. Andrea, I know how you feel. I don't have enough time for all of my interests. I have had to give up some butterfly monitoring this year and I am struggling to find time to run the moth trap that I have been asked to use here! I do find photographing butterflies very relaxing, though. I would love to visit the Philippines some day and see the country and all of the exotic butterflies there.

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  5. Super images Nick.

    Up until last week when the temperatures here improved my counts of any species (April to mid June) have been low undoubtedly due to the cooler weather. Let's hope the 2nd generations give us all plenty to enjoy.

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    1. Frank, already it is looking like numbers are picking up. Ringlets and Meadow Browns are around now, Speckled Woods have picked up and we have just had an invasion of Red Admirals!

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  6. Wonderful series and thanks for the link up!

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    1. Thanks Andy. There are some great pictures on your blog.

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  7. You have a gorgeous blog! Your love for butterflies is astounding! :) I would love if you could check out my blog too ( https://mynatureexperiences.wordpress.com/). Looking forward to reading more of your posts!

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    1. Hi Lavanya. Great blog you have there. I have enjoyed reading about the wildlife in Singapore and I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future.

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