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.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Some Borders Butterflies

I have been particularly busy this year and the weather hasn't been the best for looking for butterflies. However, I have still managed a few trips down to the Scottish Borders to look for butterflies, some of which we don't get here in East Lothian.

Here are the highlights:

Between sessions of clearing the house and keeping the grass and woodlands in check I managed a quick visit to a valley just above our property in Selkirkshire on the 18th June.

I knew this was a good site for Northern Brown Argus, Aricia artaxerxes, but I have never seen them in such numbers. They are such lovely butterflies and I feel so lucky to have such a great site for them close to where we will be living one day.

I think I will indulge in another picture!!

Another thrill for me was the sight of a small orange butterfly - a Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary, Boloria selene, which flew past me and then disappeared. On my way back down the valley I searched through the vegetation and was delighted to find it again. This time it posed nicely for me in the grass. I had thought I had seen one there in the past, but I wasn't 100% sure, so it was good to get a definite identification.

Six days later I took a friend down to the Berwickshire coast where we hoped to see Small Blues, Cupido minimus. Although numbers were lower than we have seen in the past it was great to see these lovely wee butterflies again.

It was quite worrying to see how dried up their food plant, Kidney Vetch, was, not because of the heat but because of the constant North-East wind coming in from the sea. However, we noticed that next to the railway the Kidney Vetch was doing much better out of the wind.

We met the Borders' butterfly recorder while we were there and he showed us where we would see Large Skippers, Ochlodes sylvanus. Despite the wind we were lucky to spot two or three. Two years ago these found their way into East Lothian, but they haven't been spotted since, possibly because the weather has been so poor.

On our walk back I was pleased to see a Wall Brown, Lasiommata megera. We have these in East Lothian, but I still haven't seen one here this year.

Two days ago on my way back down to Selkirkshire I called into a site near Melrose where I know Scotch Argus, Erebia aethiops, are found. These are a fairly scarce butterfly which are able to fly in dull, wet weather when other species are hiding away. I saw them last year flying in the rain!

They are so difficult to get pictures of, as they are very easily disturbed and when they land they always seem to go low down in the grass. I was pleased to be able to get the picture above and then delighted when I was walking back to the car to see the butterfly below feeding on a Thistle flower.

After lunch I returned to the valley above our property where I saw a lot of Small Skippers, Thymelicus sylvestris. This is another butterfly that I thought I had seen before there, but I hadn't seen it for long enough to be sure. It was great to see them in such numbers.

The Northern Brown Argus were also still flying and I saw a few Dark Green Fritillaries, Argynnis aglaja

To add a bit of colour there were also Common Blue, Polyommatus icarus, flying among the multitude of brown butterflies such as Meadow Browns, Ringlet and Small Heaths.

It was great to see so many different butterflies and it is really exciting to think that in a couple of years we will be living in amongst them all!


  1. You really have some nice specimens here. The last one has a lovely shade of blue.

    1. Thank you Michelle. I think I was very lucky to see such a variety of butterflies.

  2. Hi Nick i am glad and envious that you have lots of butterfly shots despite your busy schedule. They are passing through me in the garden while i am sitting and doing the hoyas, but i still cannot spend the time shooting them. There's now lots of them around us.

    This is my reply in my post. You might be right in some but also wrong in most others, hehe. I just show the better perspectives because i run out of time. If i will tell you that many of my older hoya plants died because their roots are eaten by very very minute snails, just 2-3mm in length and very inconspicuous, you will change your mind. Some of the pots need to be "doctored"but i simply lack time. Of course you know i get home only some weekends, arrive there Sat after lunch, and left again the following day at 3:00pm. Can you imagine i am tending them all those times, and still not finished with the necessities. I can't even take photos of the butterflies which are so plenty now. GRRRRRR!

    1. P.S. Our skippers look like yours too and we have those resembling those small blues. I really feel sad that i can't take their shots, except when they alight with the hoyas. Thanks.

    2. Hi Andrea,
      It is always a nuisance dealing with pests in the garden. Here I am used to slugs and snails, but at our new property we have badgers, rabbits and deer eating our plants and digging holes!
      I guess with limited time we just have to prioritise what we do. I try to go out at lunchtime to look for butterflies, or just take a half hour walk to look for them at the weekends. Hopefully I will have more time in the years to come.

  3. Hello Nick!:) First rate shots, and you captured so many pretty butterflies on your day out, not least of which is the tiny Northern Brown Argus. Lovely shot of the Pearl Bordered Fritillary too, one I have yet to see. A Wall Brown flew into our lounge yesterday, probably to get away from the 38C temperature outside, and it was also the first one I have seen all year.I love all the blue butterfly pictures, they are always a treat to see, garden is full of them at the moment, but as I have to keep out of the sun because of a minor surgery on my forehead, I haven't been in the garden since our return from the Algarve, it's far too hot anyway. Still, I have loads of photos to share from our holiday, and some are butterfly captures. Take care!:)

    1. Thank you Sonjia. I feel very lucky to have seen these butterflies this year on the few occasions I have had free to look for them.
      The heat in Portugal has been on the news along with the terrible forest fires. I hope everything is OK with you.

  4. ¡Preciosa colección!. Saludos desde Asturias.

  5. Thank you Nick, Forest wildfires blaze everywhere, but so far our land has remained safe, however our patio, lawn, and pool, are covered in a fine layer of white ash every morning, from fires burning elsewhere.

    1. That sounds a little too close for comfort. I hope the fires stay away. I see posts on the British Butterfly Forum about wildfires in the south of France and how they have devastated butterfly colonies.