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, 24 June 2018

Gynandromorph Orange Tip, Anthocharis cardamines


On April 27th I was walking my butterfly transect along the River Tyne in Haddington. It was quite a disappointing walk, with very few butterflies around. All I recorded was one Peacock, Aglais io, one Small Tortoiseshell, Aglais urticae, and four Orange Tips, Anthocharis cardamines. One of the Orange Tips appeared to be damaged as it was flying strangely and appeared to be missing the top of one of its wings.

On my way back I saw the same Orange Tip land in front of me and realised that it wasn't damaged after all. It turned out to be a Gynandromorph - half male and half female, divided exactly down the middle. Its left hand wings were marked as a male, with an orange tip and the right hand wings were marked like a female. I noticed that the wings were slightly different shapes and the antennae were different lengths.


Unfortunately, that day I had my new phone with me. I tried to take some pictures, but it took me a while to do so and all I could manage were these two fuzzy pictures. Prior to this, it was posing beautifully with its wings open!


I then met two dog walkers who I regularly see. They often ask me how my transect is going and I couldn't contain my excitement that day. I explained about the half and half butterfly I had seen and they both showed an interest. I returned over the next five or six days with my camera hoping to see the butterfly again, but sadly I didn't see it.

However, I learned that one of the dog walkers had seen it 300 metres further downstream two days later and the other lady had seen it on a tributary about 500 metres upstream the following Sunday. Although it was sad not to have managed to get a better picture of the butterfly, I was pleased that two other people had also managed to witness this curiosity.

12 comments:

  1. Nick, that was a great find and something I have never seen.

    For your info my transect on UKBMS is Ashtead Common North TQ175602 (part of Ashtead Common NNR & an SSSI). The circuit goes through deciduous woodland, with many ancient oak pollards, a small pond, shaded grass rides and a few open glades now overburdened by tall bracken.

    I found your stats up to week 12 on UKBMS for Haddington. So how was todays walk?

    My walk yesterday was quite productive; 10 species with 2 new for this season. I intend to post an update later this week.

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    1. Hi Frank,
      I don't expect to ever see anything like this Orange Tip again. I would have loved to have managed a decent open-winged picture!
      The transect today was fine! 26 Ringlets, 7 Speckled Woods, 2 Green-veined Whites and a Meadow Brown. Not a great deal, really and again nothing recorded on the first four sections.
      My transect goes through a park, and then along the River Tyne, into gradually more rural habitat - deciduous woodland and then a meadow.
      On my return walk through the meadow I saw a lot more Ringlets, four Meadow Browns and a Small Copper. That is a big improvement on last week.
      The whites have really reduced in numbers, but hopefully the summer populations will pick up again soon.
      I will have a look at your transect when I get a chance. I certainly think that it must be more worthwhile doing a transect somewhere where there are more butterflies. On the other hand imagine doing one in Spain, trying to identify all the species there!

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  2. Nick. I know how you feel. I have many weeks when there is little to see and wonder if it is all worthwhile but then as you know all the stats we provide are invaluable.

    I would gladly sign up for Spain, despite the enormity of the task!! Fancy a double act?

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    1. Yes! We are on holiday in Spain next week. I hope to visit the Sierra Nevada while we are there.

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  3. What an unusual find! I've read about that but with my few years looking for butterflies i still haven't seen it. It is good you shared them with fellow walkers, i bet they will always watch for butterflies from now on!

    Regarding the counts, i wonder how you don't double count because they fly and probably even go ahead of you on an area. I tried to do that here, but my counting will be full of errors. It is easier if there are very few of them, but during the dry season they are plenty and counting will be unreliable.

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    1. Hi Andrea, I have been told it is a find of a lifetime, but I'll keep looking!!
      There are a series of rules when walking the transect. We count butterflies in an imaginary box 5 metres in front of us and 2.5 metres on either side. We count butterflies that are perching or flying through that area. We never count butterflies of the same species that fly in from behind us as we may have already seen them.
      If I am visiting a colony I just do my best to estimate the number I have seen. I always tend to estimate on the low side.

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    2. I guess it can only be true for temperate climes, and we have some areas here too in the mountains of the Cordilleras, sub-tropical there. I found that butterflies there are not as flighty as in my areas in the lowlands. We can even let them stay on our hands. My friend joked that it is difficult to fly because they are wearing thick heavy jackets. In my area they seldom alight just sip nectar for a sec or two and fly away again, and not near but long distances.

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  4. Now that is quite incredible!
    As I say, you must always take the photos, on the screen you might get interesting surprises!
    Well done Nick :)

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    1. Hi Noushka. Yes, you are right. I am currently on holiday in Spain. I have to take pictures of all the butterflies I see, so that I can spend time identifying them on screen afterwards. It doesn't help that my eyesight isn't what it used to be!

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  5. That is quite interesting. I had no idea that this could happen with a butterfly. I hope you are enjoying your time in Spain.

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    1. Hi Tammie Lee. I have been told it is a once in a lifetime find. Spain was great, thank you. We have just arrived home.

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  6. The butterflies will find you again Nick!

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