Friday, 7 July 2017

Chalkhill blues and silver washed fritillaries

I walked around Grangelands this morning and was delighted to see the first chalkhill blues of the year out, fluttering low over the short grass on their favourite slope. They'd settle very briefly for the occasional quick photograph, but never seemed to sit still for long!

They're such a beautiful pale blue and a real sign that summer is here. One even sat on my finger for a while!

I mostly saw the blue males (as their bright colour makes them so much easier to spot than the brown females), but I did see one pair mating.

In another week or two this slope will look like it's shimmering in the sunshine as there will be so many chalkhill blues flying over the grass.  They're fussy butterflies and like short grass on a sunny slope, particularly this slope. Walk around to the other side of the reserve and you won't see any at all.

There seemed to be butterflies everywhere, including meadow browns, gatekeepers, small tortoiseshells, small heaths, ringlets and marbled whites. Many of the marbled whites had bright red dots on their bodies, which are tiny parasitic mites called trombidium breei.

Marbled white with red mites

This meadow brown also had mites on it
 The thistles were full of soldier beetles, which always seem to be having a party!

Watching me, watching the soldier beetles!
 As I walked back through the dappled shade of the trees, two silver washed fritillaries were feeding on bramble flowers. They're beautiful, big butterflies and a real treat to see.

What a beautiful morning full of wonderful butterflies!

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