Wednesday 5th March 2013

James’ butterfly year

This year, in the absence of a major overseas trip (at least for the moment), I intend to write an online diary of my butterfly sightings. As yet, despite the recent spring-like weather we have been enjoying over the last few days, I have not managed to connect with any butterflies, although the Belgian butterfly recording group I am a member of has recorded sightings of several Small Tortoiseshells, Aglais urticae, and at least one Brimstone, Gonepteryx rhamni.

However, my butterfly list for 2013 does have one species on it, and an unusual and somewhat poignant sighting it was. The species concerned was a Red Admiral, Vanessa atalanta, which I spotted feeding on the bouquets of flowers laid out on the ground at Beckenham crematorium, in South-east London, on 4th February. I was there for the cremation of my 93-year-old uncle, Derek Rowles. Red Admirals are supposed to be incapable of successfully hibernating in the British climate, but this individual had clearly survived the winter thus far, and was stocking up on nectar from the beautiful flowers laid out in memory of the deceased. It was almost as if the butterfly was attending the ceremony, the commemoration of a member of the butterfly-loving Champion clan (Derek was the nephew of F W Champion and the last person alive who knew my great grandfather G C Champion, who died in 1927).

Butterfly list as of 5th March 2013: 1 species.

A Red Admiral at the cremation of my uncle Derek Rowles, Beckenham, Kent, 4th February 2013

Leave a Reply