Sunday 2nd June 2013

Nieuwe Natuur

Having been so impressed by the new nature area I visited on Thursday, and having been informed that it was a reliable locality for Swallowtail butterflies, Papilio machaon, I felt a return visit might be worthwhile, and indeed it was. Not only were there numerous Sooty Coppers, Lycaena tityrus, this time including at least one female, two Small Coppers, Lycaena phleas, at least ten Common Blues, Polyommatus icarus, and several Brown Arguses, Aricia agestis, all enjoying the bright sunshine which has been so rare recently, but I was also treated to my first Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui, of the year, as it shot past on its migration northwards.

Sooty Copper, Lycaena tityrus

Small Copper, Lycaena phleas

Several Small Heaths, Coenonympha pamphilus, Speckled Woods, Pararge aegeria, a rather bashed European Map, Araschnia levana, and several Brimstones, Gonepteryx rhamni, and Green-veined Whites, Pieris napi, were also in evidence.

However, it was the magnificent Swallowtail, Papilio machaon, that made the day. At least three were flying around at high speed, luckily though settling occasionally in order to lay their eggs. The first appeared to be laying on leaves of Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, but I find this hard to believe as the larvae are known to feed exclusively on members of the Umbelliferae family, and Yarrow belongs to the daisy family, Compositae. The second female I saw was indeed laying on a species of umbellifer, or Wild Carrot.

Swallowtail, Papilio machaon

It was wonderful to see these splendid butterflies, clearly having at least temporarily established themselves in this marvellous new area, converted only a short while ago from intensively farmed fields. These were my first ever Swallowtails in the Netherlands. Long live the Dutch policy of returning some farmland to wildlife areas, or Nieuwe Natuur.

The newly-created nature area

Butterfly list as of 2nd June: 29 species

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