Wednesday 8th May 2013

Spring has finally sprung!

After the long and seemingly endless cold spell we had until recently, Spring has finally arrived, and with it an incredible rush of plant growth, as if everything is working overtime to make up for the lost weeks of icy winds and grey skies. With this sudden spurt of plant activity, the butterflies have not been far behind, and my list shot up from 6 to 17 species for the year so far.

The first surge came on 30th April, when a walk in northern France produced Comma, Polygonia c-album, Map, Araschnia levana, Speckled Wood, Parage aegeria and many Orange-tips, Anthocharis cardamines.

Comma, Polygonia c-album

Comma, Polygonia c-album

The second rush came 5th and 6th May, first again in northern France, where I visited one of my favourite forests and some chalk grassland nearby, adding Green-veined White, Pieris napi, Wood White, Leptidea sinapis, Green Hairstreak, Callophrys rubi, Grizzled Skipper, Pyrgus malvae, and then in southern Belgium, where I concentrated on the calcareous grasslands in the Viroinval, again one of my regular butterfly haunts. Here I was treated to the spectacle of a magnificent, newly-emerged Swallowtail, Papilio machaon, which would not sit down for me to photograph, and a trio of Berger’s Clouded Yellows, Colias alfacariensis, which were equally flighty. After much pursuing, a did finally manage to snap a shot of a Violet (or Weaver’s) Fritillary, Boloria (I prefer the old generic name Clossiana) dia, of which I must have seen at least 15 patrolling low over the sun-baked slopes. I also approached what I am almost certain was a Red-underwing Skipper, Spialia sertorius, but it flew off before I could clinch its identity.

Wood White, Leptidea sinapis

Green Hairstreak, Callophrys rubi

Grizzled Skipper, Pyrgus malvae

Orange-tip, Anthocharis cardamines. Female

Weaver’s Fritillary, Boloria (Clossiana) dia

Extraordinary limestone rock formations, sculpted by the rain

Butterfly list as of 6th May: 17 species

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