Not so rare butterlies

Published: 27th May 2010

This last week has been great for scarce and not-so-scarce butterflies around Glenloy.

Last Sunday we followed up a lead from a local butterfly expert to search for Pearl-bordered Fritillary at a Forestry Commission site not too far from the house (thanks Tony). After a short walk up a forest ride we reached a sunny bank that was full of bright orange butterflies. We even managed to catch a couple to verify that they were indeed PBF and not early PBF. The single large white cell on the gaudily-covered underwing is a dead giveaway, but all our butterflies were coming to rest with their wings wide open, making positive ID rather more tricky. Hopefully the photos Angela got can be used for reference (see one posted). There were three males fighting in a spiralling upwards flight, but these were far to quick to photograph. The butterflies were centred above an interesting section of ash woodland, that had a covering of Woodruff – an unusual plant in local woods – and so the rock was probably slightly basic compared to the rest of the hillside. There was also plenty of Wood Vetch at the top, also an unusuial local plant, although not yet in flower. An added bonus on the way up was a striking Argent and Sable moth, also nationally scarce.

The following day we helped a local farmer survey his croft for butterflies. No PBF today, but we did come across two colonies of Chequered Skippers, one of which was quite extensive. This bright little butterfly appears to be associated with Bog Myrtle  hereabouts, and was nectaring largely on Lousewort. Some lovely mixed habitat of bog, heath, sunny slopes and burnside. Plenty of Green hairstreak and Orange-tip also flying – we seem to have been seeing both specis almost everywhere this year, An unexpected treat was the sight of a Narrow-bordered Bee-hawkmoth, which looks like a large yellow bee. It was extremely fast and shot off before we could photograph it. We also saw our first Spotted Flycatcher of the year today, a courting couple that were chasing each other around some willows. Site also looks good for dragonflies. The first Four-spot Chasers were on the wing, along with Large Red Damselflies, and a mystery dragonfly I didm't see well enough to identify.

The week has continued bright and sunny until today (Thurs) and over the last couple of days we have enjoyed watching more Bee-hawkmoths in the garden of Glenloy Lodge. They appeared right on cue, as per the books, in bright sunshine in the late morning and early afternoon, and seemed to prefer nectaring on blue native flowers (bluebell and bugle). This time Angela managed to get some photos (again see blog photos) – and rather more of vegetation with a missing moth! for good measure I also recorded a species new to me in my garden moth trap – the pretty Clouded Silver, ostensibly a more southerly geometer. Found more Chequered Skippers and Green Hairstreaks up Glen Loy, in various locations. Back to earth with a bump last night – cold and damp with not a single moth in the trap!