Saturday, 30 April 2011

Pearl-bordered Fritillaries

I've scooted up to Scotland to take advantage of the lengthy Bank Holiday, and have been blessed with uncharacteristically good weather. Today an outing to the Butterfly Conservation reserve at Mabie Forest was plotted in the hope of some very early Pearl-bordered Frits.

So I pitched up with my brother at Mabie fairly early this morning. And glorious it was too. Wall-to-wall sunshine despite some stiff easterlies.

We'd neglected to work out exactly where in this enormous site we needed to go. And the information boards were unhelpful, and there was a complete dearth of leaflets. We set out armed with Viewranger for iPhone as navigation and crossed fingers.

Mabie forest is a wonderful place to visit. A Wood Warbler serenaded us from a stand of mature Beech, and a pond with a boardwalk was heaving with newts (apologies for the terrible pic).
I'm not entirely sure what flavour of newt it might be - but hopefully someone will let me know. 

So after a bit of misguided hill-walking (and filming a bumblebee cuckoo that *might* be Bombus vestalis) we finally headed down the right path (and if any of you fancy emulating my intrepid adventure you need to follow the dark-red markers).

Fraser (who is a Pearl-bordered virgin) suddenly shouted: "There's one!". But he was wrong. There were dozens. Dozens, and dozens of little fiery-orange frits darting from flower to flower, and basking on the bracken. They're all really fresh (apart from the one featuring below) as it's so early. They were a joy to behold - cavorting in the spring sunshine, courting and warring and nectaring. 

Sadly the breeze was too stiff for either good film or good photos. But who cares. Spring sun and thriving rare butterflies are good for the soul. Butterfly Conservation should be congratulated on the excellent work they are doing at this site. I've never, ever seen such a profusion of these rare and threatened frits. 

1 comment:

alan tilmouth said...

Took me a while to work out the newt shot wasn't an aerial view of Mabie Forest! Der..