Nice to find a large dragonfly flying around the garden
It finally settled and revealed itself as a Southern Hawker
This is Gatekeeper – lovely orange and brown with 2 white spots on each wing
It was a sunny morning when I left Exeter yesterday to go to Dartmoor but as the afternoon progressed it clouded over and eventually broke into heavy rain. I was therefore quite lucky to find what I went to Dartmoor to see.
A Marsh Fritillary sunning itself as the sun broke through the clouds momentarily
In total I saw 6 Marsh Fritillaries in the rhos pastures at Challacombe
If you look carefully individual butterflies are all subtly different in their markings
Marsh Fritillaries are now a very rare species but do flourish in a few selected locations on Dartmoor (and elsewhere)
I also found a couple of Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries – another rare and declining species for which Dartmoor is another stronghold
Just before the heavy rain arrived I found this individual
Amazing details and colours in the wings
Here is a shot of a Pearl-bordered Fritillary I photographed a few years ago at Hembury Woods
There were several speckled wood butterflies in my garden yesterday. They were still chasing each other around in the autumn sunshine and then occasionally basking on the vegetation.
Reflecting on the year – I think it has been a terrible year for butterflies – I’ve hardly seen any small tortoiseshells, only a couple of red admirals and a handful of painted ladies.
Butterfly Conservation is blaming a cool spring and a slow start to the summer for the low numbers of small tortoiseshell – a species that has already plummeted 73% since the 1970s. To me, a decline of that order can’t solely be explained by poor weather ….