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Friday, 14 May 2021

Puddling blue butterflies

On a local walk we came across a load of blue butterflies puddling - something I have never seen en masse before - at most about 6 before which was exciting enough. I was SO chuffed to see so many! We must have spent a good 15 minutes watching and taking photos. Before, however, I noticed these Green Tiger Beetles (Cicindela campestris) mating on the path! Aren't they gorgeous?


Now onto the butterflies - here's just a few of what we saw in a damp rut where a tractor had driven through. This was at the bottom of a valley close to a little stream, and it was after we had finally had a reasonable amount of rain after a very dry couple of months. Nearly all of these butterflies are Common Blues (Polyommatus icarus), but note the Green Hairstreak in amongst them - another lovely surprise!

Most of you know that to ID a Common Blue you look for that extra dark spot on their front forewing. However, apparently some of them don't have this mark. If they don't have the mark, they could be Chapman's Blue. The way to tell, apparently, is look at a selection of the butterflies. If the vast majority have the extra mark, then it is most likely you are seeing Common Blues with a few of them lacking that extra mark. If most of them are lacking the mark, then you are likely seeing Chapman's Blue with a few Common Blues in amongst them. Complicated, isn't it?! I reckon these are Common Blues, but if you click on the photos to open them up larger you will see some without the mark.



Zooming in a bit closer:


Closer still:


Here's the beautiful Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi). I didn't have my 'butterfly camera' with me but my Lumix did a good enough job I reckon as I have been able to crop in on many of the photos.




Something different - the brightly coloured butterfly on the left is an Adonis Blue (Polyommatus bellargus).


The Adonis Blue is on the left - they usually look very similar to the Common Blue as they also have that extra mark on the forewing underside, but this specimen has very pronounced black markings. Adonis Blues however have black chequering in the white outer of the wings, as well as the males having a very different blue colour to the Common Blues.


This butterfly landed and it was much smaller than the Common Blues, but I don't know what it is. I can't find anything like it in my butterfly book! It doesn't help that I don't have a picture of the underwings.


I suppose it is possible that it is the same butterfly as below, which is the next one on my camera. Hmmm! This I think though, is a Green-underside Blue (Glaucopsyche alexis), as when it showed it's underwings, it has their markings. There are only them and the Black-eyed Blue who have that line of large spots on the underside of the forewings. I loved that it was photobombed by this Common Blue (I think)!


Showing the marking on the underside of the wings:


This one below (right) is almost definitely a Green-underside Blue, a nice fresh specimen, unlike the one above, with a Common Blue.


Showing the line of well defined large spots on the underneath of the forewings:


Below, I spotted this Dingy Skipper (Erynnis tages) landing on the path. Only got this one shot before it flew off, but I'm smiling over discovering the tiger beetle in the photo which I only noticed when cropping the photo!


Also on the path was this tiny blue butterfly, which I had first seen on coastal garrigue in April. It's a Baton Blue (Pseudophilotes baton), and the caterpillar feeds on thyme, which is all over the place flowering at the moment - see later photo. The Baton Blue is a fair bit smaller than the Common Blue.


We don't often see farm animals around here, but this year there have been more sheep around, including some further down the valley. I haven't a clue as to what species they are, but all the lambs are brown. They are always guarded by a dog or two who always come up barking at the electric fence when anyone walks by. Doing their job well! It's a good idea as they keep predators away from the lambs when they are born/small.


The sheep guard dog!


And here's a bank of thyme beside the track on our way back to the village.


As usual I am behind with blogging, as I have another post to do about the woodland at Montreal revisited at the end of April, but I wanted to post these butterflies first. I have been doing some redecorating in our bedroom so haven't had much time this last week for blogging. 

I had my second Covid jab nearly two weeks ago, and Keith had his last Saturday, so we are both feeling a LOT safer, and looking forward to when our restaurant terraces open up later this month! This time we will be going out to eat!!! 😀

 

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I have had to change from Feedburner (owned by Google) who are closing down in July. Therefore I have opened an account with Feedio and transported your email addresses into it, so cross fingers you should receive this and my posts should continue to arrive in your inbox as normal! There is nothing that you have to do. Thank you for following me by email, by the way. I appreciate it!

6 comments:

  1. A gorgeous set of photos - SO many different blues. Wonderful post Mandy. I have seen puddling but not with that many butterflies! Love the Tiger Beetles too. It looks a super place to walk and it is always good to see banks of thyme! Glad you have both had the 2nd vaccine - we had ours two weeks ago and hoping son and daughter will have their first soon.

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    1. Hi Caroline, thanks very much for your lovely comment. Guess what, I just remembered that Keith took a little video and I forgot about it completely until today! I will add that (if I remember!) to my next post.

      I'm glad you have had a chance to see butterflies puddling even if fewer than this. I found when there were only a very few of them that I could get quite close up to them, but with a mass like this they just flitted off! :-)

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  2. What a wonderful event to see, the blue butterflies look amazing. I am lucky enough to have Green Tiger beetles on the moor and got to see them the last time it was warm. There are so many beetles that are such a lovely colour. The area you are living is so nice and so much to see.
    Thank you for leaving a comment on my blogs.
    Amanda x

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    Replies
    1. Hi Amanda, thank you for commenting on my blog too! And cheers for following via email, it's easier that way I think. Especially for people who post sporadically like me, lol!

      Glad you have such interesting beetles on the moor. It's great that you are showing just how much wildlife there is on a moor, which at first glance may look quite barren to those who don't know any better. Looking forward to seeing more through the year. xx

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  3. Wow, Wow WOW! Really spectacular :-) It's been a very long time since I've seen puddling butterflies of any species. Our drought has kept practically all away, sadly. I've only seen one species of Blue and not even one Sulphur of which we would have dozens by now! It is depressing especially since my gardens are great this year (with help of irrigation of course).

    As I've already mentioned to you on IG... I've been reworking my irrigation in preparation of possible limitations. It was something that needed doing anyway so I'm happy to be forced to do it. When the house was built, I put extra water lines to areas to promote growth for privacy and that has been accomplished. Now those areas don't need it which has cut way back on watering. I might lose a few plants but the majority of my plants/shrubs/trees are drought tolerant, thankfully.

    Thanks, as always, for your blog posts! I savor each one :-)

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    1. I knew you would love this post, Marianne! I was in awe watching them all flitting about. Such a shame you have so few butterflies this year, I can imagine how disappointed you must be (and also for the wider picture, of course). Hopefully your new irrigation system will keep your gardens going through this summer and future ones. Well done, I imagine it was very hard work!

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