Saturday, 17 June 2017

Beautiful Hairstreaks

There are no really rare butterflies on Gower, but there are some here that are classified very scarce in the UK. I have a tip-off that there are lots of marsh fritillaries on Welsh Moor at the moment. This is the best place to find them, and provided the weather is right, there can be good numbers on the common. Last month it was still chilly, it was the beginning of their season, and I found only a couple, but today it’s easy.

They seem to be all over the place, most fly quickly, and I catch only a fleeting glimpse, others settle, but in the warm sunshine are off before I can get close. I head for the lower southern part of the common in the shelter of the trees. There are lots here, and it’s clearly a good year for them. My natural urge is to count, but with so much movement, all I can do is estimate, but there are certainly 50, and probably more, I’m not sure. Just these few minutes are more than enough to explain why Welsh Moor has SSSI status.

There are other butterflies here too, small and large whites, common blues, and several stunning green hairstreaks along the wooded edge. Small pearl-boarded fritillaries are usually on nearby Pengwern Common at this time of year, and I’ve often wondered if they are here as well. As usual, I find none, so sit on a clump of dry grass, and simply enjoy what in reality is a rare UK sight of lots of marsh fritillaries in bright June sunshine.

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