Posts Tagged ‘Butterfly Tours



The Chilterns is a wonderful place for butterflies. One of the reserves we called at was Aston Rowant NNR. The reserve slopes are great for Silver Spotted Skipper, and we saw many of them. However, it wasn’t just about one species … we managed 15 in all, including Adonis Blue, Brown Argus in spades as well as Brown Hairstreak which is the first time I’ve seen it there. It’s ironic really as on the following day I ran a Brown Hairstreak tour when we didn’t see any at all. However, as I’ve constantly reiterated to those that follow this blog and come on the tours … there’s always something to look at.

Perhaps the best find at Aston Rowant, for me, was an aberrant Chalk Hill Blue. I find these variations to the norm fascinating – as yet I’ve not been able to tie it down to type and give it a name (possibly Ab. postico-obsoleta) but I’m sure someone out there will be able to; although there are more than four hundred named varieties of this beautiful species (Russwurm, 1978)


A butterfly fest

This last weekend saw us firstly taking a group to Gloucestershire on Saturday to see a formerly extinct British butterfly; the Large Blue. An insect inscribed in India ink. A unique upperwing among our blue butterflies makes this insect quite unmistakable. They took a little finding in cloudy weather but as soon as the sun sent a shaft of light our way several showed well.

On Sunday we had no such difficulty with a different group in finding Purple Emperors. In fact they found us. Guest Emma even took to wearing one as a hair slide! This large vibrant butterfly is difficult to find in some years … not so at the weekend. We saw around a dozen and each one was ‘just out of the box’ perfect.

If you would like to join us for another butterfly day around Norfolk this coming Saturday 17th July when we’ll be searching for hairstreaks and fritillaries see the following link and let me know.



We’ve done quite a number of Butterfly Tours in the last couple of weeks. Despite the weather being a bit topsy-turvy I think I’m right in saying we’ve managed to get twenty or more species on each day. On some days it could have been more and and some days I’m surprised we didn’t get less.

There is one particular species I’m always pleased to see. It’s not a dramatic hit you between the eyes Swallowtail or Silver Washed Fritillary. It’s not even cute like the two species of Hairstreak’s that have graced the tours to varying degrees. It is a species which is very low key in all respects. This is a butterfly that loves the open heath and stony ground where it can wallpaper itself into its environment in a very cryptic way. Subtle beautiful scaling and a low inobtrusive flight are the signature of the Grayling.



Nothing but a streak

You might be forgiven for thinking a Brown Hairstreak is an unsightly slight soiling of underwear. However you’d be wrong. It’s a butterfly. Correction. It’s an elusive butterfly. Living almost the entirety of its life in tall Ash trees feeding on the sweet sap excreted by aphids they are hard to find; and I mean really hard to find. A good deal of patience is required to see them, let alone photograph them. I managed this shot of one in flight the other week. It’s better to wait until a little later in the season until females come down lower to lay eggs; but I guess I’m just impatient.



When photographing this Silver washed Fritillary this Meadow Brown just couldn’t resist getting in on the act.



One of my guests on the butterfly tour last month brought this Chalkhill Blue butterfly to my attention. It’s unusually coloured. It’s an aberration, a freak, a variation that nature sometimes throws into the pot. I was curious what the Butterfly County recorder, Andy Brazil,  would make of it. Here’s what he said:

Chalkhill’s have historically had a lot of variations recorded, but we’ve not had any from Norfolk before.

There’s a similar aberration here named as post-obsoleta, but this female also has a paler, washed-out ground colour of ab pallidulla. I’ve looked through this list but nothing quite matches the combination. So I’d say it was ab. post-obsoleta ab.pallidulla so two aberrations on the same insect!

So there you go. Another first for Norfolk!

Chalkhill Blue (Aberrant)


A beautiful dragon

An aside on one of the tours last month procured one of these. Miles from water this male Banded Demoiselle was in his prime.

Banded Demoiselle


All curled up

Sitting on a blackberry bush was this White Admiral. I couldn’t resist taking a shot of his curly little tongue and spotty eyes!

White Admiral

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May 2023


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