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Searching for the duke

Duke of Burgundy butterfly - Side view

Hamearis lucina – Side view

Last April I saw my first ever Duke of Burgundy Hamearis lucina, or at least I’m pretty sure I did. To be fair all I saw was a fleeting flash of brown and orange. But then I was in the right place, ancient chalk downland, at roughly the right time, so I was reasonably confident, even for a novice.

Just over a year later, armed with two weeks’ leave and a new macro lens I was determined to do better. I’d read that the adults prefer mornings so I was out of bed and up on Morgans Hill before the dew had evaporated. My only concern was that the very wet April we’d just endured may have proved too much for them. With so few seen last year I was beginning to fear the worst. Read more

Seeking the sun worshipper

Wall Brown

Lasiommata megera

The Wall Lasiommata megera loves hot, sun-baked, dry ground and gets its name from its habit of basking on walls. So when I went looking for it up on Morgans Hill I headed straight for the chalk quarry in section 15 where I’d seen one late last year. On the way to the gate I noticed a patch of bare ground to the left of me, just in front of the fenced off juniper bushes and almost immediately a flicker of brown dropped down onto it. Was it really going to be this easy? I walked over slowly, spooking myself and a grazing rabbit as I got closer. Yep, it was a Wall, tricky to spot at first as it had its wings folded rather than outspread in classic sunbathing pose. As soon as it saw me though it danced off down the hill but then doubled back and landed again. It repeated this pattern several times as I attempted to get a photograph, obviously keen to defend its territory, so I lay down on the grass and simply waited for it to return.

Although it did briefly open its wings on landing it always closed them again before I had time to focus, so I opted for this side view. The undersides of butterflies are often overlooked but as you can see they can be equally impressive.