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Posts tagged ‘Wall’

The megera

Wall butterfly, male, polygonia egea

Polygonia egea – male

In an earlier post I mentioned my early morning walks in Kefalonia. I often get up really early when on holiday as the light is less harsh and as it is marginally cooler, insects can be more settled and easier to photograph. Although, that said, in Kefalonia even at first light it was still way into the twenties. So on quite a few mornings dawn saw me make the steep climb up through the pine trees to the ancient hill fortress overlooking the pretty fishing village of Assos.

It was always worth getting out of bed though as the castle was ‘the place’ for butterflies and one of the ruined bastions proved to be a real hot spot for the Wall Lasiommata megera which loves to bask on walls, rocks, stones and bare ground. This is a butterfly we get here in Wiltshire, see my earlier post here but it’s not one I’ve seen so far this year. The Wall, or Wall Brown as it is sometimes known, is fairly widely distributed in England, I’ve seen it way up in Northumbria for example but it rarely occurs in large numbers. In the last decade or so it has declined substantially due to a continuing loss of habitat and it is now a priority species for conservation. So it was a blessing to see so many and have the time to study them in detail.

Often it was just me and the Megera, these mythical daughters of Creon, king of Thebes. Under the shade of an obliging olive tree I spent many peaceful hours watching these orange and brown furies flit in and out of the sunlight. The only sounds the over excited squeals of alpine swifts above my head and the distant crashing of waves on the rocks far below.

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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.