Friday, 6 May 2016

Looking for the Duke

I met up with a friend today to look for Duke of Burgundy butterflies at one of the very few sites for them in our area. They'd been reported flying in other parts of the country in the last few days, so we were hopeful that we might see some today, especially as the sun was shining and there was barely any wind. There were beautiful cowslips all over the bank, which is the food plant of the caterpillars, so another good sign.

We walked around the entire site, past the place I'd seen them last year, but didn't see any sign. We did spot some fantastic green longhorn moths, with shiny metallic wings and impressively long antennae. Then we met a couple of very obliging green hairstreaks that sat and posed for some photos. We were already pretty pleased with what we'd seen, but would still have loved to see a Duke...
Green longhorn moth

Green hairstreak

We were heading back towards the gate when we bumped into someone who asked us what we'd seen. He turned out to be Ched George, who is Butterfly Conservation's species champion for the Duke of Burgundy (they're "his babies", as he put it) and also the warden at Yoesden nature reserve. He showed us the best place to look and as soon as we got there he pointed one out, as if it was waiting for him to arrive!
Duke of Burgundy
We were thrilled to see one, but Ched said there was another good site just up the track, so he showed us the way.

We were lucky enough to see another three. They're very territorial, so once you see one, even if they fly off, you can be fairly confident they'll soon be back.

I'm still smiling after seeing them and it was great to meet up with a fellow enthusiast!

Photographing the photographer, photographing a green hairstreak


  1. You were so lucky seeing the dukes. I have never seen one and they are becoming rarer and rarer every year.

    1. We're very lucky to have a small colony of them near here in a location that's kept a bit quiet. It was great to see them again this year.