Saturday, 28 May 2016

Yoesden blues

Yesterday I went to Yoesden with a friend to see if the Adonis blues were flying. They're one of our most stunning butterflies, but quite rare as they have some very particular habitat needs and live in small colonies that don't seem to spread far. Luckily Yoesden is a known site for them and it was a warm sunny day, so we were hopeful.

While I waited for Claire to arrive, I had a look around the beautiful meadow that leads down to the reserve. It was full of buttercups and the swallows were swooping around, darting in and out of the cowshed to their nest in the roof.

There were lots of little soldier beetles in the buttercups and the hedges were full of fluffy hawthorn blossom. What a lovely place to spend a few minutes before we set off in search of the Adonis blues.
Beetling around in the buttercups

Fluffy clouds of hawthorn blossom
I spotted a holly blue, which I took as a good omen for our blue butterfly hunt ...
Holly blue
 ... but then I stumbled across a grizzly scene. A roe deer was lying in amongst the buttercups and daisies in the wonderful meadow. It looked like it had possibly been hit by a car on the road the other side of the hedge and crawled through into the meadow where it had died. Such a gruesome reminder that nature isn't all pretty sights, but it had been well eaten and will have fed plenty of creatures and their families.

When we got to the steep slope of the reserve, we immediately saw lots of small heaths flitting around. Then we caught sight of our first flash of brilliant blue and headed off down the slope after it. Finally it settled and we were both delighted to see our first Adonis blue of the afternoon.

Adonis blue
 We were quite happy to have seen one, but then we saw another and another. There were lots of them, chasing each other around to defend their territory, but thankfully settling occasionally so we could photograph them.

They can be quite tricky to tell apart from a common blue, but when you see them together you can really see how bright the blue is on an Adonis, while the common blue is a slightly deeper, greyer blue. The Adonis also has black lines crossing through the white outer edge on the wings.

Common blue on the left and an Adonis blue on the right

It's really hard to tell the Adonis and common blue apart from their underwings as the spot pattern and colouring is very similar, I think this is an Adonis though as it has the black lines through the white edge of the wings.

We also saw common blues and tiny small blues while we were there, which meant we saw 4 types of blue during our visit.

Common blues (I think)
Small blue
I stumbled across my first common spotted orchid of the year in flower while I was trying to photograph the blues. What a fantastic place!

Common spotted orchid

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