Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Scotch Argus among 22 other species - Arnside and Warton - 2nd August 2011

Arriving at Preston train station at 8.30 in torrential rain, Nick and I really weren't optimistic at all about seeing the main target species - Scotch Argus - but we decided to give it a go anyway and go on the train to Arnside. by 12pm we hadn't seen a single butterfly whilst walking around Arnside Knott.The temperature suddenly rose and we caught sight of a dark flash in front of us...Scotch Argus! Superb!
This was new for me and due to it being the first butterfly of the day, we didn't want to lose sight of it so 'ran' after it. In the process, we flushed at least 10 Scotch Argus which was crazy. The patch of land in the above photo was absolutely full of Scotch Argus with an estimate of 200 being in flight at the peak of the warm weather burning through the clouds. This was a spectacle to behold and one of the most incredible wildlife events I've witnessed...Amazing! (No wonder UK Butterflies has Arnside Knott as '*****' for Scotch Argus. To be able to see at least 200 of one of Englands scarcest species in pouring rain was superb)

The rain aided photography as the butterflies were very approachable and stayed still for a very long time which allowed me to get a really intimate look at, in my opinion, one of Britain's most beautiful butterflies. Some of the really really fresh individuals were stunning with almost black wings with blinding orange spots.

I got to experience an interesting aspect to a butterflies journey from Ovum to Imago which was an adult that had literally just hatched from its chrysalis and its wings were still folded so looked very peculiar. It reminded me of an Angle Shades moth, which is what I initially thought it was.
After Arnside, it started to become sunny, so we thought we'd try out luck at Warton Crag. The main targets here were second generations of Dingy Skipper and Small Blue but sadly, the sun disappeared soon after we got on site so didn't see however. Consolation species were 2+ male Brimstone which were beautifully fresh, as well as 3 or 4 Wall Brown which is a species that's eluded me all year until now (last seen at Brockholes in 2010)
I got the impression that a lot of butterfly had only emerged this week as they all looked really fresh...the same can't be said for this Dark-green Fritillary however which looks as though it's on its last legs!

From what we thought was going to be a disastrous day, it turned out to be really productive with 23 species seen, which bettered our visit in bright sun a few weeks ago! Amazing!

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