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Friday, 6 September 2013

Butterflies in Dorset

Whilst on a recent holiday to The Devon/Dorset region of southern England,I took the opportunity of visiting the area of Portland.There is a large area there called Tout quarry which has a good reputation for seeing various species of butterfly.Tout quarry is no longer dug for the famous Portland stone and has reverted back to the wild.Here it forms a wonderful micro climate ideally suited to the sun loving butterflies.One of the numerous species I encountered there was the Grayling.a butterfly thet alights on rocky boulder strewn areas,they are known for closing their wings to prevent predation and were seen basking in the warm sunlight!

On a nice patch of buddleia was one of the few migrant butterflies,the Painted Lady.there were only odd ones spotted throughout my 10 days in Dorset.this individual would probably have flown in from around the desert edges of North Africa and Arabia,where huge numbers emerge in most years.These journey northwards across the Mediterranean reaching some parts of the British Isles every year.It was previously known as the The Thistle,in the 18th century,the Belladonna in Scandanavia La Belle Damme in France and the Bella dama o cadero(beautiful lady of the thistles) in Spain.Indeed a butterfly of many names!

Ringlet butterflies were also present on a woody glade.Apparently a common butterfly often overlooked because of their close resemblance in flight to the Meadow Brown..When settled you notice immediately the distinctive gleaming eyespots whence from it derived its name,other names were the brown eyed butterfly,Brown 7 eyes and in France it is known as Le Tristan (the sorrowful).It was my first sightings of these butterflys and I was glad to get a few on the camera.

A nice adult at rest amongst the nettles.

Again another rather common butterfly was the Large Skipper,pretty non descript really with the adult adopting a chachteristic basking stance,with its forewing and hindwings held apart at different angles.It was also known by the name of `the chequered hog` or `streckt cloudy hog` by early collectors!Usually there is only 1 generation of Skipper a year but these last throughout the whole summer.

The Chalkhill Blue was my favorite butterfly of the day and it was these that I had really come to portland to see and enjoy.A male has stunning milky blue wings and are easily approached with caution.This species as its name implies, inhabits unfertilised chalk and limestone downs,where the caterpillars foodplant`horseshoe vetch`blooms in abundance!I spent a good hour surrounded by these wonderfull creatures,filling my boots ,as the saying goes.they are very colonial in their habits and breed all along the coastal downs and on salisbury plain,up into the Cotswolds,its northern limit!Thanks for dropping by and viewing my blog and I will continue with my Butterfly theme in my next post!!!!!!!!!


  1. Great images of the butterflies from your holidays in Dorset Paul.