To explain, I am reading The Butterfly Isles A Summer in Search of Our Emperors and Admirals by Patrick Barkham, his account of a year spent tracking down and sighting every one of the sixty species of butterflies native to the British Isles.
Such a good idea for a book but quite a tricky one to make interesting, but having just read the first section, Spring, somehow Patrick Barkham has pulled it off. In fact pulled it off sufficiently well that I had to momentarily put the book down, grab the magnifying glass and go out and see if any Black Hairstreaks had laid eggs on our blackthorn.
Well it was worth a look wasn't it and needless to say despite my best efforts, I couldn't find any microscopic dots stuck to 'the crook formed by a thorn and a twig and located between knee and head height.' First of course, know your blackthorn from your hawthorn and I do happen to know that this little cluster by our gate onto the lane is indeed blackthorn because it's the first place we look for sloes in the autumn.
So I set off on my first butterfly walk of the year... well the first one where I have specifically been paying attention lepidopterally that is, and I came back with a good haul, four sightings. No camera to hand so had to commit to memory, but my first and apparently all-important butterfly of the year was an Orange Tip, quickly followed by a Red Admiral, a Comma and a Large White. Not surprisingly when I read that two of those are of the 'robust elite' who spend the winter here hibernating as adults, so the ones most likely to be spotted on a mild spring day.
So that's my 2011 total standing at four and I have Bookhound and the Gamekeeper on full alert too, but this is still looking like a tall order so surely we could cover most of the UK with all of you helping??
It's all going to rely on that old pledge of the I-Spy book honesty unless any of us are quick with the camera, and please don't ask how many times I was tempted to tick Swallowtail and scoop maximum points off Big Chief I-Spy as a child living in Surrey, when everyone knows it's Norfolk or nothing. So if anyone wants to join the dovegreyreader Aurelian Year and report butterfly sightings that will help us get nearer to the sixty please do, I'll post mine on here and add yours.
We have a few rather elite sites to cover too, I'll be nipping out to a few Dartmoor ones and if anyone's on or visiting the Isle of Wight you are our only hope for a sighting of the Glanville Fritillary and I'm not holding out much hope for a Green Hairstreak either but I'll keep you updated on others as I read more of this really lovely book.