• CathPaul

Skippers: "All at Sea" near Lichfield and Stafford?

Many people have mentioned to me over the last few months that they have "noticed" things happening in the natural world more than they might have done prior to these rather weird times that we are all experiencing. Birds in our gardens, wind in the trees, freshness after rainfall, wild flowers and bees - the list is endless. That sense of seeing things around us with a new clarity has also been widely reported in our media too.

In any event, I love the natural world - I learned lots from my Great Uncle called Sonny. I owe him a massive debt and I think about him to this day. But I have been noticing things around me more too - especially BUTTERFLIES (last year it was Dragonflies and Damselflies). I reckon that they are quite delightful - playful, delicate and light as the air on which they float.

I have now started to take a few photographs of them - when they decide to stay still for a while! Here's a selection from around a few Staffordshire Wildlife Trust nature reserves which have been snapped over the last couple of weeks.

A beautiful tiny butterfly which loves uncultivated hillsides and anywhere with tall grasses and wild flowers.

This is (male) Small Skipper taken at Brankley Pastures just north of Lichfield. It is found on uncultivated hillsides and rough grassland - anywhere with tall grasses and an abundance of wild flowers. If you look closely you will see a black line, "sex brand", on it's fore-wing (which is usually drawn back when it lands like this one) and that gives it away as a male.

This is a Large Skipper and was taken at Loynton Moss, west of Stafford. It also has a conspicuous black "sex brand" on it's fore-wing which also marks it as a male. Large Skippers are our brightest and most widespread "orange" skippers. You'll see them dancing through woodlands in the morning sun or perching alertly on sunlit vegetation.

This is one of the favourite butterflies I have discovered this year - a Ringlet and it was also taken at Brankley Pastures.

These are found in damp woodlands, along shady hedgerows and where there is lush vegetation. The one on the left is a male - two dots on the fore-wings where the female has three. The one on the right is hiding in wet grass and it's difficult to say whether it's male or female when looking at the underside of the wings which are very similar in both sexes. I'm guessing male as it is quite dark with the females tending to be a little paler.

Anyway, that's me done for now - I've "noticed", and attempted to photograph, lots of different butterflies over the last few weeks. I find it very relaxing to watch them dancing. So next time you're out and about in the open air, perhaps you too will give that Small Tortoiseshell, Orange Tip, Marbled White, Meadow Brown, Red Admiral or Comma a second look before they flit away to their next adventure.

Take care Everyone,


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