A dry and sunny Saturday allowed us to take the opportunity to go butterfly hunting. Close to us just outside Selbourne is a small reserve on chalk downland called Noar Hill. We have only been here once before, last August, and we said then we would return in the Spring and Summer.
The first thing that struck as we entered the reserve was the amount of cowslips everywhere. They seemed to stand out like small loudspeaker stands. In amongst then would be early purple orchids, germander speedwell and bugle.
I expected to see many butterflies in the sheltered spots, but at first it was quiet, with only the odd Orange Tip and Large White flying through. At long last we found what we were looking for, the Duke of Burgundy. Apparently the adults rarely visit flowers and most of our sightings were of the males as they perched on a prominent leaf at the edge of thev scrub.The Duke of Burgundy has seemed to have done well this year, in total we found at least fifteen over the reserve, these are the best of the photographs I was able to get of a stunning little butterfly.
Once we started seeing the Dukes everywhere, other species started to turn up, this Holly Blue provided a nice opportunity to see the dark blue tips on the upper wing, as well as the usual shot of the characteristic spots on the underwing.
Another first for the year was the Small Heath, we found two, but as is typical with this butterfly, at rest the wings are held up showing only the underside. In flight the upper wing is a gorgeous pale orange.
It was a very nice afternoon, in some very welcome, warm sunshine, in a very lovely reserve, with a bonus of stunning views over the south downs.