I almost made it to the end of the “lull” (waders back on the move now folks) without resorting to the wonderful world of mothing, butterflies and dragons.
This wholly unconscious “anti-invert” agenda was made easier by nine day weeks and ten hour days at work recently, which meant birding, much less bugging, was hardly happening.
Out this morning though, to join the “Gems In The Dunes” group for a walk at Ainsdale NNR with site manager Pete Gahan.
Cool and drizzly first, but plenty of Stock Dives still calling, Common Buzzards, Greater ‘Peckers, Siskin and Mistle Thrushes galore, but disappointing on the bug front.
Things were better on the way out when I left the group at the firebreak at lunchtime to catch up with the Purple Hairstreaks recently discovered lurking in the oak canopy there.
It was warming up by 1pm, and as I watched the butterflies with Pete Kinsella as they flitted about in the top of the canopy, one or two gradually began to drop lower.
With a bit of patience we got good views of one of these tiny butterflies through the oak leaves.
Backlit and fringed with light, the Hairstreaks were still little crackers.
They were especially obvious when they went “walkabout” along the twigs and branches high above our heads, standing out like a tiny, silvery pale shark’s fin… (good description Pete)
This is the first time I’ve seen Purple Hairstreak in Sefton, and with beasts discovered in Blundellsands and Ince Blundell as well as the NNR firebreak (surely the best butterfly spot in the borough?), my guess would be that with a bit of diligent searching, they may pop up anywhere where there are stands of their favoured oak trees – time to check the parks everyone?
Lots of other goodies in the NNR bugwise too of course – Migrant Hawker above us this morning, and I’m sure a few Ringlets etc would have emerged when it brightened up later in the day – but by then I was long gone.