Sunday, 24 April 2011

Adel churchyard butterfly sightings

During a previous visit to St John the Baptist churchyard in Adel, we caught a brief glimpse of a blue butterfly on the wing a few metres away for no more than a few seconds before it disappeared. Convinced that with good weather and a bit of patience we might manage a better sighting, on our return visit we were chuffed when it eventually appeared in the holly tree nearby.

It's a female Holly Blue, identified by the black margins to the upper forewing which are lacking in the males. It appeared to favour the newly emerged flowerbuds, flying to one bunch, settling for a minute or so before seeking another.

The next couple of pics indicate its intentions more clearly, it appears to be in the process of laying eggs, Thomas, J & Lewington, R (2010) The Butterflies of Britain & Ireland,  refers to the Holly Blue depositing eggs 'laid singly at the base of flowerbuds. In spring, by far the commonest host-plant is Holly, whereas most midsummer eggs are laid on the flowers of Ivy.

The egg hatches after approximately two weeks, at which point the caterpillar attaches itself to the fruit, making a hole in the surface to eat the contents. Must remember to look out for signs of the caterpillars in a fortnight or so.

Another highlight was this male Orange Tip, one of five in the churchyard. Although its a common butterfly I really struggled to photograph one last year as they appear to be constantly on the go but this one took a more relaxed approach to life, languidly feeding on dainty forget-me-nots. 

This one viewed from the opposite direction, where you can clearly see the green mottled pattern on its underwing.

Its a great spot for butterflies, we spotted a Green Hairstreak here last year and will be looking out for their return over the next few weeks, Small Coppers are regular visitors too. Other butterflies on the wing included Green Veined Whites x 5, Small White x 4, Large White x 2, Peacock x 3, Speckled Wood x 3, Small Tortoiseshell x 1.


  1. Beautiful compositions, Linda.

  2. Excellent posting. Looking forward to your return visit in a couple of weeks.

  3. Hello Dean, thanks very much, I was extra pleased to have come away with some nice pics to illustrate such lovely sightings. Last year it took me ages to get a half decent pic of an Orange Tip as they're so restless, so I'm more than happy with these.

    Hello CB, thanks, loking out for more of those damselfy/dragonfly updates.

    Hello Johnny, thanks v much, its a lovely spot to visit, always something of interest, chuffed with the eventual Holly Blue sightings.

    Best wishes all, Linda


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