Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Post 467 - Dazzlingly beautiful Duke of Burgundy Butterflies

I'd been looking out for Crosswort so it was amazing to
see the first Duke of Burgundy resting on a patch of it!
Hey everyone, today's post is post 467 and time to catch up on a special species I saw a little while ago now. I'd been out with Mum, Dad and Esme for a trip to Rievalux terrace and temples, a lovely spot that looks out over the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey. It's a lovely walk through some woods and then out on to the big terrace with views over the abbey and moors. There's a big bank as well that's full of wild flowers and often great to look for bugs. We'd got there quite early so there was still a good bit of the day left so we decided to head further into the North York Moors to a place where I had a tip-off that there was a special butterfly around.

We went for a walk around there, for a while, with no luck, but then we realised that we were looking in the wrong place! A helpful volunteer from the park luckily happened to be parked next to us and told us exactly where to try looking. So, now feeling a bit more hopeful, we set off up a little hill to the spot we were told about. It was late in the season and late in the day so the helpful volunteer said we'd be lucky to spot the butterfly. Well, thankfully we were lucky and we managed to find the beautiful Duke of Burgundy Butterfly! It was a lovely butterfly to see and well worth the trip.

But why is it so special? Well here are a few facts:
    Resting on a fern after having chased off another male
  • It's quite a small butterfly with a wingspan of about 3cm. 
  • It is one of the rarest butterflies in the UK and also one of the most rapidly declining UK species suffering substantial declines over the last 3 decades.
  • Since the 1970's this butterfly`s population has decreased by 52%. It is a high conservation priority species.
  • There are still a few places to see them. Where I saw them (in certain areas in the moors), is the most northerly place you'll see them. You can see them in a few spots in the south of the lake district but the main places to see them in Bedfordshire, Kent, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.
  • They typically live in woodland areas, and because of woodlands being cut back, there are now only 20 sites where they live.
    This slightly ragged one was chased off
  • As a sun loving butterfly it likes warm sheltered places especially clearings in ancient woodlands but it also likes limestone or chalk scrubby grassland.
  • They used to be called the 'Mr Vernon's Small Fritillary', and this is quite apt as they do look quite like a fritillary.
  • They are small with mainly brown wings with many orange spots on the edges of their wings.
  • The adults will only live for about five days!
  • Males will sit in sunny spots guarding a territory chasing off other males - they fly really fast for something so small and light. Females tend to hide away looking for places to lay eggs.
  • She'll be looking for primroses and cowslips which are the main foodplants of the caterpillars.
And then went off to these flowers.
  • I read that they're not frequent visitors to flowers so I was maybe lucky to get this last shot.
They really are a lovely butterfly, and I'm glad I found some! I'll have to go back again earlier in the season next year to see if I can see a few more. I've read that there is a lot of work going on by the North York Moors National Park to try to reintroduce these lovely little butterflies to sites where they used to live. So I hope they may be a bit easier to see in the future!

Just a little last note to say sorry I've not been able to blog very often, I've been busy with school work and a few projects, one of which I'll be writing about soon.

Hope you enjoyed,


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