Monday 6 June 2016

Chequered Skipper

Last year I made a late visit to Glasdrum Wood and was very fortunate to find a late but extremely tatty specimen of the Chequered Skipper. So top of the list this year was a revisit to find some freshly emerged subjects. The journey from Cromdale to Glasdrum is quite lengthy so we set off after breakfast with the overcast grey skies and a chilly 12 degrees recorded on the dashboard. The weather had been split, the east being cold and grey and the west sunny and hovering around 20 degrees. As we passed Loch Laggan the skies lightened and the temperature began to creep up, by Fort William it was a staggering 18 degrees - optimism set in at last.

As we reached Glasdrum Wood the sun disappeared but it remained warm, in the car park was the mini bus from Glen Loy Lodge - made a mental note that the Skippers aren't out at Glen Loy then!. Two camera toting butterfly enthusiasts gave us the thumbs up. They had seen at least twenty specimens in the wayleave and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries were about too. So I set off and thirty yards in I found my first obliging Chequered Skipper, it soon became apparent that they were everywhere - no problems finding some newly emerged subjects.

After a break for a brew and a picnic lunch Liz joined me, the sun came out from behind the clouds and the butterflies revelled in the warmth. Chequered Skippers and SPbFs were flitting everywhere, Liz even managed to take some shots with her mobile phone but she won't let me publish any of them.


Nice to meet Keith who unfortunately couldn't manage any of the footpath so requested a photograph, I have duly obliged and I hope he likes it.

A week later we decided to give the Butterfly Reserve at Allt Mhuic a go. A previous visit here had resulted in only day flying moths and Four Spot Chaser dragonflies, today however, the conditions were much better. We did the circular walk up to the waterfall and back down, by the top I was certain that we were too early yet again. Finally success as we started to find specimens on the path close to the ruined sheep fold/building on the west side of the reserve. It appeared to me that these butterflies were smaller than those at Glasdrum and were certainly in no mood to be photographed. Over twenty yards of path we had ten sightings, not many considering the temperature. My impression is that there are a lot fewer bluebells than before so less chance of finding them nectaring. After lunch I had another go and found a couple just above the tree line on the western side, this time nectaring on Rock Rose. Other butterflies were Green-veined White and some very tatty Green Hairstreaks.

We decided to move on and give Glen Loy a go, this resulted in a possible sighting of a CS but there were plenty of SPbF on the wing, some newly emerged too. I didn't have the energy to do an extensive search, better to sit in the warm sunshine and take in the stunning surroundings.

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