A Wood White nectaring from a Common Spotted Orchid.
We’re fortunate that the Forest of Dean is still home to this species, which is in long term decline. For some reason the local population seems to have emerged rather later this year than other populations in the country, unless I’ve simply been unlucky until now. This one was photographed on the 29th May.
The Orange-tip is a distinctive spring butterfly. It is a medium sized butterfly which is often seen in gardens and along hedgerows and roadside verges especially in areas where water occurs. It is fairly Common throughout England Wales and Scotland but is absent from the far north of the British Isles.
Male Orange-tips have white wings with vivid orange wing tips with a dark spot where the white and orange areas of the forewing meet. The distinctive males are usually seen continuously patrolling backward and forward along hedgerows searching for newly emerged females. They will often investigate anything white such as flower petals or pieces of paper.
Despite living in the right place for Wood Whites, somehow they’d always managed to elude me each year. They seem to exist in very localised colonies. The Wood White is one of our daintiest butterflies with one of the slowest and delicate flights of all the British butterflies. When at rest, the rounded tips of the forewings provide one of the main distinguishing features between this butterfly and other “whites”. Adults always rest with their wings closed. In flight, the male can be distinguished from the female by a black spot at the tip of the forewings that is greatly reduced in the female.
I’ve made a few visits to a favourite spot for Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary in the Forest this week, but it’s taken until today to see any. It was a scorching afternoon, but the first half hour produced nothing but Common Blue and the odd Dingy Skipper. Just as I was about to move on to another site, a flash of orange passed in front of me – the first of maybe 10-15, all looking very fresh. This butterfly, like the Pearl-bordered Fritillary, gets its name from the series of “pearls” that run along the outside edge of the underside of the hindwing.
After so long away from home, it was nice to get out in the Forest of Dean this afternoon. The sun was shining and there were a good number of insects on the wing. This is one of three Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries seen today, along with Ringlets, Meadow Browns, Speckled Woods, Common Blue, Large Skipper. The highlight of the dragonflies today was a Golden-ringed. Woodlark still singing, Tree Pipits still displaying and a Cuckoo still calling. It’s almost like I was never away!