Thursday, April 30, 2009

Return of the native




Catching sight of a speckled wood butterfly isn’t a big deal in many parts of the country, but up here in County Durham it was, until about three years ago, something to get excited about. Until the 1840s this butterfly was quite common in the region, then it went into steep decline. When Tom Dunn and Jim Parrack published ‘The Moths and Butterflies of Northumberland and Durham’ in 1986 they considered it to be extinct in both counties but wistfully noted that “since it still survives in Yorkshire it is theoretically possible for it to return”. How heartening, then, to find that over the last few years it has recolonised both counties, moving rapidly northwards. It seems that climate change is the reason. I photographed this one in Durham University Botanic Garden yesterday.

6 comments:

  1. I saw my first Speckled wood 4 years ago in a woodland ride in mid northumberland but haven't seen one since. They do get recorded anually. Great blog and stunning photography.
    Tom dunn takes me back to the seventies when he was one of the panel on 'Looks natural' a wonderful programme for a fledgling early teens amateur naturalist.

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  2. Thanks for your commments abbey meadows. I have fond memories of Tom. He gave me a lot of help and advice on how to identify interesting species and where to find them - an absolute mine of information and a real gentleman. Sadly missed.

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  3. Just visited your blog for the first time and it was a pleasure to do so. You display considerable and quite stunning photography which reveals a lot of nature and the countryside. Thanks.

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  4. Fortunatley they are in abundance here, and long may they be so.
    Excellent pictures Greenfingers.

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  5. Thanks Roy. I'm lucky to live in a wonderful part of the country for wildlife - everything from moorland to sand dunes within easy reach. I've been here for nearly 40 years now and I'm still discovering new delights!

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  6. Thanks holdingmoments. Over the last couple of decades we've had three more butterflies that have recolonised the north east - first the small skipper and the ringlet, and most recently the comma, but the small pearl-bordered fritillary is struggling to hang on here.

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