Thursday, May 13, 2010

Not so Dingy Skipper


Most observers agree that the dingy skipper Erynnis tages is a declining butterfly, so it was encouraging to find a small colony at the base of the cliffs at Hawthorn Hive last weekend. This butterfly has two key requirements - bird's foot trefoil as a caterpillar food plant and bare ground for the adult to bask on. Its colour scheme makes it hard to spot but under close scrutiny it's far from being dingy, with those beautiful mottled shades of brown and even a hint of pale blue in the fringe around the edges of the wings. I'm intrigued by those tufts of 'hair' on the hind wings, near the abdomen. I think this is a male - apparently distinguihed by that line of yellowish scent scales along the leading edge of the fore-wing.

6 comments:

  1. Not dingy at all, are they Phil.
    Quite hairy too. Lovely shot.

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  2. Beautiful butterfly and picture, Phil.

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  3. Hi Keith, I went back to the same spot yesterday and found scores of dingy skippers feeding on the bird'sfoot trefoil that's just coming into flower.

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  4. I guess it's like so many things in nature (including your recent lichen pictures) - the closer you look, the more exquisite nature becomes. Dingy skippers seem to have a very varied taste in habitats. I've sometimes found small populations on baffle banks around opencast coal sites and I've heard that some of the best remaining colonies are on brown field sites in industrial and urban areas.

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  5. It was a good idea of mine to look back through other blogs to see where the writers find their wildlife. I'm planning some butterfly trips next year and the not so Dingy Skipper is on the list, so I might get to Hawthorn Hive. A friend in Durham says I can stay with her and use her home as a base for some Durham outings. Merry Christmas.

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  6. Merry Christmas Emma. Dingy skippers seem to have a real liking for 'brown field' sites that have plenty of the bird's foot trefoil that its caterpillar eats. I've seen it on old opencast coal site baffle banks, railway yards and in some 'urban wastelands' that look unpromising as wildlife sites.

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