Posted by: Ross Gardner | August 6, 2014

Pembrokeshire Butterflies

The dramatic Pembrokeshire coastline, close to St David's Head.  Ross Gardner, 2014

The dramatic Pembrokeshire coastline, close to St David’s Head. Ross Gardner, 2014

A good reason for being away from the blog this time, having been away beside the very fine Pembrokeshire coast.  Here is to be found some of the best maritime scenery that I’ve had the good fortune to experience and a wider countryside which, although in many places farmed, conveys a satisfyingly rugged air and one where, on the face of things at least, things don’t seem quite as squeezed out of the picture, as so often proves the case for a good deal of our wildlife.

This part of the UK has its specialities of course.  The Chough that we saw bouncing playfully over the cliffs on several occasions.  Views of Manx Shearwater streaming in their thousands low over the sunset waves back to their island nest-burrows.  Even the tantalising potential of views of cetaceans from boat or cliff-top, as evidenced for us by way of many minutes watching Porpoise close to the shore from a lofty viewpoint, presumably lured by the same, unseen fish that attracted the Gannet arrowing into the waters around them – another of those seabirds that make the Pembrokeshire islands so important for their vast nesting colonies.

It was some more familiar faces however, that perhaps more firmly reinforced the sense of the wild richness of the area.  Butterflies occurred here, especially along the coast path in numbers I have not experienced for a long time.  The sort of quantity that made me recall the days when I was a lad and could often count 60 or 70 butterflies on the huge Buddleja in our back garden – mostly Small Tortoiseshell, with a healthy smattering of Peacock, Painted Lady, Red Admiral and others.  Back to the here and now and beneath the warmth of the benign Welsh summer skies that we enjoyed for most of our week’s stay and while we would see plenty of these others, it was the likes of Gatekeeper and Wall Brown that offered near constant and ubiquitous companionship, in numbers that would make you concerned for them flying beneath your boots.  The latter, once common almost everywhere, is one of our most declined species over recent decides and it was a joy to see them in such exuberant quantity.  More often or not there would be Grayling, breaking camouflage with a sudden and rapid flight, almost at your feet, while stands of knapweed often attracted the attention of Common Blue, Small Copper and on occasion Dark Green Fritillary.

It was a fine and wonderful sight and one to persist in the memory, as will the backdrop to which it was set.

Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera).  Ross Gardner 2014)

Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera). Ross Gardner 2014

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