Posted by: Ross Gardner | April 25, 2019

Old Friends and Woodland Walks

Moving house and for the best part of three weeks waiting for connection and thus  internet free – the latter being a strangely liberating experience, but not conducive to regular blog posting.  During those few weeks the spring has maintained its surge forth.  Each year I am freshly enthralled by the unfolding of this wonderful part of the year.

It is to old favourite, nay, an old companion that I turn to as the inspiration for this post.  The Speckled Wood has returned to woodland fold and whose combination of creamy markings on chocolate-brown wings, along with the eye-spots typical of the ‘browns’, provides a simple, yet subtly striking beauty.

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Speckled Wood (Parage aegeria)

This is a butterfly with which I have long associated a sense of companionship.  When walking, even in some of the shadiest of woods, the sighting of a Speckled Wood is a ‘completer of pictures’, an essential part of the woodland scene.  Their appearence, fluttering along the sunny ride, or flitting through the slanting shards of canopy-piercing sunlight, is greeted like that of an old friend well met.  Partakers of aphid honeydew coating the leaves in the crowns of trees they are rarely seen taking nectar from flowers.  The larvae though, feed on grasses and the the adults of still drawn groundwards, the males holding their territories, often with considerable aggression and comendable vehemence.

Not that we have always been able to take their reappearance each spring as for granted as we might be inclined to now.  In the early part of the 20th century they had become extinct across great swathes of the UK to be found only in a very few scattered locations.  Their recovery during the decades since the Second World War has been extraodrinary, to the extent now that they are even spreading in the more northerly parts of their range.

Long may their good fortunes continues


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