Wednesday 27 April 2011: Dingy....
Today we've had beautiful blue skies, but with a chilly north-east wind. It's been a family day, and we even managed to get everyone out for an afternoon walk with the dogs to Ring Haw. Out of the wind it was really quite warm, and there were plenty of butterflies on the wing, including green-veined white, orange tip, green hairstreak, grizzled skipper and dingy skipper, a new species for me this year.
The dingy skipper is locally distributed throughout Britain and Ireland, but has declined seriously in recent years. It's a subtly marked butterfly, but when freshly emerged can be quite beautiful, with a scatter of almost metallic scales around the thorax. However, over time the scales wear off and it becomes increasingly drab, living up to its name.
According to the Butterfly Conservation website, colonies occur in a wide range of open, sunny habitats including chalk downland, woodland rides and clearings, coastal habitats such as dunes and undercliffs, heathland, old quarries, railway lines, and waste ground. Suitable conditions occur where foodplants such as bird's-foot trefoil grow in a sparse sward, often with patches of bare ground in a sunny, sheltered situation. Taller vegetation is also required for shelter and roosting. It's quite rare around Peterborough, being mostly found in disused quarries.
When we returned it was time for the famous egg hunt! Pete hid 170 tiny eggs around our large garden - amazingly we found all but five!! But we did have five pairs of young. keen eyes doing the searching. We tried to persuade the doogs to help sniff them out, but surprisingly they weren't interested!! So now we're going to have a family roast dinner - today it actually feels like Easter Sunday!