Arnside and beyond

By gladders

Small heath

This was photographed late in the evening on the top of Arnside Knott and features the unobtrusive small heath butterfly.  You can get an idea of how small it is from the stamens of the grass flowers.  It's still a relatively common species of dry grassy places, but like most of our commoner wildlife it's becoming more localised and fragmented in its distribution.

They fly in sunshine low over the grassland, and this one was enjoying the last sun of the day.  The photographer has to be quick as they settle on a grass stem, because they quickly withdraw the eye-spotted forewing behind the more cryptic hindwing.  I managed 3 shots before this one did.  Unobtrusive maybe, but no less lovely for being that.

Nearby there was my first painted lady (butterfly - just in case anyone is wondering) of the year, flying strongly above the grassland and scrub.  Perhaps it had just arrived on its migration from North Africa.  Perhaps too it signals a good year for them if they are already appearing this far north, and there may be a bumper crop of second generation butterflies later in the Summer.  We shall see, last year was expected to be a good year for them, but appreciable numbers did not materialise here.

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