Corbieres garden watch: butterflies

The birds of the Corbieres are a bit different from East London (I don’t often see a Griffon Vulture sail over the house or a Bee-eater perch on a telegraph pole in Leytonstone), but the butterflies are just another world. I don’t especially mean the different species, although there are many different species from those I find in London, but the diversity and the sheer quantity is just a world away.

IMG_4109v2

There were probably over 100 butterflies In the grassy area within the frame of this shot

We hear increasingly about the decline of butterfly numbers and I have certainly been taken aback by a seeming paucity of butterflies on the wing recently. I can stand in prime  habitat locally and sometimes not see any butterflies at all for a minute or two. In the Corbieres, they are everywhere. Every step I took on the land would send several flapping away to safety. I am not massively used to it because I don’t often visit in June or July and so found it almost breathtaking on this most recent trip.

I have recorded 43 species of butterfly within a short walk of the house and I expect, if I broaden my visits across Spring and Summer dates, I should hit 50 without too much bother; there was certainly a lot of underlap from a trip in August a couple of years ago.

On this trip, some species were everywhere: Meadow Brown (also probably the commonest summer butterfly back in Wanstead), Iberian Marbled White, Southern Gatekeeper, Silver-washed Fritillary, and Grayling were almost ubiquitous.

Iberian Marbled White

Iberian Marbled White (Melanargia lachesis)

Wall brown

Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera)

IMG_9921v2

Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia)

Grayling

Grayling (Hipparchia semele)

The area benefits from many of the butterflies you would expect to find in France as well as being in a strange geographical comma that extends a number of Iberian semi-endemics into this sliver of Southern France. The False Ilex Hairstreak is a good example of this.

IMG_4007v2

False Ilex Hairstreak (Satyrium esculi)

A highlight for me was finally seeing Black-veined White. Their wings look like slices of translucent ivory or mother-of-pearl.

Black veined white v2

Black-veined White (Aporia crategi)

The blues gave me some ID challenges, but were fun such as this Escher’s Blue

Escher's Blue

Escher’s Blue (Polyommatus escheri)

I have pasted in my full patch list below in case of interest.

Brown Argus
Chalkhill Blue
Provence Chalk-hill Blue
Silver-studded Blue
Amanda’s Blue
Escher’s Blue
Common Blue
Long-tailed Blue
False Ilex
Blue-spot Hairstreak
Green Hairstreak
Spanish Purple Hairstreak
Two-tailed Pasha
Southern White Admiral
Painted Lady
Spotted Fritillary
Silver-washed Fritillary
False Grayling
Small Heath
Striped Grayling
Grayling
Tree Grayling
Great Banded Grayling
Wall Brown
Large Wall Brown
Large Tortoiseshell
Red Admiral
Dusky Heath
Speckled Wood
Meadow Brown
Iberian Marbled White
Spanish Gatekeeper
Southern Gatekeeper
Clouded Yellow
Berger’s Clouded Yellow
Cleopatra
Brimstone
Wood White
Black-veined White
Scarce Swallowtail
Small Skipper
Southern Marbled Skipper
Silver-spotted Skipper
Silver-washed Fritillary

Silver-washed Fritillary – upperside

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