Name does not tell the whole story
WE have just received a wonderful video showing our work around the region, which will be on the website in the coming weeks.
And there was I standing with my camera on Warton Crag, that magnificent rock overlooking Morecambe Bay. Fortunately, there is only a flash of me, any more might put people off.
Anyway, it brought lovely memories of that day on the rock, as I spent most of the time taking pictures of butterflies.
Warton Crag is renowned for the flutterers, mainly delicate fritillaries, the high brown being a rare one. The Wildlife Trust has created ‘rides’ on the limestone tops, which are open pathways for the butterflies to wander along and back again.
My favourite was a medium-sized brown butterfly that simply sat on the rock and posed for minutes on end. My lens was almost touching this insect, but it was more interested in the sunshine.
I was hoping that this would be one of our rare fritillaries or a lesserspotted, pink-rimmed, red-tipped something or other. However, this was identified as “Oh it’s a wall.”
Yes, the wall brown is a butterfly, with a less-thaninspiring name. It is one of the “brown” butterflies. I mean let’s find a way to dissuade people from getting involved in wildlife. Let’s find a name that isn’t exactly rock ‘n’ roll.
Taking a close look at this insect, it is more of a pale orange, with subtle greyish brown markings and black eyespots. The wall brown is unique with the one large eyespot on the forewing and four smaller eyespots on the hindwing. It’s a little beauty and not just brown.
I realise this is now getting to late September but the wall brown will be flying around until the end of October. It will have had two or three broods over the long, hot summer that seems so far away now.
The wall brown is widespread, but numbers are declining. It can be seen in hot, sunny places - open grassland, sand dunes and rocky foreshores, disused quarries and railway cuttings and even gardens. Its caterpillars feed on a variety of grasses.
Its name, the wall brown, comes from a habit of basking on bare patches of rock, earth and stone, such as walls and paths. This allows it to raise its temperature both directly from the sun and indirectly from the reflected heat of the surface it is on, giving it the power to fly.
It explains its reluctance to budge while I was taking pictures, spoiling my attempts to be Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
But its appearance certainly added to a lovely day and many butterflies will do the same before they vanish for the winter.
Treat this as a reminder that when you work on the garden this winter to plant some butterfly and bee-friendly areas. They will brighten up your garden in so many ways.
To become a member of the Trust go to the website at www.lancswt.org.uk or call 01772 324129. For more information about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewildlifetrust.org. uk.
Wall brown butterfly on Warton Crag