The dying of Summer's light


Now that we are into mid-October the need to suck the marrow out of each warm and sunny day becomes all the more urgent for the butterfly watcher. We just do not know how many more times we will see them this year. Some have long gone, their flight period but a dim and distant memory, but others are still on the wing. My 'latest date' for a number of species runs into late October and beyond, and for your entertainment they are:

Clouded Yellow 2nd November 2015 Dungeness
Brimstone 12th December 1998 Banstead
Large White 23rd October 2001 Banstead
Small White 31st October 2016 Dungeness
Small Copper 1st November 1988 Dungeness
Red Admiral 24th December 2014 Ewell
Painted Lady 2nd November 1988 Dungeness
Small Tortoiseshell 29th October 1987 Dungeness
Peacock 3rd November 1992 Banstead 
Comma 18th October 1978 Beddington SF
Speckled Wood 13th October 2018 Headley Heath
Wall 23rd October 1982 Kent
Small Heath 1st November 2015 Dungeness
Monarch 22nd October 1981 Isles of Scilly

It is a bittersweet feeling seeing these late, mostly lonely specimens. Many are starting to show wear (such as the Red Admiral above) and they are all a reminder of the 'dying of Summer's light'. A few comments on my list above - I cannot believe that I have not had a later Speckled Wood and I assume that I have but have inadvertently failed to keep a note of it; the habit of birding at Dungeness in late autumn also helps you to see late butterflies; the Monarch is the only one that I have ever seen.

Comments

John said…
Steve, I always find Speckled Woods interesting, they seem to linger in good numbers until quite late and then disappear. Last weekend my garden had perhaps a dozen flying around and now nothing. It seems to happen each year.
Steve Gale said…
Maybe my latest date really is just that then John. My assumption is based on seeing them in number (like you) late in the year rather than just the odd one.
Derek Faulkner said…
Finding that last butterfly has to be a lot less stressful and expensive than joining the masses belting down the motorways to Cornwall. I wonder how many "sickies" have taken place the last couple of days, appointments cancelled, promises made to the missus ignored.

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