Wednesday, 1 July 2020
Meeting the butterfly people
They were, quite simply, groupies of the Purple Emperor butterfly.
Last week this was all a bit of an eye-opener for me. It was my first time at Bookham Common and so never before had been exposed to this sort of adulation for an insect. On the first day I saw only the best of them, including a kindly gent who was full of local information and was keen for me to know exactly where to look and at what time I should be doing so. He knew all about the behaviour of HIM (His Imperial Majesty) and when I picked a male up above the canopy and was able to direct him to where it was perching in the open he was full of praise for my brilliant field work! He was of course being kind, it took no skill on my part to pick up such a large and stunning butterfly, but he made me feel a part of the gang. It felt good.
The following morning, back for more, I had the misfortune to meet his polar opposite. My attempt to regale 'this other gentleman' with my tale of having just seen a male Purple Emperor feeding on the ground was met by a dismissive wave of the hand and the curt words "I've seen hundreds." He carried on walking away as I was still talking. My 'polite' response, pointing out that his manner was not conducive to normal social behaviour, did at least get a rather flustered "...er, I'm in a hurry" from him. Twat.
These people are obsessives. They lurk. They know their quarry. And they made me feel many things. Welcomed. Surprised. Impressed. Confused. Annoyed. Afterwards I just had to go out and buy this book written by the chief 'Purple Botherer' Matthew Oates. And a fine read it is too.