Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and a late Marsh Fritillary at Finglandrigg Wood NNR
Today we had a nice family walk at Fingland Rigg NNR. The woodlands were quite quiet apart from some vocal Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and a Treecreeper. We concentrated our efforts in the butterfly meadows where we had great views of several Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary alongside Small Heath, Meadow Brown, Large Skipper and Ringlet butterflies.
UKButterflies states that the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary is a delightful butterfly found in discrete colonies. Patrolling males can be seen flying a couple of feet from the ground, alternating a burst of rapid wing beats with a short glide, searching out freshly-emerged females in the surrounding scrub. The wing pattern, however, makes the adult butterfly difficult to follow in flight, it being much easier to observe this species when it is basking or nectaring on flowers of Bugle and other plants.
This butterfly, like the Pearl-bordered Fritillary, gets its name from the series of “pearls” that run along the outside edge of the underside of the hindwing. The two species may be seen together at certain sites, although the Pearl-bordered Fritillary emerges a couple of weeks before the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and generally appears much paler as a result. This strongholds of this species are found throughout much of Scotland and Wales, and in the north-western and south-western counties of England with scattered colonies elsewhere. It is absent from the Outer Hebrides, Orkney, Shetland, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. This butterfly is found in discrete colonies containing anything between a couple of dozen and 100 adults at peak.
I was also very surprised to see a single Marsh Fritillary so late in the season. It was very worn, but still very active.
Back near the carpark there were a couple of Meadow Grasshoppers basking in the sunshine.