The Common looked wonderful in the sunshine today (29th May). The hay meadows, especially
on Middle Common, were ablaze with buttercups, red clover and ox-eye daisies. On
East Common there are some bright clumps of bird’s-foot trefoil, a foodplant for
the caterpillars of the Common Blue butterfly. The Green-winged orchids had a good
year with 41 spikes counted, the most so far.
Last month we reported seeing a Painted Lady butterfly on 20th April on East Common.
This must have been a real ‘turbo-charged’ individual. The main influx didn’t arrive
until a month or more later. The last 10 days of May have seen the arrival of vast
numbers, probably totalling many millions for the country as a whole. We missed
seeing the spectacular numbers but an experienced observer counted 1847 in an hour
flying north-west across a 250 metre stretch in east Bedfordshire, including 487
in 5 minutes “almost too many to count”. The new arrivals included some rather faded
butterflies which have flown all the way from North Africa and fresh-looking ones
that would have been the offspring of other North African ones that bred in southern
Europe. The main foodplants of the caterpillars are thistles which should be well
chewed by August. Another migrant butterfly which has been seen elsewhere, though
in much smaller numbers, is the Clouded Yellow, a rich yellow butterfly with black
borders to the wings; unfortunately it never rests with its wings open. If these
migrant species breed successfully we should have an interesting summer.
See May’s Nature Notes
The Chilterns, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - website: