We went for another walk out to Shornemead Fort today, along the south bank of the Thames estuary. The rough marshes out there seemed to be supporting a number of butterflies I just don’t see in town, even though we did the same walk last week and saw nothing but small whites. I have only ever seen two clouded yellows before in my life, on two different occasions, but both when I have been lounging on the beach at Whitstable and the butterfly has flown overhead in a roughly seawards direction. The patch of estuary we covered today is basically that same stretch of land, but 40 miles westwards, and there were loads of clouded yellows around. They settle for just a few seconds at a time and are quite sensitive to nearby movement, so getting a photo is not easy, as the crummy effort to the right testifies.
This species hardly ever rests with its wings open either, so the dusky ‘clouded’ yellow of the upperwings, with its black-tipped wingtips, is only seen in flight. However, the underside is a really bright acid yellow.
Below we have a nice closeup taken indoors, and also a small heath butterfly, which is like a tiny, skipper-sized gatekeeper. There were skippers around as well, and also small coppers, but I couldn’t get close enough to any of them for a photo. The wind was blowing strongly, and as soon as a butterfly took to flight, it was gone. There were also quite a lot of these moths down in the grass – slightly larger and more patterned than your average grass moths.