We also saw two remarkably small orange tips in one specific location. I am interested to find out whether this is a localised race, or whether they are caused by lack of foodstuffs during the larval stage. The fact that they did not appear to be weak and were flying alongside normal-sized specimens would tend to negate that theory. Any ideas?
This actually brings the species tally to 12 in 48 hours. When you think that there have only been 23 species recorded in Woolsery and the surrounding areas (by me as a youngster, and various CFZ bods in the past six years) and there are only 35 species that even might be in the area according to UK Butterflies who are pretty damned authoratative. We have therefore discounted ridiculously rare and local species, species that only live in Scotland, the Isle of Wight or chalky downs for example, and also the stupidly rare migrants.
An awful lot of my energies over the past twenty-five years, since I first started taking my cryptozoological studies seriously, has been about fluctuations in the species lists of various biotopes where there are thought to be creatures of cryptozoological interest. Some years ago I published my preliminary thoughts about the fluctuating mammal species lists of Hong Kong - an area with more than its fair share of intersesting creatures.
Now, it is about time that I turned the spotlight onto my own figurative doorstep.
The area that I have chosen as our study area is basically the area over which I used to roam between 1971 and 1981 (when I finally left home). In the last few years we have highlighted it as being an area in which at least three creatures of interest to us live: golden frogs, wild boar and big cats.
Butterfly numbers are markedly down on what they were thirty years ago, with one exception: the migratory nymphalids are far more common. However, our efforts over the past few days have proved that all the species I knew here as a child have survived. The one exception to this is the marbled white (Melanargia galathea), which will not fly until July, and which had a very localised range. We will look for it again then.
This year is an extraordinary one so far for butterflies, and I hope that it will continue to be so. I have a sneaking suspicion that once we can point our sticky little fingers at the cause of these odd fluctuations we will not only have learned more about British butterflies than we did, but also be in possesion of some truths of great importance to Fortean Zoology as a whole.