We were delighted to find a Silver Washed Fritillary Butterfly on the brambles at Wheatland Farm today – it was our wild moment for #30DaysWild No. 22.
This individual looks to be a male, from the pattern on the wings. It was slicing up the sunshine in a glade below the wildlife pond, resting on nettles, brambles and willow herb, and looking like a flying slab of honeycomb. Silver washed fritillaries are some of the largest butterflies we find at Wheatland Farm, and they seem to fly more slowly and majestically.
In the pictures, you can see the different wing postions, as the butterfly regulates its temperature, holding the wings low to warm up, raising them when its warm enough, and even closing the wings over the body to expose the more reflective underside when it needs to keep cool.
We generally see a few of these each year, (we saw some in July last year). but not many. They like woodlands with open glades as the larvae need to feed on violet leaves, which thrive in coppiced clearings. So when we clear back brambles and overly encroaching willow, that helps. But we more often see silver washed fritillaries on Popehouse Moor SSSI than elsewhere on the farm, so it’s good to find one outside the legally defined Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Previously for #30DaysWild
This time last year: we were also celebrating butterflies around the eco lodges – but small tortoiseshells. Some years we see nearly none. In 2020 they have been fairly numerous, and we’ve seen up to 4 at a time flying at the wildlife pond. They generally go up in numbers after a hot summer.
This time in 2018: Four spot chasers were at the wildlife pond.
This time in 2017: We were collecting wildflower seeds and spreading more into the lodge field, especially in front of Beech Lodge. It does seem to be working – we’re getting more ox eye daisies and more birdsfoot trefoil as well as the yellow rattle that’s still going strong.