Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Heading home ...

Isles of Scilly, 25 August to 1 September 2012 – Part 3


A pristine Red Admiral was the first butterfly to greet us as we arrived at Carn Near Quay on Tresco earlier today. Proceeding past Abbey Pool, five Red Admiral and a single Small Tortoiseshell were recorded nectaring nearby. A Hummingbird Hawk-moth was briefly seen. Pool Road, located to the north of Great Pool, proved productive for Speckled Wood and I was able to get several shots of my target. Racket Town Lane provided our first Meadow Brown and a single female Small White; though the small sheltered quarry did not produce the Comma I was hoping for. As we headed along the edge of Castle Down towards Cromwell's and King Charles' Castles good numbers of Common Blue, including a mating pair, were observed; all females, once again, being strongly marked with blue. A male Large White bid us farewell as we left the island late in the afternoon.


Friday morning, the day before we are due to leave for home, and the winds finally decide to relent.  We wake to the best day of the week with gorgeous blue sky and golden sunshine shimmering in the calm, turquoise blue sea below. A Red Admiral, that had unwisely ventured into the conservatory where we were having breakfast was, not surprisingly, the first butterfly seen today.

Our destination for our final day on Scilly was the beautiful island of St Martin's. Located on the north eastern limit of Scilly, St Martin's could easily hold the title of the most picturesque of all the islands; it is certainly one of my favourites. Arriving in Lower Town and taking a slow walk through the sheltered centre of the island towards Middle Town, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Large White and Common Blue were soon found. Just before the Fire Station and on the approach to Higher Town there is a small quarry on the left of the track and here we found large numbers of Small White egg-laying on nasturtiums. After a brief stop for refreshments we headed along the track past North Farm where we found a Small Tortoiseshell, further Speckled Wood and a surprisingly obliging female Holly Blue (pictured below). Heading past Culver Hole towards Chapel Down and its fabulous views, we found a single Painted Lady nectaring on heather. With time pressing on and our boat (bus) due to depart at 2.30pm, we took a short cut across Carn Wethers towards John Batty's Hill; and I'm glad we did as here we found a small isolated colony of Small Copper. 

According to, The State of Butterflies in Britain and Ireland (2006), the Isles of Scilly have sixteen species of butterflies that are regularly recorded. These include, in addition to the eleven species seen this visit, Ringlet, Peacock, Comma, Clouded Yellow and Monarch. Whole groups or families of butterflies are absent from the islands. For example, there are no species of Skipper, Swallowtail, Hairstreak, Metalmark or Fritillary despite conditions being favourable for a number of species.

Recorded this visit:

Small Tortoiseshell
Common Blue
Small Copper
Holly Blue
Red Admiral
Painted Lady
Small White
Large White
Green-veined White
Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria ssp. insula)
Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina ssp. cassiteridum)

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