23 Oct 2015

23 Oct 15 - Blue Friday

One of my favourite early 80s classics was New Order's Blue Monday. But today, I had a call from Sussex Butterfly mate, Neil Hulme, to say it was Blue Friday. This immediately got the alarm bells ringing. I was cooking some lunch at the time, but within fifteen minutes I had finished cooking, bolted down the food, grabbed the cameras & was walking out to the car. Next stop Beeding cement factory site, near Shoreham-by-sea. Guess I had better explain. Neil has been keeping a close eye out over the last few weeks for Long-tailed Blues hatching out. Earlier in the Autumn, there had been an arrival of Long-tailed Blues, a rare migratory European Butterfly, into Kent & Sussex. Neil had been checking the foodplant, Broad-leaved Everlasting Peas, at a number of locations & found a good number of eggs. After that it was a case of waiting to see if any of these hatched into Butterflies. Apparently, the caterpillars spend all their lives in the flowers & pea pods. As a result, it is unlikely that there will be any sightings after the eggs have hatched, until the Butterflies appear.
Long-tailed Blue: Female. Roosting on a pea pod
It is only 110 miles & should have been no more than two hours drive, but it was a Friday afternoon leading into a half term & the roads were clogged at every point. As I got closer, I had several calls from Neil to confirm how close I was, as he was waiting to show me the roosting Long-tailed Blue. But he really needed to leave as he was taking his better half out that evening. Finally, I arrived & we had a quick chat & Neil was off, while I was left to photograph the Long-tailed Blue. I had chance to play around with the camera's built in flash, which I've hardly used in the two years of having the camera. But the light was fading as there was less than an hour of light left. Eventually, I was happy with the photos & left the Long-tailed Blue roosting. Glad to say it was seen on the next couple of days, although it did disappear after a male was seen. So perhaps some Butterfly hanky-panky & the female was heading South.
Long-tailed Blue: Female. With the recent cold NE winds I had been losing confidence that any would hatch out. But was happy to be proved wrong & to see my first Long-tailed Blue
In most Butterflies, I understand that males are likely to hatch out first, so they are ready for when the females emerge. But with the final brood of Long-tailed Blues, the first out are the females & they are waiting for a male to hatch. Once they have mated, it is believed the females will then leave the site & be heading South so the next batch of eggs will be laid in a more benign climate.