Posted by: lensweb | May 20, 2014




Today I went to a secret location in Derbyshire. This isolated quarry hidden in the White Peak was the site of a very rare species of butterfly. We were meant to be there at two, I was late.

Darren said,

‘All the butterflies have just disappeared. we came at 11 and saw 6 at the atrium and 11 in the amphitheatre, we  took  the first recent photograph of a Derbyshire grizzled skipper.’

We sat on the turf bank and hugged.

Delta winged floating close to the ground like spent petals of cherry blossom, posed grass rivulets, pretty as a bridesmaid with lace frilled petticoats. Lying flat on its side, plain green against the short turf was a hairstreak, a short sojourn, quick to absorb the heat and fly high to the hazel. Shiny black, white fur trimmed ashy mining bees  bustled and tunnelled under the low plants, moss, fescue, catsear,  parsley piert, and ribwort plantain. Bustling about, probing feelers then head emerging, a short flight hop to another underground  lair.


Dingy skippers twirled like dancers, together but apart, teasing, spinning and floating above the quarry floor. Burnished gold, silver and copper scales reflected the sun’s rays on proudly spread wings; the drab wallflowers skulking on a black flower head of ribwort plantain modestly unfurling a watchspring proboscis to suck nectar.

A green corridor path lead through hazel and hawthorn bunched white blossom with pink stamens gaping. A confetti of elm nuts, branches arching through the orange palms of sycamore.  Bluebells, wood sage and cowslip carpet.

Speckled yellow moths sensitive to footfall, shot out of the grass stems at a 30 degree angle  across the narrow glade, zig zagging out of reach to settle low to earth tangled in tree roots and bramble whips, glowing translucent yellow triangles clinging to grass stems. I lay down with my camera in the dappled shade.

An uncertain breeze carried cream spotted dun speckled woods, small tortoiseshells and lurid yellow brimstones  dropping them into the theatre of sunshine.  A dark eyed peacock butterfly sunbathed and watched from high on a dried stem, measuredly flapping wings, stately red blue and gold magnificence.


Crowds of wild strawberry flowered on the floor of the abandoned amphitheatre. White petals with yellow green promises of fruit.  A vertical rock face reflected the sun onto the dingy mad brown dervishes. I’ve got one said Brian, I checked, it really was a grizzled skipper (it was a cheat, he had brought a net) I took a mug shot, before releasing the captive.


Finally I saw my own grizzled beauty briefly resting on a rock but, too quickly, with a fast vertical take off into orbit, pale grey in dashing flight, it was gone. I chased it around with my camera for a while, but I will have to get up early next time, like DaNES, because that grizzled varmint had me beat.

Thank you DaNES*.

*Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Entomological Society

2014 is DaNES Centenary Year to celebrate DaNES are supporting 22 public events

Marion Bryce Saturday May 17 2014


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