Rare Butterfly Hunting in Lincolnshire
It was thick fog and drizzle when I set out from home at 4.15 am to meet up with friend Roger Hatcliffe at Red Hill Lincs Wildlife Trust nature reserve to photograph marbled white butterflies. At night they roost low down in the vegetation and as the sun rises they climb up the grass stems to warm themselves in the early morning sunlight. Initially they sit with wings closed and, hopefully dew spangled. As the sun gradually warms them up they open their wings to soak up more heat and, then when warmed up, they take flight after which they are much more difficult to photograph as they only settle briefly.
As I approached Louth the fog thickened and my spirits sank, not to be improved by the fact that there was a road closure notice on the Horncastle road. Not to be deterred I carried on and went through the village of Tathwell to rejoin the Horncastle road by Cadwell Park. Soon I was approaching the reserve and noticed that the sky seemed to be clearing. When I arrived Roger was already there and had located several specimens. This year the are a little north of the main meadow on the steep slopes down into the Bain Valley. The main meadow above the quarry is amazingly lacking in growth this year. By now it is normally covered in tall,verdant grasses with drifts of scabious, knapweed and pyramidal orchids with bee orchids as well. The steep slopes are rich with tall grasses that the marbled whites like for roosting at the bottom of. As they begin to appear up the grass stems they are cold and not at all active so it is possible to carefully coax them on to a preferred perch for photography.
Soon we had all the photographs that we wanted and were able to concentrate on the view. The sun had come up by now, but the valley of the River Bain was still full of mist, a beautiful sight.
It was now time to move on 11 miles to Southrey Forest, one of the Lincolnshire Limewoods to look for white admiral butterflies.