Back in April during the strict lockdown I found a Large Tortoiseshell just around the corner from my house, and at the time it seemed that it was a once in a lifetime event.
On Sunday, still having to stay pretty close to home, I managed to get out for what was meant to be a quick walk on the patch, which included an attempt at finding a Six-belted Clearwing using a pheromone lure. This was actually unsuccessful, but as I packed the lure away a Scarce Forester flew up. This is the first Forester I've ever seen along the valley as far as I can remember, and certainly the first Scarce. Whether it was attracted in by the pheromone it is difficult to say. However, it was a lovely moth and a great addition to the patch.
It was at this point that I nearly turned around and headed home, but for some reason I went a bit further along the valley, possibly thinking I might see a few Small Blue. (A very good decision)!!
I then did spot a reasonably fresh Small Blue and was about to attempt a photo when a large orange butterfly caught my eye. My immediate thought was a Dark Green Fritillary, but the flight seemed wrong. It then landed on the Bramble and it was clear and obvious that this was a stunning Large Tortoiseshell. For the next couple of hours it continued to perform well, mainly nectaring on the Bramble flowers or resting in a Hawthorn bush. As it was so hot it didn't give many opportunities for an open wing shot, but a few grab shots were taken showing the beautiful top wings. One wing was damaged along the edge, but the colours were very good and a massive improvement on the tired looking specimen from April. With breeding of this very rare butterfly now confirmed in Dorset the chances of running into one has increased enormously.
Finding one of these very rare butterflies is a special event, but to find 2 in a matter of a few weeks is just unbelievable. If it wasn't for having to stay close to home and not being able to travel long distances for other species I doubt I would have seen either of them. Staying local really can pay off.
Large Tortoiseshell on Bramble.