Thursday 19 May 2022

Sir Duke.

 Due to a few commitments this past couple of weeks Nigel and I haven't been able to do our annual 'Old Boys' trip to Kent to see the Duke of Burgundy butterfly. However, I have still managed to see a few of the Sussex Dukes instead. This butterfly is not found locally at all so it is West Sussex or Kent. The Kent Dukes are seen in woodland mainly whereas the West Sussex sites are mainly downland.

My first encounter this year was when I drove over to join Clare for the day where she was staying at a campsite quite near one of the Duke sites. We had a good day hunting for them on the side of the hill whilst enjoying watching and listening to the parachuting Tree Pipits!! We were quite early in the Duke season and the weather was much cloudier and cooler than forecast so we did struggle. In the end I only found the one Duke, a very fresh male.

Male Duke of Burgundy.

The past couple of weeks I have been busy leading butterfly walks for Naturetrek and on one day each week there was a trip over to the nearest Duke site to home.  When I lead these walks I take very few photos as I concentrate finding things for the clients, however, when a mating pair showed quite well I did get tempted to take a few pictures when everyone else had finished taking their pictures.

Mating Duke of Burgundy. (The duchess is the one on top).

The Duke of Burgundy is unique in Britain as it is the only member of the Rhionidae family, the metalmark butterflies. The female Duke shows 6 working legs whilst the male only has 4 with the other 2 legs being tiny and tucked under his chin. On the photo above you can just about make out the top butterfly has 3 legs each side so it's easy to work out that this is the female.

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