I had gone to my local small patch of common to see if I could find a grasshopper warbler reported the previous day. Instead of finding that I discovered a willow tree in flower that was mainly covered in bumble bees but with just this one small tortoiseshell butterfly enjoying the early Spring sunshine as well. It was happily sipping the nectar from the willow flowers and staying fairly low in the tree luckily for me so I could capture all the glory of its beautiful colours at eye level. Perhaps it was not keen to bump into the bumble bees above.
While the small tortoiseshell might not be a rare species, it is probably one of the first to come out of hibernation at the first hint of any sun or warmth. This can be its undoing as proved by the early Spring weather in this part of Scotland along the Moray Firth near Inverness this year. Sunny spells have been interspersed with sudden snow showers and freezing overnight temperatures and if they do not find suitable roosting places to hide then they will probably not survive sadly. Better to have stayed in bed a little longer!
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Clare Disano • Editor