Portland Tout

Track leading towards the sea and cliffs
Portland Tout Quarry. Photo: Lawrie de Whalley

Guide to this top Dorset butterfly site, including: location, description, species of interest and photo gallery.

View of blue butterfly with white markings on the edges of it's wings

Chalkhill Blue. Photo: Shona Refoy

View of two Chalkhill Blue butterflies mating.

Chalkhill Blue. Photo: Shona Refoy

Shona has just sent us a couple of photos she took on 23/07/2019 commenting as follows:

Back in the summer, I watched this pair of mating Chalkhill Blues at Tout Quarry as they moved around. The female isn’t very obvious in the first photo – she is dangling upside down with her legs facing us. The second photo shows that she eventually got her feet onto something more substantial than air! Roll on Summer!

Orange and Brown butterfly with brown lines and eyespots

Wall Brown. Photo: Andrew Reekie

Andrew tells us he found his first Wall Brown this summer at Tout Quarry on 14/07/19.

This is a sun loving butterfly which has been spotted in various habitat, coastal, edge of woodlands and heathland tracks on occasion.

view of a Large Tortoiseshell sunning on rocks with wings wide open

Large Tortoiseshell. Photo: Martin East

view of a Peacock sunning on rocks with wings open wide

Peacock. Photo: Martin East

Martin travelled from Bristol on 27/02/19 to look for the Large Tortoiseshell reported as seen at Tout Quarry, Portland.

He says he was there for four hours and was about to leave having only seen this Peacock, when he saw some people looking into a gully. Lo and behold, there was his target species. Now that’s dedication!

Large Tortoiseshell. Photo: Andy Martin

Andy was thrilled to find his first Large Tortoiseshell in the UK at Tout Quarry on 26/02/19.

Two were reported as being seen there, one having a light coloured speck above the third of the dark blotches on the right fore-wing.

This species is not known as a migrant, so it would be  interesting to know if they are releases or maybe they are going to start migrating to our shores.

view of a Wall Brown standing tall on hot concrete

Wall Brown. Photo: Patrick Moore

Patrick photographed this Wall Brown at Houn Tout Quarry on 22/07/18 and says:

 A stunning area and a stunning butterfly.

The Wall gets its name from the characteristic behaviour of resting with wings two-thirds open on any bare surface, including bare ground and, of course, walls! Many people will have come across this butterfly on footpaths, especially in coastal areas, where the butterfly flies up when disturbed, before setting again a few metres ahead.

view of a female Chalkhill Blue on a stem showing all upper wings

Chalkhill Blue. Photo: James Gould


view of undersides of Chalkhill Blue on pink flowers

Chalkhill Blue. Photo: James Gould

James tells us he spent a lovely morning at Tout Quarry on 17/07/18 where he photographed these Chalkhill Blues.

The top photo is of a female and the above photo shows the markings of the undersides clearly for ID purposes. Common Blues have very similar underside markings, but the diagnostic markings are those around the rim of the wings, There is a chequered effect on Chalkhill Blues and a plain white rim on Common Blues.

View of a brown butterfly with orange, black and white markings resting on some green vegetation

Chalkhill Blue ab. Photo: Mark Pike

This is another photo from Mark’s trip to Portland on a very windy day sent in telling us:

This is a female Chalk Hill Blue (unknown aberration) seen 08/08/2021 at Tout Quarry.  If you look carefully there are small silver markings in the black colouring behind the orange on the edge of the wings. It is almost a Silver Studded Chalk Hill Blue! I have seen one of these before a few years ago at Badbury Rings and I don’t think it is particularly uncommon. Nice to find though.

An orange butterfly with black and white markings resting on a rock

Painted Lady. Photo: Mark Pike

An orange butterfly with brown, black and some white markings resting on a rock

Wall. Photo: Mark Pike

Mark must have been feeling very brave yesterday, 08/08/2021 when he decided to venture to Portland but he was suitably rewarded as he tells us:

I somehow managed a couple of hours at Tout Quarry this morning, in almost hurricane like conditions! Most butterflies were cowering away but a couple of sunny spells did produce this Painted Lady and nice fresh 2nd brood Wall Brown.

I also saw one confirmed Large Tortoiseshell but the wind took it off and it vanished with no chance of a pic!