Tag Archives: Fontmell Down

A blue butterfly with a white fringe to the wings resting in the vegetation

Adonis Blue. Photo: Gary Holderness

Two brownish butterflies with orange, black and white markings resting in the vegetation

Adonis Blues. Photo: Gary Holderness

Gary has sent in these two photos telling us:

I took the great advice of the Dorset Butterfly Conservation website and travelled to Fontmell Down Nature Reserve on 01/09/2020 to see my first ever Adonis Blue butterflies. Fantastic – must have seen around 15, perhaps more.  For someone a bit new to it all it was a great day out .

View of a brown and gold butterfly resting on a yellow flower

Silver-spotted Skipper. Photo: Shona Refoy

View of a greenish brown butterfly with some white markings

Silver-spotted Skipper, Photo: Shona Refoy

Two more photos from Shona who sent them in saying:

I went to Fontmell Down again yesterday, 30/08/2020 and saw three female Silver-spotted Skippers. Realising that all of the photos sent to the Gallery this year have been of males, I thought I had better redress the balance! So here are photos of the first female I saw – she nectared on Dwarf Thistles and Hawkbit (first photo), then appeared to be ovipositing (second photo), before flying through the fence at the top of the Down.

View of a golden brown butterfly nectaring on a lilac coloured flower.

Silver-spotted Skipper. Photo: Tate Lloyd

Tate who lives in Wales was visiting Dorset for a few days and one of the places he went to was Fontmell Down.  He has sent us this photo of a male Silver-spotted Skipper taken there in the evening of 06/08/2020 telling us that it was the first time he had ever seen one.

A resting golden brown butterfly with white markings

Silver-spotted Skipper. Photo: Rob Morrison

View of a resting golden brown butterfly with white markings

Silver-spotted Skipper. Photo: Rob Morrison

Fontmell Down has been a very popular place for butterfly enthusiasts in search of the rare Silver-spotted Skipper and these are two photos of it sent to us by Rob with the following comments:

Here are two photographs of Silver-spotted Skipper taken at Fontmell Down taken yesterday, 07/08/2020.  There were a number of photographers all after these elusive and very flighty Skippers.

I wish somewhat less joy to the person I saw armed with a child’s fishing net.  When he replied in the negative to my query as to whether he was going fishing, I then suggested that with his net he would be damaging any unfortunate specimens slow enough not to elude the flailing plastic.

Editor’s Note:  This particular species is a rare butterfly and it’s beauty should just be admired with no attempt to catch one.  All butterflies are delicate creatures and if you do feel the need to try and catch them you should only use an approved type of butterfly net and definitely NOT a childs fishing net.  Any butterflies caught in a net should be released as soon as possible after capture in the same area where they were caught. 

View of a resting greyish blue butterfly with two red mites attached to it

Common Blue. Photo: Mark Pike

Mark has sent us this photo of a Common Blue he saw at Fontmell Down on 03/08/2020 Fontmell Down showing a particularly bad case of attack by red mites. It is understood that they do not actually harm the butterfly but it is hard to believe that they don’t cause some sort of discomfort!

View of a resting brown butterfly with some black and lighter coloured markings

Dark Green Fritillary. Photo: Rob Morrison

Fontmell Down seems to have been the place to be yesterday, 03/08/2020 and Rob has sent us this photo with his comments about his visit:

I had the pleasure to socially distance meet Shona Refoy and Mark Pike at Fontmell Down today.   It was good to talk butterflies. Shona very kindly shared her first found Silver-spotted Skipper and I was finally later able to find another.  Incidentally, both males.  I attach a photo of a Dark Green Fritillary I also saw which despite the ragged appearance was still able to fly fast and strong.  

Orange butterfly with black and white markings resting on green foliage

Painted Lady. Photo: Mark Pike

Pale brown and orange butterfly with black and white markings nectaring on a purple flower

Painted Lady. Photo: Mark Pike

Mark was at Fontmell Down yesterday, 03/08/2020 looking for Silver-spotted Skippers which he found (see earlier posting) when this super-fresh Painted Lady landed right in front of him.  He told us that he was more surprised by the Painted Lady than the Silver-spotted Skippers adding that this Painted Lady is the first one he has seen this year.

View of a greenish brown butterfly with white markings resting on a green leaf

Silver-spotted Skipper. Photo: Mark Pike

Mark has sent us this photo of a Silver-spotted Skipper he saw today, 03/08/2020 at Fontmell Down which he told us is the last specialist butterfly for him this year.  You will also note from the previous posting that today we also received photos of this same species from another of our contributors to the Gallery.

The rare and localised Silver-spotted Skipper can be found on parts of the chalk downlands of southern England which mark the northern edge of its European range.  It is readily identified by the silver spots on the underside of each hindwing which are easily seen when the butterfly is at rest.

Greenish brown butterfly with white markings resting in green foliage

Silver-spotted Skipper. Photo: Shona Refoy

Golden brown butterfly resting on green foliage

Silver-spotted Skipper. Photo: Shona Refoy

What a great day it was for Shona today – the story in her own words follows:

I was on Fontmell Down earlier today, 03/08/2020 and saw what may turn out to be the first Silver-spotted Skipper reported this year (bottom photo).  I continued to look, but didn’t see him (or any others) again in the usual area.  Almost back to the gate, about to leave the Down, another male plonked himself right next to me as I was walking along the path (top photo)! What a pleasure it was to see our cutest butterfly again.

Editor’s Note:  Like buses you can wait a long time for one to appear and then two come along at the same time (or almost).  Last year the first record of a Silver-spotted Skipper sighting in Dorset was on 28/07/2020 so this year it is a little later. However, by a remarkable coincidence another photo of a Silver-spotted Skipper was also sent to me today which I will be adding to the Gallery immediately after this posting but from the dates and times the photos were all taken, the bottom photo above is showing as being taken first by 3 hours and 15 minutes.

Mating black moths  with five red spots on forewings

Five-spot burnet moths.Photo: Lynda Lambert

Lynda saw these two mating Five-spot burnet moths on the hillside at Fontmell Down on 20/07/20 just as she was about to  go home. There had been very few of these moths to be found  among the carpets of flowers which seemed surprising, but there many butterflies to make up for it.

The burnet moth is the only UK moth to have clubbed antennae as butterflies have.