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WEATHER: cloudy with rain showers all day, some sunny spells late afternoon. Temp 12C

After rain all morning it finally stopped around 1pm, I had taken my exercise walk through the villages before lunch, but now I was ready to go out for a birding or butterfly session. I called my birding pal Guy, he lives not 5 minutes away, I suggested going to Cerne Abbas to look for the Duke of Burgundy Butterfly and I hoped for a break in the clouds and a spot of sunshine.


Guy arrived at 2:30pm and we set off in my car, we drove through some heavy rain, but then it cleared and we saw patches of blue sky over the village of Cerne Abbas. The huge chalk hill just north of the village is home to many butterflies, it is managed for Marsh Fritillary, Duke of Burgundy, Green Hairstreak, Adonis Blue and many more.

there is a Dinghy Skipper in this picture

We were so lucky, our timing was perfect, the sun came out for a few prolonged spells, enough for the air to warm up and for butterflies to take to the wing. We saw Dinghy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper, Small Heath, Orange-tip and Brimstone. Then after about 30 minutes Guy found a Small Copper which was fighting with another red/orange species. It landed and Guy called out ‘Duke’. Sure enough there it was, the butterfly remained perched and was quite sedate, click. Click.

Duke of Burgundy

We followed it for a while, but it never went far, then we lost it and couldn’t find another. We decided to walk along the south side of the hill to look for Adonis Blue and all the time we kept an eye out for a Marsh Fritillary sighting without luck.

this is Guy up ahead on the slope

The sun finally disappeared and so did all the butterflies. A few birds were on show too, we saw Blackcap, Raven, Yellowhammer, Linnet and on the way back to the car we watched a few birds from a bridge. Along the river we saw Grey Wagtail and Guy picked out a Spotted Flycatcher and apart from many common species we saw little else.

We got back to my house around 5pm just as it started raining again, is this really May I ask myself?