Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Wednesday Wildlife - The Camberwell Beauty

This is one of the British butterflies that I have never seen and can hardly expect to since it is a migrant from continental Europe and is most frequently seen in the Eastern counties. Of all the species I haven’t seen it is the one I would most like to – beating even the Large Blue and Swallowtail into a far flung second place.

“The German word gestalt means something which appears to be more than the sum of its parts. Surely a term that can be applied to the enigmatic Camberwell Beauty Nymphalis antiopa. Our fascination with this species seems more than the facts alone can explain. It is beautiful (with velvety wings that glow with iridescent hues, as it fidgets them open and closed, straw coloured borders and dazzling blue spots)l but then so is the Peacock Inachis io. It is large, rare and an evidently powerful insect, but others are larger, rarer, etc. While scarcity always adds an extra appeal, the Camberwell Beauty is not as rare as some people assume. Several arrive most years (since 1850 only 13 years have no records) and it has been recorded in every single month.... I have yet to meet a single person who says, ‘I saw one of those. I’m looking for something else now.’ Rather than reducing the urge to see another, that magical first encounter seems to strengthen the desire."
Nick Bowles
Butterfly Conservation magazine c 1995

(Photo from Butterfly Conservation site)

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