Dabbler Country – Summertime Blues

Waking to a sunny morning – at last! – and conscious as ever of my duties as The Dabbler’s Jack Hargreaves, I was up betimes with a song in my heart and the Surrey Hills in my mind. Pausing only to don the metaphorical Norfolk jacket, set the metaphorical trilby at a jaunty angle and clap the metaphorical pipe between the teeth, I strode off (after turning back smartly for trousers and boots (Enough with the clowning, get on with it – Ed.)). After an unnecessarily long train journey, I alighted (an action only possible with trains – I like to make the most of it) at Boxhill and Westhumble station while there was yet a touch of chill in the air. But the sun was still keeping the clouds at bay, the breeze was nothing too blowy, and it was warming up fast as I neared my favourite butterfly haunts. Everywhere were signs of summer being nearly at an end – abundance of ripe berries everywhere, the first yellow and red leaves, the wild marjoram mostly over, though some was still in flower, as were scabious and hawkweed, bellflowers, yellow toadflax… I wasn’t really expecting much in the way of butterfly action, but before many minutes had passed, there I was face to face with a magnificent male Adonis Blue, basking barely a yard away! As it turned out, I was to see half a dozen more of these beauties – the most intensely, breathtakingly blue (almost turqouise) of all our Blues – before my short walk was over. I was also granted a long close look at a very fine Chalkhill Blue – such a subtle pale silvery blue that it looked almost white in flight – this was the only one I’ve seen this year, so I was especially glad of the encounter. Also along the way a Small Copper seemed to take a fancy to me, fluttering around my feet and landing frequently to bask in the sun and my admiration – a very beautiful little butterfly, with a coppery sheen to its forewings and subtly marked underwings, and a tiny swallowtail to each wing… There were Common Blues too (the males not far short of the Adonis in beauty), and of course Meadow Browns and the odd Gatekeeper and Speckled Woods galore, and a fine fresh Comma drinking in the sunlight. No great range or quantity then, but ah the quality! If this was the last of summer for me, it’s ended on a high note, entranced amid Adonis Blues.


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About Author Profile: Nige

Cravat-Wearer of the Year Nige, who, like Mr Kenneth Horne, prefers to remain anonymous, is a founder blogger of The Dabbler and has been a co-blogger on the Bryan Appleyard Thought Experiments blog. He is the sole blogger on Nigeness, and (for now) a wholly owned subsidiary of NigeCorp. His principal aim is to share various of life's pleasures.

12 thoughts on “Dabbler Country – Summertime Blues

  1. Nige
    August 30, 2010 at 14:21

    Hmm – don’t seem to have mastered images yet. Brit?

  2. Nige
    August 30, 2010 at 14:29

    Picture will follow if I can work out how to do it… Technology…

  3. russellworks@gmail.com'
    ian russell
    August 30, 2010 at 16:27

    Nothing to do with country matters but you’ve reminded me of the platform signs I used to see at East Acton – ”Alight Here For Landis & Gyr”

    Not many insects about this year. Unless we count the Macedonian Horse Chestnut Leaf Miner, but we don’t actually see those either.

  4. russellworks@gmail.com'
    ian russell
    August 30, 2010 at 16:31

    …I forgot. Plagues of blackfly! Followed by an abundance of ladybird larvae and then, naturally, ladybirds.

  5. mcrean@snowpetrel.net'
    August 30, 2010 at 17:31

    Pics hardly needed after a wonderful description like that. I’ve never seen either the Adonis or the Chalkhill Blue and would love to. Must get to Box Hill, then. What I really like about this time of year is that it marks the start of blackberry and apple crumble season, and it’s an excellent year for blackberries they say. Hargreaves (never far from a stuffed pike somewhere in the shot) and Desmond Morris, both in black and white, are my earliest TV memories and max res’ to both.

  6. info@shopcurious.com'
    August 30, 2010 at 18:09

    Saw some little blue butterflies on the Cornish coastal path last weekend – think they may have been Lace Border or Silver-Studded Blue.. Anyway, on account of your post, I’ve just spent a good fifteen minutes on my knees in a cupboard, looking for my complete book of British insects (as opposed to the more accessible but incomplete one). By the way, I was thinking of you yesterday. Have you visited the Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens? I spent some time there, keeping out of the rain, amongst all sorts of amazingly exotic butterflies…for which another book is required.

  7. Worm
    August 30, 2010 at 18:17

    Never been to the Surrey Hills, so have yet to see the hosts of blue butterflies you are regularly exposed to ! As susan says, you do see a few on the cliffs in Cornwall. My butterfly sightings have been truly pitiful this year!

  8. pberry7053@aol.com'
    Pete B
    August 30, 2010 at 21:17

    Thanks for this Nige.

    I saw this article today and thought you may be interested. It’s about your favourite emperor and his life-style. Actually, it’s probably more about the person being interviewed. Being deaf I only have the transcript to go off, but the guy comes across as a dabbleur extraordinaire – an *amateur* even. (Don’t know if we can do tags, so you’re getting the raw URL – hope it’s not too powerful for this splendid new website of yours.)



  9. Nige
    August 31, 2010 at 10:21

    Thanks very much Pete – Matthew Oates is great. He has a fine blog called the Purple Empire, which has been great reading this summer – http://apaturairis.blogspot.com/

    Susan – I envy you those Silver-studded Blues – lovely little things, haven’t seen any this year. I’ve yet to visit the new conservatory at Kew, but it’s high on my list…

    Mark, Worm, everybody – hie ye to the Surey Hills!

  10. Brit
    August 31, 2010 at 12:00

    One can only properly ‘alight’ at nice train stations too, I think – either charming rural ones or Brunel-built architectural glories. You wouldn’t ‘alight’ at Birmingham New St, for instance. You would ‘stoop’ or possibly ‘loom’.

  11. Nige
    August 31, 2010 at 13:50

    Yes indeed Brit – and I can recommend Boxhill & Westhumble, a v charming station, Pevsner speaks well of it.

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