IN a corner of Wiltshire where the Cotswolds limestone reaches its southern most limit, there is a small grassland site with abundant wild flowers and some rather special butterflies: marsh fritillaries.
Although ploughed, maybe 100 years ago, the grassland is unimproved and full of flowers. As it is ungrazed, upright brome grass dominates and tries to smother out everything else, but it has not quite succeeded. The presence of devil's-bit scabious means that this butterfly has found a foothold here, along with other more common insects. As it is so late in the adults' season the individuals that I found were all were looking tatty and washed out, but were still a pleasure to see in the hot evening sunshine. They fly very fast and so are a devil to catch up with, but just occasionally they alight together on one flower and get distracted - just enough time for a snap.
|Six spot burnet moths - the most common day flying moth in this sort of habitat|
|Marbled white butterfly|
|Marbled white in flight|
As the season progresses different flowers on limestone grassland come into their own. Harebell has a fairly long flowering period.
Yellow rattle, which is an attractive flower found in old grassland, is a hemi-parisite, feeding of grasses through its root system, but also having chlorophyll like most plants.
|Goat's beard seed head|