Bob’s Butterfly and Bird Blog: Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries.

Bob’s Butterfly and Bird Blog: Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries.

 On our 2nd morning in Scotland, before the rain, we were photographing the beautiful Chequered Skippers at Glen Loy, when a fabulous flash of orange caught my eye. It was a stunning male Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary warming up in the weak sunshine.

In Sussex, the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary became extinct in 2013, and although it has since been re-introduced, it is really struggling in the long dry summers. However, in Scotland, it remains a common butterfly. It is always rewarding seeing a butterfly as beautiful as a Small Pearl.

I quickly called Lisa over, as it could possibly have been the only one we saw, bearing in mind the weather forecast for the remaining 3 days before we were to head to the Isle of Mull. It was a very fresh male and as it was warming up, we had a few minutes to photograph it before it took to the wing.

Male Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary.

Just after it flew we went back to the Chequered Skipper, but it wasn’t long before we saw a couple more Fritillaries flying around. A little while after, the torrential rain appeared and we took shelter in the car. 

Some time later, the rain eased off and we were able to resume our searches. We decided to head to the other side of the road bridge, an area where I had success when I was here before with Nigel. It wasn’t long before Lisa spotted another Fritillary at roost on the Bracken, and then another that was roosting on a Bluebell. With another improvement in the weather the butterflies did start to become a little more active, before then deciding it wasn’t going to improve enough, so it was back to sleeping.

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary on Bracken.

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary on Bluebell.

With the weather starting to deteriorate further we headed back to Fort William.

The following day at Allt Mhuic butterfly reserve, we did see yet more Small Pearls, although I didn’t take any photos of them, however, on our last full day on the mainland, the visit to Glasdrum Wood was very notable for this lovely butterfly. With the Chequered Skipper past their best here it was the brilliant Small Pearls that made the day. Some of them, especially the females were in excellent condition, and as the weather, especially during the morning was still cool and cloudy, many of them were a bit sleepy!!

Female Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary on Bracken.

After having lunch on the bench overlooking the loch, the weather improved quite a bit, so we headed back to the main path and enjoyed watching and photographing many more butterflies.

The freshest female Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary that we saw.

It was whilst we were trying a slightly different approach to photographing the fritillaries, that I spotted a mating pair on the Bracken. Strangely, I can’t remember seeing a mating pair of this species before. Certainly if I have I haven’t photographed them. It was the last and biggest highlight of a fabulous day at Glasdrum Wood.

Mating pair of Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries. (male on left).

I would guess we saw between 20 and 30 Small Pearls at Glasdrum as well as a couple of the earlier flying Pearl Bordered Fritillary.

During the rest of our holiday, both on Mull and in Cumbria, we did see a few more Small Pearls, but by then we had our sights on other species.

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