Tortoiseshell

There’s a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly which has settled in front of me:

Small Tortoishell - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

I’m thrilled because I hardly ever see them.

I took a photograph of one in 1977 and stuck it in my childhood holiday scrapbooks. I know it was 1977, not because I wrote it on my scrapbooks, but because I took the photograph on holiday in Tenby in the week that Elvis died:

Small Tortoishell - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

I remember them being really common back then. I was pleased with the photograph at the time but also dreamed of a camera which would allow me to get a large depth of field and take proper macro photographs.

I found the Small Tortoiseshell in the Rev. F.O. Morris’s 1853 classic A History of British Butterflies here:

Small Tortoishell - The Hall of Einar

I love some of the language he used in the descriptions:

“To which they adhere by a glutinous moisture,” and, “In the third skin they make another remove,” with, “In this state they remain near twenty days.” Here’s it’s called The Nettle Tortoiseshell:

Small Tortoishell - The Hall of Einar

In The State of the UK’s Butterflies 2015, the decline in the population of Small Tortoiseshells was published: From 1976 to 2014 their population declined by 76%. I haven’t been looking at my childhood through rose-tinted spectacles. We really have managed to kill three quarters of them in 40 years.

Previous Post
Common Seal - 1970s Nature Notebooks - (c) David Bailey (not the)

Common Seal in the 1970s

Leafing through my childhood scrapbooks I come across a drawing of a Common Seal. It has all the characteristics of a Common Seal: ... Read more

Next Post
Corn Bunting - The Ladybird Book of British Birds - Roland Green

The Third Ladybird Book of British Birds - #1 The Corn Bunting

I’m currently reading the third volume of the Ladybird Book of British Birds and their nests from the 1950s. Times have changed: "All ... Read more

Feel free to leave a Reply :)