I am reasonably good at identifying wildlife, having spent most of my life teaching ecology at a Field Centre in Norfolk. However whilst I can probably identify more wild flowers than Mr or Mrs Average, and the same goes for birds or mammals or insects or mosses or fungi, I am a jack of all trades, and I am not an expert in any one field. I have a lot of trouble with warblers for example. Being a jack of all trades is just what was required when running a field centre because as long as I was one step ahead of the students and teachers that was all that mattered. I was very rarely caught out, although I remember one student who asked me what a certain little blue flower was when we were in Thetford Forest and I said ‘oh its a Speedwell’ he said ‘yes I knew it was a species of Veronica but I was wondering whether it was Heath Speedwell or Hairy Speedwell’ -so not one step ahead of him but that was a rare occurrence.
Now – getting back to the blue butterfly, I knew it was something out of the ordinary because it was bigger than the Common Blue and the underside was brown with wavy markings so I knew it was not a Holly Blue, and it is the end of October so late in the year for Blues. I know that there are many more different butterflies in France than you get in England so I took some photos, but I only had my little point and shoot Olympus camera, so I was quite pleased when the photos came out OK and I could have a close look. I refered to an excellent website for butterflies in France, which is http://www.butterfliesoffrance.com/index.htm and from that site and my photos I thought the butterfly might be a Long tailed Blue. If you look closely at my photo you will see on the back wings close to the spots it has little tails and this feature, combined with the light chocolate-brown underside led me to this conclusion.
However the website said this was a migratory butterfly and also seemed to indicate it was quite rare. See what he says on the Long tailed Blue page .So I contacted Roger Gibbons who runs the website and he very quickly replied saying. Very likely as it has been a very good year for LTB migration. The only other option is a Lang’s STB – the underside patterns are similar but LTB has a clear unbroken white band.
So there you have it- a Long Tailed Blue – I have never seen one before and probably will never see one again. I must find out where they migrate from.
Evidently it comes from all over Europe, Africa and India S E Asia and Australia, according to Wikipedia. I wonder where the one I saw originated fromvb- perhaps I should have said G’day to it?