I’ve never been all that good at butterfly spotting. Back in the UK, I could manage my red admirals, peacock butterflies and cabbage whites. Oh yes, I could certainly identify those pesky cabbage whites. Their eggs were usually plastered over the undersides of nearly every vegetable I had on my allotment.
On Sunday though, we had a real butterfly bonanza. We had a perfect day’s walking on the nearby Plateau de Sault, near Belcaire. It was perfect because the scenery was friendly: gently rising and falling lightly forested slopes offered distant panoramas of the Pyrenees. The wonderful weather was bright and sunny, without being too hot. The walk offered challenges but no real difficulty; good companionship too. What made this Sunday memorable though were the butterflies. At this altitude – about 1000 metres – the summer flowers were still bright and fresh, and the butterflies couldn’t leave them alone. They fluttered ahead of us every step of the way, and we finally gave up exclaiming over their delicate beauty.
What we couldn’t do was identify them. This evening I’ve pored over sites on the internet. I’ve excitedly identified a specimen. Then I’ve looked at the next image… and the next… and realised that my confident identification isn’t at all secure. Tentatively, then, I’ve named my photos. But I rely on you, dear reader, to put me right about the undoubted mistakes I’ve made.
In the end though, whether I’ve been able to name them or not, I carry with me the memory of a summer’s day made extra special by the presence of those butterflies wheeling, turning, diving and fluttering, rarely still, but constantly engaging our admiration and attention