Wall Brown in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight
Female Wall Brown without sex bands easy identification also it is a lot bigger than the male.
Male Wall Brown with the large sex bands on the forewings also this was taken on a Wall!
Observing the Wall Brown in 2022 has been very rewarding, and I haven't seen so many since the beginning of the 1990's at Portsdown Hill. This was taken at Bedlam Plantation in July.
Another area on the Isle of Wight where I used to see this special species was on Bonchurch Down, especially in the small chalk pits dotted around, and in and around old gates and fence posts.
The Wall Brown distribution map is well out of date as this shows the butterfly dominating the Isle of Wight and it hasn't looked like this for decades. The heavy blue squares around Portsdown and Keyhaven have gone, but on the plus side the lonesome blue square top left, has several more adjoining it as this is the Shipton Bellinger area, and this is now Hampshires hotspot.
You would have to rather lucky to catch a mating pair of Wall Browns like these two, as they are generally very skittish, and observing a mating pair is quite rare, a very warm but overcast day would probably be the best weather, so they were more settled and closely observing this very beautiful but elusive butterfly would be extremely rewarding.
Opposite Shipton Bellinger is the Army tank ranges, and here the Wall Brown can be seen quite frequently on the old tank tracks and set-aside in farmers fields.
I used to do a transect of Portsdown Hill and in the 1980's it was still quite common, however it suddenly disappeared after a run of poor summers, and several areas of hedgerows were taken out, giving the areas where it bred more exposure to wind and other elements, also pollution should not be ruled out as a factor in why its disappeared from this site.
Brook Down on the Isle of Wight is another hot spot for the Wall Brown , where it can be seen along the chalky footpaths, which are used by cattle and sheep which graze on the site
One of the Wall Browns strongholds in Hampshire used to be in and around Keyhaven and Pennington Marshes. However it has declined rapidly over the last decade to almost nothing, why this is not fully understood.
Two males here seen eyeing each other up where they will spar for territories, and will be involved in this territory dispute for many hours they are together in each others presence.
After a sparring flight with another male the winner normally settles down on his favourite spot and wait for the next intruder to come along, this is a large flint stone which is being used , which would be rather warm, and easy to spot after a joust of many minutes.
Brading Down on the Isle of Wight used to be a hotspot for this butterfly especially in the old chalk and flint quarry surrounding it. A walk along the main road up to this site and along the grassy verges there would be several males hunting for females and alighting on the wild flowers that abound there.
In the 1980's and the 1990's I visited the Isle of Wight frequently for the Wall Brown, and surprisingly I used to see the butterfly on this old railway station at Shanklin, especially on the opposite side of the 'used' platform. I think the butterfly used this method of using the old railway to get about, finding new opportunities to breed along the tracks, where it was relatively undisturbed.
You will have to go a long long way to get a better picture of a Wall Brown especially at this angle, as they are a devil to get pictures of , and to get this close with the beautiful patterning underneath, and the orange patterns as well. (Thanks to Phillip Nangle for the photograph).