Benfleet Letters

Today the cloud is over the and temperature down after the heatwave of the past few days but the wind is away and butterflies are on the wing low in the rides on the rich array of flowering plants.

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An escarpment of elms – in Hadleigh Country Park at the Benfleet end looking south across fleets and grazing marshes towards Canvey Island

The ubiquitous butterflies fill the colourful rides; meadow browns, ringlets, three species of whites, peacock and comma but also marbled white and brown argus.

The elms here are plentiful and this is a well known location for white-letter hairstreak, but individuals often remain high in the tree feeding on honey dew; the first butterfly flying through the upper branches and then resting on an elm branch turns out to be a holly blue. As the sun comes and the ride warms and brightens so a white-letter hairstreak appears on a thistle then zig-zags away back up to the tree tops.  There is then a period when a handful of hairstreaks are appearing on the nectar-rich plants in the narrow ride. The scientific name for white-letter hairstreak is Satyrium w-album and for comma is Polygonia c-album; these species names are elegant descriptors.

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