Great Banded Grayling (Brintesia circe)
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2021 photographs highlighted in yellow. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.
A quite magnificent butterfly, which could easily mistaken for a Purple Emperor (Apatura iris) on a first fleeting sighting because of its huge size and strong white band on the upperside, as well as the powerful and often soaring flight, which is very un-grayling like. Generally widespread and quite common and I have seen them in large numbers, especially in the lavender fields of Provence. They never rest with open wings and have a habit of resting on the trunks of trees.
|It cannot really be confused with any Hipparchia species as the short white unh band in the basal region clearly differentiates it from any other species. Sometimes, however, this short band can be quite greyish rather than white (e.g. 9612), so a close look may be necessary. In 2010 and 2012, which were generally poor years for spring butterflies because of the cold and wet early spring weather, circe did not seem to be affected and was one of the few species to thrive.|
|48813||M||a very unusual pose for this species, the first time I have seen it and circe is a relatively common species. It nearly always settles with closed wings and only opens them to ward off unwelcome interlopers such as ants, as in 4045 below. On this occasion, the weather was rather warm but overcast and 48813 landed on the ground, not taking salts form the ground or moving in any way, and stayed like this for several minutes. Surprise apart, it was a nice opportunity to admire an upperside that is rarely seen.||320|
|4045||F||this female seems to contradict my earlier statement about resting with open wings, is not, in fact, resting - it was settled with closed wings on a tree trunk but I noticed that every 30 seconds or so it flicked its wings open momentarily; I watched it closely and found that it was only flicking its wings open when an ant went too close.||60|
|25143||M||this is a very fresh, dark, male with rather creamy white unh markings. It is sampling rotting banana laced with rum.||60|
this is more of a greyish colouring, rather than the browner tone circe can often have.
a rare shot with the forewing extended upward. Circe normally rests with the forewing down, as in 9612, presumably for camouflage reasons.
also sampling the alcoholic mixture.
this was very large, as I recall, and therefore almost certainly a female. The unh had very little contrast and the basal white mark is quite inconspicuous, given that it is often cited as a key means of identification.
|35261||?||enjoying the alcohol of rum-soaked banana. Circe (and other butterflies) do not get drunk, but the large beetle certainly seemed to.||60|
|44406||?||I suspect this was more likely a female on the grounds of its large size. The discal band is rather speckled and not particularly bright, but not quite to the same degree as 9612.||1400|