Brown butterflies

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All these brown butterflies have a conspicuous black eyespot near the tip of the forewing. They live in colonies, usually in tall grassland. The meadow brown and small heath are among the commonest butterflies of the countryside, occurring in any wild, grassy spot.

The gatekeeper, also known as the hedge brown, is almost as common, but requires some shrubs to provide shelter and nectar. The wall brown, once common, has suffered a rapid decline in the 1990s and is now very scarce. It likes dry grassland with plenty of bare patches.

The speckled wood likes partly shaded habitats such as open woodland. It has made a spectacular recovery in the last few decades and has recolonised most of Essex from a low point in the 1950s. The marbled white is restricted to a few coastal grassland sites in the south-east of Essex, but is increasing in range and numbers.

© Ken Wooldridge