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Purple Patch - Fermyn Wood - 1/07/11 by 59 SPECIES on Mon Jul 04, 2011 8:16 pm
Weather - warm, sunny spells, twenty degrees

A new month and the biggest prize of all is entering his flight season. I took the day off work - Dad and I visited Fermyn Wood, Northants to get our annual fix of this wonderful insect. There is nothing quite like walking down the sunny rides of an "Emperor" wood in high summer. You just never know where he will be or if he's watching you. We had a very enjoyable day seeing easily ten of the beasts. They were up in the Oaks and down on the paths. We witnessed our first altercation between two males. It was all a bit handbags though. I got a quick glimpse of one individual who seemed quite tatty - must have been one of the first out. Most were fresh.

Other things of note: first Purple Hairstreak of the season and saw decent clumps of Musk Mallow



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Silver Washed Fritillary alive and well in Cambridgeshire by NickB on Wed Jun 22, 2011 10:21 am
Contrary to my previous moaning about having no Fritillaries in Cambridgeshire, I have to say that Bedford Purleius is alive with them!
Met PhilB, Rosalyn, Peter & Jan when I went over for a couple of days when the Silver washed were freshly emerged; but there were also some commoner species were also very fresh - Green Veined White, Ringlet and Meadow Brown - plus the White Letter Hairstreak were also visible as they were starting to emerge in larger numbers too. The odd sight of a Purple Hairstreak is nice ; but also frustrating not to be able to get a decent shot of one!
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Similar common species at Brampton Wood too - no SWF but did see a couple of White Admiral at one of their pit-stops and some WLH flying above the rides too.
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Interesting that both the SWF and WLH at Bedford Purleius came down to take-up minerals - as Jack Harrison mentioned, the males needing something missing from their make-up when they first emerge, makes them exhibit this behaviour, perhaps?
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Two Species in One Day - 18/06/11 by 59 SPECIES on Sat Jun 18, 2011 4:55 pm
Weather - breezy, sunny spells, one light shower, 17 degrees

Today, I visited the Red hill nature reserve on the Lincolnshire Wolds. I was there to see if any Marbled White had emerged. They had and I saw four in total - all very fresh. Photography was very difficult. I was running up and down the escarpments like a good'un, nearly slipping on the wet grass several times! (we had a good steady rain very early morning) The stunted nature of some of the wildflowers here is testament to just how dry the spring has been. The wind really does dry out these higher altitude sites on the Wolds.

I then moved onto Southrey Wood, near Bardney. This location is a haunt of the White Admiral. I didn't know whether it would be a week too early for them. As it turned out, it wasn't. I saw three very fresh specimens and one other that had a couple of nicks out of his wings. All nectared on Bramble but were easily spooked. I had to let them settle down and be patient otherwise they would fly off into the Oak and Ash canopy. I was also quite lucky with the weather. I think it turned out a better afternoon than forecast.

Next species for me - Himself. Hopefully, in the next week or so at Fermyn.



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Glapthorn Cow Pastures - 8/06/11 - 11.30am-1.45pm by 59 SPECIES on Sun Jun 12, 2011 6:56 am
Weather - warm, breezy at times, one light shower, 19 degrees or so

After doing a bit of work in Bourne on Wednesday morning I took a mini-gamble with the weather and headed off for Glapthorn Cow Pastures to see the Black Hairstreak at arguably the premier site for this species in the country. My journey was not a good one from Bourne to the Oundle area - Northants. I got lost around Peterborough - again! I can't stand that place. The weather was clouding up all the time and a few spots of rain fell on the windscreen. I was beginning to think it wasn't going to be my day.

When I arrived at Glapthorn, a few patches of blue sky could be seen and immediately there was the faintest bit of sun. I walked up the main track and found the famous Dewberry shrub on the right-hand side, but could only see a Large Skipper on it. However, the sun came out a bit more and I walked further up one of the many tracks just to get my bearings - it being my first visit to the site. I couldn't see much going on so I returned straight back to the Dewberry bush and saw three Black Hairstreak's nectaring. Wonderful views but the day would only get better and better.

The Dewberry has pinkish-tinged flower heads compared to the traditional white flower heads of Bramble. Whilst rattling off a few pictures, I was joined by another couple and a gentleman called Thomas Spencer - an excellent butterfly enthusiast from Norfolk and with whom I spent most of the morning and afternoon chatting with. Thomas and I moved a bit further on to a larger area of Bramble which had Blackthorn stands high above and to the sides. Here, the Bramble has been strategically shaped so one can walk around it easily without getting snagged and photography was certainly aided by this maintenance work.

These four or five blocks of Bramble were the main nectaring area for the Black Hairstreak's and in total we saw at least 8 individuals. Some were slightly faded - I believe they had emerged a good week before my visit. However, three or four were absolutely pristine and the blue segment just below the tailstreamer is very noticeable in those fresh specimens. Thomas and I spent a good two hours or more watching their behaviour and movements and of course taking several photographs. Sometimes though, given the opportunity, it is better just to watch butterflies with the naked eye. I found they were very accommodating. We could get very very close in some instances, but when they were disturbed they bolted straight for the Blackthorn stands. Bramble is such an important plant and the Black Hairstreak seems very reliant upon it here at Glapthorn. They love a good fidget, moving around the Bramble head all the time to find the best pockets of nectar. I also witnessed a couple of them leaning to one side slightly into the sun, reminiscent of the Large Heath. They also like a good battle now and again. The victor usually returning to the chosen cluster of flower heads. When viewed at close quarters those little black-and-white striped legs are beautiful. A very compact and dapper butterfly. We also chatted with one of the local wildlife trust surveyors and he stated that this has been the best year for the species at Glapthorn since 2004.

All in all another great day. With the Black Hairstreak having such a short flight season, I only realistically had this one chance to see them this year. I'm so glad I took a punt on the weather. I believe the rest of June looks mixed.

This was another species first for me :D



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Butterflies on Lefkada by marmari on Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:53 pm
The island of Lefkada(Lefkas) is one of the Greek Ionian Islands situated off the west coast of Greece.
Visitors usually arrive by sea or via Preveza Airport on the Greek mainland.The island is connected to the mainland by a VERY small road bridge.
72% of Lefkada is hilly or mountainous.Our holiday home for the week was above the hillside village of Paliokatouna high above the town of Nidri.The spectacular view looks east to the Geni penninsular,offshore islands and to the mainland in the distance.
Because of the terrain it is not difficult to find a stoney track into the mountains,past deep forested gullies and olives groves.A haven for butterflies.
Around our villa there were butterflies too,especially the Ilex Hairstreak which was numerous on the sunny stone wall.
However if you looked closely there were one or two Blue Spot Hairstreaks too.With honeysuckle spreading over the wall Southern White Admirals would be regular visitors
My walks along the track just a few metres from our villa yielded at least 29 identified species of butterfly plus one or two others I could not identify.
The larger colourful specimens were mainly in a hurry and did not linger to have their picture taken,but surprisingly the Marbled Skipper with its sombre tones was the favourite for me.
It was not only butterflies to be seen on the paths,as I came on several snakes sunnnig themselves either on the track or on the side of a vertical stone wall.When they sensed me they would leave at great speed.
A slower resident was a tortoise which apparently is restricted to the southern part of the island.
It was a shame to return home.
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