Neil Hulme

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Trev Sawyer
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Trev Sawyer » Sat Jun 05, 2010 5:24 pm

If the caterpillar can eat both day and night, maybe you would get a Large blue :shock: :lol: :lol:

Trev

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Sat Jun 05, 2010 6:02 pm

His Grace Meets His Grace

A few weeks back I was more than a little impressed, and honoured, that the Duke of Norfolk agreed to meet me to discuss the conservation work being done on his Estate, for the benefit of the Duke of Burgundy. We spent more than an hour looking at the very encouraging progress already made here, and I was delighted that he, his Estate Manager and Head Forester are fully supportive of ambitious plans to continue this work.

L-R The Duke of Norfolk, Estate Manager Peter Knight, Forester Mark Aldridge, Neil Hulme (Butterfly Conservation)_edited-1.jpg

Most landowners are happy to co-operate with conservation measures these days, but the assistance given by the Norfolk Estate is second to none that I've experienced. Estate foresters Mark Aldridge and Tony Hart have provided machinery and their own labour to get this project off the ground and every single request I have made on behalf of the Duke of Burgundy has been gladly met with.

An article appeared in this week's West Sussex Gazette, covering this happy success story. There can't be many Duke of Burgundy colonies given protection by a Duke and the Earl Marischal of England!

WSG DoN DoB.jpg

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:04 am

SPBF At PCH

Last Tuesday (2nd June) I spent a very enjoyable evening at our Park Corner Heath Reserve, watching the sun set and the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries coming to roost. Michael Blencowe and his team of trusty volunteers have done a superb job in managing this very small and delicate site, in order to hang onto the species - until the cavalry has arrived in the shape of the adjacent Rowland Wood, which should be open to visitors next year.

The PCH reserve is only 9 acres and the breeding area for the SPBFs comprises only small, localised parts of this. The roping-off of these areas might be frustrating for some, but bearing in mind that the population has survived for years on the progeny of only a handful of pairings, this is a precautionary measure until the species starts to spread into adjacent, newly created habitat. Numbers are now looking good for 2010 and it appears that some work on adjacent, private land (STRICTLY NO ENTRY) is beginning to bear fruits. This augurs well for a rapid colonisation of Rowland Wood, once the habitat is knocked into shape this winter.

If you do visit the site, and wish to photograph the SPBFs, please do observe the restrictions - a decent image is never achieved by chasing testosterone-charged males around in the heat of the day (we have had a few problems this year). Be patient and go on either a partly cloudy, cooler day; or better still, wait until the evening a watch them settling down for the night. Apart from providing the photo-opportunities you'll never get in the heat of the day, it's the best time to enjoy this beautiful location.

SPBF PCH 2.6.10.jpg
SPBF2 PCH 2.6.10.jpg

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Tue Jun 08, 2010 3:06 pm

New National Park

Last Friday (4th June) I joined members of the National Park Authority, and representatives of Natural England, National Trust, English Heritage, Sussex Wildlife Trust, Parish and District Councillors, local estates and the farming community, to look at how this beautiful landscape has been managed in the past - and how it might be managed in the future, under its new status.

Although I welcome the new National Park status with open arms, it will be a little sad to see the name 'South Downs Joint Committee' pass into history. The SDJC, who organised the tour, have been guardians of the Downs for many years, and they have been absolutely fantastic in helping out with a large number of projects to conserve butterflies.

After doing my bit, I went off to enjoy an evening gazing over the countryside that I love so much.

Long Furlong.jpg
One of Kipling's 'blunt, bow-headed, whale-backed downs', liberally scattered with cattle and hay rolls.


Chantry Hill.jpg
View from Chantry Hill. The deep gulley below contains an abundance of rarely visited, downland butterflies.


Chantry Gulley.jpg
The numerous ant-hills in the foreground are matted with rockrose. Brown Argus, Common Blue, Green Hairstreak, Grizzled and Dingy Skipper, Wall Brown and Small Heath all live here. Later in the summer Silver-spotted Skipper can be found, having re-colonised the area in the last few years.

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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Jack Harrison » Tue Jun 08, 2010 4:33 pm

Neil

Were those landscapes taken using the FZ38’s High Dynamic Art Mode?

Jack

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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Ian Pratt » Tue Jun 08, 2010 4:39 pm

Neil,
Have you received my e-mail? Regards
Ian

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Tue Jun 08, 2010 5:43 pm

Hi Jack,
Yes indeed - thanks for the tip-off. Reading the manual might happen in the winter :lol:.

Hi Ian,
Only just picked up the message. Have sent you a PM.

Best Wishes, Neil

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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Jack Harrison » Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:06 pm

"Art Mode" is just that; ideal for "pastel" landscapes but not appropriate for butterflies.

Jack

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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Susie » Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:03 pm

It looks gorgeous, Neil.

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Thu Jun 10, 2010 8:36 pm

East Blean Heath Fritillaries

Last Sunday (6th June) I took a spur-of-the-moment decision to dash over to Kent, to see the Heath Fritillaries at East Blean Woods. The weather forecast was pretty dire, but I knew that I only needed a short spell of sunshine to locate a few. I was sweating a bit as I drove most of the way under leaden skies and through several bands of rain. The predicted thunderstorms failed to materialise, but there was 100% grey cloud cover as I arrived. After a prolonged wait, with nothing on the wing, a spell of weak sunshine finally did the trick. Less than a dozen of them took to the wing, including a female which was constantly hassled by amorous males. They would repeatedly land next to her, curling their abdomen tips around to try and make a connection - no chance! I stayed (through several showers) until they went to roost. Even when she was asleep the odd male would wake up and have another go! :shock:

Heath Fritillary female, Blean 6.6.10.jpg
Heath Fritillary Blean 6.6.10.jpg
Heath Fritillary male, Blean 6.6.10.jpg
Heath Fritillary pair, Blean 6.6.10.jpg

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Sat Jun 12, 2010 10:54 am

Collard Hill Grueller

I travelled down to Glastonbury last Wednesday (9th June), so as to be ready for an early start and full day on Collard Hill. For anyone making this pilgrimage from afar, and wanting to stay overnight, I can recommend the Belle Vue B&B (http://www.bellevueglastonbury.co.uk).

To say the weather was a disappointment would be an understatement. The northerly wind direction did ensure that the lower slopes remained sheltered, but it also kept the temperatures just below the critical point for butterfly activity. Hours were spent watching a conveyor-belt of grey cloud move across the spectacular landscape. At least I had the company of two excellent NT site wardens, Sarah Meredith and the hugely-experienced Roger Smith.

Just after midday the sun broke through for about 15 minutes, and that was it for the day! However, this brief window of opportunity was seized both by the Large Blue and myself. A short flight over 50m along the base of the eastern bank was all that I saw, before the butterfly put down in some scrub. I managed a reasonable underside shot before it launched at a Speckled Wood, the cloud returned - and that was that! Those visiting this weekend will do much better.

Large Blue, Collard 10.6.10.jpg

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Sun Jun 13, 2010 5:37 pm

Large Kippers

Today I spent an hour on a local downland site at Amberley, where it soon became obvious that we're well into the 'June gap'. There were still quite a few Small Blue on the wing and it was encouraging to see an egg-laying Wall Brown. The latter species has been absent from this site for quite a few years now, but its reappearance is very much in line with the observed East to West repopulation of the Downs. The species started to recover in Sussex after the hard winter of 2008/2009. There were also a few freshly-emerged Large Skippers buzzing around.

Large Skipper 1 Springhead 13.6.10.jpg
Large Skipper 2 Springhead 13.6.10.jpg
Large Skipper 3 Springhead 13.6.10.jpg
The most interesting aspect of their behaviour, which I've never seen before, was the systematic search for nutrients gained from bird droppings. The male below was actively seeking out bird poo, visiting three different deposits along a hedge-line.

Large Skipper 4 Springhead 13.6.10.jpg

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Sun Jun 20, 2010 2:25 pm

Road Trip 14-19th June (Part 1)

Last Monday Hannah and I set off to visit some of the UK's rarer or more localised butterflies, none of which I've ever photographed before. We had three species in mind and I had high hopes that our timing would be 'spot on' for all of them. With Hannah's eagle-eyes to help me out (she manages a SpecSavers store) we ended up doing better than I could have reasonably hoped for!

The first on our hit-list was the elusive Black Hairstreak. Thanks to some good information from Jack (Harrison) and a chance meeting with Phil Bromley (perhaps not such a 'chance' as it appears he very sensibly lives at Monks Wood at this time of year!), we didn't have to try too hard. We had 'two bites at the cherry', as we returned under more favourable conditions on the way back out of Norfolk. Phil gave us some valuable pointers and I later modified his sugar-spray technique, by dipping terminal blackthorn leaves in Lucozade (orange flavour). Being a Purple Emperor worshipper I have every confidence in silly tricks and devices. It did seem to hold them on these carefully chosen parts of the bush, suppressing their usually constant fidgeting (none got stuck). Phil will be most welcome when he visits West Sussex for other species later this summer.

Black Hairstreak country.jpg
Black Hairstreak country

Over two visits I got the images that I had hoped for, much helped by Hannah who constantly had 'a better one' in sight. Perhaps not the most impressive species to the non-specialist, but a very interesting butterfly in a beautiful, ancient woodland setting. Satisfied that Part 1 of our trip had been a success, we headed off in search of the Swallowtail.

Black Hairstreak, Monks Wood 14.6.10.jpg
Black Hairstreak 1, Monks Wood 17.6.10.jpg
Black Hairstreak 2, Monks Wood 17.6.10 .jpg
Black Hairstreak 3, Monks Wood 17.6.10.jpg
Black Hairstreak 2 Monks Wood 14.6.10.jpg

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:55 pm

Road Trip 14-19th June (Part 2)

While in Norfolk we stayed at Clippesby Hall (http://www.clippesby.com) which offers self-catering chalets of different sizes, together with various camping options. It's an ideal base camp for those wishing to stay in the middle of Swallowtail country.

We spent the first day at How Hill and got lucky almost immediately. Although Hannah had been mildly underwhelmed by the Black Hairstreak, she was completely wowed by the Swallowtail. Hardly surprising as they made an impressive sight as they battled against a stiff NE breeze, swooping to and fro across the River Ant. We found it far more productive to walk along the banks of the Ant (turning right from Toadhole Cottage) than to search the famous 'meadow' at the start of the nature trail, although this was where we saw our first. Several hundred metres along this bank was the hotspot, close to where a JCB is working, with getting on for a dozen on the wing.

Swallowtail country.jpg
Swallowtail country

The wind was so strong that it was impossible to get a decent shot of the butterflies while they nectared on the numerous thistles here. Fortunately they would occasionally put down on the alluvium between the River Ant levee and the first ditch. It reminded me of photographing Purple Emperors. While I was stalking grounded male and female Swallowtails, Hannah got a bit of a shock as a Chinese Water Deer came thundering past her.

Male Swallowtail, How Hill 15.6.10.jpg
Male Swallowtail

Female Swallowtail, How Hill 15.6.10.jpg
Female Swallowtail

The second day was spent at Strumpshaw Fen. Cloudy skies and a chilling wind made for a slow start, although we were entertained by a Marsh Harrier on more than one occasion. Swallowtail numbers were lower here, but there is always the option of shooting ducks in a barrel in the Good Doctor's garden. A marvellous spectacle but to me they just don't look quite as good nectaring on Sweet William!

We spent most of our time at Strumpshaw in the beautiful, orchid-strewn water meadows on the other side of the visitors centre. In warm sunshine it was a real pleasure to track the Swallowtails as they glided between the Ragged Robin flowers, stopping only briefly to nectar at each plant. Again it was too windy for easy photography, although I did manage one arty shot on a thistle.

Swallowtail underside, Strumshaw 16.6.10.jpg
Swallowtail, Strumpshaw 16.6.10.jpg

After two very enjoyable days with the Swallowtails, we wondered whether our third target was going to be quite so obliging!

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Wed Jun 23, 2010 11:01 pm

Road Trip 14-19th June (Part 3)

The third and final part of our trip proved most difficult, mainly due to a collapse in the previously good weather (until sunshine reappeared on Day 2), and the difficult terrain. We stayed in a very pretty holiday cottage in the small village of Clive, to the South of Wem (Shropshire/Welsh borders).

Whixall Moss is an interesting place, but I can imagine it's pretty bleak out there in the winter. Aside from the fact that you require a permit to do so, stepping off the trackways is a hazardous business! Although it was very early in the flight season, we hoped to see the Large Heath.

Large Heath country.jpg
Large Heath country

We were soon off the mark with a very smart-looking Argent & Sable moth, eventually seeing three of these delicate beauties over our two visits to the site. Other interesting bugs included the very rare White-faced Darter.

Argent & Sable, Whixall 18.6.10.jpg
Argent & Sable 2, Whixall 18.6.10.jpg
Argent & Sable

Despite the dull weather it only required a thinning of the cloud, and a modest rise in temperature, to activate the Large Heaths. It was very difficult to approach them as they have excellent eyesight - and a frustrating habit of shooting off across the impenetrable bog, if flushed off the trackways. I imagine that they 'escape' over these considerable distances in order to avoid predatory Meadow Pipits. It is the most attractive of the Large Heath forms, davus, that occurs here, with large and very attractive eye-spots. It was almost entirely flighty males on the wing during our visit, but on the second morning I found what I was looking for - a couple of more obliging females!

Large Heath, Whixall 18.6.10.jpg
Large Heath 1, Whixall 19.6.10.jpg
Large Heath 2, Whixall 19.6.10.jpg

Sadly it was time to leave for home, but it had certainly been a lot of fun - and three out of three ain't bad!

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Thu Jun 24, 2010 6:29 pm

The Longest Day

On Monday (21st June) I had to address the inconvenience of some work, but of course still wanted to see some butterflies. So it was up at the crack of dawn for an early session at Iping Common near Midhurst. As I drove along the crest of the Downs behind Arundel the sun was just breaking the horizon, and the Arun Valley looked stunning as it held on to its shroud of mist. Mist still clung to the low parts of Iping Common as I arrived and started the search for Silver-studded Blue roosts.

Iping Common in early morning mist.jpg
Iping Common in early morning mist

It didn't take too long before I found them, still dozing in tightly packed groups. Gradually they started to stir, until they made a spectacular sight as one by one they opened their wings and turned into the sun. I visited a number of colonies on the heath, eventually seeing about 100 butterflies.

Silver-studded Blue 1, Iping Common 21.6.10.jpg
Silver-studded Blue 3, Iping Common 21.6.10.jpg
Silver-studded Blue 2, Iping Common 21.6.10.jpg

After watching the wonderful spectacle of nature waking up, I saw my first Small Skipper of the year on the way back to the car. It was 'done and dusted' by 9am.

Small Kipper, Iping Common 21.6.10.jpg

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Sat Jun 26, 2010 11:23 pm

Southwater Woods 'Come Alive'

In the last couple of days Southwater Woods have taken on that summer 'buzz', with large numbers of White Admirals and Silver-washed Fritillaries now on the wing. I spent most of the day with Matthew Oates, who later phoned me to say that he'd seen two 'black admirals' on the way back to his car. I know that Ken Willmott has already seen nigrina at Bookham Common, so it looks like we might be in for another summer of aberrant forms :D .

White Admiral, Southwater 26.6.10.jpg
White Admiral 2 Southwater 23.6.10.jpg
White Admiral, Southwater 23.6.10.jpg

The Dragon Estate did some 'thinning' of the woodlands here in the winter, and I reckon the Silver-washed Fritillary numbers will 'explode' over the next year or two. During my last visit, before I'd seen any female SWF, an unusual shape caught my eye as I walked past a Silver Birch. It was an early 'couple' that seemed oblivious of my presence as I invaded their privacy for a few moments, before leaving them to their love-in.

SWF pair Southwater 24.6.10.jpg
SWF Southwater 23.6.10.jpg
SWF 2 Southwater 23.6.10.jpg

Ringlets and Small Skippers had emerged in good numbers today, joining the already numerous Large Skippers. I was particularly pleased to see so many Small Skippers, which had a poor year in Sussex in 2009. I found a communal roost of 23 alongside one ride during the evening.

Small Skipper, Southwater 26.6.10.jpg
Small Skipper

Large Skipper, H Down, 25.6.10.jpg
Large Skipper

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Tue Jun 29, 2010 11:15 am

BC Walk At Botany Bay

On Sunday (27th June) I led 30 people around Botany Bay, in temperatures that soon exceeded 80 degrees, despite an early (9am) start. Several BC Sussex members stayed on after the official end of the walk at midday, by which time most of the butterflies were over-heating and looking for shade (like us!). Some respite was to be found in a small stream-bed, where we watched 3 male Silver-washed Fritillaries and a hutchinsoni Comma from a low concrete bridge, as they repeatedly returned for a drink.

UKB SWF, Botany Bay 27.6.10.jpg
Much-needed drink!

It turned out that we were one day too early to see the hoped-for Purple Emperor, but we did see an impressive list of butterflies, with excellent views of all species. Our tally included Silver-washed Fritillary, White Admiral, Wood White, Purple Hairstreak, Ringlet, Comma, Small Skipper, Large Skipper, Common Blue, Brimstone, Green-veined White, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood and Meadow Brown.

UKB Small Skipper, Botany Bay 27.6.10.jpg
Small Skipper

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Tue Jun 29, 2010 11:31 pm

Purple Patch Begins

On Monday (28th June) Hannah and I headed for Southwater Woods, eager to kick-off the Purple Emperor season. The woods were now bulging at the seams with butterflies, and it didn't take long to notch up 50+ White Admirals and c.30 Silver-washed Fritillaries.

UKB White Admiral, Southwater 28.6.10.jpg
UKB SWF, Southwater 28.6.10.jpg

We had not long started before I saw the first of two valezina SWFs, which are far from common in Sussex. Wading through the piles of brash, generated by recent 'thinning' works, was not easy, and a stealthy approach proved almost impossible. Valezina heats up very quickly, so prefers these shadier areas, and she wasn't go to make things easy for me by breaking cover. After missing a shot of a pristine specimen last year, I could see frustration and disappointment looming. In the end dogged determination won the day, and at the cost of cuts, grazes and bites I finally got some nice images, before she drifted up into the canopy to find respite from the rapidly building heat of the day.

UKB valezina 1, Southwater 28.6.10.jpg
UKB valezina 2, Southwater 28.6.10.jpg
UKB valezina 3, Southwater 28.6.10.jpg

A BC buddy of mine wandered over, to say that he had just seen an Emperor on the main pathway, although it had only 'put down' momentarily. When a salt-searching male has failed in his quest, he will always descend again. So it was off to stake out the part of the ride garnished with the smelliest fox poo - we just followed our noses. It wasn't long before His Majesty made the first of several visits, giving us our first close-up views of the season.

UKB Emperor 1, Southwater 28.6.10.jpg
UKB Emperor 2, Southwater 28.6.10.jpg

The butterflies just kept on coming, with Hannah spotting a full nigrina White Admiral while I was otherwise engaged. At 15.45 hrs we saw another Emperor - the first 2010 resident at the Madgeland Master Trees. It was doing what male Emperors enjoy most, and do best; beating up every passing Purple Hairstreak and Speckled Wood.

Having had a fantastic day in the woods we retired to celebrate the season in time-honoured tradition, at the picturesque 'George & Dragon' in Dragons Green.

UKB George & Dragon, Dragons Green 28.6.10.jpg

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Thu Jul 01, 2010 10:54 pm

More Southwater Goodies!

Not enough time for a full narrative, but here are some recent images that tell their own tale. Southwater is blindingly good this year! The highlights were a 'good' obliterae White Admiral, and a Purple Emperor that desended to my Mam Tom belachan soup at 4pm, before 'hanging up' to sunbathe in a hazel. As it caught the sun it 'burned out' a fantastic turquoise blue across all four wings - magical!

UKB PE on boot.jpg
Image courtesy of Colin Knight

UKB PE on boot 2.jpg
The result!

UKB obliterae, Southwater 30.6.10.jpg
UKB obliterae 2, Southwater 30.6.10.jpg
obliterae White Admiral

UKB WA Southwater 30.6.10.jpg
One of more than a hundred

UKB SWF 2 Southwater 30.6.10.jpg
UKB SWF Southwater 30.6.10.jpg
SWFs

UKB Mum.jpg
Mrs Hulme (a.k.a. 'Mum') watching PEs battle above the Madgeland Master Trees

UKB Comma pupa, Southwater 30.6.10.jpg
Comma pupa fit to burst


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