A record of wildlife in my garden and various trips to the Warwickshire countryside and occasionally further afield.
"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."
From "Auguries of Innocence"
by William Blake
Wednesday, 20 July 2016
Butterflies at Oversley Wood
Last Sunday we went on our annual pilgrimage to Oversley Woods in search of the Purple Emperor butterfly - that most magnificent of butterflies that has enchanted lepidopterists for centuries.
As we walked along this ride from the car park it was obvious that there were loads of butterflies in flight which was a relief considering the paucity of butterflies I've seen elsewhere this year.
Ringlets, Silver-washed Fritillaries and various species of white butterflies were in flight where ever you looked. A White Admiral fluttered past followed by a gentleman in pursuit asking what species I thought it was - I replied it looked like a White Admiral whereas he exclaimed I think I saw a flash of purple as it flew past me! Whatever species it was I wasn't prepared to count it - there is no way I am "ticking" this species unless I get a decent look and 100% positive id preferably with a photo. He did show us a superb photo of a male he had taken earlier that week and told us the best sightings to be had this year were in 2 oaks just to the right of some conifers a few hundred yards past the area known as the "triangle". So instead of heading left at the triangle as we usually do we carried straight on and soon found the area he had mentioned. We spent half an hour there without success although there were many Purple Hairstreaks fluttering around the oak leaves - a species I saw for the first time last year in the same woods. The beauty of this woodland is that, even if you don't see a Purple Emperor, there are still dozens of other butterflies to keep you happy including some very special species.
We returned to the "triangle" and I continued on the path we normally take (I was reliably informed a few years back by the local branch of Butterfly Conservation that this path led to the best area for PE's). Within minutes B and D were shouting and gesticulating and giving a thumbs up sign - I returned and had to disillusion them that the butterfly they were getting all excited about was a White Admiral!
Yet again we failed to connect with the species we had gone to see but we did spend two hours watching many other species - Large and Green-veined Whites, Brimstone, Ringlets, Meadow Browns, Large and Small Skippers, Red Admiral, Comma, Silver-washed Fritillaries galore and more White Admiral and Purple Hairstreak.
Not too many photos this year compared with previous years as the butterflies were rarely alighting to feed (perhaps it was too hot and sunny or late in the day).
The Silver-washed Fritillary and Purple Hairstreak photos are from last year's visit
The edges of the rides are full of wild flowers - a selection in the photos below (sorry, the pictures are a bit "iffy" as I had the 70-300mm lens on my camera which isn't ideal for flower photos).
Despite not seeing any definite Purple Emperors it was a lovely afternoon out. Next year I may go to Fermyn Woods (a more reliable site for PE's) if a trifle further from home. I would love to go to Knepp and see them there along with re-wilding in action but sadly far too far for a day. Perhaps one day in the future.....
Welcome to my blog. I have been interested in natural history from an early age and we have tried to create a garden attractive to wildlife. I also enjoy reading, photography, collecting fossils, visiting historic buildings and gardens and supporting Aston Villa. Please feel free to leave a comment and, if you would like to email me, my email address is ciraggedrobinsATgmail.com - remember to replace AT with @. Thank you for visiting.