"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

Monday, 10 July 2017

Butterflies at Oversley Wood

Just one more catch up post and then I will start posting some Isle of Wight photos.

Yesterday D and I decided to go on our annual pilgrimage in search of Purple Emperors at Oversley Wood down in South Warwickshire. To be honest due to us having failed to get a confirmed sighting there (despite one possible but not well enough to be 100% sure) several times in the past, I had planned to go to Fermyn Woods, Northamptonshire, this year where sightings even at ground level seem to be more or less guaranteed. But His Imperial Majesty emerged early this year and the two holidays rather got in the way and, as yesterday was a spur of the moment decision, I didn't have time to plan a route to Fermyn or research the best places to see Purple Emperors.

The woodland rides are full of wild flowers - Knapweed, Vetches and Trefoils, Meadowsweet, Ragged Robin etc. and it is probably the best place I personally have visited in Warwickshire for butterflies.

This is the "Triangle" where you bear left for the best places to spot the Emperor.

Butterflies seen included White Admiral (2), Purple Hairstreak and Silver-washed Fritillaries (lots of both species) all new for the year. Others spotted were Skippers, Large and Small Whites, Brimstone, Red Admiral and Ringlets.

I didn't get too many butterfly photos this year - they were far too flighty but here are a few.

Small Skipper

Large White


Record shot of a White Admiral - heavily cropped

I didn't manage any photos of Silver-washed Fritillaries and this is a picture I took in 2014.

Red Admiral


Did we see Purple Emperors? Well as usual not a good enough sighting to be certain. We had very fleeting glimpses of several large (black and white marked) butterflies high in the oak canopy - in exactly the same spot where we were certain we had seen one a few years back (D had spotted the purple sheen on that occasion) but again not counted due to uncertainty!! For this very important "tick" I need to be 100% sure and preferably get a photo!! However, having compared the flight patterns and "jizz" of the two White Admirals we later saw, I think this year's few sightings could be classed as "possibles"! As usual before going we had set a target of four species we hoped to see - Purple Emperor, Purple Hairstreak, White Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillary so seeing 3/4 of the targets left us feeling very pleased.

There were lots of bumble bees and hoverflies around too


You can just see my PE brooch on my hat in this picture taken by D. I do have some other lovely PE pin badges - but being rather superstitious I refuse to wear them until I manage a confirmed sighting.

Along with Swallowtail (trip to Norfolk Broads necessary) and Glanville Fritillary (one of these days I will see one on the Isle of Wight even if I have to wait until we move there!!), Purple Emperor is the one species I would love to see so next year, holiday or no holiday, a trip to Fermyn is definitely on the agenda.

*D Photos taken by D with the Canon bridge SX50. I used the 70-300mm lens on my Olympus dslr.


Coquetnaturelover said...

Love your butterflies! The silver-washed fritillary is ever so beautiful and so delicate. Not sure that I've ever seen one! Anyhow, I was reading about the 'big butterfly count' today and thought I might do it (you just need to spend 15 minutes between 14 July - 06 Aug). I'll just have to think of a suitable location and hope for a warm sunny day - not had many of those here in the Northumberland hills this year.. :)

amanda peters said...

Lovey post, so nice to see so many Butterflies in one place eve if you didn't get a photo of a Purple Emperor.Silver-washed Fritillaries are beautiful. Such a lovely and important place...
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Coquetnaturelover - Thanks so much. The Silver-washed fritillary is as you say so very beautiful and I love watching them in flight - they just seem to float about. Hoping to do the Big Butterfly Count here too - I've done it in the garden in the past but I may seek out another location too this year. Hope it gets sunnier for you!

Amanda Peters - Thanks so much Amanda. I really do love going to those woods - a very beautiful place and we never fail to see butterflies. I would like to go in the autumn too one day to check out the colours and look for fungi - just wish it was a bit closer!

Pam said...

A little frustrating when you can't be 100% sure isn't it! Still it sounds like a great day with plenty of other species to see :)

Ragged Robin said...

Pam - Thanks Pam. Yes SO frustrating not knowing. Perhaps I should have taken some shrimp paste or smelly cheese and put on ground in the hope they would find it!!

Rosie said...

You saw some wonderful butterflies, such a shame you can't be sure you saw the elusive Purple Emperor. Looks like you had a lovely day hunting though:)

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

Great shots!

The hunting of purple emperors seems to attract some interesting individuals from a report I saw on it, all carrrying their patended "attractors" like raw meat in socks or heaven knows what else!

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thank you - yes it was a lovely afternoon and just to see so many butterflies was a treat in itself. PE would just have been icing on cake :)

Simon Douglas Thompson - Thank you Simon - that is very kind of you. Yes you are right about attracting them - I have taken shrimp paste myself in the past!!! OH offered some fox scat off our lawn but I turned him down!!

Deborah RusticPumpkin said...

Oh, you do have a wonderful selection of butterflies. I can only manage some basic ones here, but they are all so beautiful, even the drabber ones!

Ragged Robin said...

Deborah RusticPumpkin - Thanks so much. The wood is such a great location of butterflies although it is about 50 minutes drive!