Well , today was crunch day . No pressure , just produce good sightings of Silver Washed Fritillary for the assembled members of Kent Butterfly Conservation , at what was tagged 'the best sight for SWF in Kent' , after last year's visit .
Trouble was , no one told the weather what was expected . We gathered in the car park at High Elms Country Park in squally winds and frequent cloud cover , with the threat of showers hanging over us . We headed off towards Burnt Gorse in reasonable sunshine , and it lasted till we got to the first clearing . I must admit that I breathed a sigh of relief , when three SWF were found nectaring there , along with a Red Admiral , a Comma and a Large and Green Veined White . The gathered members looked on in glee as the three SWFs put on a good show . I was looking in the direction of the incoming weather and suggested that as we had seen what we had come for , shall we return to the car park ? , but they wouldn't have it . With that , the cloud moved in and the first of the showers dampened us down . On the side of one of the wide rides , we found a juvenile Blackcap , yes Warren , with a brown cap , but no sign of an adult .
I moved the group on to Burnt Gorse , but under leaden skies , very little was showing . By the time we got to the far end , the skies lightened , and as if by magic , SWF started flying and nectaring . Photographic opportunities opened , especially with the females , the males still charging about . I thought I had to make the most of this sunny period , and moved the group on again to the trees where the females had been laying their eggs . The wind was much cooler today , and I think that is why the females were less willing than on previous days . Eventually we found 3/4 females that were prepared to do their duty , and performed well in front of the cameras .
We checked the usual haunts for White Letter Hairstreaks , but didn't find any .
Another heavy shower sent everyone scurring for cover . We checked out the glades that I have been finding the SWF and White Admirals in , but without the sun , we had no chance .
We saw the Violet Helleborines , and made it back to the car park , without getting any wetter .
In all we must have seen 12/15 SWF , including the egg laying females .
The group left well happy and High Elms retains it's label as the best SWF site in Kent , despite the weather conditions .
3 hours ago