Sunday, 11 July 2010

Saturday 10th.July 2010 ( Part 1. )

An early start , picking Keith up at 0730 , and hoping that the traffic chaos on the M25 would not repeat itself , had us heading off into deepest Surrey on our quest for the Purple Emperor butterfly . But first , whilst filling up at a petrol station , the sound of hirondine in the clear blue sky , turned out to be House Martins and a single Swift collecting their breakfasts , and also calls from youngsters , out of the nest now , and waiting on the roof .
Driving through mist on the motorway , and driving into cloudier conditions , did not look great as we arrived at the site at about 0845 . Undeterred , we started the search , knowing that by 1130/1200 o'clock , any sightings would finish , as this species spends most of the day high up in the Oak canopy . I took some well rotted Banana skins , extracted from the compost heap , and Keith , a vile smelling 'concoction' to lure down the males onto the ground . We encountered a family of Marsh Tits , moving constantly through the vegetation , and managed a poor shot . The sun started to show through and that brought out the Silver Washed Fritillaries in good numbers , with more than six mating pairs being seen , this being one of them . A bonus was the sighting of several Wood Whites , which could have been either late 1st. brood or early 2nd. , opinions on the site with other hopeful searchers varied on this point , this one nectaring on Self-heal -Prunella vulgaris , another of the Labiate family . Also on site were good numbers of White Admirals , and with the similar top and underwing colouration , needed a good check before continuing the search . Having put down our 'lures' we walked the paths searching . At one point we came back to where some other searchers had stopped , to be told they had a male on the ground 5 minutes ago , and got shots . Returning to the same general area later , another chap had had a male down , but it didn't stop for photos . This made us stay in that area , hoping for a third sighting . Whilst waiting , a freshly emerged male Brimstone , stopped to nectar on Betony -Betonica officinalis , yet another Labiate , with it's saw-toothed edged leaves .
We did get about 4/5 fleeting glances of male Purple Emperors , but they were just that , fleeting , as they came in to check the Goat Willows , on which the females lay their eggs . My rotten Banana skins , Keith's 'concoction' , and even the Shrimp paste , put down by a chap who led a walk on the site last weekend , and found a number males on the ground , all failed to attract any interest at all .
As we walked back to the car about midday , all we could say was that we gave it a good shot , but failed to get the prize of a shot of a male on the ground . By now the SWFs were everywhere , and the purpose of being here continued , as another male courted another female , with the hope that he can encourage her to mate .


Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie.
Sorry that you didn't get the photo's you was hoping for, still nice to see the White Admiral shot.
You certainly picked a hot day for it. On our way home from Cornwall at 5pm it was still mid 20 C, so it must have been hot at around mid day.
Just to let you know, Cornwall was a wash out for wildlife, but there again it wasn't a wildlife watching holiday.

Kingsdowner said...

At least you got some views of the Emperors, which shows the benefits of good planning.
Must remember the bananas and shrimp past next time!

Warren Baker said...

''Fouls smelling concoction'' hmmm..... Ive a few things around the house that fit that description, could mean my chances of an Emperor sighting have just inreased.

Look forward to part two of your quest Greenie.

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