Whilst photographing the male Purple Emperor during the week , the other chap , with the walking stick , mentioned that he had been to see one of the rarest and most elusive butterflies the day before , and had found it . A quickly arranged sorti was planned last night , and I met Keith at his house at 0600 to see if we could do the same . Our target species was the Black Hairstreak , a species restricted to just 45 colonies , all in the East Midlands , between Oxford and Peterborough , and today we were heading for Glapthorn Cow Pastures in Northamtonshire . We had an easy trip up , and even before reaching the reserve , just had to stop the car to get shots of Red Kites , cruising effortlessly over the open fields . We found the site and nervously , as neither of us had ever seen the species in real life , started to search the large areas of Blackthorn and Bramble , paying particular attention to those that were already swathed in the warm sunshine . With many large , mature trees on the site , as the sun rose in the sky , different patches came into the sunlight , as others went back into shade . A deer was seen at distance down a track as we arrived , and during the first couple of hours , at least two were heard 'barking' for long periods . It didn't click till later , that the 'barking' was probably Muntjac Deer , as they are well known for doing so and also found records of their sighting in the visitor's book on site . We were finding plenty of butterflies , but not the target species , and although by the book we should be in the middle of their short flight time , like all other species this year , they probably emerged early . This was also confirmed in the visitor's book with a 28th. May entry of 'first Black Hairstreak seen' . From the open glades we still had occasional views of Red Kites and the book once again informed us that they had in fact nested on the site this year . Three hours of searching still hadn't produced the required result , but it also gave more time to practice Volucella pellucens in flight shots , and when they weren't around , the odd spider managed to make it to the camera . Like everywhere else this year , Large Skippers showed really good numbers , here three posed in line astern . Yet another Red Kite flew over the site , this time looking a bit tattier than the others . Searching hard and trying not to let our lack of success get us down , after about three hours Keith uttered the words 'I've got a Hairstreak' . I don't know how 'Eagle Eye' saw it as it was well back in a large Bramble patch and above head height , but I'm really glad that he did . Then came the soul searching , is it definitely a Black , as the White-letter Hairstreak is very similar . Frustratingly , it seemed to prefer the Bramble flower on the far side of the plants , being out of sight for much of the time . Every now and again , it gave a full side-on view , and sometimes that view was in full sunlight . It was then that we started to believe that we had found our target species . Because of the distance , it was difficult to see the orange and black makings on the back of the hindwing , carrying on and fading out on the back of the forewing , but the inner row of black spots on the hindwing was the clincher , it was the only one we saw , but it was the species that we set out to see , well spotted 'Eagle Eye' , a first for both of us . Whilst we were photographing it , a couple from Hampshire , who had just arrived on site to see the Black Hairstreak , reached where we were standing , and saw their target species within 10 minutes of arriving . We made our way back to the car for a well earned sandwich and drink
and talking about making our way back home , delayed by a rather tatty Common Buzzard overhead as we left the wood . At the car , we met another couple who asked if we had seen BH , and we told them the story . They told us that they had just come from another wood a short distance away where Purple Emperor were seen . After lunch , plans changed to a quick look at the other wood as it was close by . On a track through farmland , yet another Red Kite encounter . Just before reaching the other wood , a young Fox decided to play 'chicken' down the lane in front of the car , which went on for a couple of hundred metres , before it decided to dive off to the side .
By the time we started looking around the second wood , the cloud had started to build , and the sun was at a premium . But , in one short spell of sunshine 'Eagle Eye' again worked his magic , spotting a female Purple Emperor which flew overhead and settled in a Willow . Plenty of White Admirals and a couple of White-letter Hairstreaks were also seen , but things got steadily quieter . With a long trip home , we decided to call it a day , with a total of 18 butterfly species seen , including 3 Hairstreak species , 5 raptor species , including Hobby and probable Goshawk .