Black Hairstreak, Glapthorn Cow Pastures, 30th June 2013 - the reserve is managed for these tiny butterflies so there is plenty of blackthorn, the food plant of the caterpillar. It was a sunny day, but windy, so we looked for the butterflies in sheltered spots.
The first butterfly had obviously had a damaging encounter with a bird....
Swallowtail Butterfly 26th June 2013 Strumpshaw Fen, Hickling Broad, How Hill Norfolk
We had seen the Swallowtail about four years ago but had rubbish pictures as we had really gone too early and they had only just started to fly. The bad spring this year means that these are probably late sightings for a more typical year.
This time we saw lots at all three sites; they are strong flyers and cover a large area so they are still tricky to photograph.
However we got some excellent pictures of them feeding on all the nectar-rich flowers in the garden at the entrance to Strumpshaw Fen - a wonderful opportunity to really see this spectacular butterfly. They were feeding on the flower border but their habitat is the fen at Strumpshaw with its abundant milk parsley, for the caterpillars.
We were pleased to get some pictures on the board-walk at Hickling Broad and some pictures of the natural habitat.
After Salcey Forest and the Wood White we went on to the Wyre Forest to look for the Pearl Bordered Fritillary.
This was another butterfly that we had already seen but did not possess a good photograph of...so we went on to Droitwich and stayed at the Crown (Marston's) which was good value, clean, comfortable and had lovely food - mmm I digress, but after The Heath Inn at Leighton Buzzard ( see my review on Laterooms.com) I am sensitised!
We went off to the Wyre Forest and after a wrong turn or so we found the entrance and car park at Dry Mill Lane
There are a number of walks signposted from the car park; basically it is the red route but there is now a butterfly trail - we followed this and we were bombarded with flying Pearl Bordered Fritillaries.
It is difficult to distinguish between this and the Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary; looking at and photographing the underwings is the only sure way to check: the chevrons have a red surround and the black eye spot is small in the pearl bordered fritillary.
Easier than the Wood White and the Real's Wood White though - where you need a microscope to compare the genitalia - as if - when you are out walking - oh, and in Ireland
We wanted to revisit Salcey Forest to try to get better pictures of the Wood White butterfly.
Last year we saw plenty but they were all in flight, so we only had a picture of a white blob. This would not convince anybody but us that we saw had seen this dainty woodland inhabitant in Salcey Forest in 2012.
We walked past the fallen Patmore Oak
where there is a delicate mild steel sculpture of Dancing Figures by Linda Johns: I love this so much, it is so subtle, it is almost not there ( hard to photograph and do it justice)
and reached this place where you could look in two directions at once. Nev went looking up the path behind the seated me, while I slumped and drank water.
We went off the the left and although we were bitter at the weather forecast, which had suggested glorious sunshine, the dullness probably meant that the wood whites perched so this time we got good photographs...
The butterfly was was smaller than I remembered.
For the first time we also photographed a male Orange-Tip with its wings open - it is far from perfect but it is the best picture we have ever taken (I say we, I got bored and went to photograph paths instead, and Nev took it ).
We somehow managed to follow the bike/bridle route and walked all around the perimeter of the wood it was a long, long walk...
but at the end of it we got to walk on this!
I was going on about how all my fear of heights was gone now until we got to one of those staircases that you can see through...
so I could not lean over the top and take this though Nev could.
We saw the Marsh Fritillary at Scrubb's Meadow, Chambers Farm Wood, Lincolnshire on Friday 31st May 2013.
They were often seen fighting above the meadow and along the hedge at the right hand side of the original meadow.
They were smaller than we expected, compared to other frittilaries.
We now only have the Black Hairstreak and the Northern Brown Argus to see and we will have photographed all of the UK butterfly species. However we have just heard that there is a 98% decline in the Black Hairstreak.
Our target species was the Duke of Burgundy. However, when we were at the Totternhoe Quarry we saw lots of Small Blues at the foot of the quarry; they were often basking on patches of chalk in the grass to the right of the path. The habitat is, as you can see, chalk grassland.
The Quarry is the one almost directly opposite the the exit up the steps from the National Trust car park ( we walked miles to the top of the Knoll and to other quarries before we found the managed site)
A couple walking in the Quarry told us that they had seen the Duke of Burgundy at Ivinghoe Beacon, which is about 5 miles away. They were very specific and told us to park on the right-side verge just before the cattle grid, walk across the cattle grid and then look in the bushes on the right hand side. they had seen several there, including males fighting. It was 5.15 pm and we saw nothing so we booked a room using LateRooms.com and returned the following morning when we saw just one.
We went back to the quarry at Totternhoe and we more Small Blues. A different couple showed us to another area of the site where they had see the several of the Duke of Burgundy flying and fighting (they are said to be 'pugnacious'!)
This was the site they showed us - a very steep slope leading to the edge of a quarry - so we watched them and did not try to photograph them. In the picture above you can see the quarry edge and the tops of the trees growing in it.
At Bison Hill we saw lots of Green Hairstreaks feeding on blossom.
At Ivinghoe Beacon we saw lots of Dingy and Grizzled Skippers.
On all three sites we saw lots of Brimstones and Orange Tips.