Monday 29 June 2009

Yes, It's That Time of Year Again...

My last day as Nature Boy before Nigecorp reclaims me - and the sun's shining brilliantly, so what's a Nature Boy to do? I made my familiar beeline for the oakwoods and grassland of Ashtead Common, and soon found myself among those spectacular beauties, the Silver-washed Fritillaries - my first of the year, and they were out in force, fresh and lively, rarely settling as they flew by with that characteristic combination of powerful forward strokes and long gliding swoops. At one point a pair locked in flagrante delicto flew heavily past and landed with the butterfly equivalent of a thump amid the brambles - that's something I've never seen before... It seemed at first that I was not going to spot my favourite, the White Admiral, but evenutally I was rewarded with a tally of half a dozen or so swooping by, again very lively and disinclined to settle - though one, flying so close I could feel and hear the swish of its wings, very nearly landed on my shirt... But the most dramatic moment came when I glimpsed what might - I say might - have been a Purple Emperor. All I can say for certain is that it was something lepidopterine, dark and improbably large, flying at formidable speed, hurtling high up through the oak canopy and disappearing from view in a second. I wouldn't claim it as a positive sighting, but I think it very probably was that fabled beauty (more elusive than actually rare), the Purple Emperor.


  1. oak wood - definately a possibility that you saw an emperor! still, it would certainly be a lucky sighting! I wonder if I'll ever get to see one?

    ..and how come you get to see all these nice butterflies, and I have still yet to see hardly anything of note! Maybe the farmers are too liberal with their insecticides around where I live?

  2. Yes I know they do have Emperors on Ashtead Common - they're just so hard to spot I've yet to have a definite sighting. I think with the butterflies it's all about finding the right places at the right time of year. Away from those places it's lean pickings - and farmland is often the worst...