Sunday 9 July 2017

Common Day

On Bookham Common this morning, the Purple Emperor hunters were out in force - unlike the Purple Emperors, which were clearly not going to bother flying unless things got a good deal sunnier, if then. The Emperors are notoriously a law to themselves, at times charging around in the oak canopy like the butterfly equivalent of those young men who race Lamborghinis around Knightsbridge, at other times - most - disappearing completely, and at yet others flaunting themselves at ground level in all manner of unlikely circumstances, feeding greedily on the most disgusting things they can find or soaking up the sun on someone's parked car (see the extraordinary Purple Empire blog, passim) -
 And just as I was writing that, I looked up and saw that Countryfile (I only had it on for the weather, honest) was showing the latest Emperor's Breakfast, a tempting collation of fermented fish, stinking cheese and black pudding laid out by the Purple Empire's Matthew Oates and fellow Emperor obsessive Neil Hulme. It did the trick, drawing down an Emperor or two from the canopy to savour what was on offer, and dear old John Craven made off with a piece of the stinking cheese with which to 'surprise' his fellow presenter as they signed off. How we roared.
 No Emperors for me, of course, on Bookham Common, but I wasn't seriously expecting any. The second most showy of our butterflies, the Silver-Washed Fritillary, was out in force - too many to count - and I had the pleasure of seeing half a dozen or so of my favourite, the subtly beautiful White Admiral. And then I had the curious experience of rescuing a Ringlet from the trumpet of a Greater Bindweed. The poor thing had somehow got itself jammed at the narrowest point, perhaps going that bit too far in quest of nectar. It was quite still and I thought it was most likely dead, but when I carefully slit the trumpet and peeled it back, the Ringlet began to flutter weakly and, after a few seconds, flew off and settled on a leaf to recover from its ordeal. My good deed for the day.

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