Wednesday 24 June 2020

To the Common

To celebrate National Liberation Day – that happy day when the hygienists who now run the country decreed that, if we're very very good and obey all their rules, there is a chance that, at some date in the future, we might, just possibly, be allowed to resume living as human beings – I... Actually I wasn't celebrating anything except the gloriously sunny weather when I set out this morning to take a stroll around Ashtead common. I was greeted immediately by a fresh, bright Red Admiral – there seems to have been quite a big emergence of these beauties – and then, as I crossed the open land of Wood Field, large numbers of lovely Marbled Whites, Small Skippers and the inevitable Meadow Browns, with Small Heaths, Large Skippers and the odd Common Blue thrown in. In the woods, I was hoping to see Silver-Washed Fritillaries and White Admirals – spectacular species both – but for a while it looked as though I was going to be disappointed. Then, after some while, a SWF sailed majestically towards me, before pausing, wings closed, on a conveniently head-high leaf, allowing me to enjoy the subtle beauty of his underwings. Soon after that, several more crossed my path, along with the first White Admiral, gliding through alternating sunlight and shadow – now you see it, now you don't. More admirals and more fritillaries appeared as I walked along the ride – eight or ten of each, maybe more of the fritillaries (I wasn't counting). They alone would have made it a magical morning, but I also saw, close up, my first pair of another (much commoner) favourite, the Ringlet – and, as I headed back towards the station, I had a glimpse of what I think might well have been a Purple Emperor in flight, near the top of an oak tree. But it disappeared before I could get a proper look, so I will have to put a query by that famous name.

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