In spells of very hot weather it seems that iris may be far more active during the evening than many people realise, perhaps even more so than early in the morning. I again visited Botany Bay, confident in the knowledge that they would 'kick off' some time after 5 pm. The first sighting came at 5.15 pm, when I watched the prolonged courtship flight of the Emperor, just to the SE of the 'Triangle'. She glided around the oak tops at a quite leisurely pace with initially one, then a second admirer in pursuit. This went on for more than 5 minutes, as if she was testing their 'suitability'. Her final choice was made high in the canopy, out of sight.
At 5.30 pm the males started to descend and at one point I saw two of them sitting on the path within a few feet of each other. I was just beginning to think that they had learned to 'play nicely', when one got up to trash a female blackbird that had the temerity to come within 10 metres. Iris was still going at 7 pm when I left.
Earlier that day I visited Southwater Woods. I had scraped together a total of 13 individual males, but they were hardly busy and the intense heat was clearly suppressing their activity. Dave Sadler had watched a female egg-laying, unusually early in the day from my own experience.