A hurried report of recent doings -
1: Brother Derek failed to get my BlackBerry to blog... . The National Trust has rendered the thing unbloggable.
2: Most important, Dorset has been declared in purpuratum. Congratulations to Roger Smith and his team from BC Dorset branch, who after 5 years of hard work have turned up The One That Matters in the county (albeit just, as the site is close to the Hampshire and Wilts borders). Suffice it that His Imperial Majesty occurrs in Cranborne Chase, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.
3: My own Doings are varied. Brother Neil has already reported on last Friday's Doings in Southwater Forest, which produced >22 iris. We also staged an Extraordinary General Meeting of the People of Purple Pursuasion (inner circle) at the George & Dragon in Dragons Green, the most important conclusion from which was unaminous agreement over the adoption of a zero tolerance approach to Nordic walking in Emperor woods forthwith, and fifthwith to boot.
I then spent the weekend in Alice Holt, covered in raspberry juice. On Saturday, I turned up 14 iris in Straits Inclosure, including my first definite females of the year (the more I see of this butterfly the less confident I am at telling the sexes apart). That was a good tally considering that the main breeding ground there was decimated in sensu hodie during the winter - only 20 breeding sallows remain along the main ride there... . The main assembly area at Bucks Horn Oak (the sacred grove, as in Heslop's lux non lucendo) produced only 6 males, in blistering heat, but the ageing young plantation below it, which is the main breeding ground served by this grove, has just been (quite sensitively) thinned, and some sallows have (understandably) been lost there. The other known male territories in Alice were pleasingly well occupied.
On Sunday I visited a previously unvisited part of Alice, and did rather well there, before spending three hours watching egg-laying females in a sallow jungle in Abbots Wood.
It seems to be a good year for iris in Alice, and a staggering year for camilla - I have now seen >15 'black admirals' this year, including 5 on Saturday alone.
Generally, people are suggesting that this is an even better iris year than last. I'm not quite of that opinion myself, but some of the sites I know well have been adversely changed, and the butterfly is certainly out in good numbers everywhere, and excellent numbers in some districts. The truth is that there is no such thing as a bad Purple Emperor year, only (mere mortal) butterflies suffer those, He doesn't.
Today, Monday, I surveyed part of Savernake Forest where iris had not previously been seen, and turned up one seriously good assembly area - a classic sheltered high point, of cathedral beeches (the sacred grove indeed), and two other good territories. And a nice White-letter Hairstreak colony. The main Doings here is that to the long list of cowardly birds seen flying in ignominious retreat before the ire of the Monarch of all the Butterflies, please add the illustrious name of the common Treecreeper - it got badly splatted.
Finally, do listen to Saving Species on Radio 4 tomorrow (Tues 13th ) at 11am, repeated on Thurs (15th) at 9pm. The programme features a 5 minute piece on His Imperial Majesty, which should include an illuminating explanation of the hitherto obtuse second section of the second canto of TS Eliot's inpenetrable poem Burnt Norton. You have been warned... .