Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Further Doings

The Emperor season is now winding down at most sites. This is because some places have shorter seasons than others, and some are 'early' sites. As examples, I felt the butterfly was very much on the wane at Oversley Wood, Warwicks, last Friday and in Southwater Woods, W Sussex on Saturday, though it should last for another week at the latter.

Savernake Forest, on the other hand, seems to be a 'late' site - I've no idea why. The first male was seen there on 30th June and a female definitely emerged there on 15th July. Yesterday, many of the 15 or so males I saw looked black and intact. Moreover, they are still coming down to the ground, though they have lost much of their purple iridescence. Yesterday, two males were imbibing from the C18th column, one came down to the ride about noon (and to some lucky man's clothing - 'This has made my year!' he said), and one came down to my car around 4pm. Males largely visit the rides etc to feed during the first half of their season, and it is unusual for this number of males to be seen down after mid July.

Here are some of yesterday's pictures. I took the liberty of baiting my car with shrimp paste solution (though it has since been run through the car wash, on health & safety grounds). This attracted 3 red admiral, 1 peacock (most unusual, see below) and a huge male iris.

Now this iris was Huge and fooled three of us into thinking it was female, only for some of the photos to reveal some fading purple. It was definitely male. It may have been ab maximus, the giant emperor aberration named by IRP Heslop. The problem with that aberration is that you can only identify it through a set specimen, as it has to meet or exceed certain wing measurements. Typical Heslop!

Finally, I'm taking the liberty of posting one of the unique photos taken by Graham Cox at Savernake on Sunday, when a giant Empress (ab maximissima surely) attracted an amorous male (I assume she rejected him by dropping, he followed her down; neither bottomed out as usual; they both crashed, and he carried on courting her). This is the picture we all want: congrats Graham! Eat your heart out Neil Hulme...

I expect iris to last in Savernake to the end of the month, only don't expect to find them after next weekend (location details are on this website).

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