Sunday, July 31, 2011
Friday, July 29, 2011
Note the use of Grecian 2011 in the above pic... It proved, though, useless as a bait for iris.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
Sunday, July 24, 2011
We did have a very brief fly-by male in the wood during the very cold northerly wind on Friday, but torrential rain overnight to the Saturday will probably have finished them off!
Roll on next year, and hoping for a better sequence of rest days.
FROM RICHARD DUNN
It's winding down here, too: just 3 females seen in two different woods today.
The attached photos, taken by Malcolm Brownsword during our field trip to Bernwood earlier this month, shows HIM allowing one of his Admirals first bite at the cherry [synonym for dog poo].
What do you do when the party's over? Find another party! It's egg-hunting time again, followed by 10 wonderful months of fascinating caterpillars. Emperor season without end...
Weather: Very Cloudy, Breezy with short interludes of sunshine
Recorder: Ashley Whitlock
Location: Alice Holt Forest (1)
The sun was out when I arrived on site at 1230 but there was a lot of cloud about, and it could disappear at any time. It was probably too early to see anything, and I was right. There was nothing to be seen until 1305 as the weather had turned and was quite breezy and the cloud cover was almost 100%. A male did turn up at 1305 which was very lucky as I was going to go at 1300! He did the usual ‘s’ flight pattern and disappeared into the thick foliage of the Beech Tree. There was a Buzzard flying over the tops of this tree, and not sure whether it had seen this male, but he seemed to be hanging around. The male got off of his perch again and was patrolling quite merrily around his vista. He did this several times, whether he was hoping to find another male or was searching for any spot out of the eyeshot of the Buzzard! After all they do eat insects and a Purple Emperor would make quite a decent snack I suspect! I did not think there were any others around as there weren’t any chases, to be seen. It was very windy in the canopy but the sun had come out again at 1310.
The male was quite content to sit in the tree top facing the sun with its wings open, you can always tell a male when it’s quite battered and bruised as they have a sort of brownish tinge to their colouration. He didn’t move again as the weather closed in again so I moved on hoping to find some more.
Arrived with a sort vague excuse for some sunshine at 1330, and stayed here for about 20 minutes but there wasn’t anything on station.
Goose Green Inclosure
Arrived at 1340 and the weather was really just black clouds and breezy, with some sultry sunshine for a few minutes, but there wasn’t anything here. I stayed for up to forty-five minutes, but all is lost now for this season. It’s really been bad, a small purple patch during the Wimbledon fortnight, but the rest well I’ll just put it down to experience….it can’t get any worse can it?
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
The species has been seen in reasonable numbers up and down the county, and its hoped that the wet and windy weather over the last fortnight has not had too much of a detrimental effect on their numbers. Only time will tell, and with the promise of some steady high pressure in the next couple of days who knows...there may well still be some of the males at the assembly points?
On a personal note I've encountered it on the ground more times in 2011 than any other time in my career as a butterfly recorder, certainly since I've been Co-ordinator of Hampshire. Perhaps this has something to do with the very dry period leading up to the wet season we are now encountering. Here are a few pictures of my recording in several of the woods mentioned in the text.
Monday, July 18, 2011
Also, I have been informed of the following incident that apparently took place in Ampfield Wood, Hampshire, a little while back. Apparently, an FC van skidded on a massive banana bait placed on a corner along one of the made-up rides there and ended up in the ditch! The driver was heard explaining the situation to his boss on the mobile phone, by the person responsible for the bait. Why this glorious story has taken so long to make it on to this website beggars belief. What do people think this website is actually for?
If there are any more stories like this out there please bung them on, whilst the sukebind is still in bloom...
That aside - are we really going to have to give the Purple Emperor Photographic Award to Matthew? Come on, he doesn't even claim to be a decent photographer - he just seems to have that knack of being in the right place at the right time. Or perhaps it's like Greg Norman's philosphy - the harder I work, the luckier I get?
Neil gets a special award for Miss Iris, our heartiest congratulations - that's worth at least a couple of ab iole's any day (pace Matthew - no idea of fourth declension plurals, I was probably having a haircut that day).
But seriously - get those pictures up on the blog - I promise only fame, not fortune, but let's see your best iris pix if 2011 - and yes, Matthew and Neil, I'll be there for 2012, that's a promise.
Good numbers of males & females have emerged this year with my own early morning counts of up to 11 males from a small area of the site.
In the same limited area I also made daily counts of up to 6 egg - laying females.
It is also important to remember that the wood is part of a large complex of woods here that are important to the species.
Since egg - laying was observed from early July [ as in 2010 ] & will no doubt continue for up to ten days now, this bodes well for 2012 provided of course that overwinter survival & emergence etc. is reasonable.
I suspect that last year's gale in mid - July had little effect despite the ferocity of the weather here as the same pattern of early egg - laying was observed & females were plentiful & busy egg - laying following the gale.
My final observation of egg - laying in 2010 was 27th July.
Given the huge area of woodland used by the males & females I hope to get a better idea of the size of the population by surveying more widely in future.
I will also hopefully find time to complete a couple more days survey on site this year when the inevitable weather window arrives.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
‘They aren’t here for our entertainment’.
As long as the females are doing their stuff, we shouldn't have to worry?
Here in Herts, the range is expanding and/or we are just finding them where we didn't know they existed! Our summer has been exceptional even though I am stuck at work tomorrow when the forecast is sunny. Our target is that we should find them in every 10km square within a few years!
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
It is happening big time in Hertfordshire with two new confirmed woodlands (one historic area) and two reports from new areas of individuals. One of the woods and one of the individual sightings are considerable distances from our known colonies.
We have to give credit to Laurence Drummond who has worked really hard these last two weeks and is responsible for finding one of the new woods.
The female ovipositing in a 'NW Bucks' wood, photographed by Matthew,was on 30th June. The first time I've seen a June female, and, it follows, the first time I've seen ovipositing in June. That day, on the same small Sallow, we found another egg which was several days old! A female was even seen 23rd June in Bernwood Forest.
Note: 21 woods; we have a lot of keen observers scouring these counties for new habitats. Because of these efforts we have been able to build up a useful landscape picture of iris habitats across this region.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Friday, July 8, 2011
And she's even laid some eggs. Here's a freshly laid egg -
Whether she can ride out this stormy weather remains to be seen...
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
"I took these pics at Fermyn on 29th June. I have never seen one quite like it and was wondering if it is an aberration or whether its colour was still developing."
Any feedback for Garry?
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Fermyn doesn't deal in poor Emperor seasons, other woods do. Here the season is either Excellent, Superb or Utterly Brilliant. This one fits into the Excessively Good category...
Straight in on the male ab afflicta, which has already been featured on this website. That was on Fri 1st. I don't think he was subsequently seen, but please comment if otherwise. So, he was seen along a half mile stretch of riding by several observers on both Wed 29th and again on Fri 1st. I think at least half a dozen people managed to photograph him (out of the 1500-2000 that visit Fermyn for iris). It may sound boastful but I have now photographed iris aberrations three years running.
Good numbers of males visiting the rides, including four together on genetically modified horse dung this morning. I think the male emergence there is now complete, with just the odd late female to come. In Fermyn, the insect emerges over a relatively short time (ca 12 days), compared to around 20 days in other woods (e.g. Savernake).
Saw quite a lot of Herself too, not least because I was targetting the minx. Witnessed several egg-laying runs in the sallow jungles and along north and east-facing ride edges. Saw several females down on the ridings, something I personally haven't witnessed since 1976 - though they do come down in hot dry weather, usually to grassy rides. Here's a lovely lady who arrived at the genetically modified pile of horse dung this morning.
Finally, congratulations to Brother Neil who now supersedes me as Britain's Worst Father, and a warm welcome to Miss Iris Hulme, Born on Mon July 4th, in purpuratum. Here she is -
Monday, July 4, 2011
We'll try not to be over-impressed by females and varieties, but gosh - I'm impressed.
As I drove up Three Oak Drive towards the column I passed a couple with binoculars. They were at the spot were several PE's were seen last year. I suspected they were looking for iris so wound down the window and asked them if they had seen anything. They hadn't, they were new to the forest and had never seen iris before and not quite sure where to look. I informed them, they were seen here last year and should have a look before trying at the column. After 20 minutes or so a brief view of a male flying at the top of a tall Beech was obtained. We waited for more activity, I got the scope from the car and scanned the area where it was last seen, to no avail.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
I spent Thursday at Bentley wood for scant return - three individuals with one on the ground. I was in a quandary as to what to do on Friday. I considered making the long journey to Fermyn Woods but decided against it. Obviously a mistake in hindsight! So I decided to return to Old Haunts at Alice Holt Forest. I arrived at 7.45am and walked the ride for an hour or so and saw nothing. It was already very warm and I returned to the car for a drink. At about 9.45am, I spotted a male quartering the ride in front of me. It settled and I gave it time to get comfortable before firing off some shots. The day was looking better! Whilst looking through the viewfinder at this first male, I sensed movement in my peripheral vision. Glancing down, I spotted another Emperor at my feet. It was huge and obviously female. Having read about the skittishness of females on the ground, and knowing it was quite a rare event, I moved gingerly to reposition my camera and quickly fired off a number of shots. At this point, the male was still only two feet away, and I was unsure whether they were aware of one another. As I watched, she walked towards a small clump of grass and appeared to be taking moisture. She was a very brash lady and paraded for 15 minutes while I watched intently.. The male flew off up the ride after about 5 minutes and unfortunately they never acknowledged each other. Her back wings were a bit worn and she’d obviously been out for a few days. By the end of the day I had seen one other pristine female and seven different males. An improvement but not quite as successful as Neil’s trip!