Today, Neil Hulme, Brett Westwood (BBC NHU), His Imperial Majesty and I recorded a piece examining what this butterfly is doing to our heads. This is for a forthcoming new series of 15 mins programmes on Radio 4 (Tx in Nov), exploring the psychology of naturalists and the point & pointlessness of natural history. Neil was utterly brilliant of course, and HIM even better.
For somewhat ridiculous reasons we need to be cagey about where we recorded the piece, but it is one of my heartlands, and contains a seriously good sheltered high point male territory. Suffice it that after a dull, threatening morning the sun began to glimmer and periodically break through briefly, and for nearly 2 hours from 12.30 iris ruled the universe before suddenly quietening down.
At least one male was almost always in view and we had several vistas of three and four, one of six and Brett even managed seven (which is still the most I've ever seen in a vista). That's a reasonable tally, even by the standards of this place. The males weren't particularly violent here today, for once - a Great Splatted Woodpecker managed to escape with its life, though a Nuthatch was duly spliflicated.
At 1.30 a female (Neil's and my 1st of the year) appeared and was instantly followed by a male. She led him a merry follow-my-leader dance away into a distant oak clump. Unfortunately we were unable to locate a pairing.
The programme will examine the importance of the rare, beautiful, mysterious and elusive in our lives, the fascination of cracking the Emperor's ecology, the role of this butterfly in assisting personal journeys into and through Nature, the importance of places of deep belonging (heartlands), Nature-addiction Disorder as the corollary of Nature-deficit Disorder, and the need for a special season when all is well with the world and we enter the trance of Nature. It will also be extremely silly.
Sadly, that's the last I'll see of iris until Monday, as my annual Butterfly Weekend at the Kingcombe Centre, W Dorset, was forced to take place 2-3 weeks early by the Olympics (the last thing I needed was a late iris season...).
But this weekend will see the butterfly at peak season at most of its sites, and the main emergence of the year at places like Fermyn Woods where it hasn't really got going yet. Seize the day - and please report your doings to this blog (or just email firstname.lastname@example.org and he will post it for you). To the woods!