I've been emperor searching for 3 years now with gradual success. In the first year nothing but last year I finally succeeded in seeing some emperors in flight and chasing each other at the Goose Green car park. On Sunday this week we had explored Abbotts Wood Inclosure and Straits enclosure with no achievement other than getting extremely muddy. As the weather yesterday morning seemed Ok I decided that I’d revisit the same places although I did contemplate a trip to Botany Bay. On arrival at the Abbotts Wood car park it was warm with intermittent sunshine and relatively calm air. My route took me south from the car park down the main ride towards the bottom end of the wood. One area of the ride had previously struck me as a likely location due to the presence of Oaks and Sallow and for this reason my senses were probably heightened. What attracted my attention was firstly what I think were a couple of purple hair streaks in flight. I decided to pause and when I turned round to retrace my steps I had a definite emperor sighting flying about 15 feet off the ground around an oak tree. When he disappeared I decided that I’d hang around for a while and I then I caught sight of a butterfly on some dog poo about 20 feet away. I caught a brief flash of white on the surface of the wings and thought that surely it must be a white admiral. I approached slowly and the unmistakable underside of an emperor came into view. He then obliged by opening his wings as he probed the poo with some gusto. I managed to grab some pictures one of which is attached. This was around 12:15 and it had clouded over at that point. Sadly he then decided to fly off into the canopy.
Although I can’t be absolutely certain I think there were other individuals close to the main ride as I had a number of “was that one?” moments on the walk through the wood.
I carried on to Straits Inclosure and headed down the main ride and didn’t observe anything. I decided to return north up one of the side paths and happened upon what must be an assembly area as I observed fairly frequent flights around a group of trees directly adjacent to the path. I’d estimate at least 3 individuals were here.
To round the day off, I saw a flight from a pine to an oak tree at the Abbotts Wood car park.
What a great day!