Saturday, July 20, 2013

Alice goes purple

After several mediocre visits, over the last couple of weeks, I was not particularly hopeful about my visit as I drove up the A3.
The morning had been warm and sunny with a stiff easterly breeze, however during my half hour drive a blanket of high cloud with few gaps moved over, resulting in no sun as I arrived in the car park.
A couple of regulars were just exiting the ride as I began my journey down the track, and a quick conversation revealed they had seen good numbers at high level but they were disappointed at no 'on the ground' photo opportunities.
After about 200m I had already seen 13males frantically oak edging and sallow searching, which was significantly more activity than I had during my previous numerous visits, and I realised something special had happened.
In previous years I had found warm overcast conditions to be very profitable for viewing male behaviour, and with neck ache already setting in, decided to return to the car park and try to do an accurate count as I could and avoid as much double counting as possible.
I walked the whole track and between 11.45 and 2pm I counted and incredible 54 individuals 50 males and 4 definite females, two egg laying. This is by far the highest count I have had here.
I had one chase of four and two of three, as males repeatedly flushed others from their perching positions, and as one of these chases broke up the defeated male spiralled down and circled me, landing on my field bag where it stayed for five minutes to recover.
Oak edging males were routinely flushing other resting males every twenty metres or so and I witnessed numerous battles with purple hairstreaks - always with the same outcome. It was good to see Hairstreak numbers well up to too 31 in all.
During this time the only male close to the ground was the one that landed on me,
and I not see a single one quartering the ride, so I suspect that they have had their mineral intake and are awaiting the main female emergence.

After a quick visit to some of the territories I returned about 4.30 and true to form his highness 'had left the building'  with only a dozen or so sightings. 
The big purple bang had definitely happened over the last few days thank goodness!

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