Saturday & Sunday 20th & 21st July: I spent a couple of very exciting days in the field with Matthew, surveying a large site somewhere in the depths of Sussex. We can't say too much at the moment, as the owner is out of the country, and would probably be a little miffed to find his land invaded by hordes of butterfly photographers on his return. We saw a very large number of Purple Emperors.
Wednesday 24th July: I started the morning at a beautiful, isolated spot just west of Petworth, where Michael Blencowe recently discovered a small colony. It didn't take long before I'd notched up a couple of males, so headed off to look (unsuccessfully) at other potential Emperor sites within Petwork Park. I'm sure they're in there somewhere, but the rarity of suitable sallow precludes a population of any size. In the afternoon I visited Springhead Hill on the Downs near Storrington. In the meadow and surrounding areas, amounting to less than a hectare, I recorded 24 species including a large Empress, observed laying eggs from close quarters.
The season continues to look rather good in Sussex, particularly following a couple of poor years for the species here. New sites have been discovered at Henfield, Steyning, Pulborough, River Common, Slindon, Burgess Hill and Ardingly in just the last few days. We're seeing iris well away from traditional woodland sites, over farmland, along hedgerows and on top of the Downs. Plenty of pioneering stuff going on here, despite what other commentators would have you believe!