I visited Queen Elizabeth Country park today to see if could paint it purple for Ashley. This is a very large wood of several hundred acres on chalk downland to the south of Petersfield. Due to the size i took my bike and spent four hours scouring the rides.
It was a bit of butterfly dessert unfortunately, with very little seen at all. The woods are mainly beech and the rides are very enclosed and dark. Not much sallow - only counted twenty or so, although it was good quality.
It may be here but i think there may be better, and easier, prospects elsewhere.
Took myself off to Straits to get probably my final fix and despite Matthews assertion the gates were open.
Saw five males all oak edging and one female trying to avoid attention.
Pleasingly I have begun to join some dots, and have seen HIM in four small adjacent woods locally adjoining the A3 and identified a dozen or more small patches of wood that will be investigated next year. I really think the A3 between Portsmouth and Guildford could hold significant numbers as there is good amounts of sallow all the way along - not a particularly relaxing place to watch for HIM though :)
Couple of observations for comment:
1. At Straits this year there has been very little grounding compared with previous years - in fact I have only seen them on the deer tower and one on my field bag. I note in 'Notes and views' that Heslop also noticed a similar change had occurred in the early part of last century stating "Whereas the collectors one hundred years ago stuffed their collection with hundreds of bait caught specimens; by 1920 the only sort of bait that seemed in any way effective was stinking mud from the bottom of a pond and even this attracts infrequently now." Could it even be cyclical? I saw numbers of groundings in Surrey, and obviously at Fermyn, so it was local to Alice Holt (only one grounding for me at Abbots). Has anyone else noticed similar changes on their patch? It will be interesting to see if it continues next year?
2. One day at straits, recorded in a previous post, I saw over 50 males in about 90 minutes after walking the whole ride just once. It was so incredible i am beginning to think i dreamt it! On every other visit this year, before and since, half a dozen was the norm. Whilst I inevitably recorded some twice there were undoubted large numbers and saw two chases of four males, someting i haven't seen since before the sallows were destroyed. Some were fresh and others were very worn with pieces of wing missing. Why had seemingly all the males in the wood descended on this ride?