I visited the Alice Holt complex several times during the course of last week and I would say that the results were generally disappointing, especially considering the glut of sightings elsewhere. I had a maximum of three males in the rides in any one visit and more often it was one or two, and only four groundings in total.
Males were seen quartering the paths on a few occaisions but were generally not stopping for more than a couple of seconds - my guess would be that they may have been fruitlessly searching for moisture in the heat. Even on the territories that I know about I saw a maximum of three and only battles between two at a time. The lack of Emperors was made up for by spending some time in the excellent company of Neil and Matthew on several occasions and most importantly listening to England beat the Aussies in an Emperor wood - in time honoured tradition.
One interesting observation was that as I was walking between two of the woods around lunchtime - a distance of about half a mile over open ground, when I encountered a male flying determinedly along a hedgerow about four feet high. I managed to follow him for a short distance - they fly fast when on a mission - and observed him reach and ascend a large oak on the edge of his destination wood. He was moving from Straits, which is very level ground with no observable territories as far as I am aware, to Abbots where there are several territories. I will keep a closer eye in the future to see if I can see this again.
I had two or three successful visits over the border into Surrey, to Botany Bay and Tugley wood, where several males were obliging and sat down to give great views.
More locally I have visited several areas of the old forest of Bere, which is hugely fragmented now, to prospect for new locations. With Neil's help have found some in Southleigh Forest only five minutes from where I live. There are a number of very promising woods which I will also explore further given the time.
I feel Fermyn beckoning…….