Thursday, September 5, 2013

September iris!

This news came to me first via Richard Fox and Jim Asher. At first, I was sceptical and didn't feel I should post it, since the observers had never seen iris. I questioned them politely, and this is their reply, and I was convinced.
Until this sighting, the last in Upper Thames had been seen on August 21st in Homefield Wood [BBOWT], Berks.

"Hello Dennis – alas no, I didn’t take a pic. It’s always the same – no camera when you need one. I’d never seen a PE before and didn’t know what it was, but checking the internet leaves me in no doubt whatever. The flashes of purple sheen on its wings as it flew – just like a hummingbird! – were astonishing and unmistakeable. But, knowing that one witness may easily be mistaken even when not positively dishonest,  I mentioned my companion. He is John Howard of 6 Market Place, Woodstock. John, who is chairman of the Cotswold Antique and Art Assn and therefore ever so respectable, isn’t a butterfly boffin at all, but we both got a very good sighting for half a minute or more.
The date was September 2, the time c. 1.30pm, the place Woodstock churchyard, the weather warm and sunny, the breeze barely stirring the leaves. The butterfly was resting on a tombstone (I think – I paid more attention to the noble beast than the architectural environs) in dappled shade under a tree, to the left of the gate on the Blenheim Palace side of the church. From its size and underwing colour I knew immediately it was a new one on me and pointed it out to John. Then it bestirred itself and started to fly about – a most wonderful spectacle, like a vision of the tropics in deepest Oxon. It was a great privilege, and no doubt a lifetime experience.
Thank you for letting me know the sighting was very unusual for Sept. That adds even more to my pleasure and excitement.
I am a farmer in Cornwall. This year the tonnage of butterflies on my land has been remarkable – the silver-washed fritillaries are so numerous you’ve almost got to beat them off with a stick. Small whites in veritable clouds, like when we were young. So I’m sort of butterfly-aware, but make no claims to expertise.
kind regards

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