Saturday, July 5, 2014

Fabulous Fermyn (Part 2)

Some things are just not meant to be and lugenda never showed himself again to me; he will probably never grace another human eye. Fortunately my second wish was granted and later on Wednesday (2nd July) it became apparent that a large emergence of fresh males had occurred. Over the years I have become firmly convinced that individuals which emerge early in the morning will not make their first descent to the forest floor until mid afternoon that day. To do so before their wings are fully dry, and they have largely mastered the basics of flight, would put them at too high a risk from predatory Jays and Song Thrushes (I have seen dismembered iris on an anvil). Between 3 pm and 4 pm the rides of Fermyn were suddenly dominated by the most perfect, unblemished specimens, all making their first sorties. I'm indebted to Phil Beard for alerting me to the presence of one such insect, shown above. I remember thinking that this must be one of the most beautiful creatures alive on the planet as I clicked away at it.

Matthew's tally for the day exceeded 90 and I saw a similar number, 35 - 40 of which were grounded. Again, it is worth pointing out that this sort of figure can only be achieved with the use of a bicycle, covering several miles of the ride system over a very full day. Several females were seen egg laying, although most of the girls were yet to emerge before I sadly had to depart.

As always it was difficult to leave Fermyn and, like others, I leave a part of me behind there each time I go, balanced out by the happy memories I take away with me. It was great to spend time with one of the local lads, Andy Wyldes (co-author of the brilliant 'Butterflies of Northamptonshire') and to catch up with some familiar faces - all smiling. The cottage I stayed in was basic, but perfect for the setting, with a posse of young Swallows perched outside my bedroom window most evenings. Most of all I appreciated the company, expertise and enthusiasm of Matthew, from whom I continue to learn so much.

Many more images at


Jill said...

Hi There, We're thinking of making our first ever visit to Fermyn woods tomorrow but having never visited before can anyone advise of the best places/rides to be for the best chance of seeing the Purple Emperors and also is it obvious where we can park? I've tried for many years to see one for real and hoping this year may really the best chance :o) We don't have bikes but don't mind putting in some leg work

All the best Jill

Neil Hulme said...

Hi Jill,

Follow this link to a thread on UK Butterflies and look at the second post from the top. I've provided grid refs for some hotspots, but you'll see them almost anywhere within the complex. Parking is easy opposite the entrance to the glider club, but it does get busy at weekends, meaning you'll be in a long line of cars parked on the road verges. Good luck.
BWs, Neil

Jill said...

Thanks Neil we visited on Sunday and I saw my first one along the track you mentioned although we walked there from the visitor centre which we were happy to do. We also went over to Lady wood too Now we know where things are located perhaps we will return another time but we live in Cheshire so its a bit of a trek But I'm so glad we went on Sunday :o)