I spent a couple of days last week prospecting some new woods but for zero return in great weather.
Having checked two more sites on Saturday morning with no sightings, however there is one I will return to as it had a good feeling.
Subsequently I popped in to Abbots Wood, in the Alice Holt complex, to speak to Ashley Whitlock who was leading a guided walk for Hants BC. We soon spotted a couple of males oak edging which were well received by those in attendance.
I then moved off to cycle around the woods to see what I could find. As it was around lunchtime I was hopeful that I might see my first female of the year.
Generally, so far, it has been a very quiet season at Alice Holt with a maximum of 5/6 males being seen across the wood during any one visit.
Again weather was good, warm with sunny intervals, but I failed to spot a single further male which was very disappointing, I fear Matthews prediction of high predation during the winter has come true here unless they have all crossed the border over to Sussex!
However whilst scanning a couple of mature Sallows a movement caught my eye around a very small sapling which I at first though was a White Admiral - however it was Herself. Is it my imagination or do females just seem to appear from nowhere?
My camera was on the path about 20ft away and I wouldn't take my eyes off her for fear of losing sight of her. As she flitted around between the spindly branches she settled on a leaf and I managed to focus on her with my binoculars. Lo and behold she laid an egg in front of my very eyes - the first I have been able to observe.
It was laid at about head height in the centre of a small bush about 8ft high with the thickest branch only about the diameter of my little finger on a fairly moth eaten leaf.
To say I was made up was an understatement, my first ever wild egg, so I fired off a few shaky shots which show the newly laid green egg just a minute or so old.
I will return at some point to see it in its 'mature' state with its purple band and hopefully when it has hatched.