Wednesday, July 16, 2014
The 2014 Purple Emperor season is starting to wind down. Many males now look like this ragged fellow (who was, of course, intent on fighting to the very end, at Knepp last Sunday; taking on all-comers, and winning). Both sexes are likely to become 'heat suppressed' over the next two days, as outside the magical first few days of its flight season iris is lethargic in high temperatures.
The forecast heatwave may well prove too much for many tired old boys, and for some egged out females, especially if it is followed by intense thunderstorms on Saturday, as is forecast. However, iris should remain visible in the larger colonies, and at late-emerging sites like Savernake, for at least another week (in fact, iris should remain on the wing in Savernake into early August, though much depends on the weather). If you haven't seen this butterfly yet this year, or haven't seen enough of it, then this Sunday represents your last big chance (Saturday is supposed to be seriously wet).
The males have been relatively well behaved this season, partly because there hasn't been much assorted biodiversity flying about in the canopy to wind them up - there's been a general shortage of bees, hoverflies etc up top, and the Purple Hairstreak seems to be in low numbers (certainly so in Sussex). Nonetheless, a goodly number of birds have been splatted, especially tits (We Hate Tits!). This seriously testosterone-loaded male, seen at Knepp last weekend, and already illustrated here by Neil, has won our annual Vicious Thug of the Year Award, for shooting down an entire flock of mixed tits -
Note This blog functions all year round, not just during the flight season. Please continue to visit and post things up. Emperor season without end...