Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Not easy when it's breezy

Saturday morning dawned bright in the Fens, the sun was strong but the temperature rose more slowly with a stiff breeze creating a subtle cacophony rattling the Poplar leaves and shivering through the stands of phragmites.  At Woodwalton Fen there was a trickle of pilgrims craning their necks to the canopy however, unlike days in the previous week, there were no gliding flights of Emperors from the Oak crowns.  With plenty of Hairstreak action and a Hummingbird Hawkmoth around the treetops it was a pleasant enough vigil.  Thoughts drifted to the 4 hours of intense electrical storm, torrential rain and wind that had circled the southern fens a couple of nights before, could this have finished the season early here?  It didn't seem plausible but we did decide to give the wider area a look.  We didn't need to move far, a Red Admiral drew attention to itself flicking through the open understorey and taking to a branch where there must have been a sap bleed as a  Comma and another Red Admiral were also in attendance.  Expectations were high and, in a few short moments, fulfilled as an Emperor spiralled around the bough and alighted to join the congregation. 

More activity ensued under the canopy as two males and Herself were located on two boughs.  The female had a bleed to herself, only a Hornet challenging and disturbing her.  The lower bleed was more of a melee with the Emperors to-ing and fro-ing and not settling for any extended periods.  Eventually parental duties pulled me away from the wood, perhaps my last visit this season to Woodwalton. 
Yesterday I felt summoned in a different direction and took the opportunity to organise a Purple Picnic for the long suffering and Jnr #2 at Ditton Park Wood in the south eastern corner of Cambridgeshire.  Blanket down with a view down the grove identified last year, we popped a bottle of Elderflower, the little one gurgled in approval and we waited.  We'd seen an Emperor hot wing it out of the pathside sallows and up into the canopy on our walk into the woods so the main objective of ascertaining the continued majestic presence had been achieved. There was not a lot doing by the time we'd munched through to the doughnuts though and it was getting more overcast and blustery. I took a walk beneath the grove to a slightly more sheltered position and sure enough a war torn male weaved across the gaps in the canopy initiating the interest of another that followed with little chutzpah.  After plenty of flight views one eventually settled in view and the sun came out but didn't half get a battering as the wind tossed the Maple leaves around in great arcs. He (or is it She with all that white??) stood firm. 



Anonymous said...

Duncan, what a great piece and you also qualify for a Challenge Badge of 'Herself'. Drop me an email at and let me know your address.



Matthew Oates said...

This has been an infernally breezy season - and butterflies hate wind. At Knepp, on windy days Neil and I were finding almost all of them on the leeward side of dense-leaved trees. One day there was a stiff E wind, and they were all on the W side; the next the wind blew from the W, and they were all on the E side. Wind distributed in fact...