Apols for lack of comms (and thanks to Neil for filling in for me) but the NT server got struck by lightning (or assaulted by an irate West Sussex iris) last Friday, and crashed, and I've only just got up and running again...
It's still a little premature to assess this season's PE numbers, but early indications are that they are considerably better than last year's disappointing show. However, in some districts the butterfly has scarcely got going yet (and only the earliest of my three captive-reared pupae has just started to show through - they should be in sync with the late-flying North Wilts population).
At Knepp, in West Sussex, the first females were noted yesterday - I witnessed a pairing high in the top of a distant oak in a primary territory. But Knepp is an 'early' site. Numbers at Knepp are highly impressive - better than last year - but the weather has been good and the population there is large and growing larger.
This weekend is going to be the first of two key ones for the butterfly, and the weather looks good - so cancel everything (weddings, anniversaries, the lot) and get out Emperoring: No excuses. This should be the key weekend to visit Fermyn Woods (only sadly I cannot get there until later in the season this year).
Meanwhile, here's a rare photo on a male seemingly imbibing honeydew (sticky secretion of aphids), taken at Knepp on Friday. There has been a lot of honeydew on tree leaves so far this high summer -