The plan today Sunday 10th July was to meet up with the East Midlands Butterfly Conservation trip into Fermyn Woods lead by Max Maughan.
Weather like Saturday started off grey but not raining. A number of people collected at the meet point opposite the Glider Club entrance and headed into Fermyn Wood. Within 5 minutes we had our first glimpse of the day of a Purple Emperor flying high above the main ride and landing in the tree tops no more than 10 metres from where I had seen one on my exit last night.
Almost at the same time we got a first glimpse of a White Admiral a great start to the day.
Heading further into the woods we caught site of a second Purple Emperor high in the tree tops at first then it dropped down looking like it wanted to land which it did very briefly on someone rucsac before heading back into the trees. A further Purple Emperor was then spotted before we headed into Lady Wood at which point the heavens opened and we all get a little wet.
At the first junction of rides in Lady Wood we hung around as the weather cleared a little, this is where I had seen my first ever Purple Emperor on Friday late afternoon on the ground. A White Admiral was seen sheltering from the rain and was soon off when the sun re-appeared.
With the sky still grey at times we headed further south along the grassy ride and started to see more and more Purple Emperors flying amongst the tree tops but none grounding.
As the sun reappeared and the temperatures rose we started to witness groundings, watching them come in with some speed before gliding to stop just like a harrier jet on an aircraft carrier, pinpoint landings. Watching peoples faces as they saw these spectacular butterflies up close for the first time made me realise what sort of reaction my face must have shown on Friday when I saw my very first Purple Emperor close up, a sight I shall never forget. More and more groundings were occurring around us again in the places where I had witnessed them yesterday. Small groups of people were now getting their own Purple Emperors to photograph.
I left the group having lunch and headed back to the main ride junction only to be passed by 2 Purple Emperors one which decided it would like to land on my trousers, not being as sweaty as yesterday it did not hang around.
On heading south west on the main road ride I came across 2 Purple Emperors sitting on dog poo, as always oblivious to everything going on around them and what they were standing on.
I walked a further 200 metres and on the right hand bend a group of people were lying on the floor, bending over monopods just gazing at what was before them, a sure sign there were Purple Emperors on the ground. As I approached and greeted the small group of people I was told there had been 6 Emperors on the ground at one point with only 4 remained now. Continuing along the road no further Emperors were seen so I turned around to see 3 of the 4 still on the ground on the return.
Several fleeting glimpses of Purple Emperors were seen on the way back to the car. As the ride turns sharply to the west in Fermyn Wood on the brambles were many species of butterfly dancing around in the bright sunshine. Comma’s, Small and Large Skippers, Ringlets, Meadow Browns, Green Veined Whites, a Tortoiseshell and finally 2 Silver Washed Fritillaries who were more than happy to have their pictures taken, previously only seen as flashes of orange disappearing over the rides trees and bushes. A round dozen in the number of Purple Emperors I saw today so numbers increasing.
I feel so privileged to have had so many Purple Emperor sightings over the weekend which will live with me for many years. It has encouraged me to make the trip down from Yorkshire in the future as I could never get bored of watching these stunning butterflies.
More picture on Flickr site https://flic.kr/s/aHskE5yaQj