Wednesday, July 20, 2016

News from Bucks

Extraordinary 'doings' in a big private wood in north Bucks this morning. Twice in the last 5 years this wood has recorded 30+ sightings over a 1 to 2 hour period. It is by far the best iris habitat in the Upper Thames region. The owner loves his butterflies, and his wood has the biggest concentration of sallow I have seen anywhere. All the rides are lined with Sallow, mostly the narrow-leaved hybrids. This season, until today, not more than 12 iris had been seen in a single visit here. Mick Campbell and I  entered the wood at 10.30. There was no sun at the beginning, and a hazy sun slowly developed, but we never had 100% sunshine;  the temperature was 24 degrees.  In the 105 minutes we were there, 37 individual specimens were seen: one every 3 minutes on average.  The overall behaviour of the males can best be described as frantic: they rarely settled, being engaged in either Sallow searching or Oak edging; they seemed  only to be intent on finding females: no territorial behaviour whatsoever, and much violent clashing. Several females were clearly seen ovipositing. The fact that the males were still engaged in Sallow searching indicates a late season here; a few years ago they also peaked during the third week in July. In all the other iris woods here, double figures have not been reached during any visit so far.

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