The heat drew my butterflying buddy Nick and me to Fermyn yesterday. The site seems to attract a friendly crowd and we had some pleasant chats with fellow emperor enthusiasts who were kind enough to share tips and advice on the best spots.
It was kicking off nicely in the stretch of wood accessible from the glider club entrance, which we were directed to by a kindly gent to whom we owe thanks and who occasionally visits this site. If you read this, thank you sir and I hope your afternoon of paving wasn’t too onerous!
In about 4.5 hours at the site the quality of encounters with Iris was really good. We saw about 25 in all, a pittance compared to our inaugural trip to Fermyn last year, but this time we saw two on the ground, a wonderful soaring giant that we assumed to be a female, and enjoyed a few head-height encounters in the rides at Rockingham Forest.
There were Paphia in good numbers and a fair few Camilla too compared to my local forests.
A highlight of the day was a brilliant double-twosome, as dancing pairs of our two most iconic forest butterflies briefly shared the same space. First, we were treated to a view of two white admirals in what we assumed was a courtship flight (it was graceful and slow, and involved one circling the other like a much gentler and less exaggerated version of Paphia’s courtship flight) followed seconds later by two battling male emperors who burst into the same ride beating the hell out of each other, one landing on a Beech leaf in front of us at head height. All in all, a heart-stopping few moments.
Another highlight was a close encounter with a male emperor who drank from my finger.
Apologies for the guitar-talon on my finger!
I’d welcome any corrections or advice re the encounter we saw between white admirals – does this sound like courtship flight, or are they so graceful that even their male battles look choreographed?