Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Best To Date - 388

A thorough survey of the entire Knepp Wildland Southern Block has achieved our highest count yet; a massive 388 Purple Emperors. 66 were counted on the Green Lane transect and a total of 16 females were seen. 

I watched 11 'tumble downs' (when already-mated Empresses spiral down to the ground, trying to shake off amorous males), which mostly occurred in the vicinity of 'feeder trees' (those oaks hosting multiple sap bleeds, encouraging large, boisterous drinking parties). At one such tree ('Rosemary's Tree') I enjoyed a chase of nine males, spiraling tightly around my head (at c.7pm). Earlier, beside a small wooden bridge on Green Lane, I watched six dogfights occurring simultaneously, two of which comprised three males; that's 14 emperors in view at the same time! 

I ran out of unsearched areas of the Southern Block long before the butterflies became less active at 8pm. Had I not taken a significant break earlier in the day, to chase White-letter Hairstreaks, I would undoubtedly have had time to move into the Middle and Northern Blocks, probably enabling a count in excess of 400 Purple Emperors. However, the route I took allowed me to observe something I've never seen before; just before 8pm I found a mating pair of hutchinsoni (summer brood) Comma. Knepp continues to 

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