Sunday, July 21, 2024

Sherwood (2)

 A couple of females on Friday 

Saturday, July 20, 2024

Tidying up the Blog

 As blog administrator, there's a bit of overdue tidying up which I need to do. 

We currently have over eighty registered authors, of whom, in all honesty, only about half a dozen are active. 

So, once the iris flight season is well and truly over, I'll run a purge of anyone who hasn't posted in the last couple of years. 

If you'd rather you were left on and haven't posted in that time, either post in the next few weeks, or send me an email to let me know you want to stay on board. 

There'll be no change if you want to read the blog, just if you want to post. 

Unfortunately, this year I missed the flight season in the UK due to commitments elsewhere.  

I did, however, manage a quick visit to the Balkans in June, where both ilia and metis seemed more common than iris this year. 

Fortunately I managed to have the camera ready when this briefly popped up.


Thursday, July 18, 2024

Going Over Fast...

It looks as though our beloved Emperors are going over fast in central southern and south-east England, and may be virtually over in places like Alice Holt Forest, E Hants (especially the males).

Too many adverse weather events... 

They seem to be lingering better in the northern fringes of the Empire - e.g. some good sightings in Heart of England Forest, Warwicks, on July 17th.

I've just spent two days in Savernake Forest, N Wilts, which is normally considered a 'late' site, often producing early August sightings and even the last national sighting of the year. There, I struggled to see five males in a thorough search of the main territories along Three Oak Hills Drive today, though two of them were in quite good condition (NB I saw none at The Column, where everyone goes, but which is only a secondary territory).

I dread to think how bad the 'egg lay' is. Larvae are going to be very hard to find this autumn...

Here's Himself on territory in Savernake's 'Dead Beech Glade' territory today - 


Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Derbyshire Comes Out!

Congrats to Derbyshire for coming out and declaring itself Purple! The correct, Heslopian terminology would, of course, be declaring itself in purpuratum...

A 2-4 day old male was photographed feeding on a driveway in the village of Bretby on July 8th, and reported to Ken Orpe of BC E Mids. Here he is, photo by Sarah Simpkins -

Bretby is to the east of Burton on Trent and is close to the parts of the National Forest that look eminently Purple (the area around Foremark Reservoir and Ticknall looks highly suitable, with sizeable sallow jungles).   

Welcome to the fold, Derbyshire!  

BC E Mids has been running a Sallows for the Purple Emperor project, joint with S Derbys District Council and others.  To date, 600 sallow whips have been planted at over 35 sites, mainly in the south of the county. 

Come on Herefordshire, Devon, Somerset, Shropshire, and others!!! In Purpuratum Docens Mortior...

Monday, July 15, 2024

St Swithin...

At Knepp, the Emperor season is fast fading. I struggled to see six on Sat 13th, before heading home for a while. Neil also struggled to see six at Knepp on Sun 14th, in perfect weather. 

Many territories are now unoccupied there. Males have now stopped sallow searching and are inactive before noon. Surprisingly few females have been seen, and I'm wondering whether many emerged during bad weather and quickly perished... The egg lay isn't going to be high. The Knepp season will be over by July 21st-23rd. 

Here's a female from last Saturday at Knepp, behaving just like a male - it is female, she laid an egg 20 minutes before this photo was taken:

And here's a male, doing likewise -

Elsewhere, I'm beginning to breathe sighs of relief that south Gloucestershire, where I live, is still Purple. The region was only recently colonised (perhaps in the 2018 annus mirabilis) and was clobbered by a severe outbreak of Willow Rust last Aug and Sept - most of the broad-leaved sallows that dominate the district dropped most of their leaves. The good news is that Glos is still purple. Here's a photo (not mine) of one feeding on owl pellets (!!!) in a barn near Cheltenham on July 11th - 

Great to hear of a sighting at Saltwells NNR just SW of Dudley in the West Midlands (W of Brum).  

Generally, numbers do not seem great, but that may simply be due to poor flight season weather - this is an old-fashioned July. 

Today is St Swithun / Swithin's Day, and it's rained most of the day. Last year, we had a fully-fledged gale on St Swithin / -un. Personally, I think St Swithun/-in should be defrocked...

Four of five reasonable days are forecast. My guess is that they will reveal Emperors and Empresses in reasonable numbers in the later-emerging localities...

Friday, July 12, 2024

Fri July 12th : More Grot...

At Knepp, heavy rain around dawn, then a day of lumbering dark clouds, slowly moving down from the north. A few glimmers around 2pm, then more grot... The few patches of blue sky that appeared, had infilled by the time they arrived.

I managed just four Purple Emperors at Knepp, all in good or reasonable condition, but hardly anything was flying - even the Ringlets and Meadow Browns. It was too cool.

Also, Purple Emperors seem to need a UV level of 5 to become active. Today, it was mostly around 2.

Good news from elsewhere: 2 males were behaving badly near Sapperton (of Daneway Banks fame) back in my home parish. That's important news, as most of the sallows in that district dropped many their leaves last August or Sept due to a massive outbreak of Melampsora Willow Rust - and I'd feared that the iris population, which was only discovered in 2020, had been lost.

Also, good news from Savernake, where a pristine male was photographed down on a ride, and three were seen in the favoured Dead Beech Glade (halfway up Three Oak Hills Drive) - 

Also, great to hear that a gang of Emperophiles from BC West Mids have just turned the butterfly up in BC'S Monkwood Reserve, Worcs.

PS  Other bloggers most welcome here! It's not my personal blog. We'd particularly welcome news from counties that don't get mentioned here - e.g. Kent, Norfolk, Lincs...  I seldom have time to trawl around the various websites to find news from elsewhere...

Anyone There?

Apart from Mr O's daily updates from Knepp there has been a distinct lack of tales from others around the Purple Empire. I visited Fermyn on the 8th in the company of JW and we had a pretty good day. If you would like to read my account check out Learn more about the Emperor who forgot Himself for a moment.