Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Reg Still Watching Emperors At 89

The following is taken from a report posted on the Butterfly Conservation Sussex Branch website.

'News for Sunday 12 July: A massive 41 people attended the BC outing to Southwater Woods today. The Purple Emperor once more proved to be a major crowd-pleaser, providing many people with their first sighting of this spectacular butterfly. He again arrived 'on cue', appearing above the outing assembly point at precisely 11am. By the time the 'official' walk had ended we had seen a minimum of 8 different Emperors, with many in spectacular aerial combat. However, it was one of those magical days when many did not want to go home! At 5.30pm a still sizeable group were treated to the amusing spectacle of a mass 'punch-up' between the Purple Emperors and the Purple Hairstreaks, high above the canopy. First one species would start, keeping the argument amongst themselves, then the other would charge in and cause mayhem. By this time we had seen a minimum total of 14 (probably 15) Emperors and were lucky enough to have witnessed the spectacular, tumbling, male-rejection behaviour of a female. I still wasn't finished and stopped off to watch the evening flight of another 2 Purple Emperors, along a meadow margin towards Dragons

However, the highlight of the day for me was spending some time with Reg Trench and his lovely wife Sophie. I sincerely hope that I am still full of the same enthusiasm that Reg shows at the remarkable age of 89 (and the mind, body and soul to indulge this passion we have). A mile or two over rough ground and stiles - no problem! Reg started watching butterflies in 1930, so he would have already been a young man by the time we experienced the greatest ever invasion of rare migrants in 1945, when Britain was blessed with good numbers of Queen of Spain Fritillary, Long-tailed Blue and Bath White!'

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