Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lift Off!

Gentlemen, two remarkable accounts reached me today. First and foremost, it appears that one of the populations introduced 8 years ago in Warwickshire has exploded: apparently someone saw about 50 on the ground there on Monday, which is Significant!!!! Can someone please confirm this... .

Secondly, a highly promising start to the Season in Fermyn Woods, where David Newland and Andy Wyldes had 5 males down simultaneously along one 100m section of ride, and maybe a dozen down in all.

These accounts, plus others, suggest that this year's emergence could be very good indeed... .

However, I struggled to see a single male in Savernake Forest, Wilts, today, where iris does tend to emerge later than elsewhere. My guess is that today was Day One of the flight season there. Several known male territories were assiduously searched.

And Brother Neil had a male on his boot in W Sussex (cue the aria from The Messiah, Blessed are the Feet...).

To the woods, without delay... .

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We're Off!

On Monday (28th June) He finally took to the skies (and poos) of Southwater Woods. Just before midday a male started the first of several descents to the main W-E ride in Madgelands, sampling a particularly noisome fox turd. He at least had the good grace to retire to a nearby hazel, in order to clean off his tongue, in anticipation of courting. A second male was later seen at the Madgelands assembly area attacking Purple Hairstreaks, as always, for nothing more than His own amusement.

Undoubtedly worthy of mention were two specimens of valezina, a quite rare beast in this part of the world. She evaded my camera last year, but this year flaunted herself in a most gratifying manner. Hannah spotted one of Matthew's nigrina, but I failed to see it, so won't report it here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Alice Alive

Made it to the major Alice Holt assembly area at Goose Green OCP this afternoon (Monday). Arrived just after 2pm to see 1 male flying rather lazily between the chestnuts. There were a few more flights but it was difficult to tell how many individuals were there until eventually two clashed on my side of the overhead wires in combination with another flying on the far side. So there were at least three, all unsurprisingly in very good condition. Checked the large oaks nearer the layby but nothing showing.

Later visited a good assembly area near Odiham but no sightings there. So the Hampshire season is at last underway and let's hope it's the start of a good one.

Sun June 27th

Rather a No News day. Neil and a big BC Sussex gang saw no iris at Botany Bay, Chiddingfold, and I saw none in Wiltshire - I spent 2 hours searching three main territories there, but these are 'late' sites and I wasn't expecting to see the butterfly. Still no news from Hampshire. Big Bang hasn't happened yet...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bookham Opens The Season

Gentlemen, we are in purpuratum. Today, Sat 26th June, at 2.45pm, Ken Willmott saw a fresh male at the main 'Master Tree' territory at Bookham Common (NT). However, Neil Hulme and I failed to see any in Southwater Woods in West Sussex, itself an 'early' site for iris. I have yet to hear whether people were loooking in Alice Holt Forest today, another 'early' site.

It is still very early days, as larvae were pupating rather on the late side this year. I don't expect any mass emergence for a couple of days at least, but then this Season should take off Big Time.

Great to see 2 'black admirals' today (close to or actual nigrina) in Sussex. Ken saw one yesterday.

Matthew (on behalf of Ken).

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bloggers Beware

As we all get tense and nervous and the grea day approahes, a reminder that - won't be able to forward your comments to the blog via my emai. I'm jumping on a plane next week and joining you for the season. Happy days.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The 2010 Purple Emperor Season

Gentlemen, iris is unlikely to appear on the wing before the end of June. I expect the first males at the early sites in Surrey, W Sussex and E Hampshire to appear on Sun 27th June at the earliest. That estimate has been brought forward, following this evening's Countryfile weather forecast, which is predicting a hot and sunny week. I suspect that at most sites the season will not start before 1st July. I may be wrong... but my prediction is derived from following larvae closely in the wild, together with observations of a small captive-bred sample.

At my study sites in mid Wilts, larvae were still around on Sat 19th June, and none had pupated by Sat 12th. Moreover, in captivity, where the butterfly is usually earlier, at present only seven out of 10 larvae have pupated. The butterfly usually spends two to three weeks in the pupal state.

Keep checking this website: the first iris of the Immortal 2010 Season will be reported here.... it's just a matter of who, when and where.....

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Spring Larval Doings

Samuel Coleridge, in vernal prime
'Through wood and dale the sacred river ran'

John Clare resting

'In childhood I sought the edge of the world'

Ted Hughes, hiding...

Byron, awaiting tree to stop flowering and come into leaf

'For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have rest.'

TS Eliot lined up against a swelling bud

'World not world but that which is not world'


Larval Doings

Sarah Coleridge, being silly...

Gentlemen, we are pupating...

Samuel Coleridge encountering cuckoo spit:

'For he on honey-dew hath fed
And drunk the milk of Paradise...'

Larval Doings

Monday, June 7, 2010

Latest Image

Sarah Coleridge, at work

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Radio 4s Saving Species

His Imperial Majesty, in larval form, will be appearing on next week's Saving Species, on Radio 4, Tues 8th June at 11am, repeated Thurs 10th June at 9pm.

As a foretaste, here is Keats ascending, as in -

'The soul of Adonais, like a star, Beacons from the abode where the Eternal are.'