Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Downland Beauties - And Strange Goings On In The Back Of A Horsebox

On Sunday (11th July) I took a short break from the tedium of writing articles for the BC Branch newsletter and Annual Report (apologies to members... I do enjoy this in the winter months), and headed up onto the Downs behind Storrington. It was very obvious how drought conditions have suppressed the chalk grassland flora this year. The banks that are usually a riot of blues and purples in high summer, looked sparse and rather subdued. However, the butterflies were there in good numbers, including freshly-emerged Chalkhill Blues and second brood Brown Argus. I just love mint-conditioned CBs!

It was then I heard the call "coooeee, are you the butterfly man?" (I have a number of conservation projects on the go up here, so am part of the furniture). A Purple Emperor was fluttering around a horse's bottom, as he stood in his box. I thought to myself 'patience is a virtue', as it was pretty obvious what the butterfly expected. I later saw another male launch itself at a Wood Pigeon, as it flew low over the canopy of ash. This is another of the unusual, high altitude iris colonies of West Sussex, at 558' amsl.

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