Wednesday, July 17, 2013

16th July, Matthew in Fermyn Woods

Today in Fermyn Woods Purple Emperors were active for over 12 hours, beginning at 8am.  A few were still flying and visiting the ride surfaces when I finally retired at 8.30pm.

Numbers and activity were similar to yesterday.  All told I counted 134 apparent individuals, including 8 females (one egg laying).  I am adamant that I saw over 100 individuals today, not least because I covered the entire Lady Wood, Souther Wood, Titchmarsh Wood and Greenside Wood block.  Also, Gillian Thompson almost independently of me counted 102, whilst yesterday Rev John Woolmer scored 101.

No aberrations seen today, and none reported either.  Three good courtship flights witnessed (2 probably ended in matings, out of sight) and a classic spiral-down rejection flight.

Once again, a manic Happy Hour from 10.00 to 11.20am, when a large number were breakfasting on the ride surface.  At 10.45 I saw 8 down in 5m of ride.  This is the most I've ever seen in a vista.
But they were visiting the ride surface throughout the day, though only in low numbers from 2.00 to 5.00.  All told I saw 62 feeding on the ground, plus many more flying low.

I think they are flocking down to the ride surfaces at present due to the hot dry conditions, the lack of moisture on the tree foliage and the paucity of honeydew (aphid secretion).  These guys are seriously hungry and thirsty.

All were in excellent or very good condition. Crucially, there will still be many good specimens around this weekend (though few in absolutely pristine condition) so Do Visit!  They will, though, shoot over fast in this heat so don't leave visiting till the weekend of 27th / 28th - they may have all but gone by then.

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