Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Salcey Forest in Northants wass a historically importants site for Iris until the 1960s when the canopy was widely sprayed to eliminate oak tortrix moth. The butterfly made a welcome return, probably re-colonising from nearby Yardley Chase, in 2011. A few sightings were reported last year, but this week has seen an upturn in numbers, with 6 reported to me on 15th and 10 yesterday. I had not actually seen Iris here personally and decided to walk the perimeter today to survey most of the wood. On a very hot day the activity was in sharp contrast to Fermyn on Monday, with little action on the ground.. Six males were seen oak edging along the canopy towards Piddington Lodge. Heading towards the conservation car park a few yards along from here an aberrant male lugenda briefly flew to the ground before disappearing completely with no chance to photograph. Another typical male came down at the next crossroads before soaring up and over a large Horse Chestnut.

The next encounter was in the conservation car park, a male resting on a prominent sprig of one of the oaks before coming down to a hazel bush to take honeydew. The final two of my eleven sightings were near the ranger's cottage, the second coming down to settle on the lily pads on the ranger's pond. My photograph confirms that it was drinking from the water:

'BB' lamented the demise of iris in Salcey and would have been delighted by its re-appearance in such numbers. Equally, what would Andy Patmore, forest ranger here and a great champion of its butterflies for over thirty years before retiring last year, have given to see a Purple Emperor on the wildlife pond which he created?

1 comment:

BB said...

BB would have loved the Emperor on the lily - all it would have needed would be a wild carp nosing at a piece of adjacent breadcrust - perfect