Friday, August 18, 2023

Final sighting

The last Purple Emperor of 2023 was a female seen in Ruislip Woods on August 3rd. This means that there were only three sightings in August: this one, and my two sightings in Savernake Forest on August 1st. 

Perhaps the key point about the 2023 Purple Emperor season is that it arrived earlier than anyone anticipated and caught us with our trousers down... By the time many observers had realised that the butterfly was in fact well out, the weather was deteriorating. The St Swithun's Day gale effectively ended the season at many sites.

Numbers were excellent, if not superb, in central southern England - even in places where sallows were severely affected by drought in July and August 2022, and shed many leaves. This suggests that the Emperor may be becoming drought proof, like the White Admiral.

Elsewhere, numbers were at best modest - but many recorders got out rather too late in the flight season, and the butterfly may have been under-recorded.

Here's the pupal case of a female, who hatched out circa June 30th, in Cirencester Park Woods, Glos, taken on August 14th. The cases can persist for weeks, or months. 

The long journey into the 2024 Purple Emperor season has started. I'm beginning to look for larvae. Watch this space...

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Tues August 1st: The End...

Just two octogenarian males left in Savernake, on their final hours. They'd all but run out of fight. One was so tired he failed to rise to a Honey Buzzard flying just over the treetops. Here he is - 

The journey towards the 2024 Purple Emperor season has already begun... The end is where we start, to reach an end is to make a beginning...