Monday, 29 July 2013

I knee-d a Purple Emperor

The first Purple Emperor of the day landed on my shorts and wandered around my knee for a few minutes, no doubt remarking on my sweaty qualities.  Frustratingly, no amount of contortion could get the beast into focus through the camera lens before it soared off over the woodland canopy.  So began my walk around Broxbourne Woods this weekend.  After the first Emperor of the day they became decidedly scarce for a while and it seemed I would not get a decent photo, unlike Silver-washed Fritillaries, which were everywhere.  I have walked these woods since the 1970s and never have they been so numerous. They were distinctly hard to find in the 1970s-1990s but now every sunny glade seems to have a few. A remarkable change in status.  Likewise the Purple Emperor.  In the early days, every White Admiral was scrutinised in the hope of finding the Emperor.  Now almost full circle, I saw more Emperors than Admirals on my two hour walk.

At Danemead, a Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust nature reserve within the woods, Broad-leaved Helleborines were just coming into flower and the exit holes of Goat Moths were still evident in the small group of old trees that they have inhabited for decades.  Back in the depth of the planted conifers, a family party of Firecrests mingled with a large mixed flock of tits and 9 Crossbills chipped away from the top of a Larch.  On the final stretch back to the car park, Purple Emperors at last began to perform; a couple zooming around large sallows, a couple more taking moisture from the damp path and a final individual sucking away at a gate post.

Photos: my feet, Silver-washed, White Admiral and PE.


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