The house renovations (for this year) are nearly finished. As I write this the dining room carpet is being laid, soon all the furniture will be in it’s proper place! Just to keep my sanity and collect my thoughts I took a couple of days off over the past months to immerse myself in nature. Purple Emperors started emerging in the third week of June down south. On the 23rd, more in hope than expectation, I visited Foxley Wood our local Emperor site. It was a lovely morning and the first Silver-washed Fritillaries and White Admirals were on the wing. I sat in the shade watching the coming and goings and had just finished chatting to a lovely couple who were on holiday when out of the blue his loveliness landed on the path right in front of me!
Spurred on by this early success the following week I decided on a trip to Fermyn Woods in Northamptonshire. I have struggled in the past couple of years at this Emperor mecca and have even pondered foregoing the delightful (not) two and a half hour journey. Perhaps I should have listened to my inner self. The sun was intermittent but the wind far too strong. I kept to the more sheltered areas but sightings were few and far between. After several hours and many miles of walking the grand total was just nine with only four on the ground! In future, conditions will have to be perfect before I venture here again.
Back at home the dragonfly activity in the garden pond has been poorer than last year. Not sure of the reason as the weather has been ok. There was some emergence in May and the damselflies returned to breed but now sightings are thin on the ground. One species I did see, and a new addition to the garden, was a female Banded Demoiselle.
Into July and for the first time in three years I took a look at Holt Country Park 18 miles to the west. As I got to the site a band of dense cloud had covered the sun. No going back, I was sure it would clear. I made my way up to the heathland called the Lowes. This is a great place for Keeled Skimmer dragonflies (Orthetrum coerulescens). Making my way down the slope to the boggy area where the Skimmers breed I was stunned to come face to face with a Roe Deer and her fawn. What a lovely but very brief sighting.
Normally the Skimmers are highly active and very difficult to approach. The cloud worked to my advantage and I managed to get my best shots to date of this species.
Sure enough the sun eventually appeared and I made my way back down to the woodland. Like turning on a switch butterflies were everywhere including the one I had come to see the Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia). They hungrily searched out the last of the bramble flowers for a boost of nectar before seeking out a prospective mate.
Now the paint brushes are put away ’till next year hopefully more trips out are on the cards. Watch this space.