One of Britain’s rarest butterflies is the heath fritillary. They are well known at Blean Woods in Kent which is their stronghold, there is a couple of sites on Exmoor and luckily closer to home at Hockley Wood in south Essex.
On the 11th of June I went south and two and a half hours later I was watching this little beauty. They were located along the south bridal way in newly coppiced clearings. It is these areas which are vital for the survival of this species and fantastic conservation work is responsible.
On the day I saw around 20, in past years numbers have been in the hundreds. They were introduced to Hockley 30 years ago and it is by keeping these areas open that the food plant, common cow wheat, can flourish.
It was a nice sunny morning and well sheltered from the fresh south westerly. There was a good number of holly blue on the wing, also the first ringlets of the year. I just love the chocolate brown colouring of these butterflies. Also noted a female common blue and several speckled wood.