Probably one of the worst years on record, with the weather going from bad to worse. In all my years I've never encountered such a wet summer in the the middle of the Emperor season, but I've no doubt several recorders can better this?
However the doings of the Emperor in Hampshire have actually not been that bad. There was a lot of activity in the first and last week of Wimbledon which is actually its saving grace, as the males were out in the first week and females followed on rapidly behind and mated very quickly. They were seen egg laying in many woods, some of those noted were Alice Holt of course, Botley Wood and Whiteley Pastures, Creech Wood, West Wood and Crab Woods.
The species has been seen in reasonable numbers up and down the county, and its hoped that the wet and windy weather over the last fortnight has not had too much of a detrimental effect on their numbers. Only time will tell, and with the promise of some steady high pressure in the next couple of days who knows...there may well still be some of the males at the assembly points?
On a personal note I've encountered it on the ground more times in 2011 than any other time in my career as a butterfly recorder, certainly since I've been Co-ordinator of Hampshire. Perhaps this has something to do with the very dry period leading up to the wet season we are now encountering. Here are a few pictures of my recording in several of the woods mentioned in the text.