Monday, January 24, 2011


'A butterfly is merely a caterpillar intent on having sex.' M.R. Oates, 23/1/2011.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sevenoaks Catches Up

Just to clarify, the photos below from John Rickman (and the sighting that it documents) occured on June 19th, 2004. My omission, not his.

Doings at Sevenoaks

This report and lovely series of pix from John Rickman in Sevenoaks. Is this the current eastern limit? Matthew? (And from down here in Australia it looks like an Empress?)

He (?) was on my patio, at our cottage between Edenbridge and Ide Hill.

We front on to a wood and are surrounded by meadows. I had recently decided there was little point in trying to dash back for the “book” and trust to memory the details. So I dashed into the house for my Canon Ixus and he (?) was waiting for me to take a photo from about 6 inches away. Having had my thoughts confirmed, I sent the photo’s off to a very pleasant lady, plus our map reference at, as requested. Subsequently I have searched for “the Oak or Ash tree” but with no luck. Can you tell me the typical flight range of a Purple Emperor. Might help me narrow down the search?? John

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Will whoever deposited a dead sheep near The Column in Savernake Forest kindly remove it, store it in a freezer, and return it to the forest on Midsummer Day - ideally by impalling it on the Column railings. There are standards, and we need to adhere to them.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mid January Doings

The small number of hibernating iris larvae I'm following in the wild were all present and correct (and healthy) yesterday. So, no losses since early December. However, last year predation kicked in during late January, so we are now entering the danger period.

Meanwhile, here's an Orange Tip pupa my wife found whilst accompanying me on a larval expedition in Braydon Forest, a remarkable dark form (which I've seen once or twice before) -

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Year Greetings

Greetings Loyal Subjects, from the 2011 Purple Emperor season...
Above are two hibernating larvae photographed in the wild on 2nd January. I was delighted to report that none of the wild larvae I'm following were lost during the cold December. Perhaps the snow and hoar frost had concealed them well, and also drove tits out of the woods and into nearby gardens in search of food. Although my sample size is much smaller this winter, there is a much higher percentage of the mottled grey form this time round (as in the upper picture), and fewer are hibernating alongside buds. They tend to match the substrate they're on, as above.

Wintry conditions, like below, may well be good for hibernating iris larvae -

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Purple Emperor Emerging from Pupa

I found a series of old photos that might brighten up the dark winter days ... (see bottom of page):


- Pete

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Herts & Middx Purple Emperor Report for 2010 (with 2009)

We have at last completed our Purple Emperor report for 2010 (with 2009)

It can be viewed on this link

Not a lot happened in 2009 which is why we have only just written about it.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Warwickshire Sighting

Report from Wendy Mace:

Hi thereI was given Patrick Barkham's book for Christmas and have always been interested in butterflies and moths (and indeed all our flora and fauna)In July 2009 a friend and I were walking thorugh Hay Wood in Warwickshire (near Baddesley Clinton) on a nice sunny day and we had the good fortune to see an Emperor (though we didn't know what it was until we got home and looked in a book) - it flew down in front of us and sat on the ground and its dark colour with white markings but especially the gorgeous blue / purple shine on its wings - I am sure it had to be an Emperor. We went back a couple of times this summer but there were very few butterflies to be seen - I think we were lucky that day as there seemed to be lots of other butterflies around.I hope I was right in my identificationn - Hay Wood is a very nice wood with some wide paths which allow the sunshine down to the ground. A good mixture of trees as well.Kind regardsWendy Mace

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all. To start 2011 off in a suitably Purple manner, here's an etching by my brother Mark, hot off the press from his home in Antwerp. It commemorates the pernicious attack on a Great Splatted Woodpecker which I observed in Marlpost Wood (Southwater) on 26th June 2008. Let's hope that iris gets up to His old tricks this summer.
Best Wishes, Neil