Today (9th July) I spent a very fruitful day in Botany Bay (Surrey/Sussex border), where the afternoon heat ensured a lengthy siesta for the butterflies. During the morning and late afternoon at least 3 male Emperors showed, with one performing particularly well. Activity was centred on the main area of high ground, the Four Oaks Territory and the Triangle.
The first male down was spotted by Peter Farrant at just past 11 am. By 11.10 am it was sitting in a sallow nearby, and it refused to budge again until late afternoon when the temperature started to moderate. Thereafter it became very active and spent more than an hour seeking out minerals along the main ride. On several occasions it fed on my belachan soup bait and allowed Nick Broomer, Paul Day and me some fabulous opportunities for photography.
Although it initially sat 'edge on' to the sun so as to cast no tell-tale shadow, meaning that both sides were poorly illuminated, we worked out that the shadows thrown by some tall pines would soon reach out to the butterfly, as the sun continued to drop. Our patience was rewarded and within 15 minutes the light conditions became more favourable, eventually tempting him to open those beautiful wings for us. Needless to say, the three of us went home on Cloud Nine.