Saturday, August 27, 2016

another poor egg laying year?

2015 was bad enough, but, in Upper Thames so far, 2016 is even worse. Only three larvae found in several woods in eight hours of searching. I will be interested to hear from other regions on this topic.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Well Dressed Man..

A whole load of Purple Paraphernalia available from, including this tie, a nice tote bag and a Purple Emperor phone case.  

You'll need to add in the antennae...

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Royal Festival Hall Purple Surprise

Whilst in London on the South Bank near the Royal Festival Hall having a drink, I looked down to see HIM at my feet. Had I had too much to drink or had I stumbled on a Roman mosaic in honour of a Purple Emperor? Neither, but it was nice to know that central London was paying tribute to such a noble butterfly, which could be admired by numerous passers by.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Last orders please

I am currently in the throes of putting badges in envelopes so keep an eye on your letterboxes if you purchased one or two.

They have now all sold out.

Thanks to everyone who purchased them and raising £40 for Butterfly Conservation in the process.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Who says Purple Emperors don't like flowers!

I have just perused the Dorset Butterfly sightings page and have seen a record of a female on 10th August photographed on a garden buddleia. Equally as interesting was the location, at St Ives near Ringwood, not a known hotbed for iris. It is well known that females will move some distance from their usual areas in August, I have seen wandering females on two occasions at Noarhill, Hampshire well into this month. Looking back over the Hampshire Butterfly Reports, I remember a male was seen nectaring on a buddleia on 1st August 1987 at Wellow. This is unusual behaviour but it might just be worth checking those garden buddleias, just in case.

Close of Play in Savernake

Despite windy conditions (this has been such a windswept season!) I managed to see a lone male in the Dead Beech Glade territory in Savernake Forest today.

He was decidedly inactive, such that he failed to launch at a Honey Buzzard which drifted past (don't worry, Honey Buzzard is already on the 21st century hit list). Emperors become less and less active with age. This old boy, who looked brown in flight, had a little spin at 1.10 and another, proper tour round at 2.54, only. This inactivity is one of the main reasons we struggle to see iris late in the season.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

last sightings continued

Clearly, the woods with the highest populations present the best chance of registering the last sightings; these are Knepp Farm Estate and Fermyn Woods. However, I get the impression that nobody is looking there now, which is a pity. The best wood by far in Upper Thames region [37 in 105 mins on July 20th] was visited this afternoon. I really went  to look for eggs/larvae, but in a 90 minute search I was unsuccessful. As I left, I looked up at the big Oaks at the highest point and noticed what must have been a male gliding close to the foliage near the crowns, landing frequently. I waited there for 10 minutes watching this behaviour: I wanted to be sure of this sighting.
I hope some of you can get to Knepp, Fermyn, or Alice Holt during the next few days: it would be interesting to record when the season is over.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

last sightings and length of flight season

It is always interesting to know how long the flight season lasts, but it is impossible to know exactly.
As the numbers dwindle, our chance of sightings  diminishes; just because we may not see any, it does not mean there are none; it is the same with trying to ascertain the beginning of the season when the numbers are also low. This season in Upper Thames, the first sightings were on July 3rd, and today, 9th August, one was seen in Little Wood, Oxon; yesterday, two were seen here. The blogs from other sites indicate we are not finished yet. July 3rd till August 9th is over 5 weeks. Will we get to 6 weeks?

Monday, August 8, 2016


Two eggs, apparently of the same age, on the same leaf:

Around the woods, first instar larvae are setting out on the great adventure. I am naming the 2016-7 brood after South Park characters. This is Kenny, replete with hoody in the form of his half-eaten egg:

This is Stan's Mum the day before she hatched:

Females are still actively laying. Here is one taking a pause on a hazel leaf:


Saturday, August 6, 2016

One of those moments

Well what about this, returned from a great week sailing to sit in the garden in Ware with all the family having lunch when there was that sudden moment of..................Purple Emperor as a female floated across the top of the garden. Family look totally bemused and then it came back, circled the patio for everyone to see and disappeared between the two houses. About an hour later whilst in the bedroom I see it flying around below in the front garden. Another scream, fly out the house, husband gets camera and it lands on next door's house for a few minutes. Photo proof!!! What a day

Dorset Remains Purple

With just a solitary sighting of HIM on the 19 July reported to the Dorset Branch of BC i decided to have a look despite the season coming to an end . Sadly no sightings were made in areas i have found them before so i turned my attention to the sallows . Within a short time i located an egg which was sucked dry presumably by a fly leaving the empty eggshell intact . Nonetheless , proof that HIM is alive and well in the Chase Woods  complex of North Dorset .

Upper Thames still going with an increased chuff factor

The Campbells visited four iris woods on the 5th starting with a short visit to Waterperry, where a female was watched laying several eggs on one sallow. Over the road, on the edge of Bernwood, another female was seen around a sallow. Moving on to Piddington, they teamed up with Dennis Dell and very quickly spotted a male on the meadow corner territory gliding between an ash and an oak at the high point. Finally, on to Little Wood where two males were battling it out for the favoured high point territory. Lower down in the middle of the wood, three males were very active in a new territory, chasing away birds and insect rivals. A very satisfactory total of eight iris [6 males!] so close to the end of the season. Since it started here on July 3rd, and the season lasts usually 5 to 6 weeks, we are hoping to be able to enjoy HIM for another week.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Extra Time at Knepp

I formally closed the 2016 Purple Emperor season at Knepp yesterday, when in sub-marginal weather I managed to see two males and a lovely lady, who didn't look a week old. She sat in the top of a sallow for over an hour, basking during light rain until the rain became too heavy and she closed up. Here she is -

Today, in even worse weather, I somehow managed to see 3-4 males and yesterday's female (briefly). One male chased a swallow out of his territory.

Our dream is, of course, for a Purple Emperor season without end...

Monday, August 1, 2016

Alice Still Going

A lunchtime visit to Alice Holt revealed that all is not over yet.
Straits Inclosure, and the Goose Green territory, in perfect weather, revealed nothing except a couple of Spotted Flycatchers and I did discover a nice female Adder which I nearly stepped on - so it didn’t bode well for my last stop at Abbotts wood!
After an hour of searching the usual spots, and some prime sallow I finally spotted a small movement in the top of a large sallow which turned out to be an inactive female flicking her wings as she was being annoyed by a fly. She sat in the same spot for 45mins soaking up the sun with wings outstretched, before flapping off presumably to finish her egg laying. I encountered two more males Oak edging and a further female, who looked in very good condition, who was looking for suitable egg laying sites. There are probably a few days left yet depending on the weather?
Kind Regards

on the wane in upper thames

Ten were still being seen in one of the good woods a few days ago. However, the top wood, where 37 were seen in 105 minutes on July 20th,  22 in 120 minutes on the 23rd, and 9 on the 25th, produced only 2 a few days ago. A short season by the looks of it. I too am expecting to find enough eggs to make a nice omelette. iris in sync with  the Sallow cycle, we are all intrigued and cannot wait for the book...........please tell us now all about it!