Monday, July 3, 2017

Cotgrave Wood update

Cotgrave Wood in Notts is probably the most northerly location for Iris. We do not know for sure but it is possible the colony was started by an unauthorised release, 5 years ago. Nevertheless, Iris has survived and we have enjoyed Emperors here every year since. This year, the first three males were seen on June 24th and this emergence was disrupted by pretty much four days of non-stop rain. I arrived this morning to photograph my first grounded Iris at 10.15a.m., which was disturbed as a bulldog charged into his puddle for a drink. It was then that I noticed a much darker specimen grounded nearby. I took a few photographs, and would very much like anyone to verify, but I believe it is the aberration lugenda.




He was very flighty and it was quite dull, however, on and off he was taking salts for four hours and most visitors had the pleasure of both the sighting and photographs. Overall, a fantastic day and, together with a newly emerged Sister Quercus, yesterday, I have enjoyed a fabulous two days at Cotgrave.


8 comments:

MWalker said...
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MWalker said...

Good to meet you today Richard. Thanks for pointing out this specimen. Got a couple of pictures which are on my twitter feed (user name is nottsbatman)

Matthew Oates said...

Well, that's Butterfly Photograph of the Year settled! Well done Richard, and many thanks for sharing these glorious and important photos. Part of me doesn't care how that Emperor population originated - I wish it well...

Richard Smyth said...

Thank you very much, Matthew. Very happy to share the photos. I had only recently been looking at Emperor aberrations on UK butterflies (including your photos as well as Neil's) and realised how rare these sightings occur. Once I realised he was lugenda, I tried to achieve the best photographic record that I could and won't tell you how many images I captured over 3 hours. It was a very special day and, hopefully, one I can repeat some day.
Incidentally, I spoke with the Cotgrave Wood transect walker, yesterday, and she told me that the local farmer had seen emperors for years. So, they may have been there all the time, unnoticed. Cotgrave Wood is a part of the old Sherwood Forest, but we probably will never know for sure. Like you, I just enjoy watching Emperors flying for 3 weeks every year and it is very nice to enjoy them in local woodland.
PS they are still emerging in the arctic circle, up here. I saw six pristine males, yesterday.

dennis said...

well done Richard!
I have observing iris since 1978 and have never yet seen an abberation.
The origin of your Notts colony is interesting: it begs the question, are there any more colonies between your one and Fermyn Woods northants?

Richard Smyth said...

Dennis hello. Thank you very much. That is an interesting question and I do not know the answer. I remember that there were huge numbers at Fermyn around five years ago and I wondered how far they could "travel". It is about 35-40 miles North, as the Emperor flies, which seems a lot to me. I do know that there was a photographed sighting at Wellow Wood in North Notts last year or the year before and that would be 25-30 miles North of Cotgrave. East Midlands butterfly conversation has a number of walks planned in "new woods" and it will be interesting to see if they find new sites. I will check with the Notts recorder, Richard Rogers. The Cotgrave Wood transect walker said she now sees Emperors throughout the entire wood and numbers seem to be progressing year on year.
On Lugenda, I couldn't believe it when I first saw such a beautiful butterfly sitting on a pile of bricks and mud and was extremely pleased to get the chance to make the best record that I could of such a rarity. I've just been reading about the "mythical" Iole aberration which is said to be the Holy Grail for Iris observers with no white markings, at all. I don't believe that one has ever been seen, but you never know.

MWalker said...

During my time as Notts recorder from 1996 to 2002 there were no records of purple emperor submitted. I did however receive a couple of interesting records second hand. One was from Wellow Wood and was reported as a possible release site (this was the same time that white admiral turned up in three woodlands). The other report was from the early 1990s near Carburton in woodland south of Welbeck Lake.

Richard Smyth said...

Michael, thanks very much. It was great to share that fabulous sighting with you. I don't know if we will ever experience anything like that again but we can hope. Im not on Twitter but I took a look at your photos of the day - like the head on shot. if you want to get a feel for the history of iris aberrations google "mythical aberration iole" and there is a fascinating article going back to 1775. Iole is an aberration that is completely black (or iridescent purple) on the upper side but it appears that it has never been seen, hence the mythical descriptor. Sure we will catch up before season over. Cheers Richard