Friday, July 18, 2008

Tuesday 15th July
Leading a group of 8 for one of Sussex Wildlife Trust's An Evening with Badgers. As we entered the main wood complex it was like going under water; the exterior was clear and bright with low sun but inside was a filtered dark green shade. The clearing on the track that I now call 'Butterfly Corner' was also shady at ground level but the tops of the oaks and ashes were bathed in yellow sunlight. I stopped the group and pointed out a couple of purple hairstreak butterflies chasing each other from one treetop to another. Then a different much larger butterfly glided out and perched on the foliage at the top of a crack willow - a white admiral? No. As I got my binoculars onto it I felt that it was a purple emperor! But, as soon as I made this wishful ID it glided out again and was chased by another, this time definitely a purple emperor as I saw the flash of purple indicating a male. These two were joined by a purple hairstreak and they formed a chain of chasing butterflies. In the next few minutes myself and the group saw up to 3 male purple emperors glinting in the sunlight as they clashed and glided across the canopy. This is fantastic news as it indicates that I have found an 'assembly area' and it is an an area I have eyed for a the past year suspecting it was a perfect spot.
It was hard to drag myself away but I was eager to get the group on site for the badger watch. Unfortunately after a 2 hour wait there were no badgers!! Oh dear!

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