Monday, 5 August 2013

Butterflies and Moths

The pride of my Brooke-Bond tea-card collection was my album of British Butterflies and the best card in there; the most exotic; was the Purple Emperor.

I must have lived near them several times in my life but never saw one. In recent years I have made pilgrimages to the local site in Fermyn Woods, across in Northamptonshire, without success; but this year is different. Over 100 of them have been seen in Fermyn Woods and two on my local patch in Brampton Wood.
Small skipper and green-veined white.

Finally the butterfly has come to me at Paxton Pits where one was seen on the Hall Road on the 24th of July. It was high in an oak tree, so we don't have a photo. What we need is a pile of horse dung to attract them down to the ground.

My search along the tarmac road may not have produced a purple emperor, or even a purple hairstreak, but the verges were teaming with peacocks, commas, ringlets, green-veined whites and gatekeepers. A few small skippers joined in, and a brimstone too.

In late summer there is always a chance to see a migrant butterfly such as a painted lady or a clouded yellow. We usually see a few hummingbird hawk moths at this time of year.

Quite a few nocturnal moths are migratory but you have to be lucky to see them unless you use a lamp. However, it is worth checking around street lamps and house lights in the morning. Last month, we left an outside lamp on at the Visitor's Centre  and it attracted a spectacular poplar hawk moth.

August brings migrant dragonflies as well. On the haul road you can see dozens of migrant hawkers as they chase midges and hover flies, often miles away from any lake or pond. They are really inquisitive creatures and will come and look you in the eye, at least they will until you produce a camera.

Poplar hawk moth.