What we did see was the first Small Skippers and Ringlets of the Season, along with several very beautiful Silver Washed Fritillaries....
The name Fritillary comes from the latin fritillus meaning dice-box. It was given to these butterflies in the mid 1850s, but long before that (mid 1600s) it had been attached to a genus of flowering plants that belong to the lily family - think Snakeshead fritillary, which does resemble a dice-box, or chequerboard, and you can see why.
Possibly, the markings on the butterfly resembled a dice-box sufficiently for them to also gain the name.
Most frits (there are eight UK species) belong to July, with one or two (pearl bordered for eg) coming out earlier in May/ June time. I always look forward to seeing the Silver Washed, although photographing them today proved tricksy as they were Far Too Busy seeing each other off in angry vibrant upward twirls through the air, or racing up and down the woodland glades and rides and high up into the trees trying out their new wings. Next week they should have quietened down a bit :o)
It's unusual to witness a butterfly in the posture of the pic below: he has pushed his wings right down to maximise the light of the sun on them, flutters being cold-blooded creatures.
As mentioned, the first Small Skippers have also emerged....but I didn't get any pictures. The two below are Large Skippers. The Smalls and Essex lack the mottled appearance of the wings of the Large and are smaller by a few mm
There was the odd Comma about. The pic below neatly illustrates how this flutters gets his name- see the white 'comma' mark on the wing?
And a fair few Speckled Woods...
I found loads of spiky Peacock caterpillars on nettle. Wouldn't fancy handling those, eh?
And Dave was led a Merry Dance by a Red Admiral who wasn't all that keen on being photographed....
I found Common Spotted Orchids deep in the woods..
And we watched an Emperor Dragonfly patrolling one of the rides (no pics as he was very busy hunting and had no time to land and sit still).
Today's flutters take my 2015 total so far to 30 species. There are 58 in the UK, a few of which only live in Scotland so I won't get to see them, so I wonder what my total will be by the end of the year? Last year it was 36 and I've already seen a few this year that I missed last. Is that a bit train-spotter-ish of me, or is it not?
All in all it was a lovely morning. Can there be a nicer way to spend time then meandering along sunlit ancient woodland paths beneath the bows of old trees looking for butterflies?
I'll leave you with fields of Linseed growing on The Chalk on the way up to the Woods...
...and wish you all a pleasant evening and a peaceful weekend ahead.