|red necked footman|
|Small Skipper (female)|
|Large Skipper (male)|
|Silver Washed Fritillary (male)|
|Male broad bodied chaser|
|Green Tiger Beetle|
So it's Emperor Time down in the woods. Despite the heat, I headed off this morning for a few hours of Iris spotting. They seem to be up in terms of numbers everywhere this year and are out early at Bentley, so now is as good a time as any to head down to an ancient woodland that's well served with oak and sallow to look for these magnificent purple butterflies. Bentley, Fermyn, Ampfield and Knepp are all great places to see them.
I saw four or five today, by far my biggest haul for Bentley, although to give some perspective I met a chap in the woods who'd counted 80 at Knepp last Weds, and there have been records of 300 in one day there this week. They were mainly flying high although I was buzzed by two who came down from the tree tops to investigate whether I was worth seeing off or not. They are generally reckoned to be pugilistic and will square up to anything. I once watched a female fight off a Robin. Evidently, they decided I didn't pose a threat because, once I'd been checked out properly, they returned to the tops of the oaks where they resumed their busy search for wives.
I met the usual eclectic and eccentric mix of characters out in the woods, all very nice people, and all obsessed with Emperors. We exchanged the normal Emperor greeting: have you seen one? and because there were so many about everyone had, which was nice. When I returned to the car park at lunch time the usual oak tree was attracting everyone's attention and there was a male flying about the cars parked beneath it. He came and went and those of us waiting to see him ended up having a good old chat about butterflies and who'd been where to see what. Two had seen a Goshawk flying through the wood that morning. I must have just missed him. You make instant friends in woods at Emperor time :o).
In addition to the Emperors (who never sat down for me so sorry, no pics, although I'm returning to the wood next week with Uncle B so hope to get a photo then), I saw the red-necked footman moth in pic above, a reasonably rare woodland species (I am indebted to the nice man who pointed him out to me); purple hairstreaks; lots of Silver Washed Frits; a White Admiral; several Skippers all chasing each other; lots of meadow browns; ringlets; whites and the Green Tiger Beetle in the last pic, who flew over my shoulder in a shimmer of metallic green and landed by my feet. He scuttled around, pausing every now and then, before flying off again. I was a bit mesmerised by him. That wood is so incredibly rich with life, it never fails to show me something amazing, for which I am very grateful.
In other news, 20 mile run clocked in the heat on Tuesday. Pop was sufficiently recovered to come with me which was nice. We ran the first ten briskly, then the temperature went from pretty-hot-already to absolutely-scorching, so I dropped Pop home (much to her bemusement) and did the last ten slowly, walking chunks. All in all I was out for 3:30 hours, but I felt fine during and after so going slow was the right thing to do.
When I got home I ran a hot bath, gritted my teeth and yanked the toe nail off. Don't worry, I'm sparing you a photo of the nail bed (it's quite impressive), but here is one of the nail itself (mainly for Veggie Mummy :o))....
I'm glad it's off. Now the nail bed can harden up before the next marathon :o)
Hope you're all well?