12 Jul 2014

12 July 14 - An Audience With The Emperor

Off to the woods today with my mate, Peter Moore, to look for Purple Emperor: the largest of the UK breeding Butterflies. Not an easy species to see as they don't start flying till mid to late morning & when flying they like to hang around the tree tops, especially Oak trees. They are also prone to long afternoon siestas. Also they are not the most common of Butterflies where they occur. Unlike most Butterflies, they don't come to nectar for a sugar fix & that again reduces the chances of seeing them low down. However, they will come to the ground on occasions, especially if there are horse or dog faeces present. Typically, it's a wood that doesn't seem to have any bridlepaths. It turned out to be a day out for a few of the other Dorset Birders who do Butterflies, so a chance to catch up with a few mates. Not that we had a lot of time to chat before the action began & all too soon ended.
Purple Emperor
I was pleased when I saw this one & even more pleased to get some photos, given how tricky they can be to see. We gave it another hour, but there were no further sightings. After that, we spent more time looking elsewhere in the wood where others had seen them on previous days, but no joy. 
Silver-washed Fritillary: There were plenty of these to distract me. A different view, as there have been a few Silver-washed Fritillary photos on the blog in recent days
It would have been good to see a Purple Emperor on the ground, but I guess I will have to spend more time looking. Still it was good to see one, given I haven't seen any since the mid 80's, mainly due to lack of looking. This was my 47th species of Butterfly in Dorset: just Silver-spotted Skippers of the regular species to see. After that, I'm going to need to see some rarities in the county or hope that somebody discovers a new site for Wood White or Pearl-bordered Fritillaries: both of which are probably no longer found in Dorset.

Peter had to be back for family stuff by mid afternoon, but there was time for a quick look for something else. We decided on White-legged Damselflies at the Canford School Water Meadows, which I had recently seen, as it was a tick for Peter. It only took us several minutes from leaving the car to find one: due to having to walk through inappropriate habitat before we reached their favourite area. The sort of cooperation that is appreciated, when time is short. 
White-legged Damselfly: Male
White-legged Damselfly: Male