Staffordshire Bird News

Thursday, 10 July 2014

6th July 2014 - Fermyn Woods, Northants Part 2

Following four hours of walking round Fermyn Woods in Northants witnessing an excellent viewing of Purple Emperors, we finally headed back to the car. We had been discussing an attempt at photographing all the 56 breeding butterflies in Britain, and today we realised how hard it will be to photograph the Hairstreaks. We had only seen Purple Hairstreaks at the tops of the trees and briefly perched, and the White-lettered Hairstreaks did stay still and show...at the tops of the trees again. We did talk about bringing a scope next time to try and digiscope them. 

As we walked off, Paul Brewster shouted us back. We walked back and there at eye level was a pristine White-lettered Hairstreak. We couldn't believe our eyes. It was sitting there sunning itself and then it started to move along the branches. We slowly edged forward and we soon were watching it quite closely. It was a fabulous way to end the day.

at first it was a bit hidden

but then came out to sun itself
 

 
and we managed to get closer
 

 
and it moved towards us
 

 
and eventually it showed quite well





Wednesday, 9 July 2014

6th July 2014 - Fermyn Woods, Northants Part 1

We'd promised PJ that we would accompany him on a trip to Fermyn Woods this year to see PURPLE EMPERORS and WHITE ADMIRAL. Amazingly, for a change, we did actually manage to find a suitable weekend and suitable weather and it also tied in with the butterflies being on the wing. (Maybe one year we will finally go and see the Norfolk SWALLOWTAILS after planning to do so for probably ten years now!).


Following a quick visit to Westport, we headed down to Northamptonshire and arrived at the woods at 08:30hrs. Now the forecast was alright, dry but with cloud, so we knew the conditions weren't absolutely spot on. There was though a glimmer of sunshine forecast for later. 

Our first walk through the wood was a little bit disappointing. We were probably the first people to arrive we were that early. It was dull, cool, and all we saw were large areas of trampled grass where people had been standing. At least we knew where to stand. We did see a few Ringlets and Meadow Browns in the fields between the two woods. 

We started wandering back to the car, and we started passing more people walking thru the wood. We started asking if they had seen anything and if they had any advice. Some were first time visitors like ourselves, one was a birder from Preston. Then we met a local butterfly expert. He told us everything we needed to know. But best of all, he told us to go back to the car and leave it an hour. So we did. 

It was 10:00hrs and we started to eat our dinner. It was still dull, but more and more butterers were arriving. PJ started to get itchy feet and after about ten mins had passed (of the hour back at the car), he decided it was best to head back down. We stopped at the first "viewing area with trampled grass" and spoke to a few butterers. 

Then, amazingly, the sun came out. It was incredible because the second it did, we had two Purple Hairstreaks fluttering around the top of a tree. Then, a probable PURPLE EMPEROR flew overhead and a White Admiral was sunning itself on the path.

the first White Admiral was very showy on the path but a bit tatty

the next White Admiral was in better shape

With the sun staying out, it was a totally different wood now, and there were butterflies everywhere. We carried on down the path to where the birder from Preston was standing, pointing his camera at the ground. Bingo! It was a Purple Emperor on the path. This was the moment we were waiting for. Soon there was a crowd gathered round, all cameras snapping away. It wasn't flushed tho by anyone trying to get too close! These butterers are a bit different to photographers who appear at twitches.

 
Purple Emperor on the deck. Great views but not very purple


so we moved angle slightly and.....

and some purple appeared....


and at the right angle, it was very purple......incredible

We walked down to the next wood, seeing two White-lettered Hairstreaks at the top of a tree, plus Comma and Large Skipper

Large Skipper

Comma

In the next wood, we were told there were some SILVER-WASHED FRITILLERIES. We did have just the one fly past us, but we never saw one perched. Down on the track though, there were more Purple Emperors. So much for arriving early to see them on the ground. It was midday now and they were everywhere.

Small Skipper or some sort of alien creature?

Two Purple Emperors on the ground in the shade

at the right angle they are quite something 

and the underwing is quite nice too

PJ showing a Purple Emperor his new phone

and this Comma liked CJW's trousers a lot

After nearly four hours of walking through the two woods, we strolled back to the car. We saw a perched White-lettered Hairstreak again in the same tree and managed to see our 16th species of Butterfly for the day - a Small Heath

But as we came to the first viewing area again, we met Dr Paul Brewster from Focalpoint. We stood and chatted, saw the White Admiral again and then wandered back to the car. Then he shouted us back. And we witnessed something that almost took the prize for moment of the day. But more in the next blog.....  








Monday, 7 July 2014

The rest of June 2014

Well things certainly settled down following the excitement of the first two weekends in June and it became a more normal summer month, resulting in very little bird activity and ideas for trips lacking.

I did manage to see one of these in June and it makes you wonder how many more years will they continue to visit us.



I also bumped into this female Broad-bodied Chaser and it posed very nicely for me. I initially thought it was some giant hornet flying down the hedgerow



On one quiet Saturday, we decided to head to the Chase to look for Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary. It wasn't ideal conditions, but we did manage to find just one, plus several Ringlets.



Finally, a trip to the Void saw a Small Heath and Six-spotted Burnett.



And so following a manic few days at the beginning of the month, June simply petered out. Possibly the best bird news was the sudden acceptance of this beauty from last year. Most unexpected.