Only one of the 2 people who booked for the walk turned up, and she had phoned me earlier worried about the heavy rain where she lived. However, it wasn’t raining where I was, so I decided to go ahead anyway.
I so please that I did and the lady was delighted to see so many Marbled Whites, well over the 50 that I’d seen the previous Saturday (I gave up counting!). The cloudy conditions enable some good photo opportunities because the butterflies weren’t so active. We also saw Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Small Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell and Cinnabar Moth. The rain came down when we reached the plateau but there was a fine display of orchids there, where I hadn't seen them previously.
I had spent the previous few days frantically watching the weather forecast as it varied from potentially being cloudy with intermittent sunny spells to heavy rain for the whole of the afternoon. Fortunately, the former turned out to be correct. A temperature of 20 degrees accompanied by a gentle northerly breeze turned out to be ideal conditions..
There were 11 attendees on the field trip, and during my introductory speech just inside Cloud Wood we were greeted by a low flying Silver-washed Fritillary. That was one of the target species ticked off the list within the first five minutes. If only all butterfly recording was this easy. We took a leisurely wander around this interesting site. It is managed in the traditional way by the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, and is coppiced on a regular basis, resulting in a mixed habitat composed of old and new woodland, open rides and an impressively varied range of flora.
We spent a lot of time alternating between looking low down to avoid trampling precious flora and looking up to the tops of lofty Oaks and Ash in search of hairstreaks (we coined the name 'hairstreak neck' as we spent more time looking up than down, and had a stiff neck by the end of the visit). We spotted several hairstreaks flying on and around some mature Ash trees. Many of us had identical small, close focus binoculars (must have been standard issue) and we determined that these were White-letter Hairstreak. We had ticked off the second of our target species. On our previous visit in 2019 we were lucky enough to record Purple Hairstreak, and whilst there were one or two flying around some of the Oaks on this occasion, no one managed to get a positive identification. On the plus side, more Silver-washed Fritillaries and White-letter Hairstreak graced us with their presence.
I was really hoping that His/Her Imperial Majesty, the Purple Emperor, would put in an appearance as he had done in July 2020, but alas, it was not to be. He did emerge less than a week later. Fingers crossed we see Him or Her next year. Nevertheless, we all had a thoroughly enjoyable and fruitful visit to this gem of a Nature Reserve. Many attendees had never been to this site before, but I am pretty sure that they will return.
The total butterfly count was as follows:
This meeting coincided with one of the rare hot and sunny days of the summer of 2021 – the temperature reached a high of 30c which meant that 3 individuals of the target species –the Silver Washed Fritillary were seen in one of the glades that have been created in the woodland by members of FAB (Friends of Aston Brickyards)
The 12 B C Members and Friends who attended the event also saw the other work that has been carried out on site by FAB – a butterfly bank, a wild life pond, the planting of Disease Resistant Elms (for the White Letter Hairstreak), the creation of a hedgerow of Alder Buckthorns (for the Brimstone) and the planting of Dog Violets (for the Silver Washed Fritillary)
Other species seen on the day were:- Large White (2): Small White (3): Green Veined White (1); Brimstone (1): Speckled Wood (2): Comma (2);: Red Admiral (1): Small Skipper (2): Large Skipper (2): Gatekeeper (3);: Meadow Brown (33); : and Ringlet (30), together with a Six Spot Burnet Moth.
So, a grand total of 85 butterflies in 13 species were seen on the day which was a great result enjoyed by visitors from Leicestershire, Sheffield and local B C members.
The annual visit to Coombs Dale was disappointing as the skies were grey, it was quite cool and windy and no sun was seen at all. The friendly interested group of twelve were not downhearted as there was the chance to renew old acquaintanceship and to look at the flora of the Dale. The opportunity was taken to photograph small teasel, woolly thistle and other plants. Only 11 butterflies of six species were seen including one Dark-green Fritillary.
On the journey to Poulter Park I had to use my windscreen wipers which did not bode well for a Butterfly walk however on arrival the rain had blown over but the sky was still dark and ominous looking.
Eleven people had booked onto the walk, three had cancelled previous to the day so the question was how many stoic souls would turn up to brave the elements, and the answer was three.
To my amazement one of the group decided to combine a litter pick with the walk, another one of the group produced a litter picker from his car boot and so off we set to discover what lepidoptera inhabited the site whilst hopefully leaving Langwith a cleaner place.
The route for the walk was from the main car park at Whaley Road to the far side of the park to an area called the Nature Reserve.
Almost immediately we saw butterflies, mostly the species that seem to tolerate damp conditions, Meadow Brown, Ringlet and Gatekeeper. As the walk progressed and the temperature rose it was rewarding to see so many whites, the Large Whites in particular were in pristine condition.
At the half way point one of the group spotted a Marble White which was sat opened wing optimistically awaiting some sunshine, its pose was ideal for cracking photographs.
On reaching the Nature Reserve the temperature had climbed to a dizzy height of 17c which thankfully encouraged the butterflies to take to the wing, at one stage the air was filled with whites which was a beautiful sight.
Dark-green Fritillaries began to show along with Small and Essex Skippers, also present were Red Admiral, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood. On the way back to the car park one of the group photographed a Silver-washed Fritillary which had not been expected albeit there are colonies in the area.
Moths seen included, Yellow Shell, Latticed Heath and Shaded Broad-bar.
The ideal time of year for the Marbled White and Dark-green Fritillary is probably the month of July. In total 15 butterfly species were seen, which made the walk well worthwhile. The flora and fauna of Poulter Park is worth exploring.
Unfortunately, due to the very poor weather forecast the trip was cancelled.