On the hottest July day on record, yesterday, three mad gents and a Kiwi woman went butterflying in the noon day sun!
Our destination was the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s Lower Woods Nature Reserve, which, according to their website, is ‘one of the largest ancient woodlands in the south-west of England’. I can believe it!
We walked most of the Horton Great Trench, one of the long grassy roads that have been in existence since Medieval times, as well as detouring in through the woods on one of the many tracks, and it was beautiful – extremely hot, but beautiful! Towering old trees edged the ancient trackway, with clearings widening out to wildflower meadows in many places along the way.
The trench was perfect for butterflies. I have never seen so many Silver-washed fritillaries before, and there was also an abundance of Peacocks, flashing their brilliant colours on the bramble flowers. We spotted several Purple hairstreaks up high in the ancient oaks and then had the delight of watching one come down to the grass to drink from the overnight dew – fabulous!
Our list for the site came to 17 species: Silver-washed fritillary, Purple hairstreak, Peacock, Red admiral, Comma, Large and Small and Marbled whites, Brimstone, Small skipper, Common blue and Brown argus, Speckled wood, Meadow brown, Ringlet and Gatekeeper, and two gorgeous Small coppers.
We didn’t actually find our target species, the White admiral, at Lower Woods but a detour to Slade Wood on the way home produced one individual, bringing our top-spotter car-driver his 50th butterfly species of the year. Congratulations, Gareth!