18 members visited the western end of Grovely Wood on Saturday 9th July. This ancient woodland is of considerable size and our walk only took us through a small part of it. Although on arrival at the wood it had clouded up, as the morning progressed the sun broke through and soon good numbers of butterflies were active along the sunlit rides. Banks of blooming brambles proved an attraction at which they could nectar, and soon there were some splendid Silver Washed Fritillaries chasing around as well as numerous Skippers. We were fortunate to get good views of a White Admiral and to get in the right position to make a positive identification of an Essex Skipper.
It was really heating up by the time we got to the "downland" of Middle Hills and this may have been the reason we saw so few Dark Green Fritillaries which are normally quite numerous here. Although three had been seen in the wood that day, we failed to spot a Purple Emperor but an early Chalkhill Blue - possibly a vagrant from more suitable habitat outside the wood - was identified as was a Brown Argus.
Although, surprisingly, we did not see either a Small Tortoiseshell or a Speckled Wood, between us we identified 19 different species during our 3 hour walk:
Dark Green Fritillary
Silver Washed Fritillary
as well as a number of Scarlet Tiger Moths and a Hummingbird Hawk Moth.
We were lucky with the weather and agreed we were lucky to have such a diverse butterfly fauna on our doorstep.
by Andrew Graham
Photo: Barn owl
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