As I pulled into the car park at Chambers Farm Wood in central Lincolnshire I found ex international athlete Adrian Royle looking for bugs. Sadly Adrian had to retire early from athletics due to calf and achilles injuries but many years later he is now a fine athletics photographer and 'bug' expert who regards Chambers as his 'office'! Consequently it was a pleasure to spend the morning with him. I had gone to Chambers to look for marsh fritillaries which have been incredibly successful here. Many years ago Little Scrubs Meadow was prepared to provide ideal conditions for this special butterfly and some were released. They have gradually become more numerous until in 2020 their numbers reached into the 1000s.
We wandered along the easy access trail, noting how few insects were about. However, once in the meadow, marsh fritillaries were very active, many pairing up and mating. On one occasion three males were trying to mate with one female. Later in the morning an official count was made of butterfly numbers in the meadow and just over 100 fritillaries were found with a scattering of other species. although, the peak is expected to be next week it is a long way from the four figure numbers of last year.
Walking around the rest of the forest very few insects were seen, although half a dozen marsh fritillaries were found about a mile away on the junction of forests rides. Only one common blue, a couple of dingy skippers, two male orange tips and a brimstone were seen. Talking to a friend on the phone this morning, Roger felt that everything is three weeks behind. We are just not seeing the numbers that were around last year at this time. Dragonflies are having a very poor start to the summer.
The vegetation is now beginning to grow and become more lush and I enjoyed seeing and photographing ragged robin and water avens, two of my favourite plants. The butterfly orchids in the woodland at the north end of Little Scrubbs Meadow were conspicuous by their absence. Presumably they are late as they are reliable every year.
It was amazing to see and photograph the marsh fritillaries, though, so a good morning was had.
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