As I parked the car and began to gather my gear His Imperial Majesty flew across the car park and settled on the gravel. My first purple emperor butterfly. Having failed last Thursday I was keen to get back to Chambers Farm Wood at the earliest opportunity and today turned out to be hot (26C) and largely cloudless. I was absolutely delighted as I found 8 (and possibly more as I didn't count properly) purple emperors. They settled onto the gravel track readily and immediately began to eat/drink? minerals from the ground. They even settled on a fellow photographer's hat and shoulder to feed on the salt. By and large the settled with wings closed and, although the underwing is beautiful it is the purple sheen on the upper wing of th male that they are famous for. And getting this was a challenge, peering through the viewfinder waiting for the moment when they briefly flicked their wings open. Even then the light has to be from the right direction to capture the sheen. Not easy.
As well as emperors there were large numbers of ringlets on the wing and I was pleased to get some more gatekeeper shots. Large silver washed fritillaries glided majestically through the wood but refused to perch up. I was delighted with some images of a painted lady against the light and pleased with a comma butterfly which perched with wings closed to show off the white 'comma' mark.
The highlight of the day, though, has to be the emperors. By 2.00 it had become too hot for me and for the purples which headed back into the cool of the tree canopy. Time to make my way home for a beer to celebrate.
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