The Heath Fritillary is one of the rarest butterflies in the country with only a few colonies in Kent, Essex and on the moors down in the South West. I had never seen one before so success today would be a life tick for me. The reports from our destination, Blean Wood, had been promising but we were uncertain as to what we would find. On the way down we agreed that we would be happy to just see one and more than happy if we could get a record shot.
Rather than heading for the usual location of the car park in East Blean Woods we were following directions that Dave had received from a contact down in Kent. We parked up and headed off into the wood to find the glade we were looking for. It was overcast and cool and there were no butterflies flying but as we stepped into the glade I spotted one on some Cow Wheat. I took a couple of quick snaps and Dave was in a bit of a panic to get his camera out before I spooked it. It was only then that we realised that they were all around us and that you actually had to be careful to ensure that you didn't step on them.
|Heath Fritillary on Cow Wheat|
The report we had was of forty of the Fritillary in the glade. Our estimate was for a lot more than this. Then the sun came out and suddenly there was a blanket of butterflies dancing about six inches above the glade. We must have just been lucky with the timing of our visit. I cannot remember ever having seen so many butterflies in such a small space.
|In good condition|
So plentiful were the Heath Fritillaries that the major highlight of the morning was when a Meadow Brown and then a Ringlet flew through the glade.
This was a truly memorable days butterfying and helped quell that nagging feeling that I should really be in Ashdown Forest getting a better picture of the Short-toed Eagle. With the Ringlet this brings the butterfly total to thirty two for the year. It looks as though we will make our target of forty with some too spare.
One final picture, I think it must be of a female Meadow Grasshopper. My first thoughts were that it was too small to be this but I cannot find any other alternative and reading up on them they do have a size range from 23mm down to 10mm.