A Peacock and the Admiral

As today was looking like the best day of the week, weather wise, we got stuck into carrying out our butterfly transects. Steve took on the ones at Farlington while I went to Hook Heath.

Hook Heath Celandine

Hook Heath Celandine

A transect is it is a very simple but effective way of surveying. By simply walking a set route and recording all of the butterflies seen within a close proximity.

Comma - So called due to the comma (,) shape on the underside of the wing

Comma – So called due to the comma (,) shape on the underside of the wing

In the sunshine Hook Heath was alive with activity today. I didn’t have to wait long to spot my first butterfly. Just a few minutes after parking the van and getting onto the reserve, a Brimstone skipped on by followed by a Comma giving chase defending his territory. I hadn’t even got out of the first field when I saw my first Orange-tip of the year.

Male Orange-tip

Male Orange-tip

Orange-tips will lay a single egg on Ladies Smock/Cuckoo Flower. These are fairly easy to spot once you get your eye in. They are bright orange, just smaller than grain of rice and laid near the flower heads. If you do see an egg there will only ever be one on a single Cuckoo Flower as the caterpillars are carnivorous.

Cuckoo Flower or Ladies Smock.

Cuckoo Flower or Ladies Smock. Couldn’t see any eggs yet.

Spring is certainly in full flow now. The grassland is full of Lesser Celandine and Wood Anemones carpet the forest floor. It will only be a matter of a week or two until the Bluebells and Wild Garlic break their buds too. Orchid spikes were also poking their heads through the grass.

Common Spotted Orchid spikes

Common Spotted Orchid spikes

Also a Green Woodpecker, and numerous Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs all kept me company while I walked around.

By the end of my long figure of eight walk around the reserve and I had seen Brimstone, Orange-tip, Red Admiral, Comma and Peacock. After such a great start to the butterfly season heres hoping the weather continues to be kind.

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