Being new to the post, I have spent a little bit of time wandering around the reserves getting to know my way around. One of the areas I have been most impressed with is Hook Heath Meadows. This collection of wet meadows, near the top of Portsdown Hill, provided one of the best butterfly related outings of the year for me.
You couldn’t move for Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers but most impressive was the sightings of two of my most favorite species – Silver washed Fritillaries (7!) and a lonely White Admiral.
I have a particular fondness for White Admirals and their lonely wanderings throughout our woodlands. Not a common butterfly, this is accentuated by their very low population densities, often only appearing in very small numbers in woodland. The most I have ever seen in one outing is five. It makes you wonder just how they manage to reproduce and maintain their populations.
The Silver Washed Frittilary is one of our most impressive butterflies, and unmistakable due to their size. Hook Heath was alive with them one sunny day the other week, an excellent sign of the health of the site and a good indication of how well the mix of woodland edge habitat is working on site.