Friday, 13 June 2014

A Fritillary First.

On Wednesday I accepted an invitation from a friend and ex work colleague who I haven't seen for two years to go to Kent and hopefully see and photograph a rare butterfly. So after a 100+ mile road journey I picked David up from his home and we headed off to East Blean Woods. It was a glorious sunny day with the temperature slowly rising and so was my anticipation of seeing this sedentary flutter that only flies in such conditions.
A slightly muddy walk into the wood to a semi sunlit glade and my first sighting was a perched individual ..

 .. a Heath Fritillary (Melitaea athalia). What a fabulous under-wing pattern.

Over the next hour or so the numbers of these delightful butterflies flitting around our feet, rarely flying higher than our knees, increased to 30+ but unless they were are occupied by procreation they only perched very briefly and not often with their wings open so patience was definitely the order of the day.


This rare species is traditionally only found in in the south-east in acid woodlands where it prefers newly coppiced areas (giving it its nick-name, the Woodsman's Follower) containing an abundance of its primary food plant, Common Cow-wheat (Melampyrum pratense). Due to its very limited distribution in Kent, Essex, Devon, Cornwall and Exmoor it is a high priority species and were it not for conservation efforts over the past two decades it would certainly now be extinct in England.

As you can imagine I was absolutely delighted to have witnessed this flutter for the first time.

Other wildlife seen included a Broad-bodied Chaser, Small Tortoiseshell and several green-blue Lacewing.

We then left the shaded woodland habitat and drove over to Grove Ferry in the Stour Valley and undertook a walk around the reed beds in the very hot sunshine.The avian activity was pretty sparse probably due to the rise in temperature and we both commented on the distinct lack of any hirundines in the sky.

From two of the hides we had decent views of Marsh Harrier, Common Tern and a juvenile Heron.
All in all an excellent excursion into Kent ... many thank David and I hope it won't be so long before we see each other again.  FAB.

P.S. During a walk around the glades on Bookham Common today I saw my first White Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillary of the season. [Click here for an image of the Silver-washed Fritillary on my other blog]

Linking to Saturday's Critters hosted by Eileen.

17 comments:

  1. really beautiful shots of the butterfly!

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  2. Hi Frank... Wow what a thrill, to have them all around you!! You got some beautiful shot's , especially love the first!!
    Congrats for getting to see H. F.!!

    Grace

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  3. I like seeing those delicate butterflies.

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  4. you got some wonderful shots of that heath fritillary; a very lovely butterfly. I would say it was worth the trip!

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  5. A fantastic butterfly to see Frank, and your patience paid off with these excellent images.Also good news on the successful conservation program. Looks like you had a good day, well worth the 100 mile road trip?...[;o)

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  6. Brilliant Frank. You patience paid dividends. Well worth the visit.

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  7. Wow ! Really gorgeous butterflies. And your photos are wonderful !
    Greetings

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  8. Very nice fritillary. I'm glad you were able go get your prize.

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  9. What a great day you had - and your photos show it! Lovely Butterfly. So glad you got to see it.

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  10. What a stunner of a butterfly Frank. A real treat to see.

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  11. Now that is a treat Frank....to see the Heath Fritallary is something I have only dreamed of.
    Sadly a lot of our butterflies are now under threat.

    I like the image of the lacewing....I know how difficult it is to get a shot of them. I have sure tried often enough :)

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  12. Gorgeous butterflies. Looks like you had a fabulous day.

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  13. Beautiful butterflies and wonderful photos.. Well done! Thank you for linking up with my critter party. Have a happy weekend!

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  14. Wonderful photos and great butterflies.

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  15. These pictures are beautiful too. Love the under-wing colorful patterns!

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  16. lovely species you share. Some of wich I have never seen. Thanks for sharing.

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  17. Wonderful series of photos here! That was a successful walk and your patience paid off.

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