Last week, following an e-mail from an ex-work colleague, I accepted an invitation to drive over to Kent to see some early flowering wild Orchids and hopefully to find and photograph a 'Duke'. After an hour plus journey we met up on the fringes of Denge Wood and started our walk along the forest trail towards Bonsai Bank.
One or two Brimstone were on the wing beside the trail but the only flutter to offer a quick shot was this Speckled Wood who briefly rested on the track. On entering the flower rich area of chalk grassland known as Bonsai Bank, which takes its name from the stunted conifers that grow there, we were greeted by a delightful array of wild orchids.
This collage is dominated by the Lady Orchid as I had not photographed this species before and just one image of the Early Purple. Before searching for our main quarry I spotted this Green Carpet Moth (below) resting on vegetation.
Fortunately it didn't take us long to find the star attraction of this site, the rare Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis lucina) occurring in small discrete colonies in scrubby calcareous grassland and recent woodland clearings where its larval food plants, either Primrose (Primula vulgaris) or Cowslip (P. veris), grow in reasonable abundance in sheltered but open, sunny conditions.
As this was the first time I had encountered this small, rare butterfly we spent some time in their company before moving onto another location to take a stroll across a yellow strewn hillside dotted with a bit of purple.
My thanks go to David for suggesting this outing and the unforgettable encounter with the 'Duke'. FAB.