We are delighted to be able to tell you that the Purple Emperor butterfly has been spotted at Heartwood Forest. The following report was sent in by David Hunt, who took the photo shown below:
“Resisting the distant call of a cold beer, I then went on to Heartwood Forest to see if there were any White-letter Hairstreak around the regenerating elm along the southeast boundary of Well Wood. No luck. Other butterflies seen included many Gatekeeper, a couple of Meadow Brown (the reverse of the situation on Nomansland); 2 Comma, 5 Green-veined White; 1 Large White; 2 Speckled Wood (in Pudler’s Wood); 1 very tatty Ringlet; and 3 Holly Blue. Approaching the small pond at the southern tip of Well Wood I became aware of a substantial shadow flapping and gliding its way across the path. Looking up, I saw the owner – a Purple Emperor! It settled in the nearby Hornbeam tree, about 5m up, and sunned itself for a while before leaving and drifting about the adjacent oaks. I lost sight of it for a while but it then reappeared with, to my surprise, another Purple Emperor. They swooped languidly around each other a couple of times and then settled at separate locations in the foliage at the top of the tallest of the three adjacent oaks by the pond. After a couple more minutes, and not being equipped, like all good PE enthusiasts with folding chair, flask and bobble hat, I left for that cold beer I mentioned earlier. One happy bunny!”
A huge thank you to David and Butterfly Conservation (Herts and Middx Branch) for letting us know and passing on the photo.