Southern Marsh Orchids

Southern Marsh Orchids

Friday, 11 July 2014

Purple Hairstreaks - great viewing spot at Blackmill

After 10 years absence, it was great to take Emma Douglas and Ben Williams to a very special site near Blackmill last July. Purple Hairstreaks live & breed entirely on oak trees, with adult butterflies occasionally settling on nearby ash and bracken. Being a tree canopy species they are very easily overlooked, so a site with two dozen mature oaks along an east facing slope with a public footpath along its western side gives unique opportunity to view the butterflies from above or at least straight on.

Between 4.15 & 5.45 on Wednesday and between 6pm & 6.45 yesterday, there were roughly 3 to 4 males per tree on at least half a dozen trees, regularly battling for position on the western lower branches of these impressive oaks bathed in late sun. All the hairstreaks were in good condition, although willow warblers and great tits were prowling. If you follow the westbound Ogwr Ridgeway Walk from Blackmill, after an initial steep asdcent, it contours and heads south. There are ant nests on the ground beneath, from where these hairstreaks may have emerged as butterflies last week. Next week onwards should be good viewing. once females also widespread.

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