What a difference a few days make! The buttercups in the top meadow have sprung up to their full height and seemingly multiplied too, as the field is a mass of yellow blooms, waving gently in a light breeze. Perfect weather for fritillaries, and Rosie enjoys it, too. We squeeze in a quick game of hide and seek before getting down to business.
|Rosie enjoying the warm weather|
|Marsh fritillary keeping a wary eye out for photographers|
I count 40 or so in the two hours I'm there, which is about equal with the same time last year. They're always a challenge to see, even though they don't travel far from their place of emergence. They have an uncanny ability to fly a short distance and then just disappear, only appearing again when they fly up as you approach the place where you last saw them settle, and whizzing off to settle elsewhere, where the process starts again!
|Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia) portrait|
These are also displaying territorial behaviour, with the males chasing each other in chains of up to four, following each other fast and low over the tussock and then vertically up into the sky until the threat is nullified and the chain falls apart, its protagonists falling back to earth and resuming business as usual. I hope to photograph this behaviour at some point in the future, but it won't be an easy thing to capture, as the flight is extremely quick and unpredictable to follow.
Further down towards the river at the Hemlock patch, the damselflies are still gathering in the midday sun, but now the appearance of males amongst them leads me to believe that there are no Banded Demoiselle there, and they are all Beautiful Demoiselle. Interesting, since the Wildlife Trust specifically mention Banded Demoiselle in their literature for Volehouse.
|Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo) female|
The male Beautiful Demoiselle has dark wings and lacks the characteristic dark band across them that makes the Banded Demoiselle so striking.
Male Beautiful demoiselle
|Speckled wood butterfly (Pararge aegeria)|
Which I then do, and which she dribbles all over the back seat of the car.