Jul 202013

A visit to Fermyn Woods in Northamptonshire is really a must during June – July. The reason, an encounter with his Imperial Majesty, the Purple Emperor butterfly. If one has never seen this butterfly before, then your first sighting is usually high up in the tree canopy, as they chase each other around the tops of Oak trees. When one or two enventually come down onto the path to take minerals and with patience they do, your encounter really begins and a male Purple Emperor will take your breath away.

Fermyn Woods is probably the most northerly site in UK for the Purple Emperor. On arrival, Saturday 20th July, with my good freinds Barrie, Anita & Elliott, the weather was really not suitable for butterflies but we hung in their and eventually a break in the grey and overcast weather around lunch time, we got our reward. During the day we saw at least 15 Purple Emperors but only one came down on to the footpath and really did put on a show. When perched in the leaf canopy they can easily be mistaken for White Admiral but their distinctive underwing pattern and the eye in the centre of the under-forewing helps with the identification. Also at Fermyn we saw 1 White Admiral, several Purple Hairstreak, plenty of Ringlet & Meadow Brown, several Small Skipper, 1 Large Skipper, 1 Gatekeeper, several Large White and Green-veined White. Later in the day we paid a visit to a small Limestone Quarry in nearby Leicestershire and saw many Marbled White.


First encounters of the Purple Emperor kind – Fermyn Woods – Tony Davison©


First encounters of the Purple Emperor kind – Fermyn Woods – Tony Davison©


Male Purple Emperor – The before – Tony Davison©


Male Purple Emperor – The after – Tony Davison©


Male Purple Emperor – Fermyn Woods – Tony Davison©


Male Purple Emperor – Fermyn Woods – Tony Davison©


Purple Emperor – Fermyn Woods – They can get mistaken for White Admiral when higer up in the leaf canopy – Tony Davison©


A Purple Emperor Twitch !! Tony Davison©


Small Skipper – Fermyn Woods – Tony Davison©


Ringlet – Fermyn Woods – Tony Davison©


Meadow Brown – Fermyn Woods – Tony Davison©


Male Marbled White – Note the silvery white upper-forewing costa – Leicestershire – Tony Davison©


Male Marbled White – Leicestershire – Tony Davison©


Female Marbled White – Note the buffish upper-forewing costa –  Leicestershire – Tony Davison©


Female Marbled White – Note the buffish upper-forewing costa –  Leicestershire – Tony Davison©


Female Marbled White – Note the buffish and brown tones to the underwing –  Leicestershire – Tony Davison©


Female Marbled White – Note the buffish and brown tones to the underwing –  Leicestershire – Tony Davison©



 Posted by at 7:47 pm

  One Response to “A Royal Appointment with the Emperor of the Woods”

  1. Excellent shots. I especially like the last ones with the beautiful backgrounds – what a lush green velvet!  The Purple Emperor shots on the ground are lovely. If I might say, as you couldn't get parallel to the butterfly in a couple of instances, the near wing is outside your DOF, but as the background was a stone path, you would not have lost anything by increasing your f-stop slightly, to bring the near wing into focus. I am no macro expert though, so as far as I'm concerned, they are all super shots Tony! 

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