True to my word I was back for another Emperor extravaganza and I was not disappointed. An absolutely glorious sunny morning meant that God, the weather forecasters and anything or anyone else involved with 'wevver' were forgiven. Memories of rain and cloud so sharp last week dissipated in an instant as the sun turned me a delicate shade of pink and the woods now in their full, blousy summer pomp shone in the sun. Purple Emperors were liberally scattered the length of the main track through the Forest, making the most of this opportunity, just like the rest of us. I found six myself at various locations and reports from others confirmed there must have been at least twelve seen.Word is definitely out and the track near to the Car Park was inundated with enthusiasts looking for Emperors. Today I fancied an Emperor experience that was a bit quieter and less intrusive so headed for the far end of the track where I had the woods to myself and the company of no less than four Emperors. I watched two feeding close together on the track for over an hour undisturbed by anyone and serenaded by a Blackcap in the adjacent Oaks. Time seems to be suspended whilst watching Emperors like this, with the passing minutes and hours marked only by the increasing heat and brightness of the sun. Imperceptibly the fresh, optimistic morning atmosphere transcends into the heavy and oppressive heat of mid day, feet become noticeably heavy and the spirit within reflective. Oliver and his Irish Terrier joined me at the two feeding Emperors. I used to have a dog but now would not want another but if I did then it would be along the lines of Ted. He really is very appealing.
I left Oliver and Ted with the two Emperors and wandered onwards to the end of the track where a Silver Washed Fritillary astounded me by actually landing on the ground and remained relatively still before ascending onto some Blackberry blossom.
Every other one I saw today, and there were lots, were doing their usual unwavering hurried fly past. A White Admiral floated along the edge of the track but was soon gone. At the end of the track a very tatty Emperor was feeding on the ground but had not read the script and after a couple of fly pasts disappeared powerfully and fast up into the oak canopy. But today was not all about Emperors as there was plenty of other butterfly life to see. Marbled Whites fluttered in the grasses and Large Skippers and Ringlets were everywhere. Occasionally a Purple Hairstreak would be fluttering around some Oak before becoming seemingly invisible as, marvellously camouflaged it settled in the bunches of oak leaves. I headed back to the Car Park and Clackers hove into view from one of the grassy tracks running off the main track announcing to anyone who would listen that he had just seen three White Admirals in a clearing back down the grassy trail. Sure enough they were still there floating ethereally in and out amongst the pines and beech saplings.
By lunchtime I had had enough but still could not resist an invitation from Oliver to go to a nearby wood to look for female Emperors laying eggs. It looked pretty hopeless as we were now in mid-afternoon and we only saw Ringlets and Silver Washed Fritillaries as we strolled up the track. We walked back to the gate and as we did saw two Emperors gliding around above a Sallow but they quickly split up and disappeared in the tree tops. Enigmatic and elusive as ever.