Friday the thirteenth may be unlucky for some but not for me. A wondrous sunny morning had me up and about heading for the unglamorously named M40 Compensation Area, a strip of land between the edge of the Bernwood Forest and the M40 Motorway. This area is put by for butterfly conservation and the main attraction is the much sought after and rare Black Hairstreak although there are many other butterfly species also present to keep one interested
Here the conditions seem just about perfect for Black Hairstreaks with large areas of mature Blackthorn forming sheltered and sunny rides with scattered Wild Privet mixed in for feeding and large mature Ash Trees in which to seek sanctuary.
|Butterfly and flower rich ride between Blackthorn stands|
The butterflies can be seen for a short three to four week period from early June and I usually find them nectaring on the Wild Privet flowers where they can be seen incredibly close, feeding on the white waxy flowers. Others can also be seen fluttering about high up in mature trees such as Ash, above the blackthorn and privet.
To get to the area requires a long but not unpleasant walk through Bernwood Forest, the still of the woods becoming increasingly invaded by the noise of the ever busy Motorway as you get nearer to the compensation area. My favourite privet bush is literally yards from the hard shoulder of the Motorway separated by just a thin hedge but you somehow get used to the continuous noise of the onrushing traffic until it becomes an ever present but almost abstract background roar in your senses.
|Ideal Black Hairstreak habitat with Wild Privet amongst the Blackthorn|
|Wild Privet - up to 15 Black Hairstreaks visited this over a 4 hour period|