Thursday 3 July 2014

By Royal Appointment 3rd July 2014

Ten am sharp at Bernwood Forest. Be there or else! This is what I told myself as I awoke to another sun filled morning. Purple Emperors were on the wing and there is no better place for an audience with H.I.M. (His Imperial Majesty) than on the main track through the forest.

Arriving on time I joined a fellow devotee also come to pay homage to the Sultan of Morocco as emperors used to be called and still are sometimes by those of us old enough to be able to remember the old country names for our butterflies.

The sun was fitful in coming out from the cloud this morning but it was warm and sultry. White Admirals and Silver washed Fritillaries did not seem to mind though, so there was hope that the most regal of butterflies would grant us an audience. Disdainful, haughty and seemingly uninterested in us mere mortals and also with some disgusting feeding habits (sic The Royal Family) it is without doubt thoroughly deserving of its regal reputation.

An hour passed with no sign as we waited patiently for a glimpse, then there he was, powering fast and low up the track and then fussing with self importance over where to land for what seemed an age. until eventually he found something to his liking, thankfully not a dog turd this time. Perhaps we should chuck him a Duchy Original biscuit? Sorry I digress. He came down to earth on his chosen bit of track. We gathered round but no sooner had we done so than he was up and away and with a couple of flicks of his broad wings cruised high and handsome off through the trees.

The purple is only apparent from certain angles
Another hour passed and just one brief but ever so tantalising sighting of an emperor,  flying at treetop height was our meagre reward. About to leave I was detained by another one flying around an Ash and then settling at the top of it to feed in the company of a Purple Hairstreak but he was not happy at being in close proximity with this, a mere butterfly and glided powerfully away into the forest. Thirty minutes later he or another was back and at last deigned to settle for a few minutes on the track but was still restless, fidgety and undecided where to land. Eventually he did and we gathered round to take his picture just like the paparazzi we were. 

The same thrill came, as it does every year at being in the presence of something special. He for his part totally ignored one and all and soon was fast flickering down the track to become just a memory. 

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