15th July 2006 - Ryton Woods, Warwickshire
White Admiral was the aim of todays excursion and with high temperatures and wall to wall sunshine forecast I went to Ryton Woods full of optimism. Upon arrival at 10.30am I decided to head for the Pagets Pool area and make my way back via the main woodland.
As I headed for the far pool the grassy verges held nice numbers of Gatekeeper, Small Skippers, Meadow Browns, 3 Marbled Whites and several Large Whites. Around the pool area a healthy bramble bush produced a good display of lepidoptera specimens including 2 Silver Washed Fritillaries, a Comma and some more Skippers. Getting hotter by the minute the GBH T-shirt came off and I strolled to the bird hide and once inside watched a Common Hawker go about his hunting with loads of Common Darters skimming the waters surface.
The stroll back along the pathway brought overhead Sand Martins and Swallows, a circling Buzzard and several calling Green Woodpeckers. The nearby water held good numbers of Black Tailed Skimmers and Azure Damselflies and their silent flight enhanced the almost idyllic tranquility of this lazy, summers day.
Just before entering the main woodland I stopped for a breather and a much needed drink. Upon removing my laden rucksack and finishing my first of many drinks I strolled back and forth through some grassy areas and noticed some rather dark butterflies that seemed slightly different in flight from the numerous Gatekeepers. A quick glance at a stationary specimen displayed a fine white fringing to all wings with the hindwings seemingly slightly scalloped. Ringlet came to mind, a species I had yet to see, but all literature I had read hadn't mentioned this species was present. A quick shuftie in me bag for the trusty butterfly book - not there left at home - so the Collins Insect Guide would have to do (and usually does). Cor blimey Ringlet it was and a check of several others underwings confirmed the ID. Not bad at all - and the funny thing is that when you see one you see hundreds of the blighters. Throughout the rest of the day I saw loads of these understated little pleasures and thoroughly enjoyed their chaming flight and busy nature.
A Broad Bodied Chaser caught my eye as it was perched up next to me and quite a distance from water. Fairly normal for this species I suppose and it seeemed entirely settled until I reached for the camera. Off he went with a 'not today mate' and it was back to the butterflies.
Gathering up my belongings I entered the main wooded area after looking at the mouth watering promise on the notice board that White Admirals were present. Mmmmmm - how many times have I fallen for that? Well within several steps a butterfly landed on the path before me and lo and behold it was my first White Admiral. I approached cautiously and encountered a second, both of which allowed me to take several brief snaps before graciously fluttering away.
The walk through the woods was top notch with more White Admirals, several Silver Washed Fritillaries, 3 Brimstones, more Ringlets, a Brown Hawker, Beautiful Damoiselle and Southern Hawker all making it a cracking stroll. Sadly most of the species wouldn't sit long enough for pictures so I had to grab what I could. Anyway after a couple of hours I left the woods and just as I came out a small fluttering thing appeared and landed on a small Oak tree nearby. Unbelievable - the 3rd new butterfly of the day - Purple Hairstreak. A few desperate shots after a good ogle and the little gem was gone but I really did enjoy our little meeting.
The stroll back via the bird hide consisted of Green Woodpecker, more Ringlets, an Emperor Dragonfly, Small Tortoiseshell, several Black Tailed Skimmers and a few moths namely Yellow Shell, Silver Y, Mother of Pearl and Common Footman.
Ryton Woods really came up trumps today and a trip back is a must. At the end of the day I still felt I hadn't seen it all and that can only be a good thing and is surely what keeps us natutralists motivated.