Sunday, 21 July 2013

Pamber Forest

A Gatekeeper

It seems that the sunny weather is about to give way to thunder storms, so I thought I would have another butterfly walk before it was too late. Last week's butterfly walk at Prestbury Hill was a joy and I decided to go again to nearby Pamber Forest where I saw Silver-washed Fritillaries and White Admirals last year.

I parked on the edge of Tadley Common and walked along Pamber Heath Rd for a quarter of a mile, turned left into a gravel track and right to join the long straight path that diagonally crosses Pamber Forest. Almost immediately I saw my first Gatekeepers of the year, in the hedgerow, exactly where they should be, along with Meadow Browns, Ringlets, Large Whites and an unexpected Marbled White.

Within minutes of entering the wide sunny forest drive I had seen Large and Small Skippers and it wasn't long before the first Silver-washed Fritillaries and a lone White Admiral appeared. It gradually became crystal clear that every open sunny patch on the left of the path would have these, so long as there were some brambles as well. There was of course the frustration, that neither would roost for long enough to allow a decent photo.

The largest number of sightings occurred once I was about three quarters of the way through the Forest and the wide gravel track had narrowed to a small path. Here at last I got a nice clear shot of a Silver-washed Fritillary with wings wide open.

And in a nearby bush, an equally clear shot of the underwings, with the streaky silver wash which is the distinguishing feature of the species.

The White Admirals were more cooperative too, but this time I did not get to see the richly patterned underwings.

To add to the fun, I number of Brimstones could be seen taking nectar from thistles: the proboscis (tongue) is clearly visible in this picture, at least if you click to enlarge it.

And a Peacock added its iridescent colours on a bracken frond. A couple of Commas were flying around too and some Green-veined Whites.

To complete the picture, I managed - in the less deeply wooded section - a nice Large Skipper ...

... and a Small Skipper.

Distance: just under 4 miles.

Conditions: hot and sunny.

Map: Explorer 159 (Reading, Wokingham and Pangbourne).

Rating: four stars. Happily lost in butterflies!

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