I have started a very long weekend. As the Sonisphere concert at Knebworth kicks off tomorrow, the attendant road closures in Stevenage and the ensuing heavy traffic diversions where I work, I thought it best to avoid the area completely and stay well away.
Many years ago the late Jim Rudland gave me directions to a White Letter Hairstreak site in Welwyn at the Commons nature reserve which I forgot, but luckily William helped me out when I saw him last weekend. The parking etc was a bit uncertain but it turned out ok when I got there as there was room on the road opposite the nearby school.
Its a nice place for a stroll, and there were lots of Ringlets, Meadow Browns, Tortoiseshells and Commas. Birds were rather quiet as expected though one or two vocal Nuthatches were noted. Otherwise the time of the year and the heat kept things subdued.
Found a fantastic stand of Meadow Sweet as I walked west and I then found a nice flowery area full of Ringlets. One dull butterfly on a thistle looked promising and through the bins I could see it was a very fresh White Letter. It spent a lot of time patrolling a small area around an elm, dipping down to the flowers and occasionally interacting with the other butterflies. A local with an interest in butterflies stopped by and we had a chat for a while. Unfortunately it never came close enough to the camera. I carried on for a bit, finding a second individual though this too was hard to approach.
I then headed off to Broxbourne Woods. More of the woods near the new car park have been cleared and this has had an impact on the woodland species. I met up with a first timer by Nick's seat and we had a chat. The now grassy area to the west was popular with the browns, including several Marbled Whites. I walked with him around the main trail where we picked up a White Admiral and many Silver Washed Fritillaries. One or two Brown Hawkers, a Southern Hawker and a few Emperors were patrolling the rides.
Shame there were no Purple Emperors-apparently there have been a couple of reports this year.