Mark Monk Terry
Dartford Warbler – Old Lodge
As you wander on to Old Lodge or other heathlands in the south-east, keep an eye out for a small dark bird with a cocked tail sitting on top of Gorse or other scrub. The elusive Dartford Warbler is unmistakable with its grey furry head and reddish chest, staring out from piercing red eyes. This secretive bird can be hard to spot as it spends most of its time hidden away in thick Gorse or other dense areas of scrub where it will probably be feeding.
They live on invertebrates and in harsh winters when food is hard to find, the population can very quickly crash. They have an energetic and scratchy call which can be hard to distinguish, but when you do spot one they are an incredible treat.
Purple Emperor – Ebernoe Common
One of the great delights of mid-summer has to be the stunning Purple Emperor butterfly. From early July, we tend to focus our attention on the tops of the Oak trees, looking for that incredible flash of purple as a male Emperor soars through the upper branches. These majestic butterflies feed on aphid honeydew on Oak leaves but can also be found sipping salts from woodland puddles or even animal droppings.
The female lays her eggs on favoured Goat or Grey willow (Sallow) trees and the caterpillars then hibernate beneath a bud or forked twig ready for their time, next July.
More about Ebernoe Common.