TS and I had previously visited Prestbury Hill some 3 weeks before looking for it's specialty, the Duke of Burgundy butterfly. Unfortunately on that visit to the hill's Bill Smyllie Reserve the weather forecast didn't hold true, the wind got up and it started to drizzle...needless to say we didn't see a single butterfly. The weather for the return trip was looking much more promising.
Not long after arriving on the Bill Smyllie Reserve we bumped into a voluntary warden who told us that the best place to look for them was in the so called 'Happy Valley'. He went on to explain that he was going into the valley to look for Duke of Burgundy eggs, so we tagged along.
On the way into the valley I found 2 Small Blue butterflies, a lifer for me. This diminutive blue is the UK's smallest butterfly and these 2 were very fresh looking showing a good dusting of blue on their upper wings. Shortly afterwards the warden called us to point out 3 Duke of Burgundy eggs that he had found on the underside of a Cowslip leaf (the favoured food plant of their larvae). We continued up through the valley but didn't manage to connect with of the butterflies.
On the way back towards the car (where a sarnie and a drink was waiting) we noted a couple of moths including a Small Yellow Underwing and a Brimstone moth.
After lunch the sun was trying to burn through the cloud and the temperature had raised noticeably. We decided to undertake another walk through the valley and it proved to be a good decision. Where we had encountered the 2 Small Blue butterflies earlier there were now 7 Small Blues fluttering about. Better still we connected with the 1st of 4 Duke of Burgundy a bit further up the valley. Result! my 2nd lifer of the day. Normally the DOB's flight period should be over by now but due to the cold wet Spring they had been late emerging, giving a later window of opportunity.
Other butterflies of note today included 18 freshly emerged Small Heaths, 1 Peacock and 3 Speckled Wood. Moths species noted included 1 Burnett Companian, 1 Narrow-bordered 5-spot Burnett, many Common Heath and many Silver-ground Carpet.
All in all it proved a successful and enjoyable trip out, although I really should start thinking about checking in on the local patch soon.
Duke of Burgundy
Small Yellow Underwing