Pete's Walks - Purple Emperor

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Photo taken at Fermyn Woods, Northants., 10/07/19

The Purple Emperor is probably the most iconic of British butterflies, the one that almost every butterfly lover wants to see. It is also one of the largest butterflies in the UK, smaller only than the Swallowtail (though the largest female Silver-washed Fritillaries can be bigger than the smallest Purple Emperors). It spends most of its time in and around the tops of oak trees, only occasionally coming down to feed on sap runs or, in the case of the male, animal droppings, carrion or moist ground that provide necessary salts and minerals. Butterfly enthusiasts often use nasty smelling items to lure the male Emperors down from the canopy - including banana skins, shrimp paste and even sweaty trainers!

I made nine or ten trips to look for Purple Emperors over the summers of 2017, 2018 and 2019, mainly at Fermyn Woods in Northants (about 25 minutes drive from my workplace) but also at Oaken Wood and Bookham Common in Surrey. I'm fairly sure I saw them a couple of times flying in the tree tops, but could never get a photo to be 100% sure. Then finally, on 10th July 2019 in Fermyn Woods, a Purple Admiral landed on a track just a few yards in front of me and stayed just long enough for me to get a couple of photos!

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Photo taken at Fermyn Woods, Northants., 10/07/19