Bucknell Wood, just to the north of Silverstone, is a relic of the once extensive Whittlewood Forest. Owned and managed by the Forestry Commission, it is reputed to be one of the best butterfly sites in Northamptonshire and certainly lived up to this reputation when 16 MKNHS members and one other visited last Saturday. Following Martin’s request, members car shared as much as possible, but it was still something of a squeeze in the car park.
We were blessed with blue skies and warm conditions as we met at 11am. Even as we assembled in the car park, we were treated to views of White Admiral and Silver Washed Fritillary butterflies drifting around.
Butterflies were certainly the main focus of the walk and before long we had added the common browns, whites and skippers as well as a number of purple hairstreaks who would occasionally descend from the high oaks to tantalise us with brief views.
Martin had mentioned how long the wood white butterflies were lasting and sure enough, one appeared before long. These dainty little butterflies are currently the subject of a three year habitat restoration project in the Silverstone woods and as is so often the case, this individual led us a merry dance as it flitted along the main ride but refused to alight on any plants.
We eventually saw four or five wood whites and Paul Lund was lucky enough to see a female egg-laying on one of its food plants, meadow vetchling and get some fine shots. These late wood whites were the last of the brood which began way back in April and it will be interesting to see if the warm summer weather triggers a rare second brood this year.
The stars of the show though were the Silver Washed Fritillaries, of which we saw dozens in including several pairs in cop. Few of us had seen this many before.
Marsh Tit and Coal Tit were both heard calling and brief views were obtained with 2 Buzzards and a Red Kite soaring over the wood. A Common Lizard was glimpsed as it scuttled across a fallen branch.
A surprising sighting enjoyed by a few was a Bank vole which was climbing along a blackthorn branch. We all had fantastic views of Emperor dragonflies and Brown and Southern Hawkers were also on the wing.
Early July is usually the best time to see the elusive Purple Emperor butterfly, but they had emerged in the third week of June this year so the chances of seeing a male low down were slim. We had to settle for a brief view of one soaring regally over the oak canopy and of course more Purple Hairstreaks. A lucky view got a very close look at a White Letter Hairstreak on bramble flowers before a thuggish Ringlet chased it off.
We were joined by a local butterfly enthusiast Kevin Boodley, and he was a great help in spotting some of the more unusual species. The last target before we left was the rarer Valezina form of the Silver Washed Fritillary and Kevin said he has seen several earlier in the day moving between two large bramble patches in a large clearing.
We searched and searched but got no more than brief views of a single Valezina female. However, we did see her ovipositing low down on an oak. There were many more White Admirals in this area too.
We made our way back to the car park at about 2.15pm, a little weary but delighted with what we had seen. Those who had visited Bucknell Wood for the first time were keen to re-visit.
Click on any of the pictures for a larger image. You will find more pictures from the field trip on our Members’ Photos page.
Text by Martin Kincaid.
Photos from top to bottom:
Members of the Society enjoying the walk©Peter Hassett
Members of the Society enjoying the walk©Peter Hassett
Wood White in flight ©Paul Lund
Wood White egg laying ©Paul Lund
Wood White egg ©Paul Lund
White Admiral ©Paul Young
Silver-washed Fritallary (male) ©Paul Young
Ringlet ©Paul Young
Purple Hairstreak underside ©Paul Young
Large Skipper ©Paul Young
Gatekeeper ©Paul Young
Silver-washed Fritillary (valezina form) ©Kevin Booden
Emperor Dragonfly (male) ©Peter Hassett
Paul Young has provided this amazingly comprehensive species list from our visit to Bucknell Wood:
|Species||Common name||Taxon group|
|Stachys officinalis||Betony||flowering plant|
|Bombus (Pyrobombus) hypnorum||Tree Bumblebee||insect – hymenopteran|
|Satyrium w-album||White-letter Hairstreak||insect – butterfly|
|Myodes glareolus||Bank Vole||terrestrial mammal|
|Lomaspilis marginata||Clouded Border||insect – moth|
|Milvus milvus||Red Kite||bird|
|Apatura iris||Purple Emperor||insect – butterfly|
|Gonepteryx rhamni||Brimstone||insect – butterfly|
|Periparus ater||Coal Tit||bird|
|Zootoca vivipara||Common Lizard||reptile|
|Centaurium erythraea||Common Centaury||flowering plant|
|Pyronia tithonus subsp. britanniae||Gatekeeper||insect – butterfly|
|Rhagonycha fulva||Common Red Soldier Beetle||insect – beetle (Coleoptera)|
|Aeshna grandis||Brown Hawker||insect – dragonfly (Odonata)|
|Thymelicus lineola||Essex Skipper||insect – butterfly|
|Anax imperator||Emperor Dragonfly||insect – dragonfly (Odonata)|
|Thymelicus sylvestris||Small Skipper||insect – butterfly|
|Vespa crabro||Hornet||insect – hymenopteran|
|Leptidea sinapis||Wood White||insect – butterfly|
|Potentilla anserina||Silverweed||flowering plant|
|Favonius quercus||Purple Hairstreak||insect – butterfly|
|Ochlodes sylvanus||Large Skipper||insect – butterfly|
|Columba oenas||Stock Dove||bird|
|Filipendula ulmaria||Meadowsweet||flowering plant|
|Pieris napi||Green-veined White||insect – butterfly|
|Vanessa atalanta||Red Admiral||insect – butterfly|
|Limenitis camilla||White Admiral||insect – butterfly|
|Prunella vulgaris||Selfheal||flowering plant|
|Maniola jurtina||Meadow Brown||insect – butterfly|
|Stachys sylvatica||Hedge Woundwort||flowering plant|
|Pieris brassicae||Large White||insect – butterfly|
|Aphantopus hyperantus||Ringlet||insect – butterfly|