The day after our visit to see the Large Blues and Lulworth Skippers Lisa was busy working from home, but as I was still in West Sussex I decided on a visit to Southwater Woods.
Although this is a great wood for Purple Emperors I was just a couple of days early for that species. However, on arrival there were a couple of Small Tortoiseshell that were looking good. In fact the Small Tortoiseshell locally seem to be having a better year, which is extremely good to see. It was certainly a lovely start to the walk.
Although I was too early for the Purple Emperor, I certainly wasn't too early for the other larger woodland species such as Silver-washed Fritillary and White Admiral, with both species well represented.
Several very fresh Comma were also seen including a gorgeous hutchinsoni form, which posed very well, showing both under-wing and top wing.
I then bumped into Paul Day, a local butterfly enthusiast that I hadn't met before. He was looking for Purple Emperor, but just like me he had failed at seeing any that day. However, just after I finished chatting to him, I spotted a Purple Hairstreak that had presumably just emerged. It was sitting still on some reeds. I called Paul back and showed him the butterfly. After he had taken many photos I spent some time with it managing to get some under-wing shots, but later as the sun moved, and the butterfly had moved a couple of times it opened up showing it was a male, and I managed my best shots to date of a male Purple Hairstreak. I should have actually taken more at this point, but as I had taken quite a few by now I decided I should stop. As the light was so bad though many of the shots were not good at all, but there was enough still to be really pleased. I just wish Lisa was there to share this special moment with me. It certainly is a rare event seeing a Purple Hairstreak up close at ground level.