The sun was still shining on the righteous at the weekend, so we decided to make the most of it and headed up to the Wyre Forest in search of the Pearl Bordered Fritillaries. We took a slightly circuitous route, via one of our favourite pubs – The Live and Let Live on Bringsty Common. Fabulous pub with great food and lots of wildlife around. Lots of bees and butterflies (Small Copper, Orange Tip, fast flying and therefore unidentifiable whites!) and birds, but only this little wren paused long enough to get its photo taken.
Suitably fuelled we headed off to the Wyre Forest. The Pearly Bordered Fritillaries were our main butterfly target of the day as the Wyre Forest is one of their strongholds in the West Midlands. The Wyre is managed by the Forestry Commission and Butterfly Conservation to restore a diverse woodland environment, providing the right habitats for many butterflies. It’s not only good for butterflies, but is a lovely place to just go for a walk.
Within minutes walking along the old railway track, we’d reached a gateway to a more open area where we’d seen the fritillaries last year. Sure enough, just yards from the gate we spotted our first one.
Needless to say it didn’t hang around to get many photos, so we went back to the track and headed along to an area with sunny sheltered banks. Here there were numerous Pearl Bordered Fritillaries fluttering in the sunshine. We were really chuffed initially to get these distant shots of a pair getting down to business.
But then Chris spotted a pair clearly too engrossed in what they were about to be bothered by us taking photos! He managed to get a whole series of them together. In the photos you can clearly see how pearlescent the central white spot in particular is. I love the underside of their wings – like beautiful stained glass windows.
Of course although the fritillaries were the highlight, there was lots to see besides the butterflies. Spring flowers were abundant, attracting a variety of insects. I’m not too hot on wildflower ID, but I’m fairly sure the following are Greater Stitchwort, Jack-by-the-Hedge (aka Garlic Mustard) and Yellow Deadnettle.
There were also a few day flying moths about, two of which we’d not seen before. The Small Purple-barred (Phytometra viridaria) was a new one, but was thankfully easy to identify.
The other two required help from the good people of the Facebook West Midlands Butterfly (and moth obviously) Group. The Common Carpet (Epirrhoe alternata) I had seen before, but never holding its wings at this angle, which flummoxed my attempts at ID.
The final moth was just too darn small for my puny ID skills, but is apparently Micropterix calthella (not sure if it’s got a common name) and unusually for a moth, feeds on pollen.
So all in all a very good day out. The Wyre Forest is definitely worth a visit for anyone wanting to see the beautiful Pearl Bordered Fritillaries.