I met nine participants at the entrance to RSPB Pulborough Brooks reserve late morning on Saturday just gone. It had been a pleasantly fresh start to the day with just a hint of autumn in the air, but was now warming up fast.
Straight out of the visitor centre we saw our first butterflies of the day - at least two or three Purple Hairstreaks flitting around an oak and occasionally alighting in view for the group to enjoy.
Slightly further down the ZigZag path we bumped into more expected high summer species such as Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Comma, Red Admiral, Large White and Small White as well as the first Painted Lady of the day - a beautifully fresh individual too. Common Blue and Brown Argus were also seen here too, nicely bumping up the species count for the day.
A detour towards Fattengates Courtyard proved very worthwhile as it was here we encountered our only Brown Hairstreak of the day - perching low down in the vegetation by the path and offering great views to everyone.
The more wooded parts of the trail yielded Speckled Woods by the bucketload - easily our most numerous species of the day. We also saw Southern, Brown and Migrant Hawker dragonflies patrolling the clearings and rides.
Another very fresh Painted Lady was seen along the path down to Hanger Wood, while we also enjoyed a bit of a raptor fest here in the form of two Red Kites, two Buzzards and a Kestrel thermalling overhead.
A brief loop of Black Wood to finish the walk didn’t produce the hoped for Silver-washed Fritillary but we did more than double our Speckled Wood count for the day! By now the heat of the day was peaking and butterfly activity had noticeably reduced as a result. Still, a very rewarding session with 13 species noted in total.