Today I decided to make the most of the good weather and visit the Butterfly Conservation reserves at Prestbury Hill near Cheltenham. For this visit I had Tony 'Marmite' Smith with me. Marmite I hear you ask? well Tony is a well known social irritant and general wind up merchant and people, especially in birding circles, either love him or hate him...Me, well I'm undecided ;-)
Anyway back to Prestbury, we spent the first part the visit mooching about on the Bill Smyllie reserve. Unfortunately we timed our visit a bit late for Duke of Burgundy this year but we still had 20+ Small Blue butterflies. The Small Blue is Britain's smallest resident butterfly and they are literally about the size of an adult's thumb nail, absolutely tiny!
There was also good numbers of Common Blue and Small Heath present. We also had a rather stunning and fresh looking ♂ Brown Argus.
Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus)
It was a good day for day-flying moths with treble figure counts of Chimney Sweeper and large numbers of Burnett Companion present. Other species of moth noted included Brimstone Moth, Common Heath, Mother Shipton, Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnett, Silver-ground Carpet, Six-spot Burnett, Small Yellow-underwing.
Silver-ground Carpet (Xanthorhoe montanata)
All across the Bill Smyllie reserve there were impressive numbers of Common Spotted Orchid and Pyramidal Orchid in bloom.
After a spot of lunch Tony & I headed over to the Masts Field where on undertaking the walk I was absolutely blown away by the sheer number of Small Blue butterflies. Just along the paths we walked they were in at least treble figures. There must have been a heck of a lot more across the rest of the hill. It was worth the drive down just to see these diminutive little blues en masse!
Small Blue (Cupido minimus)
It was also nice to see a Bee-orchid on this part of the reserve, although we did only see the one.
Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera)