Grafton Wood Open Day Success!

Grafton Wood in Worcestershire was THE place to be on Sunday 24th August. It was a beautiful, warm sunny morning which meant the Brownies were bound to be flying! As car after car pulled up in the carpark, Paul Fosterjohn's hugely popular Brown Hairstreak pin badges went flying off the table I'd set up, especially after I'd convinced everyone that wearing one would guarantee multiple sightings! 22 sold in 30 minutes, with the final 3 snapped up during the walk - this has got to be the most popular badge to date! Apologies again to everyone who missed out on getting a badge; its possible that more will become available in the near future.

There's a Brownie in there somewhere! © Mike Williams 

At 11am, we all set off in groups to different parts of the wood to maximise the chance of seeing an adult butterfly. Whilst most people were staking out the orchard and other parts of the wood, i headed over to the pond where i'd recorded at least 15 different (grounded) individuals last year. My Brownie Sense was tingling! Within 5 minutes of arriving, i spotted a pristine female crawling along a young blackthorn stem, clearly checking it out as a potential egg laying site. The first Brownie of the day! Much excitement ensued from my small army of ~6 people, victory phonecalls were made and lots of photography took place all in the space of about 30 seconds. I think she was a bit camera shy as she soon took flight and perched on high to observe us. Simon Primrose's team arrived shortly after from the orchard, at which point, a second female Brownie was almost trampled on by myself and Colin Bowler. Id never seen one perch on a grass stem before! Its possible she had just emerged and was warming up. As soon as the shout went up, Brownie fans came running and more photography madness took place.

The Brown Hairstreak pin badges sold like hot cakes!

Another pristine female was spotted amongst some young blackthorn suckers not long after and she was a real show off. She stuck around (in the most awkward positions) for at least 30 minutes, alternating between basking and exploring young blackthorn shoots, searching for egg laying sites. She even landed on Rachel Fryer's hand briefly, much to her delight as it was the first time she'd ever seen a Brown Hairstreak!

As always, events like this one provide an excellent opportunity to explain to fellow Brownie fans a bit more about the species and the troubles they face with continued annual hedgerow flailing etc. It turned into a real social event with everyone chatting about their butterfly trips so far this year and it was really satisfying to learn that a few of the 50 strong crowd were seeing this beautiful butterfly for the first time ever. One avid fan had obviously left the best until last - our favourite Brownie was the last British species on his list to see!

Photography mad! © Christopher Hancock

Another, more faded female was spotted as well, along with a brief glimpse of a Brownie flying over the orchard hedgerow earlier on in the day. By about 1pm, it was completely overcast so everyone headed back to the Village Hall for refreshments and lunch, courtesy of Miriam Tilt who did an absolutely fantastic job. The cakes were divine! Poor Colin was overrun by people buying up his famous From The Notebook Brown Hairstreak ale by the case-load and he soon had none left! The new Deaths Head Hawkmoth stout was a real hit too, along with the other butterfly beers: Red Admiral, Orange Tip and Gatekeeper.

Brown Hairstreak Watch from across the pond!

After lunch when everyone had headed home, myself, Simon Primrose and Colin Bowler headed back to the wood in the hopes of seeing more Brownies. Unfortunately, we had no luck so instead turned the trip into an early egg scout. Its early days yet but it certainly looks like the Brownies have had a very good season so far with at least 25-30 eggs found on random blackthorn suckers we chose to look at. Colin even managed to find his first eggs, promoting him to official Egghead status :)

Overall, it was a fantastic day had by all with 5 individual Brown Hairstreak seen in just 2 hours.

Still posing for photos! © Simon Primrose

To close, here are some final photos from the day of our favourite Hairstreak, courtesy of Tony Penycate:


Great report Gill. Really conveys the excitement of the day!

Great stuff Gill! Seems like 2014 has been another great season for our favourite hairstreak... Lincolnshire Brown Hairstreaks have been very much in evidence this year as well, with multiple adult sightings during visits in late August/early September.

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