We started off by walking up to the top of Pulpit Hill and were pleasantly surprised to see two silver-washed fritillaries feeding on the brambles next to the path. We headed through the middle of the hill fort that sits right on the top of the hill and saw another 3 silver-washed fritillaries, commas, small tortoiseshells and red admirals. They seemed to love the shelter the trees gave them from the wind and were feeding and basking in the dappled sunlight.
We also saw a couple of the big Roman snails that had sealed themselves onto a tree trunk with a layer of hardened slime. We couldn't decide why they were there and what they were doing ... possibly they were protecting themselves from the dry weather, but you'd think they'd be safer either up in the tree or down in the leaf litter. We don't normally see them half way up a tree trunk, unless they're on the move, so it was a bit of a mystery.
We walked down the other side of the hill and paused for a moment to enjoy the view from the sunken path. It's always such a breathtaking moment when you walk out from the dense cover of the trees and suddenly you can see right across the vale of Aylesbury and the Chilterns.
We went through the gate into the rifle range and Grangelands where even more butterflies were taking on the windy conditions. We saw one chalkhill blue on the rifle range, then walked over to Grangelands where we saw at least another 15 males flying around. They're a real treat to see and just love it there.
|Male chalkhill blue|
|Underside of a male chalkhill blue|
We also spotted another rather tatty looking fritillary out on the rifle range, which I believe is a dark green fritillary (although I may be wrong!)
|Dark green fritillary|
There were plenty of other butterflies enjoying the knapweed, scabious, wild marjoram and other flowers, including gatekeepers, small tortoiseshells, commas, meadow browns, large whites, small skippers, marbled whites and ringlets. It was an utterly fluttery walk!
As we walked back to the car we saw a rare Chilterns zebra in the field!