A few metres west of the bonfire, feeding on yellow flower heads, and basking on bare soil. A male. El Rey rather than La Reina. Glorious in his embers. We admired for a while, gave him some time alone, then came back for further admiration. The individual present there on our return may well have been a second individual, given tiny apparent differences in was to the left upperwing.
We arrived at Piddinghoe after a rather tortuous drive about 0830. We found the site easily - a flowery field with a bonfire to one side of it. Thanks to the kind farmer, visitors were allowed in. It was soon apparent that the 'meadow' had a fair few butterflies in it. Common stuff - Common Blue, Small Copper, Small Heath, Comma, Peacock, Meadow Brown. Then a couple of Brown Argus; things were improving. As the morning warmed, we had several Adonis Blue (above; a tick for Will, and the first I've since pre-digital days) and several Clouded Yellow.
We had a decent search for Silver-spotted Skipper, which Neil Hulme had seen here and which Ian needed. But no luck. By now, it was 10h00. The day was warm, the sun shone brightly, and Tree Pipits were flying overhead. We needed to be on the road by 11 latest if Will were to keep the nation happy. And there was no sign of any Queen of Spain Fritillary. And then, suddenly, there was.
The discovery of several Queen of Spain Fritillaries in East Sussex earlier this week got me rather excited. I missed the mid-1990s run of this vagrant butterfly in Suffolk (thought to relate to a temporary breeding colony) by dint of living abroad or living an alternative wild life in London (and rather fazing out from all things natural). I think there was another showing in the mid-Noughties in Sussex - when I was also living abroad. So this species has never really been twitchable for me. Hence the excitement. It transpired that Will and Ian were keen too, so we chanced a Friday trip, knowing that we had to be back in Norfolk early afternoon so that Will could keep the country in bird news. Vital stuff, I'm sure you will agree.
This (or these) individual(s) wasn't yet on territory, as it has (they have) been recently. That seems to start nearer midday. Accordingly, we didn't get any proper underwing shots. Indeed, given the messy backgrounds in all today's images, I'm not sure we get any proper shots at all. Oh well... can't win them all.