Early Purples in Cressbrook Dale, originally uploaded by Roger B.
Earlier this week I paid another visit to Cressbrook Dale in Derbyshire. In the upper part of the dale there was a fine display of early purple orchids - their numbers seem to increase every year. It was too windy for macro photography, but I managed to get a few group shots with Peter's Stone in the background.
Lower down the dale, sheltering from the wind, I spotted two green hairstreaks basking on the freshly emerged leaves of a sycamore tree. Thanks to its small size and camouflage colouration, this tiny springtime butterfly is often overlooked. I've only ever noticed them on moorland sites before, so I was curious to know what larval foodplants they might be using in a limestone dale. According to members of the Derbyshire Natural History discussion group, it could be either rock-rose or bilberry.
In the woods near the bottom of the dale, I had a great view of a pair of spotted flycatchers prospecting a potential nest site in a dead tree. As I watched, one bird repeatedly popped in and out of a crack in the trunk, then did a brief wing-fluttering display to the other. After a few minutes they were joined by a third flycatcher, presumably a rival male, and a frantic chase through the tree-tops ensued!