I’ve grown to love Oakhill woods recently, not just because it is one of (if not the) best local site for watching butterflies lazily drifting down on the wing, or frantically fluttering from food plant to food plant, nor because it is surrounded on three sides by fields of golden wheat, the tall crops rustling in the wind and popping in the sunshine, but mainly because of the tranquility.
There are few places in Milton Keynes where you cannot hear the dull rumble of one of the two main trunk roads that divide the new town, traffic from either the M1 or the A5 can usually be heard somewhere, the rumble of the engines or clunking of the wheels as people and goods are shipped around the country. But in this one tiny area, on the edge of the “city” seems to have, so far, remained immune from these sounds.
But today WAS about the butterflies, brilliant July sunshine warmed the day and I knew it would be a great butterfly day.
North Bucks Way
Near Grange Farm, along the North Bucks Way, on the border of Hazley Wood, there are a number of rough fields. Bursting with colourful wildflowers of rich yellows and delicate purples, and as I wandered through the first of these fields I flushed a small bird, my instinct was that it was a quail, but then as I looked for where it had flown to I flushed around 10 more birds. I genuinely have no idea what they are. Smaller than a partridge, straw and brown colours, with a quick flight, I don’t know if pheasants can fly at a young age? and I do doubt there would be a covey of so many quail, but I am at a loss.
|View from the North Bucks Way|
Butterfly Hunt Oakhill Woods
Heading into the woods the butterfly numbers began to build. As Ringlets and Speckled woods danced above the weedy edges, spiraling up in pairs and trios. Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers flashed the orange patches of their wings as they flew from flower to flower; while the off Red Admiral, gently floated on wide wings over the bramble.
Along the grassy rides, accompanied today by the sounds of rowdy prisoners from behind the walls of the maximum security prison that the woods border. Large Whites seemed to be flying in good numbers; while tiny Small Skippers weaved their way through the long grasses.
Peacock butterflies, perhaps the most underrated butterflies in the UK. A creature that should, arguably be up there with the most special butterflies in the world, Sat spread winged on the ripening blackberries; and crinkle winged Comma’s stabbed their long proboscis deep into the purple headed wildflowers.
Big Butterfly Count
It is that time of year again where butterfly fans and people who hold an interest in the natural world spend 15 minutes counting butterflies in random areas, yes the Big Butterfly Count. I thought I would stand in one spot and perform a count in these woods, the result was 10 species.
|Green Veined White||1|
Shockingly as soon as the 15 mins were up a Silver Washed Fritilliary and a couple of Brown Argus appeared next to me.
Walking the Edges
Deciding to walk more of the woods than usual I headed off into the woods themselves, following one of the many paths that grid the woodland, as I walked, more butterflies appeared, Brown Argus butterflies kept to the edges, while more Silver Washed Fritilliary hawked high up in the canopy, or glided over the brambles. A lone Small Copper flew between daisies along the wheat lined edges, Small Tortoiseshells sunned themselves on various dappled glades. Even a Marbled White put in a brief appearance as it made its way through the woodland edge.
As I prepared to leave the woodlands a dark brown, almost black shape drifted down from the canopy above me. Flashes of white on the wings marking the distinctive pattern of a White Admiral, only my second ever. I watched as with delicate flaps it moved through the undergrowth. Never landing for more than a few moments and rarely below head height, before eventually it headed off high into the canopy once more.
Complete Butterfly List
After walking more of the wood than I have ever walked before, heading through the centre to the wonderful wheat fields, I finished the day with 21 species of butterfly, an amazing haul of butterflies, the complete list is below. A pretty successful butterfly hunt Oakhill Woods
|Silver Washed Fritillary||3|
|Green Veined White||2|
Other Photos form Butterfly Hunt Oakhill Woods
|Views over Buckinghamshire|
|Small skipper top view|
|Worn Small Skipper|
|Unknown Fly sp.|
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