Usually when I go looking for Butterflies I like the solitary aspect, and I spent many hours this year walking around and stalking these dainty beauties.
However, I was approached by a friend from Hereford saying there was an open day at Grafton Wood and wondered if I wanted to go.
As a site I have never previously visited, a guided walk seemed the more sensible option.
Grafton is considered to be one of the the main strongholds for one of the UK's slightly more scarce butterflies, the Brown Hairstreak. It wasn't a very hard decision, and plans were made to join the group in the Church carpark at Grafton Flyford in the morning.
A large crowd had developed, and lots of familiar faces started to emerge from the crowd!
Following a walk around the entire south end of this rather appealing woodland, but having seen very little, 2 Purple Hairstreak being the obvious standout highlight, we heard news that the group at the north end had found a couple of Brown Hairstreaks!
A walk to the opposite end of the wood followed, and soon after a rather stunning female BROWN HAIRSTREAK was showing rather beautifully on trackside vegetation, moving between bouts of sunning and egg laying!
A 2nd 'Ash Brownie' was flying about but they were part of only a few Hairstreaks seen by the entire group during the open day. It had been a poor year!
We managed to find a few birds on our jaunter too, and a male Redstart was flitting about in the hedgerows outside the main woodland, as was a male Yellowhammer. A Yellow Wagtail flew over calling.
However, a short walk away, 2 Spotted Flycatchers were feeding on a fenceline, and were showing superbly as the adult would fly in to feed its speckled juvenile.
A nice mixed flock were also moving through the adjacent willows, a Lesser Whitethroat and 2 rather stunning juvenile Willow Warblers showed well as they moved past among the usual Blue and Great Tits.
Having completed the task for the day, I dropped into Grimley CLP on the way home, which was rather quiet, however there were some very nice birds around, 8 Little Egrets were still on show, and a large Wagtail flock included 5 Yellow Wagtails.
A adult Hobby was showing nicely but the highlight of the visit was my first Whinchat which was perched very distantly on fencelines far to the south.
A check of Waggon Wheel pits was needed but again it was rather quiet..
However, a Whinchat showing superbly on the eastern side of the pools certainly made a good highlight. I always enjoy seeing (and moreso finding!) these rather smart birds, and it is always a pleasure to do so!