Field Event Reports

7 July: A visit to Besselsleigh Woods

Silver-washed Fritillariy was one of the hig.hlights

A group of 18 individuals including our leader (Richard Lewington) and two local naturalists, Debbie White and her son Alex, the latter who runs the excellent Appleton Wildlife Diary (, assembled outside the Appleton Community Shop at 10.00am on a fine warm morning. The key purpose of our visit (replacing one cancelled in 2017 due to bad weather) was to visit nearby Besselsleigh Woods in search of butterflies, in particular Purple Emperor and White Admiral.

Our walk took us first pass the Church and then along a path toward the Woods. The edges of the path were overgrown with grasses, wild flowers and brambles, all of which proved to be attractive to butterflies, producing plenty of Whites, Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns and Ringlets. We entered the Woods and soon came to an area that was full of Silver-washed Fritillaries; we watched these for some time as they glided smoothly over the bracken. Alex was delighted as he had seen these the previous evening while on a recce. Here, also a Small Tortoiseshell decided to perch on the hat of one of our members.

In this area there were some towering Oak trees in the edge of the canopy of which Richard spotted a number of Purple Hairstreaks, no more than specks to us amateurs. Purple Hairstreaks were seen again wherever the canopy was thin enough for the oaks to form a domed canopy. Soon after we saw a pair of Speckled Woods seemingly in aerial combat over territory. The group then headed out into a field and scanned the bordering woodland for Purple Emperors and White Admirals, where they had been apparently seen recently. But no sign of them today!

We ventured back into the trees and after a while again popped out into an uncultivated corner of a series of paddocks that was overgrown with ragwort, thistles and nettles. Some of the group spent time photographing the Marbled Whites, Small Skippers, Green Veined Whites, Brimstones, Small Whites, Large Whites, Ringlets, Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers that were numerous in this area. Others decide to seek shade in the corner of the field.

Our trip was virtually over and a somewhat overheated but content group retraced its steps through the Wood and out onto the first path. Our 'friends' from Appleton variously dispersed across the field to their homes, thanks being conveyed in particular to Debbie and Alex for guiding us around the Wood. The AbNats group walked back to the cars, stopping briefly in the Churchyard for a final search. Back at the Road all thanked Richard for an excellent walk, even if we failed to find our primary species; but some 18 species of butterflies and five dragonflies were seen.

Graham Bateman

Species Seen

Gatekeeper, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Marbled White, Small Skipper, Large White, Small White, Silver-washed Fritillary, Comma, Green-veined White, Speckled Wood, Purple Hairstreak, Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, Painted Lady, Common Blue, Red Admiral, Holly Blue.
Common Darter, Brown Hawker, Ruddy Darter, Black-tailed Skimmer, Emperor Dragonfly.
Raven, Coal Tit, Buzzard, Wren.


Richard Lewington, Graham Bateman, Michael Bloom, David Hastings, Tony Rayner, Tony Vincent, Mike Chown, Dorothy Sowerby, Victoria Kozlova and daughter, Hugh Summers, Nigel and Caroline Gregory.
Debbie White, Alex White, Anna Yalcin, Kayhan Yalci (Appleton), Jo Cartmell