You will no doubt have noticed that this year appears to have been an exceptionally good for butterflies for many species. The mass invasion of painted ladies has been reported widely and though we don't have anything like the numbers being recorded on the coast there has certainly be an increase. But, it's species like the peacock butterfly that have perhaps given the best spectacle here at Lake Vyrnwy with 16+ individuals several small locations (glades, rides and meadows). They have taken a particular fancy to the late flowering common knapweed which has been in full bloom for the last few weeks.

Male Silver-washed Fritillary by Gavin Chambers

Though it's great to see so many of these commoner, regular species, it was with great excitement that we recorded a species on the reserve for the first time since 1990. While enjoying the many butterflies on the common knapweed, a large flash of orange flew past and landed on some bramble. Immediate assumption was dark-green fritillary as these are seen annually, however there was something not quite right about the shape and patterning. A quick photo and a look in a butterfly guide revealed our suspicions to be correct, a stunning male silver-washed fritillary! Follow-up visits found there to be 2 males and a female present, so hopefully signs they have bred or will from now on. Other butterfly species seen on the reserve recently includes comma, red admiral, small skipper, large skipper, common blue, meadow brown, ringlet and green-veined white.

Bee orchid at Lake Vyrnwy by Gavin Chambers

Earlier in the year we had another interesting butterfly record that hasn't been recorded in the area since 2005. An intricately marked wall butterfly that enjoys basking in the sunshine on rock and bare ground that is frequently seen in more coastal locations. Then, within half an hour of seeing that a magnificent bee orchid was spotted nearby that hasn't been recorded on the reserve for decades.

Wall butterfly by Gavin Chambers

Something that is more expected on an annual basis is the congregation of swallows and house martins over the dam as they prepare for their long migration south to Africa. A grey drizzly morning was the day of choice this year for them to line up on the wires outside the office and catch flies over the dam and trees. So far this year it has been a one off occasion but there may be more days to come as birds from further north start moving through the valley. This also attracted the attention of hobbies as they have the acrobatic skills to be able to catch swallows and martins in mid-air, so keep an eye out for these sleek, long-winged falcons when visiting the reserve.

Swallows and house martins gathering by Gavin Chambers

Gavin Chambers, Warden

Previous Blog: A Clear Success