Those of you who look out for Nature Group Field Meetings on this website will have seen that I was due to lead one to Prestbury Hill in Gloucestershire on Wednesday 3rd June. Sadly like most events at present it was postponed until 2021 due to Covid-19.
Some background first: Prestbury Hill is a Butterfly Conservation Reserve and consists of two areas of limestone grassland, high on the Cotswold scarp slope, east of Cheltenham. It overlooks Prestbury Park, the home of Cheltenham Racecourse.
Most of the Reserve is unimproved limestone grassland with abundant herb-rich flora and associated wildlife. Its steep slopes and difficult terrain (I can vouch for this!) mean it escaped agricultural intensification. Further information can be found on:
I live reasonably close to the Reserve and so spurred on by the superb weather in May and the easing of the lockdown restrictions, I decided to go ahead and do a solo Field Meeting on the 3rd June. Unbelievably, this was the day when the weather finally broke and so forewarned by the forecast, I went to Prestbury Hill in hot sunshine on Tuesday 2nd. I had also been there twice in the preceding two weeks to do some solo reconnoitres of the site. Here I would like to share some of the images that I took on those three visits.
The images are not of great rarities, although I was pleased to get an image of a slightly tired looking Duke of Burgundy, a butterfly not particularly common on the Reserve. Prestbury Hill is also good for day flying moths, though they can be difficult to photograph – easy to see when they are flying, but very good at disappearing into the long grass!
I will continue to make weekly visits to Prestbury Hill for the immediate future. The Marbled Whites should now be very much in evidence and there are Dark Green Fritillary’s around, but so far I haven’t managed get a good image of one this year. The Reserve also contains Musk Orchids and I would like to try and get some better images than I managed last year, but they are difficult to find at the best of times and this year probably almost impossible due to reduced growth in the very dry conditions in May.
Looking further ahead, I am planning to organise at least one Field Meeting at Prestbury Hill in 2021, probably in late June when there should be a good variety of butterflies, moths and other insects to photograph, plus the illusive Musk Orchids (I was thinking of offering a prize for the first person to find one!).
Duke of Burgundy
Female Scorpion Fly
Mother Shipton Moth
Duncan Locke LRPS