Howe Park Wood and Salcey Forest

by Ian Short

The best place in Milton Keynes is Howe Park Wood, and that’s where I took I and J this Saturday, for a wildlife event run by Milton Keynes Parks Trust. We were greeted by two privet hawk moths.

The Wildlife Trust were there as usual, and Butterfly Conservation. I was glad to see lots of knowledgeable young people representing the Parks Trust. The girls made hats out of bits of grass and hedge. Then the Wildlife Trust rep showed us an elephant hawk moth in the grass.

I nearly trod on it a few minutes before while taking this picture of a large skipper:

IĀ got this shot of a marbled white as we left.

On Sunday we went somewhere even better, to Salcey Forest. This time the girls had their bikes and they cycled round with me jogging next to them. The place was awash with butterflies. I saw (I guess) over a hundred silver-washed fritillaries, here’s one:

Poor photo that, considering how many there were, but then again I had two children with me, one who was out of view cycling 1/4 mile ahead. Many commas too, such as this one:

There were wood whites as well, at the end of their flight season I think. They don’t stick around for photos.

Then a highlight for me, a white admiral!

I have a lovely video of it. They fly beautifully. Saw about five others later on. One launched an attack on J while she was cycling.

Things got even better when I spotted a white-letter hairstreak.

I saw another later too.

The track is 5 miles long, and as we reached the 3.5 mile mark, there on the track was a massive butterfly: a purple emperor! It was licking the ground, for salt perhaps. It wasn’t shy at all; I could have bent down and eaten it.

Peculiar looking at the photos of it afterwards. In some it looks purple, in others it looks black. We saw another shortly afterwards.

What a day and location for butterflies! At the end we climbed the tree top walk. Here we are at the very top.