To order your copy send a cheque for £7.30 (£6.00 for the guide and £1.30 for postage and packing) made payable to Hampshire and Isle of Wight Branch Butterfly Conservation, together with your name and postal address to:
Kevin Freeborn, c/o Butterfly Conservation, Unit 2, Bull Pens, Manor Farm, Itchen Stoke, Alresford, Hampshire, SO24 0QT
Copies will also be available for purchase (cash only) from Ashley Whitlock on the branch field trips where he is the walk leader.
Butterfly Walks with
Being the Field Trip co-ordinator for Hampshire and IOW Butterfly Conservation gives me the privilege of meeting many people with a wealth of knowledge on flora and fauna, not just from Hampshire, on my field trips I’ve met people from all walks of life and from far flung places as far as Australia, Hong Kong, Holland, America and Russia.
Years ago I had this idea about producing a book featuring butterfly walks around Hampshire, and the idea sat in the back of my mind for a few years, before it was re-kindled at a birthday party in Winchester for Jenny Mallet who is one of the founding members of Butterfly Conservation in Hampshire.
I casually mentioned the idea to Kevin Freeborn whilst we were queuing for a slice of Birthday cake and from that point the idea was born as Kevin also had the same idea and being a cartographer by trade he was ideally placed to draw the graphics and maps for the book.
Kevin and I met several times, over coffee and cake, at a coffee house in Wickham, which was always something to look forward to; we discussed and drew up a list of about 30 possible walks for the book.
In the spring, summer and autumn of 2015 we embarked on our exciting adventure, armed with a camera (nothing unusual there), we soon got into our stride. Kevin was constantly making notes such as, where gates were located, access points to the sites whilst mapping the routes and listening to my stories about the sites, which I had frequented many times before, including what I had seen and the specialist species we had lost or were losing. Importantly the flora and fauna you can find and see at these sites, which was information which we wanted to include in the publication.
We were very seasoned walkers, and I don’t know how many miles we chalked up on our trips around the different sites. I had to fit these visits in between the Hampshire and IOW Butterfly Conservation field trips which I had drawn up the year before, I guess I must have walked in excess of 200 hundred odd miles in the beautiful Hampshire country side that year. There are 25 wonderful butterfly walks in the book so if we walked approximately 5 miles around each one, then the miles soon added up.
Book Launch day 1st May 2016 Catherington Down
Kevin and myself promo picture
Finding the Argent and Sable Moth is always a truimph at Bentley Wood
Searching for the Brown Hairstreak at Shipton Bellinger
Waiting for the Emperor in Alice
There's a Brown Hairstreak there somewhere! Noar Hill
Fortunately for us the weather was very mild and dry during the three or four months when we visited the sites, which made walking around them that much more interesting and enjoyable. There were several sites Kevin and I hadn’t visited before especially on the Isle of Wight which was exciting in its self.
As Kevin mentioned in the foreword of the book the key to butterfly watching, or any flora and fauna, is having the time and patience and just sitting down and taking it all in, also doing your homework on the area especially specialist species which are usually the target species. Fortunately on field trips, with the aid of many eyes searching up and down the rides or hedgerows we normally come up with the goods and see the target species, or “Ashley’s picks”, as Kevin names them in the book for each site.
However if we don’t see our target species but the weather is good, it all falls into insignificance as the Hampshire countryside just sucks you in with its vast vistas, like Butser Hill, or Beacon Hill close-by. Anywhere in the Meon Valley has that effect, so vast is the landscape it just takes your breath away, every year I find or see something I haven’t seen before.
Visiting woodland can have that effect as well, especially looking for the Purple Emperor, Purple Hairstreak or White Admiral. These are butterflies which are mostly seen in the canopy and very rarely come down to eye level; they are a treat to see in the canopy gaps or on top of the crowns of the mighty oaks, where they frequent. However everyone on a field trip wants to see the mighty Purple Emperor down on the ground and this happens sometimes on field trips where we are especially looking for it, and hopefully everyone goes home happy with what they have seen.
As I write these notes for this web-site, field trips have been put on the back burner for now as the dreaded Covid-19 has stopped group gatherings so we will all have to keep to local sites, or recall our butterfly memories for now.
I have many more sites to visit in the future which could easily result in another walks book, but that’s for the future.
Ashley Whitlock January 2021
This Purple Emperor sent a couple of locals who were running in the ride into a spin as we were all gathered around it to look and take photos. What was said in exchange I cannot print here only to say they went off in a huff......
Searching for Brown Hairstreak eggs in January at Noar Hill
Three Brown Hairstreak eggs on Blackthorn
A freshly emerged female Duke of Burgundy at rest
Steep slopes of Butser Hill ...not for the feint hearted!
Photograph Copyright Jackie Whitlock
Field trips into the New Forest are always popular, especially when we get to the Frohawk Ride where there are normally good counts of butterflies
Looking for the Brown Hairstreak is always a popular field trip
Ashley's Ride in West Wood
Looking for the Duke of Burgundy caterpillar is another popular trip
Duke of Burgundies in Bentley Wood are uncommon but here is a mating pair
Photograph Copyright Jackie Whitlock
Believe me there is a Pearl Bordered Fritillary on the ground there somewhere!