“This little Fritillary is one of the commonest of our woodland butterflies in the spring and early summer months” – Frohawk, British Butterflies, 1934.
Sadly, this is far from the case today! So, this morning we drove off to Abbots Wood to see one of the few colonies left in the south-east at this mixed woodland site, managed by Forest Enterprise. We were not to be disappointed, seeing plenty of butterflies in flight along a ride and in a sheltered clearing. Occasionally, one or two would take to the trees, pausing for a few moments on an oak leaf before returning to low flight over the ground. Rarely do they seem to have the time to settle long enough for us to have a good look at them.
There were probably as many members of Butterfly Conservation and other butterfly enthusiasts visiting the site today as there are fritillaries to see, judging from the number of people we bumped into during our two hour visit!
Let’s hope that one of the benefits of the South-East Woodlands Project is a return of this once common species to some more woods in Kent and Sussex.
A factsheet is available for the Pearl-Bordered Fritillary from Butterfly Conservation.