Our Willow Grove at Old Copse hadn't been pollarded (cut at around head height) since we created it (together with Milo and Martha) in January 2015, so this winter we decided it was time to do it again. It was a particularly cold day, and shortly after we started, so did the snow.
The beautiful Purple Emperor butterfly
As adults, purple emperor's main food sources are aphid honeydew and tree sap, though they also come to ground to feed on animal dung and carrion .During July, males congregate on particularly tall 'master trees' awaiting mates. Females either couple up with a male or swoop to the ground as a signal that they have already mated.
Despite a decline in the 20th century, thought to have been caused by widespread large-scale loss and fragmentation of ancient woodland together with the removal and 'tidying-up' of areas of goat willow, which is usually considered non-productive 'scrub', it seems the Purple Emperors may be expanding its range again, even into suburban areas particularly in South -central England which is still their prime territory . Knepp Castle has had enormous success in attracting Purple Emperors due to their rewilding programme, and that isn't far from Old Copse. They favour oak woodland, and though Old Copse has a fair number of oaks, with many regenerating naturally (and protected from deer) there aren't that many tall ones in the vicinity of the Willow Grove, so we hope they might make use of the tall birches instead.