I have been going into Abney for a very long time now and this is the first time I have seen this butterfly. Talking to Tony (local expert) there is a thriving community of White-letter Hairstreaks in Abney and they are just emerging. The books say they are on the wing in July and August, although they have been emerging a bit on the early side of this on other relatively local areas this year.
The caterpillars live on elms, whych elms and common elms, and there are some elms in Abney. There used to be more, but Dutch Elm disease has caused the downfall of most mature elms. Most of the remaining trees are mainly suckers that have regenerated from the roots and they don’t really get to a large enough size to interest the butterfly. The few larger trees that are remaining are therefore very important.
Today a lone individual came down from the top of an elm to feed on privet and bramble flowers, and to spend time in the debris at the path edge looking for salts. They also feed on honeydew produced by aphids, which is a solution containing sugars etc. This is vital as a source of water in Abney, as there is no open water to drink from.