The Swallowtails of How Hill. By Emily Leonard

This is not Valley news but I hope you find it interesting.
As most of you know, I have the pleasure of working on The Broads, and have seen
an array of wildlife sightings over the last year. I’ve seen Cranes, Bearded Tits, Whooper Swans, Pink- Footed Geese, as well as Marsh Harriers to name a few; all up close and personal.
During lockdown, when the Broads was practically empty, I had the privilege of still working. I spent
most of the time at the How Hill Trust, Ludham, where Swallowtail butterflies can be seen regularly.
I had only seen 2 glimpses of these wonderful butterflies in previous years, so was hoping I would be
lucky enough to see one properly up close. Well, all I can say is How Hill was the place to see
Swallowtail butterflies this year. They have had a very good year, I believe.
I kept a record of each sighting and have collated the data together;
At How Hill (mostly the gardens near Toad Hole Cottage or the meadow next to the Boatshed), I
managed to have 27 sightings over 17 days (various dates between 26th May and 24th July)
On one particular day I had 6 sightings while working there, they would fly so close to you that it would
nearly fly into you!
On the 24th June, I had 3 feeding on the thistles in the meadow, they are unmistakable butterflies and
are quite big too.
I would point them out to the members of the public (when they were allowed back again), as many of
them had come specially for the Swallowtails and 9 times out of 10 they saw one.
I have also seen some at Martham Broad as well, where I had 3 flying together near the path from West
As the season was starting to finish, I started looking for caterpillars on the Milk Parsley, as this is what
they feed on. There is a lot of this on the Nature Trail at How Hill and we found a bright caterpillar on
one; again, we managed to show some children as they walked around with their parents, to which they
were amazed.
Below are some photos that I have taken of the Swallowtails and the caterpillars too; at work we are
very nature orientated so if a Swallowtail flies past we will stand and watch it as it is classed as a rarity
(even though this article says otherwise!).
My sightings are being reported to the Norfolk Butterfly Conservation group so they can update their
records too.
I believe the Butterflies may have finished now as it’s quite late in the season (sometimes they can have
a second brood in August but I haven’t seen any yet). I don’t know whether having a lockdown and less
disturbance helped them or if it was just a good year. I hope that next year is just as successful.
I hope in time they will spread over to the valley as the marshes seem a suitable habitat, maybe we just
need some more milk parsley.

Credit to Emily Leonard

Credit to Emily Leonard


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