Butterfly and dragonfly walks in the East of England

Beautiful butterflies and dazzling dragonflies can be seen in abundance across the East of England in the summer months. So why not see how many species you can spot? The best time to see them is between May and August.

Close up of a Speckled Wood butterfly with wings spread in the sun

Blickling Estate 

The Speckled Wood is a common species found in woodland and scrub where dappled sunlight and areas of lush grass grow in damper areas. This species has spread to colonise East Anglia in recent years, where it's believed to be thriving as a result of a warming climate.

orange and black speckled butterfly on grasses and thistle flowers

Dunstable Downs 

An amazing 31 species of butterfly have been recorded on the Downs and at Sharpenhoe Clappers. Rare species such as the Duke of Burgundy can be seen in early summer, and you might also spot the Small Blue, Chalkhill Blue and Dark Green Fritillary enjoying the variety of wildflowers and unspoilt habitat. To learn more, head to Dunstable Downs for their Butterfly Walk.

A painted ladt butterfly nectaring on a scabious flower

Dunwich Heath 

The Painted Lady flies from the continent each summer to the UK and you might be lucky enough to spot it at Dunwich Heath. After feasting on thistles, their British-born offspring are programmed to return south in the autumn, seeking sunnier climes to continue their lifecycle.

A silver washed fritillary butterfly

Hatfield Forest 

Many species of butterfly can be seen around the grasses and wildflowers of the Forest. They include Speckled Wood, Common Blue, Ringlet, Purple Hairstreak and Small Tortoiseshell. A recent arrival is the beautiful Silver-Washed Fritillary.

the beautiful black and yellow swallowtail butterfly

Horsey Windpump 

Head to Horsey Windpump in early summer for the chance to see Britain’s largest butterfly, the spectacular Swallowtail, seen only on the Norfolk Broads. Keep your eyes peeled to for the endangered Norfolk Hawker dragonfly, another rarity.

A male Purple Hairstreak butterfly

Sheringham Park 

During the day, Purple Hairstreaks seldom stray far from the tops of the trees at Sheringham Park and you'll get a good view from the viewing towers. They only become active during the early evening when they can sometimes be seen performing aerial gymnastics.

Emperor Dragonfly

Wicken Fen 

For dragonfly spotting, Wicken Fen is a must. It’s one of the best places in the country to see them, with more than 20 species breeding there. Look out for the Hairy Dragonfly, Large Red Damselfly and Four-spotted Chaser. While you’re there, why not pop into the Dragonfly Centre to find out more about these colourful creatures?

Butterfly spotting