Butterfly Conservation - saving butterflies, moths and their habitats
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saving butterflies, moths and their habitats
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Friday 27 February 2015

Crawley Down - One Red Admiral on the crocus on a calm sunny afternoon. (Jonathan Ruff)

On Friday morning a Small Tortoiseshell on the steep south facing bank between the far end of Heath Hill Avenue and Norwich Drive, Bevendean. Bright sunshine but only 7C shade temp. (Geoff Stevens)

Wednesday 25 February 2015

Yesterday I joined a work party at Heyshott escarpment on a grey morning. We cleared more wood from the hillside. As we left at midday the sun burst through so I headed off to nearby Iping Common where I enjoyed viewing Dartford Warblers and a Great Grey Shrike. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Tuesday 18 February 2015 contd...

Thanks to the Brighton Conservation who came along to help us on the reserve last Tuesday - their second visit in two weeks. The group toured the reserve helping out with some odd jobs here and there; coppicing, raking and clearing. It was a lovely day - we were out working in out t-shirts. I was half expecting a Brimstone to fly past. The Met Office are saying it could be the sunniest winter on record. Let's hope it continues for our next Sussex BC work party here on March 8th. This will probably be the last work party of the season. Bring your sun-tan lotion. (Michael Blencowe)

Croatia: 10 - 17 June 2014

In 2014 I planned a butterfly holiday to Croatia. Firstly somewhere I hadn't been before and secondly I got the impression that the country was unspoilt and held the prospect of good butterflying. We flew out to Zagreb and picked up a hire car and went to lodgings not far from the World Heritage site and spectacular Plitvice lakes. As soon as I arrived I scampered off to local fields clocking up three common species at dusk including Purple Shot Copper. Clearly the landscape was not intensively farmed, even better locally the landscape was peppered with huge sink holes 30 ft. or more across where wild plants thrived. There appeared to be subsistence farming where even the bottom of sink holes were cultivated like our veg patches and Hay reminiscent of a distant past. Day two was a visit to Plitvice lakes where fish were abundant especially Pike and frogs and the only glimpse of a butterfly was perhaps a Glider briefly passing by. A popular site with Japanese tourists and their wonderful hats.

The next day we found river running through a village. We camped out for the day and were rewarded by the first Large Copper I had ever seen, absolutely spectacular. Also saw White-letter Hairstreak. European Swallowtails and Wood Whites spp. collecting minerals in damp patches next to the river. The river was clear and great for swimming amongst more frogs and a young snake I found trying to catch fish. The following morning we were up early and wandered up a farm track near to our lodgings around 07.00. Ironically the commonest birds seen and heard throughout the trip were Turtle Doves and Nightingales, the odd stork giving a gargantuan contrast. Not long after photographing some early butterflies we came across a Female Brown Bear and two cubs crossing the track in front of us. The cubs stood up on their hind legs looking in curiosity. We grabbed our cameras to take a few pics, as you do. You could hear the twigs breaking on the ground as they walked nearby in the trees. A bit unexpected, we casually retreated, as what seemed to be a good idea, only contemplating afterwards what we had seen. And then the hairs stood up on the back of my neck and quite frankly the Holiday made! All joking apart Bears are 90% vegetarian and tourists only form a small part of their diet. (The last bit is not true! honestly).

On day 3 we drove off west to the coast passing a disused tank and nearby a Brown Hare and fritillaries nectaring on Privet flowers. Part way we stopped in a huge grassland plateau next to a lake. Queen of Spain Fritillaries were busy egg laying close to the water's edge and slightly further inland masses of blues and several species of grizzled skippers where the stiff wind made them impossible to id. Further on a low hill we came across numerous Cardinal Fritillaries, similar to our Silver Washed but much bigger (biggest frits in Europe) and happy to perch on the ground fab, a wonderful first tick. Also clocked up a Large Tortoiseshell, Southern White Admirals, myriads of Black-veined Whites, splendid 10 spot Burnet moths and Fritillaries feeding on a dead frog. This place was alive with butterflies being uncultivated and natural. Further along we were struck by the sheer numbers of Black-veined Whites, so many, that a good number were killed by each passing lorry. Part way along the road we passed a farm entrance and I spotted something White. We spun round and drove back - to an astonishing sight of 100's of male Black-veined Whites collecting minerals from a manure heap accompanied by blues, Grizzled and Marbled Skippers. A sight that was astonishing to say the least. From here we headed out to the coast and The Velebit Mountains. On the coast there wasn't much to mention but did I get a sneaky glimpse of a passing Two-tailed Pasha, I'd like to think so anyway. The Velebit Mountains were a challenge; we set off early one morning on what became a 10hr walk and we found upland meadows alive with butterflies, numerous fritillaries, and every common species to mention. Climbing higher through the rocky paths lots of Graylings spp, and on the high plateaus, Scarce and European Swallowtails, Mallow Skippers and Hairstreaks such as Blue Spot a False Ilex. I even spotted Painted Ladies, Large Walls, Chequered Blue and Bee Hawk-moths on profusion of Viper's Bugloss and bonfire ashes! What few flowers there were had several species nectaring at the same time such as Marbled Whites and Lulworth Skippers. We went to other locations, and saw Large Antlions, Butterfly Antlions and Southern Gatekeepers. The trip was far too short with so much to see, but we clocked up in excess of 66 species of Butterflies (but still baffled and checking). A beautiful country rich in Butterflies, easy to get around, lovely affordable accommodation, great hosts. The odd Bullet hole here and there kept you mindful of the human strife of earlier times and the people are great. Next adventure already booked, but I will miss seeing the wonderful Bears and I hope Croatia will protect them for the future. (Richard Roebuck)

I joined MDT members John, Mike and Andy for a Heyshott work party this morning. The weather stayed fine until we packed up, then the rain started. Another satisfying day on the hill. (Colin Knight /murraydownlandtrust.blogspot.co.uk)

Wednesday 18 February 2015

I saw a Red Admiral this morning flying around a Holm Oak on the Downs above the Royal Eastbourne golf course. My first butterfly of the year! (Chris Hooker)

This morning, whilst admiring the snowdrops in the Open Garden at Pembury, Clayton, it was nice to find a Red Admiral circling around above the garden. (Malcolm Le Grys)

Tuesday 18 February 2015

I spotted my first butterfly of the year today. A Red Admiral landed on bracken by the roadside near Pease Pottage. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

At lunch time today two Red Admirals were observed to be exhibiting territorial behaviour at a site in the vicinity of the New Moon PH, Crawley. The temperature was 9C in sunny conditions. (Vince Massimo)

Sunday 15 February 2015

We saw a Peacock butterfly south of Dell Quay at Fishbourne Creek on Sunday in the midday sun and another probable mid morning at Chichester Marina. (Arthur & Anne Norton)

First Butterfles of the year for me, Red Admiral in the garden then a Small Tortoiseshell. Horsham Station area. (Patrick Moore)

A Red Admiral flew along the beach near Hove Lagoon today (Tony Wilson)

Peacock flying around field off Darp Lane, Laughton Levels this afternoon. (Peter Whitcomb and Josh MacCallum-Stewart)

Wednesday 11 February 2015

On Wednesday I joined another Heyshott Work party with BC volunteers Nigel Symington, Neil Hulme and Garry Philpott with Murray Downland Trust volunteers, John, Mike and Nick. MDT members had spent the past week felling and cutting up a huge tree and we were busy removing it to a massive fire. The Belted Galloways were busy doing their bit for the conservation effort on behalf of the Duke of Burgundies. Our next session will be Thursday February 19th. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Tuesday 10 February 2015

My first butterfly of 2015 at Ashington, a Small Tortoiseshell, sort of knocking on the outside living room window. Yippee. (Richard Roebuck)

On Sunday our Sussex BC volunteers were out working on our reserve in Rowland Wood. The task for the day was to continue cutting back birch to create a new coppice area and we couldn't have picked a better day for it. The sun was out and the skies stayed blue all day. There's something about working in the woods in the winter under blue skies that I just love. The team chopped, sawed and stacked fuelled by Carolla's gingerbread cake and Keith's cheese scones. A big thank you to Mark, Ian, John, Michael, Nigel, Keith, Bob, Alan, Laurie, Gary, Colin, James, Rosie, Teresa and Andrea. Invevitable after I left a Red Admiral put in an appearance. I was back in the woods today (Tuesday) this time working with another team; The Brighton Conservation Volunteers. This group, led by Mike Fearne, visits Rowland Wood each year and we're always grateful for the hard work they do for us. Today was no exception and the team continued the work the BC volunteers started on Sunday. So another big thank you to Sarah, Hugh, Jack, Jez, Nigel, Rob, Ian, Phillip, Richard, Mark, Mike, Mike, Mike and Michael. We'll be back in the wood next Tuesday from 10-3. If you're interested in helping out email me on sussexgrayling@aol.com (Michael Blencowe)

Sunday 8 February 2015

The Small Tortoiseshell which has spent the winter wedged behind a picture on our bedroom wall chose today to awake from hibernation, so we released it outside. This was the only butterfly we saw today despite spending the whole day in the warm sunshine in our garden. (Dave and Pen Green)

A visit to my local hot-spot near the New Moon PH in Crawley produced a Red Admiral at 12.44 which continued to bask for over an hour. After checking previous photos from this site, it has been confirmed to be the same butterfly which I photographed there on 6th December 2014. This shows that it has (so far) successfully survived at a known overwintering site (albeit with some additional water damage to its wings). The air temperature was 8C with a light northerly wind.
Also... Ralph and Jane Pattenden reported a very fresh Red Admiral in their Burgess Hill garden at 13.07. (Vince Massimo)

Wednesday 4 February 2015

Further to Nigel's report from the Heyshott work party, here is an image of 12 Belted Galloway cattle, which had arrived from the National Trust to take over from our shift on the hill. More on the Murray Downland Trust blogspot at murraydownlandtrust.blogspot.co.uk. (Neil Hulme)

On a lovely crisp February morning I joined Colin Knight, Neil Hulme, Garry Philpott and Mark Colvin, together with John Murray, Andy Sutton and Mike Hadley from the Murray Downland Trust, working to clear a scrubby area on Heyshott escarpment. It was encouraging that as we worked, we could see above us a clear area of grassland, which we hope that the area on which we were working will become in just a few years' time. We were treated to a flying display by buzzards and red kites, as well as several low flying gliders. (Nigel Symington)

Monday 2 February 2015

In March 2009 I visited Dhahran in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, which had been our home for 25 years before I retired in 2008. I photographed some Lepidoptera larvae during the visit and finally got round to identifying them this week. I believe they are two instars of the Striped Hawkmoth larva, Hyles livornica, which is endemic to the area. We used to see hawkmoths on the outside lights of our house when we lived there. Initially I thought they were two different species, but I have found photos of larvae of Hyles livornica from different parts of the world showing both forms. The 3 photos were taken on March 13, 2009 and the different form on March 29, possibly indicating a later instar. They were in exactly the same area of desert. Having determined the id of the larvae, I remembered that I had photographed a Hawkmoth 30 years ago in the same area. I dug out the slides, digitised them and found that I have a Striped Hawkmoth. I thought this may interest people as this is also an occasional Sussex species. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Tuesday 27 January 2015

Looks like a few Brimstones out and about already this year but saw this guy fluttering around during some gorse clearance up on Lullington heath on 27th January - lovely sunny day, hence poor photo. (Steve Walker)

A bit of a surprise on Greenway Bank this morning with a Peacock basking in the warm sun. My first butterfly of the year!! (Bob Eade)

Red Admiral 9.30am basking on the south facing side of wooden shed. Present for 30 mins. (John Holloway, Kingston, Lewes)

Friday 23 January 2015

1 Red Admiral fluttering round St Nicholas churchyard in Shoreham this afternoon (Chris Corrigan)

By way of an update from 7th January, the last of the Red Admiral eggs laid on 29th November hatched today (exactly eight weeks as an ova), having endured winds, snow and frost to minus 3.5 last night. The recent gales and cold seems to have done considerable damage to the nettles, however, and it was not possible to find evidence of any earlier hatchings, although hopefully they may be somewhere in the new growth just appearing at the dead stem bases. (Dave Harris)

News for Wednesday 21 January:

On Wednesday I joined Neil Hulme and Garry Philpott at Heyshott again for another bracing morning's work at Heyshott escarpment. The wonderful light and blue sky showed the escarpment at its best. Goldcrests entertained us on the walk down the hill at the end of the session. (Colin Knight murraydownlandtrust.blogspot.co.uk)

Sunday 18 January 2015

The third Sunday in January means that it must be sheep poo collecting day on Bevendean Down in north east Brighton. This is one of our annual rituals to help manage the chalk grassland in Hogtrough Bottom. The 150 or so sheep which were on the Reserve before christmas have eaten off a lot of the taller vegetation leaving a short sward so plenty of light can get to the new growth of many of the chalk loving plant species. After all that eating they did quite a lot of pooing but they helpfully do this mainly in one area. A group of us raked up and collected as much of this as possible and then Garry-the-ranger drove it down the valley in the council truck where we unloaded it onto the compost heaps of the Bevendean Community Garden. Hopefully this all adds to our aim of removing soil nutrients from the chalk grassland areas and adding to the soil nutrients in the community garden vegetable beds. A most enjoyable morning out on the downs, good company, fresh air and exercise and the satisfaction of another Poo Henge. (Tessa Pawsey)

Wednesday 14 January 2015

January 9th and 14th: single Red Admirals seen at Alciston. (Michael Hawkins)

Sussex BC members Neil Hulme, Garry Philpott, Nigel Symington and I joined Murray Downland Trust members at Heyshott Escarpment today. We enjoyed the smoke and toil on a steep slope to create more Duke of Burgundy habitat. On our way down we were delighted to see tiny primroses and one flower emerging on previously cleared ground. Our Wednesday morning work parties welcome new participants -please contact me for details. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Tuesday 13 January 2015

Another quick look for Wall larvae produced a total of 5. Hopefully they all got their heads back deep in the grass before the hail storm that hit us shortly after!! (Bob Eade)

Sunday 11 January 2015

It was a gloriously sunny morning for our Rowland Wood Work Party (aren't they always?) and we were joined by 15 hardy individuals determined to burn off a few Christmas calories. In Michael's absence we switched the focus from Park Corner Heath (which we have been concentrating on all winter) to Rowland Wood and starting the process of bringing an area of relict coppice back into a rotation. We cut a substantial part of the first coupe of a 12-15 year rotation in which the last year of the cycle will see the first cut of the chestnut saplings we planted last winter. Not only will this enrich the woodland with increased light levels giving wild flowers the opportunity to grow in the field layer, it will also ultimately produce a much more complex woodland structure in comparison to the even-aged stands we currently have. Many thanks to all who attended and must surely have burnt off at least one mince pie and brandy butter's worth of calories: Malcolm, Julie, Ian, Mark, John, Alan, Gary, Theresa, Nigel, Keith, Dave, Colin, Andrea, James and Rosie. (Bob Foreman)

My local hot-spot in Crawley produced a Red Admiral basking on the ground at 1pm today. The air temperature in this sheltered location was 8C. (Vince Massimo)

Saturday 10 January 2015

Despite it being very windy with overcast skies a female Brimstone appeared this morning at RSPB Broadwater Warren (TQ554372) and flew around the volunteer work party bonfire It rested for a while on a recently-felled pine branch before taking off and then moving from one sunny spot to another as the weather brightened. (Alan Loweth)

Friday 9 January 2015

Brimstone! Our first butterfly of the year! A male Brimstone in Kingston near Lewes (TQ3915208629) flying in the warm morning sunshine. 12.3C The warmest January day since 2007. (John Holloway & Louise Holloway)

Wednesday 7 January 2015

Overwintering Red Admirals, Newhaven: A lunchtime walk in the garden today gave a sighting of one adult clinging to an ivy - clad concrete wall, and good numbers of both first instar caterpillars and unhatched eggs. Early days yet, but could be an interesting Spring for this species. (Dave Harris)

Tuesday 6 January 2015

My first Wall Brown larvae hunt of the year produced 2 Wall larva and 1 Marbled White larva in the High and Over area. All this in a little over 30 minutes!! (Bob Eade)

Monday 5 January 2015

In order to fight off the winter blues I've been uploading some butterfly images to my new Flickr site at flickr.com/photos/125367544@N02/with/16206821512, recalling happy memories of wonderful, warm days around Sussex and further afield. I'm hoping for many more in 2015, and wish all of our members every success in finding beautiful butterflies in every corner of Sussex this season. (Neil Hulme)

Sunday 4 January 2015

It's that time of year again... except for the occasional Red Admiral or Winter Moth there's really not much doing on the domestic Lepidoptera front, so if you want to brighten up the sightings page with some of the butterfly or moth photos taken on your travels this year, send them to the normal address and I'll get them on the site.

To get things going we've gat another of Dan's fab cartoon strips. ed.

Friday 2 January 2015

It didn't take long for 2015 to get up and running...

At about 12.15pm, on this lovely sunny day, I was sitting on a bench in Mountfield Churchyard, sheltered from the breeze, when a Small Tortoiseshell flew past me. It then landed on the grass near to my feet and enjoyed the warm sunshine. Nice start to 2015! (Robin Harris)

A Red Admiral was seen briefly, basking high on ivy at lunchtime today in the vicinity of the New Moon PH, Crawley.
The temperature was approximately 9C in sunshine with a light wind. This sheltered site, with ivy covered trees is a known overwintering spot for this species and reliable for providing early and late sightings on suitably sunny winter days. (Vince Massimo)

1x Red Admiral seen flying in Dover Road, Polegate. at 12.58pm. Nice and sunny. My first of the year. (Peter Farrant)

Earlier Sightings

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