Butterfly Conservation - saving butterflies, moths and their habitats
Butterfly Conservation
saving butterflies, moths and their habitats
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Monday 29 February

I was surprised to see my second species of the year in our central Worthing back garden, when this Comma spent 15 minutes sunbathing on the same Fatsia plant that was visited by a Painted Lady on 6 January. (Neil Hulme)

Saturday 27 February

Today at Roedale Valley Allotments we had the first work party of the year for our BC plot. Besides myself, Nigel Symington came to help. During our work we noticed a bold orange caterpillar, searching online I now believe this to be a Ruby Tiger. If so this would happen to be the second allotment site I'm aware of within Brighton where we have records for this species. I must thank Nigel for the incredible amount of work he put into this session, between us we shifted a vast amount of soil to a nearby plot, as pictured, the result of our work is also shown. I'll be working on the plot during the week, however the following work party scheduled for Sat 12 March will be a continuation of removing the remaining top soil, with the planting of the wildflowers and larval foodplants to be moved to a further date. Please check back as I'll post an updated work party poster for the Sat 12 March session. After I showed Nigel some of the Purple Hairstreak eggs nearby at the dew pond of Wild Park.
On Thursday I continued my search for White-letter Hairstreak eggs, after repeated failure to locate any I was amazed to find a single egg within 5 minutes of searching. Located on a roadside Huntington elm (Ulmus x hollandica 'Vegeta') in Hollingbury, Brighton. The egg was laid at a height of 5'3" from the ground, positioned on the south facing portion of the tree. After finding the egg I moved onto the dew pond area of Wild Park, I went see if any Purple Hairstreak eggs had been laid on the master oak tree. I searched within the same area where I had found the single egg last year, surprisingly I soon found 3 eggs. On this occasion I didn't have my camera, visiting in the spur of the moment. Today (26 Feb) I went out returning to both White-letter Hairstreak and Purple Hairstreak eggs, this time I had my camera. Upon searching the master oak tree at the dew pond of Wild Park, I happened upon 2 more Purple Hairstreak eggs. Laid together at a height of 5'11", I recalled the location of 2 of the eggs from yesterday but couldn't remember where I had seen the 3rd. In total, I might have seen up to 6 Purple Hairstreak eggs across these two days. The other 3 Purple Hairstreak eggs I located today were laid at heights of 6'1", 6'3", and 6'10" from the ground. All of which were positioned on the south-east facing portion of the tree. What a way to start the season, my first two species of the year. (Jamie Burston)

Thursday 25 February

Head Forester at the Stansted Park Foundation, Michael Prior, reports the first Sussex Comma of the year in Stansted Forest. Only the day before a group of us had joined Michael for a look over this beautifully managed site and although we didn't see any butterflies, there was plenty of activity in the water-filled ruts along the forest tracks, where froggy was a-courtin' amongst great clumps of spawn. (Neil Hulme)

Wednesday 24 February

Whilst walking on Ashdown Forest on Wednesday 24th with Bob Eade, we saw a Red Admiral gliding across the heather. The temperature was no higher than 5 degrees, but still and sunny.

Whilst listening to Woodlarks singing, we also saw a melanistic Common Lizard, photos of which can be seen on eastsussexwanderer.blogspot.co.uk. (Nigel Kemp)

During the past week there have been several work parties in West Sussex. It started Saturday at Graffham Down with www.graffhamdowntrust.org.uk where we cleared and burnt trees and scrub to benefit the butterflies. On Tuesday Paul Day and I joined Paul Steven's group at Heyshott Common on behalf of The Sussex Amphibian and Reptile Group where we cleared birch and pine to benefit the reptiles. On Wednesday I joined Paul Day and Garry Phillpot at our weekly Heyshott Escarpment work party. The primroses are blooming and celandines, bluebells and cuckoo flowers are showing well on the bank. (Colin Knight murraydownlandtrust.blogspot.co.uk)

Tuesday 23 February

Here are a couple of snap shots of a Red Admiral on the tail end of my flowering Daphne odora in the Horsham sunshine today. (Patrick Moore)

Saturday 20 February

This Small Tortoiseshell was seen at 1130hrs on 20/02/16 at Dittons Rd, Polegate (Sam)

Wednesday 17 February

We climbed our Sussex version of Everest at Heyshott on Wednesday and burnt lots of high altitude trees. The damp scree slopes were particularly challenging and I'm thinking of taking crampons next week. Paul Day, Garry Philpott and I joined Murray Downland volunteers for the morning workout. (Colin Knight murraydownlandtrust.blogspot.co.uk)

Tuesday 16 February

My first Small Tortoiseshell of the year, seen in Hastings Close, Polegate, East Sussex. at 11.23pm. iI haven't seen a butterfly since Wednesday 13 January. so it was good to see, and it was bright and sunny as well. (Peter Farrant)

After a very heavy frost this morning and an air temp of 8 degrees saw a Peacock sunning itself on the garden fence at 14:20. My first garden butterfly of the year. Lifts the spirits! (Richard Roebuck)

News for Wednesday 10 February

We had 9 volunteers at Heyshott yesterday, 4 from BC and 5 from Murray Downland Trust. Much wood was felled and burnt and the group was tired but satisfied at the end of a fine morning. In additional to the primroses in flower, it was interesting to see Cuckoo Flowers (Lady's Smock) out along the path to Heyshott. (Colin Knight murraydownlandtrust.blogspot.co.uk)

Monday 15 February

Whilst working in woods near Flimwell on Monday I came across an empty cocoon on a birch trunk. All of the Kitten moths make a very similar cocoon but its large size (40mm long) suggests Puss Moth. (Nigel Kemp)

Saturday 13 February

Very surprised to see this Small White fluttering 'round our Brighton bathroom today.
We'll release it in less wet weather in a couple of days, but suffice to say this one will have missed the boat in terms of being too early, sadly. Can't help but wonder if this is climate change in action... (Kelly Westlake)

Sunday 7 February

Many thanks to all seventeen who turned out for the Fritillaries for the Future work party at Rewell Wood, including a contingent from the National Park's Volunteer Ranger Service, led by Simon Mockford. Simon's group has been here several times already this winter, so we were building on firm foundations. Four south-facing scallops have now been cut into the sweet chestnut along the edge of a sunny track, providing top quality habitat for the Pearl-bordered Fritillary. There will be another work party here on Friday 11 March and guided walks (morning and afternoon) to see the Pearls and other spring butterflies on Sunday 1 May and Saturday 7 May (all details on our website soon). After days and weeks and months of endless gloom, it was wonderful to see the sun today. Even better, Paul Day found us a Brimstone, which thankfully marks the beginning of the end of winter. (Neil Hulme)

I joined Neil Hulme's work party yesterday at Rewell Wood, along with Paul Day, Garry Phillpot and other BC members. Paul spotted a male Brimstone flying, and it hid under vegetation where I was able to photograph. Neil later whispered it onto a twig for some daylight photos. We created more clearings for the violets and Pearls beside a main path. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Wednesday 3 February

Today we had glorious views from Heyshott escarpment and primroses were bursting into flower. Six of us cleared an amazing amount of wood from the hillside - job satisfaction! Thanks to Paul Day, Garry Philpott, John Murray, Mike Hadley and Naomi. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com )

Tuesday 2 February

At High and Over today, once the rain had stopper and the sun came out, I checked out the Wall Brown larvae. 5 seen and were all active with the largest now doubled in size since I first found the first 2 in December being now up to 2 cm. in length. Then in the distance I saw a light butterfly flying amongst the bushes. With the binoculars it was very clearly my first male Brimstone of the year!! (Bob Eade)

Thursday 28 January

My first butterfly of the year seen today, we were sitting on the remains of the fallen Beech tree in Rowland wood and were joined by a Red Admiral basking in the sunlight at lunchtime. (Kerry Baldwin)

Our first butterfly of the year was a Red Admiral flying near Piddinghoe Church early this afternoon. (John & Shena Maskell)

Tuesday 26 January

I was not expecting to see a Red Admiral flying around my Seaford bungalow at midday. Probably tempted by the earlier bright sunshine. (Stuart Ridley)

Saturday 23 January

A Peacock was seen on Saturday at the Itford Combe near Beddingham. There is an extensive complex of rabbit warrens there, so I assume it was tempted out of a hole by the warmer temperature, despite the grey weather. It was an unexpected but welcome sight. It was sluggish and posed well for a photograph. This was my first butterfly of 2016 and the earliest record I have made since 2008, when I saw another Peacock on 6th January. (Steven Teale)

Wednesday 20 January

I was rather surprised to see a Red Admiral in St Leonards Forest today, there was frost in the shadows and the puddles were frozen. The sun did however have some warmth. (Patrick Moore)

On Wednesday, Val saw a Red Admiral on the south side of the children's nursery by Portslade Library, Old Shoreham Road, Portslade. Although it was still cold in the shade, as there was no wind it was much warmer in the sheltered sunny spots where she saw the butterfly. (John & Val Heys)

Friday 15 January

I was surprised to see a Painted Lady sunning itself on the wall of a beach hut at Lancing. It appeared to be in quite good condition. (Dan Norris)

A very smart Red Admiral braving the bitter winds at midday along the seafront at Lancing, sunning itself on south-facing wall of the building next to the Lancing Sailing Club. (Malcolm Le Grys)

Thursday 14 January

At a meeting in Fletching church this evening, a pristine Peacock fluttered down from the rafters and came to join us. (Nigel Symington)

Despite the cold night there were still 2 Wall Brown larva showing at High and Over. Both were around 2 inches above ground sitting on blades of grass, one with dew drops on it still. More on bobsbutterflies.blogspot.co.uk (Bob Eade)

Wednesday 13 January

Two butterflies at Ashdown Forest today, our first of the year. One was without doubt a Red Admiral and the other was probably a high flying Peacock but unfortunately it didn't stop!! More at eastsussexwanderer.blogspot.co.uk. (Bob Eade and Nigel Kemp)

1x Painted Lady 11.46am. flew up from drive in Dover Road, Polegate, East Sussex. at first I thought it was a Speckled Wood, (I had my sunglasses on you know) I waited until it settled back on drive. There in front of me was my very earliest ever sighting of this species, I read there was a small influx in December, so it's good to see they're still about. It was quite tatty around the edges and worn looking. It was sunny with a blue sky. Perfick. (Peter Farrant)

Today I joined four others volunteers at the weekly Heyshott escarpment work party: Paul Day, Andy Sutton, Mike Hadley & Nick Sherwin. We cleared a path for our Dukes and Pearls to have a clear flight up to the summit. The windless morning meant we had to use the mechanical blower to get the fire going, the first time we have had to do this for months. New volunteers are always welcome to join our Wednesday morning work parties, please contact me for details. Afterwards I visited Lords Piece and found some Splitgill fungi on a fallen oak branch (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Monday 11 January

Fluttering against my studio window today, a Peacock and a Humming-bird Hawk-moth. Should I let them out? (Pete Varkala)

Sunday 10 January

The forecast for Sunday morning was terrible and as we drove to Park Corner Heath through heavy rain even I was thinking about turning, But when we got to our reserve the rain had stopped and, amazingly, it (mostly) stayed off for the duration of the work party. 19 other people, who seemed much more optimistic than me, attended and helped out by clearing birch, bramble and barcken at the corner of the Park Corner Heath plateau. This week's rain meant that the pond was filled to the brim and there were puddles on the reserve where I've never seen puddles before. Walking around the wood we flushed woodcock and snipe (a first for the reserve?) who were making the most of the soft soil. There was some lepidoptera interest today too in the form of three micromoth species; one of was a Red-letter Flat-body (Agonopterix ocellana) on John's jacket , the other two are a little trickier to identify but one is an Acleris and the other is a species of Caloptilia (probably a Small Red Slender (Caloptilia rufipennella). (The photos aren't great but they were taken on my iPhone - Bob). After the work party we headed off into Rowland Wood for an impromptu fungi foray. Clare has managed to identify some of them and has written about it on her blog misidentifyingfungi.blogspot.co.uk Thanks to everyone who came along today and helped out; Clare, Helen, Keith, Theresa, Nigel, Andrea, Richard, John, Bob, Colin, Rosie, James, Gary, Mark, Bob and Ian and to new volunteers Natasha, Tom and young Oliver. The next work party will be on the second Sunday in February - Valentine's Day. (Michael Blencowe)

Wednesday 6 January

A Painted Lady landed briefly on the Fatsia japonica in my Worthing back garden today, before heading north in a determined manner. Together with the sighting at Halnaker Mill (West Sussex) on 23 December, and others elsewhere in the UK, this suggests that a small influx has occurred over the Christmas and early January period, as last seen at this time of year in 2013. The immigration of Painted Ladies over the festive period has historically been a highly unusual event (it happened in 1987), so such an early repeat performance just confirms that we can increasingly expect the unexpected. (Neil Hulme)

News for Thursday 31 December

The sun was out just for half an hour. My wife Jenny and I both spotted a butterfly outside our breakfast room window, first thinking it looked like a very tatty Red Admiral. We went outside to be sure, and both saw it was in fact a perfect Comma. I am not sure if Commas hibernate, as there are different Spring and Summer forms, but on this date I can't believe it was freshly emerged, so it must have awakened from hibernation. It flew around for a good ten minutes, rested repeatedly to soak up the sun, on our back wall. Then it rained again... and almost ever since !! (David Humphries)

Friday 1 January

It was great to see a mammoth turnout of more than 100 people at the New Year's Day 'Walking the Bounds' event at the Vert Woods Community Woodland. In the future this large area, which lies adjacent to our Park Corner Heath and Rowland Wood reserves, could provide a regionally important home to woodland butterflies, including the spring fritillaries, as it once did during its long history. However, this project is about a lot more than butterflies - it will provide a place for people, for education, and for opportunities. Many thanks to owner Roger, and all those involved in the early stages of this exciting venture. (Neil Hulme)

From our Vancouver Island Correspondent:

Patrick Moore's photo (December 31 posting) of an American Lady on Vancouver Island on August 25 is of great interest. The American Lady is a very rare butterfly indeed on Vancouver Island. Although the three species of lady that occur here can be tricky to identify, there is no room at all for any doubt that Patrick's photos are indeed of an American Lady. A very exciting record, and definitely one for the record books! We'd be interested to know (jtatum at uvic.ca) what other goodies Patrick found. (Jeremy Tatum, Victoria, Vancouver Island)

Earlier Sightings

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