Butterfly Conservation - saving butterflies, moths and their habitats
Butterfly Conservation
saving butterflies, moths and their habitats
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News for Tues 31 Mar: Lots of butterflies using the newly opened up rides at Flatropers Wood, Beckley. At least 6 Brimstone, 5 Peacock, 1 Comma and 1 Red Admiral. There were also 2 Orange Underwing basking on the ground. (Alice Parfitt)

What to look for in April

  • Butterflies: The warm weather at the end of March brought out all five species that overwinter as adults (Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Red Admiral and Comma) plus some emerging Small Whites, some very early Large Whites, early Holly Blues, Orange-tips and Speckled Woods and a ridiculously early Grizzled Skipper. Now in April watch for the main spring emergence of this latter group of species plus our first sightings of (with last year's first date in brackets) Green-veined White (16 April), Dingy Skipper (22 April), Small Copper (26 April) and Green Hairstreak (26 April).
  • Moths: The numbers of moths attracted to light traps increases slowly. Perhaps the most abundant and widespread should be the Hebrew Character.


Tuesday 31 March 2009

Kingston near Lewes TQ3917 0859. 1 m Orange-tip, 2 Peacocks, 1 Small White (John Holloway)

Today our first Small White of the year called into our Worthing garden. (John & Shena Maskell)

Decided to take a lunchtime stroll in the South Downs National Park today. In the Pells area of Lewes (TQ41361074) we found Peacock (6), Small Tortoiseshell (1), and Large White (2) (Michael Blencowe & Roger Matthews)

I visited Arlington Reservoir today and had 7 Peacocks, 4 Commas, 1 Brimstone and 3 Red Admirals. (Jacob J Everitt)

2 Commas basking next to each other on the ground at 16.00, TQ 33234 08929, Stanmer woods, Brighton. 1 male Brimstone TQ 42550 09136 Southerham Quarry, East Sussex. 1 Small Tortoiseshell TQ 42550 09136 Southerham Quarry, East Sussex. (Dan Danahar)

It's warmed up again! In my Brighton garden today 2 Commas and 1 Small White. (Caroline Clarke; Small White spotted by Ed Clarke, age almost 10)


In Peacehaven, 2 male Large White plus 2 Commas and 4 Peacocks. No Large Whites were reported to this website in March in 2006, 2007 or 2008, compared with 7 this year. (Adrian Thomas)


1 Brimstone at Norton (TQ470019), 3 Small White (TQ464022, TQ458033, TQ456032), 6 Small Tortoiseshell (TQ468018, TQ460026, 2@ TQ463035, 2@ TQ458034), and 8 Peacock (6@ TQ463035, TQ452030, TQ449024). With records made in five separate 1km squares today, it's no wonder I have an icepack on my knee! (Steven Teale)


Westham, Pevency. TQ6336 0488. 1 Peacock, 2 Small Tortoiseshell. (Michelle Brinkhurst)


News for Mon 30 Mar: In the Downs behind Denton 2 Small Tortoiseshell (TQ463033) & 5 Peacock (TQ463033, TQ465022 & 3@ TQ463034). I also saw my first Garden Tiger ("Woolly Bear") caterpillar of the year. After sunset I set out to the same location to search for Mottled Grey and saw a total of 13, which is an improvement on the two individuals recorded in 2008. I recorded a total of 27 moths (10 species), the highlights being Shoulder Stripe, Early Thorn, and Engrailed (a new addition to the garden list, which now stands at 208 species). (Steven Teale)

News for Mon 30 Mar: 1 male Brimstone SU 85662 21843 Stedham Common, West Sussex. 1 Peacock SU 85405 21939 Stedham Common, West Sussex (Dan Danahar).

News for Mon 30 Mar: In the morning a single Speckled Wood was seen flying in our Worthing garden. (John and Sheena Maskell)

News for Mon 30 Mar: The first Grizzled Skipper of the year seen on the lower slopes of Mill Hill was a great surprise and the first one I have recorded in March. I also recorded my first Small Tortoiseshell of 2009 with two of them visiting the violets in the same location, as well as my first Small White of 2009 in Adur Avenue, north Shoreham. The frequent (15) Peacock were the most plentiful on the day which included four Brimstone mostly on the outskirts of Shoreham and one Comma on a fleeting visit to the Waterworks Road. 24 butterflies of seven species of were recorded in the sunshine including a Red Admiral at the top of Chanctonbury Drive, near Mill Hill. Count: Peacock 15, Brimstone 4, Small Tortoiseshell 2, Grizzled Skipper 1, Small White 1, Red Admiral 1. (Andy Horton)



Monday 30 March 2009


Kingston near Lewes TQ3917 0859. 1 Small White, 1 Brimstone, 1 Peacock, 1 Comma. (Crispin Holloway)


Lindfield (TQ 348 248): This morning I found a still very slightly crumpled, freshly emerged Speckled Wood (below) warming itself in the sunshine on the cover of a bench on our patio and It was a real pleasure to watch it take its first flight a few minutes later. I had managed to grab the camera but not any shoes and so found myself chasing it, camera in hand through the wet grass with only socks on my feet, got a photo though (if a little blurred). Not much on the moth front these past few nights but I had a really good night last Wednesday 25 March with nearly 120 moths in the trap of 16 species including my first Dotted Chestnut (below) (Bob Foreman)

Recorded a Dotted Chestnut here at Wadhurst at 125w MV last night 29/30 March 2009. Also recorded one last autumn so I think the species is well established here now. (Andy Adams)

News for Sun 29 March: I had the opportunity to check up on the Large White chrysalises, which I reported back in December had been found in a new shed near to the site of the wholesale decimation of cabbages etc. in allotments close to mine in Sutton Drove Seaford. At the time the hut-owner had vowed to "squij" them but so far he has not carried out his threat. The one chrysalis I was able to look at quickly seemed in an advanced state but seemed rather small for the butterfly as it appears, though obviously the wings are pumped up on emergence. It has now been there for 3 months, I wonder how much longer before it decides to emerge? So far I have not seen any Whites flying in the allotments, but the Sunday before (March 22nd) a Small Tortoiseshell adorned my own allotment briefly, I wonder if it fancied my patch of nettles? The allotment society unfortunately doesn't... (Bob Brown)


Sunday 29 March 2009

Kingston near Lewes TQ3917 0859 . 1 Orange-tip (m) at 1.50pm (Crispin Holloway)

News for Sat 28 March: Kingston near Lewes TQ3917 0859. 1 Small White (Crispin Holloway)



Tuesday 24 March 2009

The Avenue, Lewes, TQ 41147 10205 . 1 Small White (Crispin Holloway)


Sunday 22 March 2009


Kingston near Lewes TQ3917 0859. 1 Brimstone (m), 1 Peacock, 2 Comma, 1 Small Tortoiseshell nectaring on violets (Crispin Holloway)

In the late afternoon I visited Levin Down where many sheep were grazing the scrub. My only sighting was a Small Tortoiseshell which was active but it did settle twice on bare chalk. (Richard Symonds)

Went for a Mother's Day walk on Ditchling Common Nature Reserve today and saw 4 Commas and 1 Peacock.  (Nick Linazasoro)

Nine species of moth visited the garden last night, which isn't too bad for my garden's standards. They were: Diurnea fagella, Common Plume, March Moth (2), Early Thorn (a new species for the garden list), Small Quaker (2), Common Quaker, Clouded Drab, Hebrew Character (3) and Early Grey (3). A couple of interesting observations jumped out at me when comparing this year's records with March '08: so far this month I have recorded double the number of moths than I saw in the whole of last March. Also, I have seen three times the number of Common Quaker and Hebrew Character than I had by the same week last year, and five times the number of Early Grey. Of course, this is no guarantee of wall-to-wall moths as the year progresses, but it's an exciting indicator that things are looking up! (Steven Teale)


News for Sat 21 Mar: Orange Underwing – at least three today at Long Wood, Northiam (Rother), one of which landed long enough to photograph. One pair dancing together from ground to 12 feet before separating. (Heather Martin)


News for Sat 21 Mar: 3 Commas seen flying fast across the Dorothy Stringer Butterfly Haven, Brighton (TQ 30931 07222). (Dan Danahar)



Saturday 21 March 2009


Kingston near Lewes TQ3917 0859. 1 Brimstone (m), 2 Small White (a mating pair), 2 Peacock, 1 Comma. (Crispin Holloway)



Early Tooth-striped, Wadhurst, 27 Feb (Andy Adams), and 3 photos of Commas, March 2009 (Bob Eade)



The 'G'-marked Comma, Highdown Gardens, 17 Mar (Neil Hulme), and Brimstones at Park Corner Heath, 16 Mar (Bob Eade) and Titmore Lane, 15 Mar (Neil Hulme)



Peacock at Park Corner Heath, 16 Mar (Bob Eade), and the Grayling etching presented to Michael Blencowe, 14 Mar (Neil Hulme)



Of the original 17 Peacocks overwintering at Kingstanding in Ashdown Forest, 7 seem to have flown, 10 are still in situ, including 2 which look like they’re each waiting for the other to leave first. 1 of the 4 overwintering Herald moths seems to have flown so far. (Steve Wheatley)

Another great site for getting your grid references from [read grid ref off from bottom right hand corner of page]: http://wheresthepath.googlepages.com/wheresthepath.htm (Clare Jeffers)

Another great day so decided to have another search for Small Tortoiseshells along the river Between Littlington and Alfriston. On the way to Littlington there were 2 Small Tortoiseshell at High and Over (one below). Then another 3 along the river on the Western bank where enormous quantities of stinging nettles are coming up. Then another Small Tortoiseshell in the field behind my house in N/East Seaford. 6 in total on the walk. Also seen were 4 Comma, 2 Small Whites and 1 Peacock. (Bob Eade).

News for Fri 20 March: Thankyou to the staff of Natural England (Lewes Office) who took part in a special version of my quiz on Friday night at The Crown Inn in Lewes. Seven teams battled for a variety of prizes and a very special (and slightly bizarre) trophy - The Charles Dickens Victory Teapot. But there can be only one winner and it will be The Fluffy Bunnies who will be brewing their tea in a teapot dedicated to one of our greatest authors. Thanks for all your donations to BC (Michael Blencowe)


Friday 20 March 2009


I'm not going to tempt fate and say 'Problem solved' but I seem to have eased the email blockage. My apologies for the breakdown in a service I normally pride myself on. It had to happen just at the point where it was all getting exciting too! Hopefully normal service resumed ready for a beautiful butterfly-full Saturday tomorrow. Adrian 


Spring has definitely sprung at Mill Hill with a minimum of 4 Small Tortoiseshell and 7 Peacock feeding amongst the profusion of violets on the lower slopes of Mill Hill today. (Dave and Pen Green)


Recent news: A few of my 'firsts for the year' in my garden trap in recent nights. These include the March Tubic (Diurnea fagella), Small Quaker and Clouded Drab. Hebrew Character is the dominant species at present. It appears that Agonopterix heracliana (Common Flat-body) and Twin-spotted Quaker are having a good year, as I've seen quite a few more this year than last. I have also had two juicy Large Yellow Underwing caterpillars crawling around the garden in recent nights. Finally, I feel I must defend my suggestion to Bob about the Ruby Tiger caterpillar!!! This is a species that overwinters in Sussex as a fully grown caterpillar and is often seen basking in warm spring sunshine. It is more widepread in southern Sussex (Pratt, 1999). I do hope Bob manages to put a name to his caterpillar! (Steven Teale)


This is how you find your Grid References online.

1) go to: http://www.streetmap.co.uk

2) enter the nearest post code to locate your site of interest

3) use the move arrow tool (bottom right of the page) to accurately determine the location

4) look for and use the "Click here to convert coordinates" at the bottom centre of the page

5) read off LR for coordinates in new dialogue box

(Dan Danahar)


Following Bob Brown's plea for a caterpillar identification: Thanks Steve (for the suggestion of Ruby Tiger). Just checked out these sites for info on the Ruby Tiger. http://www.plantpress.com/wildlife/o322-rubytigermoth.php and http://www.flickr.com/photos/21651868@N07/2871222366/. Both the time and the actual appearance are completely wrong, sorry. My caterpillar was jet black with a shiny body and had spines rather than the long hairs on the photo. (Bob Brown)


News for Thurs 19 Mar: A brief visit to Park Corner Heath resulted in 8 very active Commas, 3 Brimstone and 3 Peacocks. Later in the day another Small Tortoiseshell was on the 7 Sisters Country Park. (Bob Eade).


News for Weds 18 Mar: Decided to walk from Littlington to Alfriston where last year I saw several Small Tortoiseshells. Only saw 1 today which was between the river and Deans Place. Also a Peacock in the village near the church. Then walking back to Seaford over the Downs there was another Small Tortoiseshell on the top of the Downs. Then in a field just behind our house there were 7 Peacocks flying. (Bob Eade).


News for Weds 18 Mar: My wife & I walked from Sainsbury's in Benfield Valley Hove up to the bottom reaches of West Hove

Golf course and (allowing for seeeing a lot of them twice on the way back) counted at least 12 Commas, 4 Peacocks and 4 Small Tortoiseshells. The further reaches of the walk in particular used to be a Small Tortoiseshell stronghold a few years ago and we would only have seen one or two Commas on the whole walk then. It seems that the position is reversed now. (John & Val Heys)


News for Tues 17 March: I haven't been able to get out and make use of this beautiful weather for a few days now, but earlier in the week (Tuesday afternoon) I saw my first (2) Small White of the year on the banks of the Ferring Rife (TQ090020) and an interesting Comma (picture coming soon) at Highdown Gardens (TQ096041). The Latin name of this species (Polygonia c-album) references the letter 'C' marking (the comma) on the underside of the hind wings. In this aberrant specimen the marking is slightly heavier and locally thickened, to form more of a 'G' shape. Hence the scientific name Polygonia c-album ab. g-album. (Neil Hulme)


News for Tues 17 Mar: I saw at least 3 Commas in Gildredge Park Eastbourne. The park is no longer the smart, well-manicured place I remember in the 1960s when I was young, but possibly these butterflies are happier for the decline in park's appearance. (John & Val Heys)


News for Tues 17 Mar: In The Pells area of Lewes (TQ41361074) Small Tortoiseshell (2), Brimstone (1), Comma (2) and Jon saw a Small White outside Tesco (TQ41851055) when he was buying his lunch (Roger Matthews, Michael Blencowe & Jon Curson)


News for Tues 17 Mar: 2 Commas at Bodle Street Green TQ6522215815 and TQ6510716288. (Roy Wells)


News for Tues 17 Mar:  A morning walk around Charleston end of the forest was very quiet until almost back to the car park where a Comma, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell were found. Also 2 fantastic Grass Snakes together. The female of which had to be the biggest British snake I have ever seen. There was then another Small Tortoiseshell near the Golden Galleon. It seems that quite a good number of these butterflies managed to hibernate and with luck will produce much better numbers than last year. (Bob Eade).


News for Tues 17 Mar: Two Commas in a woodland near Broad Oak, flitting about amongst Anemones. (Stuart Cooper)


News for Mon 16 Mar: Two Commas and three Peacocks in Brede High Woods (Stuart Cooper).


News for Mon 16 Mar: One Brindled Beauty adult at TQ 33422 08702, on Ash in Coldean Woods, Brighton. (Dan Danahar)


News for Mon 16 Mar:  A morning visit to Park Corner Heath resulted in 4 Brimstone males , 3 Peacocks along the main ride as well as 5 Commas. Also managed to get photos of an obliging Brimstone and a Peacock. Good to wipe the dust off the old camera!!! (Bob Eade).


News for Mon 16 Mar: Three Commas and a Orange Underwing at Warnham Nature Reserve (Susie Milbank)


News for Sun 15 Mar: A brief walk on a lovely sunny morning here in Worthing from Grand Avenue to George V allotments 1 male Brimstone, 1 Red Admiral, 1 Peacock, 2 Small Tortoiseshells engaged in courtship flight. (Mark Senior)


News for Sun 15 Mar: A Comma in my Seaford garden (Roy Neeve)


News for Sun Mar 15: In my garden in Saltdean, a Peacock sitting in the sun stretching its wings every now and again. I know nothing about butterflies but it was beautiful. Myself, my wife and two neighbours watched it for a good half an hour before it flew off. (Steve Wickens)


News for Sun 15 Mar: 3 male Brimstones in Flatroper's Wood this morning. One under the pylons near the pond, one near the stream and one along the lane towards Beckley. (Stuart Cooper)


News for Sun 15 Mar: Two Small Tortoiseshell, two Peacock, and a Brimstone in Broadbridge Heath (Susie Milbank).


News for Sun 15 Mar: 1 Comma sunning itself on a cardoon leaf in my Eastbourne Garden TQ6355402791 (Roy Wells)


News for Sun 15 Mar: At last, my first butterflies of the year, as I spent the morning gardening in my very warm south-facing garden in the north of the county. Brimstones (3 sightings), one Comma and a pristine Peacock. (Polly Mair, Ashurst Wood - TQ419367)


News for Sun 15 Mar: I had good close views of a Comma enjoying the sunshine in Queens Park, Brighton. I also had a fleeting view of a white (probably Small White) in flight. (Peter Watson)


News for Sun 15 Mar: On a 10km circular ramble fom Haywards Heath to Burgess Hill and back, taking in part of the Kleinwort estate - 2 Brimstones, 1 Red Admiral, 5 Commas, 6 Small Tortoiseshells (including 2 mating pairs) and 6 Peacocks (a magnificent 20 butterflies in all). (Paul Lister)

News for Sun 15 Mar: Within half an hour mid morning a male Large White flitted across our garden, a Comma basked in the sun and then gave chase to a Small Tortoiseshell and two Peacocks found each other and spiralled up high. (Louise Holloway)

News for Sun 15 Mar: A considerable increase in numbers if not with species last night with 7 macros: Oak Beauty (3), March Moth, Early Grey, Hebrew Character (23), Common Quaker (12), Small Quaker (16) and Clouded Drab (11) (John Luck).

News for Sun 15 Mar: At last! My first butterfly sightings of the year appeared in and around my Brighton garden - 3 Commas, 1 Brimstone (male) and 1 Peacock. (Caroline Clarke)

News for Sat 15 Mar: The Brimstone floodgates have opened at Friston Forest with most rides being patrolled by males - especially around Charleston Bottom (TQ5412 0074). 33 were seen on a four hour hike. Also recorded Peacock (18), Comma (5), Red Admiral (2) and Small Tortoiseshell (1) (Michael Blencowe)


News for Sun 15 Mar: In Kingston near Lewes at Grid Reference TQ 3915 0863.  2 or more Brimstone (1 male & 1 female), 1 Small White, 1 Large White!, 1 Comma, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, 2 or more Peacock. (Crispin Holloway)


News for Sun 15 Mar: Comma, Peacock, Small White (having left the greenhouse!) and Brimstone in the garden. Several other Brimstones in and around Broadbridge Heath Cricket Club. (David Bridges)


News for Sat 14 Mar: 3 Small White emerged in my greenhouse in my Broadbridge Heath garden this morning. (David Bridges)



Wednesday 18 March 2009


It appears that some sighting emails (we don't yet know how many) may have been getting lost in cyberspace, which must be very frustrating for people submitting sightings and then not seeing them appear. We are trying out some fixes, so please keep submitting - every record is hugely appreciated. Adrian


Just a thought about Bob Brown's caterpillar (see 17 Mar): could it be a Ruby Tiger? I'm pretty sure I saw one myself the other day. (Steven Teale)

Our first butterfly sightings of the year in East Dean were two male Brimstone on Sunday 15th March. A further two male Brimstone were seen in Horam on Tuesday 17th March. As regards an easy way of finding a grid reference online. When reporting sightings on the SOS website I find it quite easy to locate the exact grid reference using their system. David Jode (and Carole)

1 Small White in my Brighton garden and another flying purposefully across the bowling green next to the London Road, TQ302064, also Brighton. (Caroline Clarke)


Holly Blue in my garden today at Horns Cross in Rother. (David Burrows)


Recent news: Plenty of butterflies are now being seen. On Sunday (15th) I saw on the Downs behind Denton: 3 Brimstone (2 @ TQ463034, TQ466015), 2 Small Tortoiseshell (TQ463033, TQ463026), 3 Comma (TQ462029, TQ463033, TQ463026), and 5 Peacock (2@ TQ463033, TQ463032, TQ463031, TQ463026). On Tuesday lunchtime on the northern slope of Malling Hill, Lewes, I saw 1 Comma (TQ426113) and 3 Peacock (TQ432114, 2@ TQ429111). On Wednesday lunchtime, again on Malling Hill, I saw a single Peacock at TQ430112. Only the Brimstones were very active, the other species either basking in sheltered spots or nectaring on Blackthorn and Cherry blossom. What a joy it is to report some decent numbers at last! (Steven Teale)


News for Mon 16 Mar: Saw a Small White in Wadhurst today at about 1.00pm. At first I thought it was a female Orange-tip but managed to get close enough to see that it was not. Quite surprised to see one so early. (Andy Adams)


News for Sun 15 Mar: Although we have seen an increase in butterfly sightings of late (at last!), today was really the start of the 'Great Awakening'. My first Brimstone of the day was seen from the car in Titnore Lane (TQ 098053), followed by a Peacock at Arundel Cathedral (TQ 015072). I stopped at the Fairmile Bottom LNR and walked through the woodland glades to the NE of the grassland area, soon seeing 4 Peacock, 3 Comma and a Brimstone (SU 992097). Up in the adjacent Rewell Wood (various points within SU 9908 and SU 9909) I saw another 10 Peacock, 5 Comma and 4 Brimstone. One of the latter repeatedly landed and crawled from one newly unfurled violet flower to another, taking his first drink of the year. (Neil Hulme)


News for Sat 14 March: I would like to add my thanks to those below, to all those that attended or helped out at the Spring Social. Karen, Lin, Caroline, Claire (and any others) that helped with the teas raised 41. Polly brought along some Verbena bonariensis cuttings to add 22 to the 'pot', which was further swelled by Joe's raffle takings of 62. A 125 total and a great effort all round. Thanks to Dan and Michael for two great talks, and to John, Arthur and David for showing their beautiful images. A couple of members quite rightly pointed out that some of these deserved a more leisurely viewing - something we can put to rights in future. I presented a limited edition etching of a Grayling (my brother's work) to Michael, in recognition of all his efforts in supplying us with our fantastic Winter Quiz nights. 'Birthday Boy' Bob got the bubbly for services to the website and an all-colour Annual Report, which is heading your way shortly. If the couple that requested grid references from my talk would like to Email or ring me, I will happily oblige (unfortunately it was difficult to access these from disc while the meeting was underway). Wishing you 'all the best' for another (hopefully sunnier) season. (Neil Hulme)



Tuesday 17 March 2009


Many thanks for the grid references many of you are adding to your records - we are currently developing ways of easily harvesting web records for Butterfly Conservation and Sussex Biodiversity Records Centre databases, and those grid references are all important! Has anyone got an easy way of finding grid reference online they'd like to share?


Small White and Comma in the Pavilion Gardens, Brighton this lunchtime TQ312042 (Adrian Thomas)


News for Mon 16 Mar: A squashed Comma was discovered on a path at the Dorothy Stringer High School Nature Reserve, Brighton: TQ 30831 07173 today. Interestingly this specimen had one comma mark on the underwings much smaller than the other. (Dan Danahar)


News for Sun 15 Mar: This morning I saw my first sightings of the year. While travelling to Forestside in a sharp corner of the road (SU76301264) I saw a Red Admiral fly along a hedgerow. Later on I completed a circular walk around the vicinity of Horsley Farm where I encountered further Red Admirals at a footpath leading past the farm (SU76591353) and then just past Drift Road Plantation (SU764145). In the afternoon while travelling on the train I saw from the window a female Brimstone at Fishbourne (SU838050). (Richard Symonds Hayling Island)


News for Sun 15 Mar: Identification needed: Whilst participating in the monthly "Friends of Tidemills" shingle clean-up (Tidemills is between Newhaven and Seaford), taking a break I noticed a little creature crawling over the shingle north of the old railway track away from the grassy banks, and up towards the track and ultimately the sea! It was jet black, about an inch long with shiny black spines and a ruby blackish head which shone. The spines were quite pronounced, not hairy like say the Brown-Tail moth. Can anyone ID what this could have been? It was really too small to get a good photo. I put it back in the grass as I could not see any hope that it could have found anywhere on the shingle before it dried out or was squijjed by a walker or cyclist on the path. (Bob Brown)


News for Sun 15 Mar: I saw a Peacock on nettles basking in the weak afternoon sun at Devils Dyke: TQ266113 (Dan Danahar)


News for Sun 15 Mar: My first Comma, Peacock and Brimstone and a Red Admiral of the year were all seen on the outskirts of Shoreham. A further five Peacock were on Mill Hill. (Andy Horton)


News for Fri 27 Feb: Recorded an Early Tooth-striped  here at Wadhurst. According to Colin Pratt its the earliest Sussex record for 150 years. (Andy Adams)



Monday 16 March 2009

News for Sat 14 Mar: Mothing records from Pagham Harbour for the evening of the 14th March: Twin Spotted Quaker 1, Satellite 1, Powdered Quaker 2, Red Chestnut 2, March Moth 3, Depressaria daucella 5, Small Quaker 6, Clouded Drab 7, Hebrew Character 12 and Common Quaker 35 (Ivan Lang)


Sunday 15 March 2009


2 Commas in Peacehaven, Peacock and Small White at Herstmonceux, the latter nectaring on intoxicating Daphne bholua (Adrian Thomas)


Scarlet Tiger caterpillar, Friston, 14 Mar (Michael Blencowe)



News for Sat 14 Mar: In our small Worthing light trap were just 3 specimens this morning and our first macros of the year: Common Quaker, Early Grey, Emmelina monodactyla. (John & Shena Maskell)


News for Sat 14 Mar: A ridiculously early female Large White unfurling her wings on a neighbour`s South-facing wall, plus a patrolling male Brimstone in the garden. (Dave Harris_

News for Sat 14 Mar: 45 Sussex BC members gathered at the Westmeston Village Hall for our Spring Social. Dr Dan Danahar gave an interesting talk about the creation of a butterfly haven at the Dorothy Stringer School in Brighton. Dan's talk highlighted the effort that he and his pupils have put in to making this mini-reserve and also the rewards they are reaping as plant and invertebrate species move-in to colonise the new chalk downland habitat. His presentation also included an informative piece on sheep wrestling. Joe Morley returned as RaffleMaster and won a bottle of extremely strong Sussex perry while Caroline Clarke walked away with the moth trap voucher (valid for a moth trapping session in the location of her choice in 2009). Sussex BC Chairman Neil Hulme presented Michael Blencowe with a framed piece of Grayling artwork and, for his services to the website and the BC report (coming soon), Bob Foreman received a bottle of champagne. Neil and Michael got everybody in the mood for the year ahead with their talks. Neil highlighted 12 top sites in the county with his 'Where to watch butterflies in Sussex' guide and Michael gave a brief look forward to the coming BC events in 2009. It's going to be a busy year! Thanks to everyone who helped out at the Spring Social.

News for Sat 14 Mar: After receiving a tip-off from BC's Southeast regional officer Dan Hoare that Scarlet Tiger larvae are emerging in Hampshire I optimistically wandered into Friston Forest. Sussex BC have been working with Stuart Sutton of the Forestry Commission to maintain the rides for this moth and Stuart's team have done a great job. After a few minutes searching I found the first Scarlet Tiger caterpillar of the 2009. Over the next few weeks it's work checking the brambles and nettles in your garden for this prickly black and yellow caterpillar - especially if you live on the south coast. Let us know if you find any tigers. (Michael Blencowe)



Saturday 14 March 2009


Clouded Drab, 10 March and Oak Beauty, 11 March, Ringmer (John Luck)



Our trap from last night produced 6 macros including a Satellite perched on the kitchen window at 6pm. Also...Clouded Drab (2), Twin-spotted Quaker (2), Small Quaker, Common Quaker (3) and Hebrew Character (5) (John Luck)



Friday 13 March 2009

On Wednesday 11 Feb at 7:30pm the BBC South programme ‘Inside Out’ showed footage of the Small Tortoiseshell parasite Sturmia bella. The seven minute feature included interviews with Martin Warren , Owen Lewis (Oxford Uni) and Manuel Hinge (the wildlife filmmaker who captured a parasite emerging on camera). It’s a great piece and hopefully the appeal will be successful in recruiting some more help. You can see it here

News for Thurs 12 Mar: A steady rise in numbers last night in my Ringmer trap with 6 macros and 3 micros: Oak Beauty (2), Pale Pinion, Grey Shoulder-knot, Common Quaker (7), Hebrew Character (6) and Twin-spotted Quaker. The last-named being a superb specimen with strong chestnut markings. Micros included a Beautiful Plume (John Luck)


News for Thurs 12 Mar: Friston: Ran the moth trap in Friston between 18:15 and 22:15 on a mild, cloudy evening. Oak Beauty (26), Twin-spotted Quaker (5), Satellite (3), Clouded Drab (6), March Moth (1), Common Quaker (8), Chestnut (2), Red Chestnut (1) (Michael Blencowe)


News for Thurs 12 Mar: Ashdown forest: Oak Beauty (2), Small Brindled Beauty (1) March Moth (3) (Damian Pinguey)


News for Weds 11 Mar: In our Mill Hill trap we had a single Common Quaker, two Small Quaker and a Light Brown Apple Moth. (Dave and Pen Green)


News for Tues 10 Mar: The bright full moon on Tuesday night may have been welcomed by the moths, but it confused a Woodpigeon in the wood above me - it spent most of the night serenading half of Denton! With that and the sound of migrating birds in the dark overhead, winter is beginning to seem a distant memory. A number of moth species are making their first appearances of the year now. New additions in the previous couple of nights include Oak Beauty, Twin-spotted Quaker (a new addition to my garden list), and Early Grey. I have also been recording plenty of Common Quaker and Hebrew Character, a few March Moth, the odd Dotted Border, and some Agonopterix species. (Steven Teale)


Thursday 12 March 2009


If you'd like a sneak preview of the Small Blue survey we hope many of you will help with this year, check out this amazing page that Bob Foreman and Michael Blencowe have put together for us.


Just the 3 species last night in my Ringmer trap with Oak Beauty, Small Quaker (2) and Common Quaker (John Luck)

Finally got round to running the first moth trap of the year at RSPB Pulborough Brooks last night... Oak Beauty 13, Small Quaker 214 (approx!), Common Quaker 19, Dotted Border 1, Clouded Drab 5, March Moth 3, Small Brindled Beauty 5, Yellow Horned 10, Twin-spot Quaker 2, Early Thorn 1, Hebrew Character 2, Early Grey 1, Chestnut 1. (Peter Hughes)

News for Tues 10 Mar: Warmer temperatures yesterday evening tempted 4 species into my Ringmer trap including a new one, Twin-spotted Quaker, plus Clouded Drab, Common Quaker (4) and Hebrew Character (2). 'Drab' was hardly a fitting name for this moth, which was a superb chestnut colour. One interesting identification feature was the white spot close to the wing base, which appears to be present in this colour version of the Clouded Drab as depicted by Lewington in the Waring book although not mentioned in the description....the greyer and paler versions, I imagine, being too dark or light for this to be easily seen. I will be interested to hear if this feature is ever displayed in the very similar Lead-coloured Drab (John Luck).


Wednesday 11 March 2009


News for Tues 10 March: Start of the new year at Pagham Harbour and despite a few traps during February which caught only the odd moth, last night (10th March) was surprisingly productive with Small Quaker 1, Depressaria daucella 1, Oak Beauty 1, Tawny Pinion 1, Powdered Quaker 3, Hebrew Character 5, Common Quaker 28 (Ivan Lang)


Monday 9 March 2009


We are currently investigating better ways to harvest all the wonderful records you send through so that they drop straight into ours and the Sussex Biological Records Centre databases. If you get chance to include a grid reference with your sightings, we'd be grateful while we are in experimenting mode.


Dotted Border, Denton, 23/02/09, darker than usual specimens (Steve Teale)


Three Red Admirals were in basking on Daphne bholua this morning in a brief glimpse of sunshine at Wakehurst Place; my first butterflies of the year and well worth the wait! (Susie Milbank)


Sunday 8 March 2009


Clockwise: Comma, Buchan CP, 25 Feb (Damian Pinguey); Peacock, Stump Bottom, 27 Feb (Steve Teale); March Moth, Ashdown Forest, 25 Feb, (Damian Pinguey); and Park Corner Heath, and Red-green Carpet, 8 Mar (Michael Blencowe)



The lovely sunny weather around West Sussex today encouraged us out of our winter hibernation! We saw no butterflies unfortunately but during our visit to Warnham Nature Reserve near Horsham the bed of heather outside the visitor's centre was full of bumble bees, both huge White-tailed Bumblebees and what I think were slightly smaller Buff-tailed Bumblebees. Both of these sorts of Bumblebees have been visiting the spring flowers in our Midhurst garden all week. (Sophie-May Lewis)


It was a warm - but breezy Spring morning at Park Corner Heath. Bees were buzzing and adders were basking in the sun and the BC Work Party was busy raking, dragging and clearing up the reserve. The new area which links to the adjoining ride looks fantastic and bluebells and violets are alreading pushing through the pine litter. I even saw one of those things, I've forgot what they're called, those bugs with brightly coloured wings - a BUTTERFLY! It feels like years since I last saw one! Back in 2007 my first butterfly of the year was 67 days earlier (a Red Admiral on January 1st) - it certainly has been a long cold winter. This one was a Peacock. Back in the shed the team swapped tall tales about reptiles and amphibians and made some confessions about buried pets. Eagle-eyed Steven Teale spotted a Red-Green Carpet camouflaged on the shed roof which I cleverly identified as a female (only the females of this species overwinter - the males would have all died in the autumn). Many thanks to Dave, Steve, Dave, Steve, Dave, Hilary, John, Roger, Clare and Keith (Michael Blencowe)


My first butterfly seen this year was a Red Admiral induced out of hibernation by the weak sunshine over the grass and the edges of the copse at the top of Chanctonbury Drive, south-east of the bridge over the A27 to Mill Hill, Old Shoreham. (Andy Horton)


News for Sat 7 Mar: Our first moth of the year found in our Worthing light trap this morning (Sat) was a Tortricodes alternella. (John & Shena Maskell)



Saturday 7 March 2009


Single Early Grey and Common Quaker moths managed to ensconce themselves in our moth trap last night. (Dave and Pen Green)



Friday 6 March 2009


My first butterfly of the year, a Small Tortoiseshell at Pevensey Levels. (Roy Wells)



Wednesday 4 March 2009

Early afternoon today, a Peacock flying in our front garden at Kingston near Lewes. We had brilliant sunshine earlier in the morning and again later in afternoon but this one was flying when we had a cold cloudy spell. Come on Spring! (John Holloway)

News for Tuesday 3 Mar: A Red Admiral was spotted in the sunshine yesterday in a garden off Gerald Road just under Seaford Head. Seaford Head at this point faces almost due west! (See Steve Teale's observation yesterday). Another was apparently seen elsewhere in Seaford on the very sunny Saturday just over a week ago. (Bob Brown)

News for Fri 27 Feb: Park Corner Heath, one male Brimstone (and one common lizard) 13 degrees C. (David Bradford)

News for Fri 27 Feb: I saw 1 Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) and 1 Comma (Polygonia c-album) on chalk grassland at TQ 33393 08766, near Stanmer Park, Brighton (Dan Danahar)


Tuesday 3 March 2009


News for Mon 2 Mar: Friston Forest, sunny but nippy breeze: every week I have checked the website with envy for other people’s sightings. Today was my lucky day, at last! Spent about an hour in Friston Forest before my first butterfly sped by. Didn’t stop, but my ‘best guess’ would be a Comma. Hope kindled, I spent another hour wandering to all the ‘sun traps’ I could think of, but nothing, sigh…. Then, not far from the car park, two male Brimstone gold in the sun! (Susan Suleski)


News for Sat 28 Feb and Sun 1 Mar: Over the weekend our trap finally caught our first moths of the year, one each of Pale Brindled Beauty, Small Brindled Beauty, Common Quaker and Winter Shades. Perhaps the most surprising thing however is that this followed a run of 17 blank moth traps since November 08 (and yes, we had remembered to turn on the light). It was very cold on many of these nights so it was not surprising to draw a blank, however over the last few weeks we have run the trap on nights when other people around the county have had good catches. A number of people have suggested this may be due to our proximity to the coast and the lack of any woodland around our house, but hopefully things will start to hot up now. Also, over the weekend, one Small White in our garden. (Dave and Pen Green)


Monday 2 March 2009

Peacock in my Keymer garden this morning, sunning itself on the patio, quickly followed by a Red Admiral nectaring on flowers of my Daphne bholua bushes. A brilliant start to the butterfly year in my garden, with today's visitors following on from the Small Tortoiseshell present on 27 February (Malcolm Le Grys).

A Small Tortoiseshell flew into our Isfield garden today, inspected the impressive show of crocus, found them not to his liking, and departed in short order. (Graham Parris)

News for Fri 27 Feb: A single Peacock was seen basking and making short flights above Stump Bottom near Denton. It emerged as soon as the sun appeared. Incidentally, many overwintering butterflies that I've seen in recent years first appear on east-facing hills. It would be interesting to see if other people observe similar habits. If there is a pattern, could some butterflies choose sites that are warmed by sun earlier in the day? Could they be choosing sheltered situations away from the bulk of our prevailing weather? Could it be both? It would be interesting to read other peoples' observations from other 'hilly' areas. (Steven Teale)

Join the Graffham Downs Trust in a search for Grizzled and Dingy Skippers from mid April through May - no experience necessary!

The GDT maintains a downland area with stunning views adjacent to the South Downs Way, above the village of Graffham (near Petworth and Midhurst) in West Sussex (Grid ref: SU927168). 28 species of downland and woodland butterflies were recorded in 2008 on cleared chalk grassland, scattered scrub and woodland. The walk to the reserve includes a fairly steep ascent and descent which can be deeply rutted (not too difficult if taken at a measured pace) and a flat walk along the crest of the downs, involving a total distance of about 3 miles. Strong footwear with ankle support is recommended. We would welcome hearing from anyone with an interest in butterflies or wildlife, who would enjoy a search particularly for the 'spring skippers' on this lovely downland reserve. For more information contact Dianne Hardcastle on 01798 867446 or Biddy Dimmer on 01798 867454. The 2009 'Save Our Butterflies Week' kicks off with a walk here on Saturday 25th July. (Neil Hulme)


Call for Transect Walkers.

Several areas of prime downland are currently without Transect Walkers. We would like to hear from anyone interested in performing regular surveys at either Wolstonbury Hill or Newtimber Hill. The former site has species including Adonis, Chalkhill, Small and Common Blue, together with Green Hairstreak, Grizzled and Dingy Skipper. The latter site has an important colony of Silver-spotted Skipper and although our Species Champion monitors the hill, additional transect data would be very useful in assisting our understanding of how colonisation of this area proceeds. I counted 30 species (downland and woodland) here over 2 consecutive days last summer! If you are interested please make initial contact with Neil Hulme (01903 233172).



Sunday 1 March 2009


Considering that it's been such a (relatively) cold winter, we seemed to do pretty well in the county for sightings. The Met Office 15-day forecast are predicting a colder snap and then warming up a bit into mid-March, but their seasonal forecast is predicting a cool spring. So moth-ers may get the best of the early action and maybe we won't see March Orange-tips or Speckled Woods, but time will tell!


News for Sat 28 Feb: The first butterfly of the year in our Saltdean garden turned up around lunchtime in the shape of a fast moving Small Tortoiseshell - hopefully a sign of things to come (David West)


News for Fri 27 Feb: Comma and male Brimstone at Buchan Country Park (Damian Pinguey)


News for Fri 27 Feb: Small Tortoiseshell in my Keymer garden this afternoon, on flowers of cyclamen in the warm sunshine. (Malcolm Le Grys).

News for Fri 27 Feb: On a walk in Beckley Woods, a single male Brimstone was flying in the ride newly widened as part of the Rother Woods project. Further up the main track, towards the power lines, I also encountered a pristine Peacock patrolling the track between the conifers, occasionally settling on the warm, sunlit ground. (Stuart Cooper)

News for Sat 21 & Fri 27 Feb: A superb male Brimstone was sighted in our Lewes garden on 21 and also 27 Feb. (Louise)

News for Weds 25 Feb: March Moth in Ashdown Forest (Damian Pinguey)

News for Sat 21 Feb: The first butterfly that I have seen this year was a Peacock in a garden in West St. Leonards. (Su Reece)


Saturday 28 February 2009


Dark Chestnut (23 Feb), Chestnut (19 Feb) and Satellite (25 Feb), all Ashdown Forest (Damian Pinguey)


News for Fri 27 Feb: Over at the Half Moon PH site I found 3 Red Admiral and a possible Peacock. I then had a male Brimstone in the garden and saw 2 Comma nearby at Broadfield Pond. (Vince Massimo)

News for Fri 27 Feb: I spent a very pleasant afternoon with WSCC Ranger John Knight, walking around Binsted Wood. We were looking at the possibilities for improving some areas for woodland butterflies, such as the Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Purple Emperor. In the beautiful, sunny conditions it seemed inevitable that we would see our first butterflies of the year. In a wayleave below some powerlines we watched a pair of Comma perform a courtship dance, before returning to sunbathe on either logs or leaf litter. The fact that the male showed considerable 'wear and tear' seemed irrelevant - the first of the year always provides a special moment. (Neil Hulme and John Knight)

News for Fri 27 Feb: Small White at the University of Sussex campus, Falmer. Brimstone recorded by John Holloway in Kingston, Lewes. (Crispin Holloway)

News for Fri 27 Feb: Male Brimstone in garden at Plaistow, and Comma in wood near Plaistow (Margaret Hibbard)

News for Thurs 26 Feb: On a chilly evening, just the 3 species - Hebrew Character, Common Quaker and Dotted Border (John Luck).

News for Sat 21 Feb: I visited my local Red Admiral roost site just north of the Half Moon PH in Crawley and was rewarded by the sight of 2 Red Admiral basking and jousting in the sunshine. There was also a male Brimstone. Earlier in the week my porch light attracted a Pale Brindled Beauty and a Dotted Border. (Vince Massimo)


Thursday 26 February 2009


News for Mon 23 Feb: Good numbers of Dotted Border (23) and Early Moth (13) were seen 'in the field' tonight (23rd). They certainly seem to be the two dominant species on the wing at present in Denton. Results in the garden trap have shown encouraging signs that the season is now getting well underway, with nine species recorded during the past week. Highlights include a new species for the garden list, Tortricoides alternella (Winter Shade), Spring Usher (10) - a species which seems to be having a decent year, and a single Common Quaker, the first emergent Noctuid of the year for me. (Steven Teale)


News for Sun 22 Feb: I drew up a target list of 8 species and I was delighted to find 4 of them in this morning's trap in Ringmer. These were March Moth (2), Spring Usher, Pale Brindled Beauty and Early Moth (2). Also present were Hebrew Character, Common Quaker and Early Grey plus 2 micros - Winter Shade (Tortricodes alternella) (5) and Amblyptilia acanthadactyla (John Luck).


Below - Beckley Woods superb woodland ride widening for butterflies, and the work party responsible! Sun 22nd (Steve Wheatley)




Monday 23 February 2009


News for Sat 21 Feb: Typical! The sunniest, warmest day of the year so far and I was stuck inside behind closed curtains in charge of a stall at the Sussex Biological Recorders Seminar in Hassocks. Still, it was nice of people to keep coming over and tell me what I was missing. Apparently there was a Peacock on the roof and a Small Tortoiseshell next to the car park. BC were represented on the stage by Dr Dan Hoare who gave an interesting presentation on the conservation work BC are doing across the county to help the Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Michael Blencowe).


News for Sat 21 Feb: 2 Brimstone in Sandpit Wood (Dave Mitchell)


Sunday 22 February 2009


The final Beckley Woods Work Party took place today in Rother. 20 enthusiastic volunteers came to widen a superb woodland path for Grizzled Skippers. Thank you to everyone who came along this winter to carry out this important conservation work. (Steve Wheatley)

Thanks to Carol, Nigel, John and Dave for forming a hastily arranged work party (below) to help with some coppicing on private land this morning. The habitat created looks perfect for some of our rarest butterflies - but will the butterflies will make use of this area in 2009? We'll have to wait and see (Michael Blencowe)


News for Sat 21 Feb: On the edge of Malthouse wood (Rother) I saw an early Comma sunning itself on the ground. So spring has started. (Gordon Jarvis)

News for Sat 21 Feb: Two Brimstones were seen at Leechpool and Owlbeech Woods, Horsham today (Mike and Patricia Hall, per Sam Bayley)


News for Sat 21 Feb: My first butterfly of the year was a Small Tortoiseshell in my Edburton garden.  Also Dotted Border (below) (Tony Wilson)



News for Fri 20 Feb: Last week's Moth meeting and the various exhibits convinced me to come out of hibernation. So I looked in the trap this morning and it was completely empty. Fortunately nearby on the ground I found a Satellite and a Dotted Border plus 2 Tortricoides alternella...all new species for me (John Luck).


News for Weds 18 Feb: Here is a photo of an early Acleris cristana in Etchingham, East Sussex. My moth trap also included a Spring Usher, a March Moth, a Small Brindled Beauty, three Tortricodes alternella, six Pale Brindled Beauties and seven Satellites. (Caroline Moore)




Wednesday 18 February 2009


More from Edburton - by the morning of the 18th the March Moth at the outside light had been joined by a Hebrew Character and a Dotted Border (Tony Wilson)


News for 15 Feb: March Moth and Spring Usher at the Roebuck Hotel in Ashdown Forest on the 16th Feb. (Damian Pinguey)



Tuesday 17 February 2009


Winter has loosened its icy grip for a few nights and I have taken the opportunity to whip the covers off the actinic light and fire it up. Species recorded include Agonopterix heracliana, Early Moth, Spring Usher and Chestnut, the latter two being firsts for the year for me in Denton. (Steven Teale)


My first March Moth of the year in Edburton this evening. Up to 3 Pale-brindled Beauties and 4 Early Moths each night recently. (Tony Wilson)



Monday 16 February 2009



News for 15 Feb: The temperature was forecast to stay above zero for a change last night so I decided to run my first moth trap of 2009. The results were 2 Satellite and 16 Pale Brindled Beauty of which one was the dark form monacharia. In 'A Revised History of the Butterflies and Moths of Sussex' Colin Pratt estimates that this form constitutes 5% of most Pale Brindled Beauty communities. (Michael Blencowe)



Sunday 15 February 2009


For those of you who missed Michael Blencowe's review of 2008 at the AGM last year he will be giving a talk entitled "The Butterflies and Moths of Sussex - a Lepidopterist's Diary" to the Seaford Natural History Society on Tuesday 17th February at 2.15. The meeting is at the Olympic Room, Downs Leisure Centre, Sutton Road Seaford. Non-Seaford Nat. Hist. Soc members £2. Call 01323 890201 for more details.



Saturday 14 February 2009


There were tense scenes in the Royal Oak at Barcombe last night where over 40 members and their friends battled for the Red Admiral Ceramic Milk Churn of Victory - the hallowed prize in the Sussex BC Quiz Night. Eight teams answered six rounds of rather ridiculous questions on topics ranging from chemical warfare to Carry-on movies - all loosely linked to butterflies and moths. Current churn-holders The Camberwell Beauties took an early lead over teams including Eastbourne Birders Supreme, The Brighton Brimstones and Larva Palaver. However, Naomi Forbes team, Molten Larvae commanded the lead until the final round when, from out of nowhere, The Cousin Germans (Steve Wheatley and partner Sarah, Wendy and Keith Alexander and Crispin Holloway) snatched the top prize. There were emotional scenes as Neil Hulme of The Camberwell Beauties reluctantly handed the trophy over to the new winners - who kindly donated the £50 prize money raised back to Butterfly Conservation. Thanks to everyone who attended for making it an enjoyable evening. (Michael Blencowe).

Clockwise from top left: A tearful Neil Hulme presents The Cousin Germans with the Red Admiral Ceramic Milk Churn of Victory, the competing teams, The Eastbourne Birders Supreme, the illustrious quiz-master, The Brighton Brimstones and lastly, Neil and the indisputable truth.



Whilst waiting for the Waxwing to appear near Goring Station, (they didn't!), we watched a Small Tortoiseshell fly rapidly by in the sunshine. Our first butterfly of the year. (Dave and Pen Green)



Friday 13 February 2009


I would like to say a huge "thank you" to Michael Blencowe for all the work he put into providing us with another great BC Winter Quiz Night at Barcombe. Did the luscious 'Camberwell Beauties' hang on to their trophy? You will have to wait for Michael's full report to find out. Many thanks also to Clare Jeffers, who kept 'the scores on the doors' and whose mathematical genius surpassed that of Carol Vorderman - even Michael's bizarre scoring system couldn't throw her. (Neil Hulme)


Red Admiral seen at around mid-day in Ardingly fooled into thinking that spring had arrived because the sun was shining brightly for a few hours. Builders alerted me to the butterfly! (Linda Bridges)



Wednesday 11 February 2009


News for 10 Feb: A Small White was reported from a Mr C Barnard of Findon Valley. It was found in his kitchen during the evening. (per Penny Green)


News for 10 Feb: 18.30: Denton Wood, Newhaven (TQ460026). 2 Dotted Border seen sheltering from the low temperatures (3C). First of the season for this species and my first moths of any kind since 26th Jan! (Steven Teale)


Monday 9 February 2009

Park Corner Heath today: It was an icy start to the day but there were some brave Sussex BC volunteers working hard at Park Corner Heath today. Brash from the previous work party was cleared and a new ride was cut to allow future Fritillaries to move around the reserve. It wasn't long before we were joined by some lovely sunshine and a Raven 'kronking' overhead. Thanks to Bert, Dave, Dave, Nigel, Clare, Roy, Keith, Roger, Bob and Lucas. (Michael Blencowe)

General anorak stuff: There may be the odd sleepy Peacock on the wing but on this weekend last February (2008) there was an explosion of butterfly activity. On the 9th February last year 18 butterflies of 5 species were reported to the website. 5 Brimstone were seen (the first pair being reported on February 8th) along with Comma and Small Tortoiseshell (all yet to make an appearance in 2009). The graph shows that February sightings stopped with the onset of poor weather on 20th - but not before 47 sightings of 6 species had been reported. Looking at the sub zero temperatures and sleet forecast for the coming week February 2009 will need a drastic turnaround if it wants to compete with 2008.



Sunday 8 February 2009


A single Peacock today at 12.20 near Poverty Bottom near Newhaven (TQ462028). Still very sleepy, it flew for short distances in between basking in the sunshine. A very satisfying sighting and my first for the year. (Steven Teale)


News for Sat 7 Feb: Not wanting to be out-anoraked by Mr Thomas & Mr Teale (see 3 & 2 Feb entries), I purchased my own amateur weather station today. I figured out how to get it working just in time to watch the temperature plummet to -2. Despite the sub-zero conditions I recorded 5 moths tonight on my stroll around Friston Forest - the first moths I have seen since January 1st despite regular evening walks around the area. All of them were Early Moths. (Michael Blencowe)



Thursday 5 February 2009

In response to recent queries, some insight from Colin Pratt:

THE WINTER WEATHER AND BUTTERFLIES AND MOTHS: There can be no doubt that the fate of our butterflies and moths is intimately and crucially dependant upon prevailing weather and climate. All of "The Old Boys" who spent a lifetime hunting these insects in Sussex concluded that a traditional winter, such as that currently being enjoyed, was advantageous to the quality and quantity of the lepidoptera emerging during following months. They also deduced that a poor Spring - low temperatures with a higher than average rainfall - was an overriding deleterious influence. (Colin Pratt)

THE MONARCH IN SUSSEX: There have been 85 Monarchs detected in Sussex since the first was seen at Hassocks Gate in 1876. The details of each sighting, a bar chart of numbers versus the year of occurrence, and a distribution map, are shown in "A Revised History of the Butterflies & Moths of Sussex". Larvae have only been found feeding on Silk Weed (Asclepias spp.) in this country, although a whole range of potential foodplants were listed in the Entomologist for 1935 by C. Nicholson. (Colin Pratt)

Tuesday 3 February 2009


Fellow lepidoptera lovers - the time has come to put down your snowballs and put your thinking caps on because, (drum roll) back - by curiously popular demand - it's the Sussex Butterfly Conservation Quiz Night!

Last year seven teams of quizzers gathered to compete for the hallowed trophy - the Red Admiral Ceramic Milk Churn of Victory - with The Camberwell Beauties beating The Eastbourne Birders and Super Pupa amongst others to the title

The questions are all general knowledge so people of various mental capacities are catered for. Come along and find a use for all those worthless facts you've accumulated over the years.

No expert knowledge of butterflies and moths is required - in fact it's a distinct disadvantage!

So why not join a team and see if you'll be lucky on Friday 13 February at the Royal Oak in Barcombe (North of Lewes) http://royaloakbarcombe.co.uk/ . Everyone is welcome.

Bar meals are available and there's plenty of time between rounds for Sussex butterfly and moth gossip.

Round One starts at 8pm sharp. Entry is 1 per person with top prizes to be won.

Contact me if more details are required - Michael Tiberius Blencowe (sussexgrayling@aol.com)


Good to hear that "WW" is clinging on to a precarious existence, presumably with the longer days he/she will be able to feed up more. By the way when in the butterfly lifecycle do the two sexes diverge? Can you "sex" a larva? Presumably DNA could sex even an egg, but do the larvae display any separate gender characteristics?

I was interested in the Monarch butterfly photo, having long harboured hopes of seeing one in the UK, although I have seen and photographed "Monarchs" in Australia and New Zealand just under 20 years ago. I remember as a boy reading L Hugh Newman's description of netting one near the Lizard in Cornwall over 100 years ago, which he believed must have flown the Atlantic. If they are in the Azores now maybe they were then. It would only take a fierce Sou'westerly to blow them up the Channel. How many have been reported from Sussex so far? And is there really no plant here which could support the caterpillars; I thought nasturtiums were the right family. (Bob Brown)


I keep extra-amateurish weather records in Newhaven, so I was interested to read the average temperature in Peacehaven mirrored my own of 3.8C. The coldest night in Denton was on 9th January, when I recorded a low of -6.9C. Despite the low temperatures I did manage to record 7 species of moth during the month, but no butterflies. Will the cold start to the year affect butterfly and moth numbers? I hope not, things are slow enough now and I can't wait for the season to get going! (Steven Teale)



Monday 2 February 2009


I'm a bit of a weather anorak, and have run an amateurish little weather station here in Peacehaven since 2003, so was interested to see if January really was as cold as it felt or whether it was another of those tricks your memory plays. It turns out the average Jan daily low this year was 3.7 degreesC, the coldest of any January in the six years but warmer than the 3.5 degreesC in Feb 03. The average daily high was 6.4 degreesC, the coldest of any month in these six years. The lepidoptera question from this all - is this likely to have any effect on the butterfly and moth year ahead? Responses and crystal-ball-gazing welcome (Adrian Thomas)

News for Sat 31 Jan: Had another check today to see if my little Large White caterpillar was still with us and thankfully it is still well but seemingly hasn't moved from where I last saw it. I gave the plant a little shake and it moved about a centimetre then stopped and didn't move again for the rest of the day. Will Warnham Wrigglie last it to adulthood or is it destined to a chilly end next week? (Sam Bayley)

Saturday 31 January 2009

A name for the Large White caterpillar? I wondered whether Warnham Wrigglie might be more appropriate? No sign at all of any competition from the Seaford allotments! PS Is there anyone in Seaford interested in joining a group looking at bumble-bees? I am in touch with the Bumble-Bee Conservation Society who would like to create a reserve in the area. (Bob Brown)


Friday 30 January 2009


Now we are normally quite strict to keep these pages solely for Sussex butterflies and moths, but given the harshness of the winter, I couldn't resist sharing some photos just received to brighten your viewing. They may n ot be from Sussex but at least they are from a Sussex butterflyer!

We have just spent a week in Madeira and saw a large number of what looked like Wall butterflies, but on checking turned out to be Southern Speckled Woods. Also fairly numerous Monarchs gliding about. Very pleasant weather, 21 degrees and loads of flowers out. Rather different back here now. (Mike Christieson)


Tuesday 27 January 2009

A Red Admiral flying in Friston Forest today (Nigel Kemp)

News for Mon 26 Jan: A Red Admiral was flying around on our Worthing patio late this morning (Shena Maskell)


Monday 26 January 2009

News for Sun 25 Jan: Despite torrential rain, high winds and the official cancellation of the Beckley Woods Work Party, eight determined volunteers from Hastings Conservation Volunteers arrived, keen to get some good conservation work achieved. With waterproofs and high spirits, they spent hours clearing encroaching saplings and scrub. The brilliant result is a significant extension of an important area of Grizzled Skipper habitat. (Steve Wheatley)

News for Thurs 22 Jan: Found this Pale Brindled Beauty at the Roebuck Hotel in Ashdown Forest (Damian Pinguey)

Wednesday 21 January 2009

Having spoken to Sam Bayley and hearing that his Large White caterpillar is still alive and kicking I thought it would be amusing to give it a name!? Any suggestions? My Mum thinks 'January King' and anyone who knows their cabbages will know what she means! (Sophie May Lewis) Being a cabbage novice, I didn't know what Sophie's mum meant, so I Googled and 'January King' is a 'crisp and crunchy' variety of cabbage. Don't say we don't educate you here! - Webmaster



Sunday 18 January 2009


The butterfly records are flooding in now ;-)


News for Sat 17 Jan: Red Admiral flying around at 1pm, The Avenue, Lewes. Recorded by Louise Holloway (Crispin Holloway)

News for Sat 17 Jan: In addition to the Brown Hairstreak eggs that are on blackthorn, today I found some eggs on the young Victoria plum tree I have in the back garden too. It will be interesting to see how the caterpillars progress (if they survive that far). (Susie Milbank, Broadbridge Heath)



Saturday 17 January 2009

Here it is, when I bet you'd have thought Sussex might go for a whole calendar month without a single adult butterfly sighting:

One Peacock seen flying along a ride in Abbot's Wood this morning (17/1). regards, Nigel Kemp.

Just an observation on Sam Bayley's report on January 14th: Is it possible that some caterpillars, or possibly the eggs, laid by Large Whites are able to go into a kind of hibernation to possibly avoid extreme weather conditions? Or is it that the caterpillar emergence is triggered by sunlight which might in the odd instance, depending on where the egg is laid, not all happen at the same time? The cabbages etc. on my area of Seaford allotments now seem to be completely devoid of caterpillars of any kind. (Bob Brown)

News for Fri 16 Jan: Moth reports from Rother: Pale Brindled Beauty, Mottled Umber and Spring Usher at the lights of the Doctors surgery in Northiam. (David Burrows)




Wednesday 14 January 2009

Checking my wintering Large White caterpillars in my Warnham garden again today proved rather disappointing as all but one had died, turned black and were half hanging off the undersides of the plant. Interestingly, the one remaining larva was smaller than the other dead ones and had just shed another skin. Hopefully, now that the weather has turned milder this solo feeder will be able to survive. (Sam Bayley)

News for Tues 13 Jan: It was another excellent night for watching Winter Moth . I saw 79 while out dusking this evening, including 3 mating pairs - the first time I have seen the wingless females. The males were very active just after dark along Ranscombe Lane near Glynde, but less active between 20.00 and 21.00 on the Downs behind Denton, under a clear sky with a falling temperature. I also saw a single Early Moth. (Steven Teale)



Sunday 11 January 2009


It was good to see that the Park Corner Heath work party had survived the Christmas 'flu bug and the lowest temperatures for a decade and were back working on the reserve today. The alder buckthorns were covered in ice and the pond was frozen but the team soon warmed up as we continued to clear a corridor between the reserve and the new habitat created in 2008. Hopefully this corridor will provide a crucial link to allow species to expand into the adjoining ride network in 2009. Thanks to Bob, Dave, Dave, John, Bert, Roger, Clare, Keith, Roy, Steve, Ed, Alex, Caroline and Wendy. (Michael Blencowe).



Thursday 8 January 2009


News for Weds 7 Jan: Newhaven. Despite extreme frosts two Large White caterpillars (now silk girdled up under the front soffit) and two Red Admiral caterpillars ( very tightly rolled in ice ravaged, almost leaf-bare nettles ) were very much alive today.



Sunday 4 January 2009


Steve Wheatley has updated the Rother Project pages here


News for Sat 3 Jan: Our first moth of 2009 was, unexpectedly, a Double-striped Pug that we found in our kitchen today (Mill Hill, Shoreham). (Pen and Dave Green).


News for Sat 3 Jan: The bleak midwinter. Strolling 'round Friston with my torch over the past three nights has added the first 2 species of moth to my 2009 list - Winter Moth and Mottled Umber were both recorded on New Years Day. Since then it's been nothing but foxes, owls, rabbits and ice. In the daytime the garden is full of Fieldfare and Redwing feeding on fallen apples. It's prompted me to look back to the website butterfly records from January of 2008. There were 16 butterflies of 4 species reported in January 2008 - the first sightings coming in on January 6th - I wonder if we'll match that this year? Happy New Year to all (Michael Blencowe)



Thursday 1 January 2009


Happy New Year!

It has now become a bit of a tradition for me to go out hunting for new Brown Hairstreak colonies on New Year's Day, by looking for their eggs. This surprisingly satisfying pursuit has resulted in the discovery of good populations at Cissbury Ring and Steyning Rifle Range in 2007 and 2008. We were just about to give up on our 2009 hunt, after thoroughly searching the blackthorn hedges around Tortington Manor near Arundel, when we finally located a single egg. Having stuck another pin in the map we moved on to the Steyning site, where a brief search revealed a very respectable total of 27 ova. (Hannah Sanders and Neil Hulme)

Earlier Sightings

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