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Friday 31 August 2012

Female Brown Hairstreak basking on native species garden hedge. Also seen walking, apparently backwards, down blackthorn stalk in the top of the hedge. North edge of Lindfield, TQ350260. (Terry Oliver)

We visited Steyning Round Hill, Steyning Rifle Range and made a tour of the town's buddleias later in the day on Friday 31st August. Under beautiful blue skies but with a somewhat blustery wind we located the following: Large White 1; Small White 1; Brimstone 10; Common Blue 3; Holly Blue 1; Brown Argus 1; Red Addie 28; Painted Laddie 2; Peacock 1; Small Tortoiseshell 18; Wall Brown 1; Speckled Wood 15; Meadow Brown 13; Small Heath 1.
We were truly amazed at the high numbers of Small Torts on show round the town. Does this represent a change in their fortunes or a newfound attempt at a shopping experience? What are observations elsewhere in the County for this long-suffering species?
We considered the Wall the premier day's sighting having seen Brown Hairstreaks further afield in recent days. (Tom Dunbar and Alan Wingrove)

I glanced out of my window at work in Littlehampton (Riverside Ind. Estate next to the river Arun), and was astonished to see a single Brown Hairstreak flitting in and out of nettles. I managed to get a couple of shots of her before she flew into the bushes and out of sight. (Celia Curtis)

Thursday 30 August 2012

Keith Alexander's "Holiday Square" report from Hooe Common: here

This afternoon, while monitoring changes in the habitat at Washington Chalk Pits near Chanctonbury Ring, I spotted this very odd looking Meadow Brown ab. cinerea. Over the years I've seen many 'pathological' specimens where patches of one or more wings appear bleached, but never anything quite so extreme as this ghostly example. I recall that Sam Bayley found a male specimen of ab. cinerea (mine being female) at Warnham in July (10 July - near bottom of this page). (Neil Hulme)

Despite the weather of sunny intervals and sometimes very thick clouds managed to find plenty of interest along Newmarket Bottom and Castle Hill. Meadow Browns were everywhere and plenty of Blues of various sorts also flying including a fresh mating pair of Adonis. A huge Great Green Bush-cricket also put in an appearance and all along the walk Autumn-lady's Tresses were found. Even escaped the heavy showers!! (Bob Eade and Pete Varnham)

This morning it was too cool and windy for Brown Hairstreaks at Steyning but I saw some fresh Red Admirals, a Wall, a female Brimstone and a Holly Blue which did a fly-by while I was photographing a Red Admiral. On the way home I called at Poling to fill in a blank tetrad on the Sussex Butterfly Atlas. I counted 2 Small Whites, 2 Speckled Woods and on a buddleia 4 Red Admirals and a Small Tortoiseshell. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

The month draws towards it end with the first chill of autumn in the morning. I made a detour passage trip up the Pixie Path around 4:00 pm and I would have been surprised to see anything of note in unpromising conditions. However, I was fortunate see a handful of Meadow Brown Butterflies and half a dozen male Common Blues on the western edge of Frampton's Field, Old Shoreham. I was surprised to see a male Adonis Blue on the Mill Hill Cutting (SE), the first time I have seen this butterfly inside the Shoreham town boundaries. (Andy Horton, Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List)

News from elsewhere: I know it doesn't count but I saw several Monarch butterflies on a recent trip to New York city. There was a fabulous (very English-looking) garden near the ferry terminal for the Statue of Liberty and several individuals were nectaring on the plants there. Great to see. The Monarch has always featured on the many British butterfly charts I've owned over the years. It's there in the corner looking large and incongruent. On a trip to the Isles of Scilly a few years ago there was great excitement when one was spotted on Tresco while I was there on my hols - of course it made itself scarce the minute I set foot on the island. Hey-ho! (Caroline Clarke)

Wednesday 29 August 2012

News for Tuesday 28 August: On Tuesday I did the transect at Malling Down. Adonis females are probably at their peak, Small Heaths final generation of the year is building and second generation of Small Coppers apears to have fizzled but their third generation will be out soon.
With the slightly less favourable weather and the season past its peak, many species are in lower abundance than the previous week (previous weeks transect totals in brackets).
Silver-spotted Skipper 13 (36).
Small White 1 (2).
Small Copper 1 (3).
Brown Argus 3 (13).
Common Blue 26 (54) male & 6 (8) female.
Chalkhill Blue 2 (22) male & 0 (1) female.
Adonis Blue 124 (197) male & 35 (13) female.
Holly Blue 1.
Red Admiral 3.
Wall Brown 1 (11).
Gate Keeper 4 (10).
Meadow Brown 334 (539).
Small Heath 17 (12).
At Malling Down I saw two Elder bushes with blooms and ripe berries! I don't think I have ever seen this before  berries and blooms together. Elder blossom in the spring was almost 4 weeks early, following the hot March and dry start to the year (Elder blooms were out at the same time as May blossom). I reckon the wet April, May & June enabled some bushes to put on extra growth, then with the warm conditions in mid July into August enabled some to bloom. What do you think? Be interesting to see if the blooms produce any late fruits and see what these bushes do next June, when they would normally bloom.
I later took a quick look around Southerham, Bible Bottom and Caburn Bottom and recorded Adonis and Silver-spotted Skipper in all theses areas  bit of a windy day. (Crispin Holloway)

To add to Crispin's observation of the flowering Elder, I have a Rowan, Sorbus aucuparia in the garden that is blooming again. The berries have already been eaten by blackbirds. ed.

More news for Tuesday 28 August: My daughter Sarah came with me to one of my transects at Bevendean yesterday (Tuesday) and took this picture of a Brown Argus. I like it as it shows the distinguishing dot pattern on the underside of the forewing. (Geoff Stevens)

Some more news for Tuesday 28 August: My father, Roy Symonds visited Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve (SU824098) on 28th August. The weather was sunny with some overcast periods, temperature of 19C, the following were observed: Small White (4), Meadow Brown (46), Small Heath (3), Common Blue (1) and Red Admiral (1). (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Dan Danahar's update from Loose Bottom: here

After spending time hanging around the major roads of Sussex we headed to a remote 2km square on the Downs today to fill in a few blanks for the atlas. TQ5696 near Beachy Head doesn't have any roads in it all, so we parked by the side of the road at Horseshoe Plantation and walked in. There is some nice habitat in this square and, if it hadn't been so breezy I can imagine we would have seen more. We were able to add some more Walls for the atlas as well as a good supporting cast of species. Star of the show was a Silver-spotted Skipper. After a pleasant downland walk we returned to the car to find that we had been given a 60 parking ticket. (Michael & Clare Blencowe)

I took this photo yesterday of a Jersey Tiger in my garden in East Dean. Today is the best day so far this year for Red Admirals on my buddleia! (Jenny Pate)

This morning I did my Mill Hill transect and was delighted to see a Painted Lady and a mating pair of Adonis Blues. Other transect results: Adonis Blue 201, female Brimstone 1, Meadow Brown 265, Peacock 1, Red Admiral 3, Small Heath 12, Small Tortoiseshell 1, Small White 1, Speckled Wood 1. I then visited Steyning Downland and met 8 other enthusiasts at the reserve where I found a Brown Hairstreak in reasonable condition. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Today I went to Steyning Rifle Range to have a second attempt at seeing Brown Hairstreaks. Along with about 6 other enthusiasts, we waited for the clouds to clear and the hairstreaks to appear. Finally, after about 2 hours, one female in good condition was spotted and several of us got a few shots. Thanks to Colin Knight for initially finding it, and then locating it again after it had led us all a merry dance around the field outside the fenced-off area! (Andy Wilson)

I was sitting in a friend's garden in Hassocks today and this Dark Dagger (Acronicta tridens) caterpillar walked onto the bench I was sitting on. I had to snap a few shots of it before it walked off. (Dan Danahar)

Just to say that hopefully there are a few more Small Tortoiseshells to add to our local count for next year. My son Theo found a web of young caterpillars in Singleton last month and although we lost some 75 percent to the dreaded parasitic fly called Sturmia bella, 19 have happily survived to the chrysalis stage. (Josse Davis)

News for Sunday 26 August: For the past few days we've been trapped in a dark, confined space, wearing rubber masks and sweating a lot. No, we haven't been to one of Neil Hulme's parties, we've been removing loft insulation from the roof of the house. After this rather arduous task we were thankful for a rest so when I saw an area named 'Rest & Be Thankful' marked on the map (TQ2307) I knew it was the place for us. Keeping with this week's road recording theme we parked just under the A27 at Mile Oak Farm and headed at first for some open access land at Hazelholt Bottom (TQ2308). I didn't know what to expect but when we arrived we were in for a treat. This area was incredible! There were a number of enclosed 'glades' on the north-facing bank of this area - each of them alive with butterflies. There were colonies of Adonis Blue and Chalkhill Blue with plentiful Brown Argus, Red Admiral, Small Heath and Wall. There was even a late Dark Green Fritillary knocking about. Finding little 'hot-spots' like this is exactly why I love visiting new areas. On the top of Hazelholt Bottom the habitat looked perfect for Silver-spotted Skipper and we tried to find some for Crispin but, like nearby Mill Hill, this species hasn't quite made it here yet. We returned via the roof of Southwick Tunnel. Each time I've driven through the tunnel I've always wondered what the habitat was like on the top. It's a great site but the wind was blowing over the ridge and butterflies were taking shelter. We managed to add a few Wall to the atlas though. Overall a fantastic walk - and the farm shop at Mile Oak Farm sells great pies too. (Michael & Clare Blencowe)

Monday 27 August 2012

Today, on a walk up into the downs above Alciston, we saw Small White, Meadow Browns, Common Blue and a very tatty Wall. However, the unexpected delight of the visit was the discovery of a colony of freshly emerged chocolate and vanilla coloured Speckled Woods, at least ten, all feeding and sun bathing on a blackberry bush (TQ498049).
A later walk into some out of the way pristine chalk grassland west of Alfriston (TQ510028) revealed an unexpected Adonis Blue colony. (Dan Danahar)

Sunday 26 August 2012

Dan Danahar's report from Loose Bottom: here
(photos below)

26 Red Admirals and 7 Small Tortoiseshells on Buddleia in our garden. 1 Painted Lady on Fleabane in our local wild meadow. (Derek Lee)

Steyning Rifle Range is still producing the goods and during my visit today Brown Hairstreaks continued to entertain the visitors. One female stayed around for more than two hours, retiring to the trees during spells of dull weather and resting low down between spells of egg laying. It's encouraging to see so many being laid on the carefully managed Prunus in and around the reserve area. By the time I left at 2.45 pm a total of 3 females had been spotted, although I've no doubt others would have been busy elsewhere around the site. (Neil Hulme)

A large group of butterfly enthusiasts congregated at Steyning Downland on Sunday morning and gathered round one Brown Hairstreak which was rather worn. Another was later seen by Paul. On the way out I looked for my Comma caterpillar and instead found a pupa. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

TQ0416D by entrance to West Mead Hide. 1 female Brown Hairstreak which posed for about 5 minutes for a series of close-up photos by Dan O'Kelly.
Also in TQ0416D were 2 Gatekeepers, 15 Meadow Browns, 2 Common Blues and 2 Red Admirals.
In TQ0416B I saw 7 Meadow Browns, 4 Speckled Woods, 1 Holly Blue, 2 Red Admirals and 4 Small Whites. I spent about 25 minutes watching the master Ash for Brown Hairstreaks without success but someone else reported success there earlier.
23/08/2012: TQ2636B - 3 Speckled Woods.
18/08/2012: TQ2838C - 4 Small Whites, 5 Meadow Browns, 5 Speckled Woods.
TQ2838D - 2 Meadow Browns, 2 Speckled Woods.
(Andrew Guest)

News for Friday 24 August: As has been mentioned in recent reports by Colin Knight and Andy Horton, Mill Hill is putting on a great end-of-season show. Today, In bright conditions at midday, there were large numbers of Adonis Blues and Meadow Browns on the lower slopes. Lots of Common Blues and a few Wall Browns were seen higher up on the top meadows. Other species seen were Chalkhill Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Brimstone, Red Admiral, Gatekeeper, Small Heath, Speckled Wood and Small White. (Paul Cox)

More news for Friday 24 August: I returned to Steyning this morning and was joined by Trevor from East Sussex and Steve & Maggie. At 12:30 I had my first sighting of a female Brown Hairstreak which although complete had scales missing. She flew off and I found another nearby in pristine condition and for the next 30 minutes we photographed her. Two other enthusiasts arrived just in time to take some photos before she flew to the tree tops as the predicted wet weather closed in. A very satisfying morning. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Recent news :Seen at High & Over, Seaford, TQ511009 23/24 August: Many Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown, and Common Blue. 2 Brown Argus, and 2 Silver-spotted Skipper (a new butterfly for me). Small White and 2 Red Admiral.
I thought I'd found a rare species of Meadow Bown with red spots! But I think it's some kind of mite. I later saw a blue with a red spot. (Mike Kerry)

News for Thursday 23 August 2012: Here are some more images of the stunning Brown Hairstreaks of Steyning, 7 of which gave a great deal of pleasure to the large crowd of enthusiasts who collected here for the annual spectacular. Although it couldn't match the hairstreaks for beauty, I was surprised to see a late and rather tired looking Large Skipper. More at http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/phpBB/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=4065&start=820 (Neil Hulme)

News for Thursday 23 August: I had the day off today and luckily my neighbour's faulty burgular alarm woke me up before 7am giving me the opportunity to plan a butterfly recording expedition. The forecast was good - blimey, the number of sunny days in 2012 must be almost in double figures now - so we headed out onto the Downs and met up with Crispin Holloway. Crispin has a habitat map of the potential areas where Silver-spotted Skipper may be found and a valley to the south of remote Ashcombe Bottom has never been explored for this species before. We started the walk looking for Adonis Blue and, for the second time this week, I found myself wandering around a roadside embankment. Here, next to the busy A27 between Falmer and Lewes we discovered a busy colony of Adonis Blues. We headed over the Downs recording as we went. An interesting discovery was of a freshly emerged Red Admiral - the sunlight reflecting on the underside of its wings highlighted the intricate design. It was so fresh that there was a pool of blood-red meconium - pupal fluid - below it. We eventually made it to Ashcoombe Bottom and located Crispin's unchartered bank. It wasn't too long before we found Silver-spotted Skipers - over 30 were seen. This area is fantastic for wildlife and butterflies - one of those 2km squares which has a mix of downland species as well as Purple Emperor and White Admiral - well worth the hike. We headed back over the downs recording a few Wall en route. (Michael & Clare Blencowe & Crispin Holloway)

More news for Thursday 23 August: >Nice day at Seaford Head today. 8 Wall, 1 Green Carpet, 20+ Common Blue, 7 Small Heath and 4 Small Tortoiseshell. We were also very pleased to see a Clouded Yellow which was flying very fast along the cliffs. (George Kinnard)

Thursday 23 August 2012

Got there at about 11am with daughter Jazzy, who's now 11... there we were about 10 or so people staring at the trees at the bottom of the hill... a Vaporer Moth or two decided to disguise themselves as Brown Hairstreaks... sending us all a bid mad... and then disappointed... eventually at 12.25 bingo!! A female... perfect condition... landing on blackthorn... then walking down the branches... right down presumably to lay... plenty of Speckled Woods about which were all pretty small... dunno if that's because we've had a rubbish Summer... there was a Holly Blue on the track up to the Range... and a Brown Argus in a Garden near that factory (I wonder what they make in that factory... I'll look it up...)
Anyway we got our Brown Hairstreak spot boxed off for this year... in fact haven't seen one for 3 years so I was kind of chuffaroonied. (Danny McEvoy)

It was good to meet up with fellow Brown Hairstreak enthusiasts at the Rifle Range today and we were not disappointed: the sun came out and with it female Hairstreaks. I arrived shortly after 11am and stayed until around 2.30pm. In that time we figured we'd seen around 7 females and got some fabulous close-up views. At one point a Hairstreak landed just above my head and at another point Neil did his butterfly-whispering trick and encouraged one onto his finger where it roamed contentedly sipping salts for quite a long time. I was able to get some shots of a female Brown Hairstreak in pristine condition which is great for me because, although I've photographed them before, they have usually had some kind of damage to their wings. What a great day; no matter how many times I see those Hairstreaks they are always magical. (Sherie New)

An unexpected trip to Malling down this morning revealed a wonderful diversity of butterfly species. On the Buddleia near the entrance to the reserve was Small and Large White, a female Brimstone and Red Admiral... as if somebody had suddenly turned on the nectaries of the the bush. Of course it has to be said that the Adonis Blues were really the stars of the show. They were in mint condition and there were so many of them. I also saw the ubiquitous Meadow Browns, Small Heaths as well as a couple of tatty Chalkhill Blues, a Small Copper, a single Dingy Skipper and Silver-spotted skipper. A later arrival at Stenying Rifle Range found more enthusiasts than Brown Hairstreaks, although Neil reported seeing more than seven pristine specimens. I stayed long enough to take a few snaps of a beautiful egg laying female. (Dan Danahar)

I arrived at Steyning Downland at 10am this morning and at 10:20 a female Brown Hairstreak landed in front of me. After posing in a blackthorn it flew into the sun and I lost it. Five minutes later a male Brown Hairstreak landed, opened its wings then flew off before I could take a photo. The site became quickly populated by butterfly enthusiasts. While watching the blackthorn patch at the top of the hill I saw a pale Clouded Yellow. Later Neil Hulme did his butterfly whispering and gave us an opportunity to take some open wing shots. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Mill Hill was alive with butterflies in same places with fifty or a hundred seen all at once on the best parts of the lower slopes. This was despite a large Cumulus cloud casting a big shadow over the hill about midday. Meadow Browns were in unprecedented numbers, estimated well in excess of a thousand and peaking with at least 350 an acre (possibly 500+). Adonis Blues were recorded at 138 in the transect acre. On the top meadows this density was probably exceeded by the hundreds of Common Blues. Twelve species of butterfly and four species of macro-moth were recorded on and around Mill Hill in an hour. The tally included 21 Chalkhill Blues and four Wall Browns. In a glade with Hemp Agrimony, a half a dozen Red Admirals visited.
This Adonis Blue (above) female from Mill Hill was helped to find the Horseshoe Vetch leaves as it could not fly properly and it had been mating some distance away. The Meadow Browns were so lively and amorous that they were hard to photograph. There were so many that they would not keep still as the females were always bothered. This one was taken in Shoreham town where there were not so many. This one was soon bothered by a Wall Brown instead. (Andy Horton, Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List)

News for Monday 20 August: Death's-head Hawk-moth, this enormous beast was discovered by Philip Newton on Monday as it marched boldly across his rural garden at Three Oaks nr Hastings! The full story is on the 'RX Wildlife' website here -
and also on 'Westfield Wildlife' here -
So, if you grow or know of any blight-free potatoes search those plants now! OR check a woody nightshade plant near you, and you could find your very own monster caterpillar! If you do please let Sussex BC know. It will also be interesting to see how many 'home-grown' adults are trapped by moth-ers this autumn, or get reported by bee-keepers (raiding honey), or indeed by the general public. (Ralph Hobbs)

News for Sunday 19 August: Much to my surprise on Sunday about 12 noon, I was loading my greengrocery into my car at the car park of Roundstone Farm shop (Angmering/East Preston/Ferring) when a Clouded Yellow whizzed past. Havent seen one for two or three years and can see no other mention of one recently on your web site, so thought I had better report it, albeit belatedly. (David Macdonald, East Preston)

Wednesday 22 August 2012

3 male Brown Hairstreak squabbling at the top of a newly discovered Master Tree on Hooklands Lane at TQ134193. I later visited Chantry Hill where butterflies included a fresh male Adonis Blue, 8 Common Blue and a perfect Painted Lady. Silver-spotted Skippers are now on the wane here, with fewer than 20 seen. More at base page http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=4065&start=1000 (Neil Hulme)

At Park Corner Heath today I saw Speckled Woods, Gatekeepers a Small Heath and by Peter's Seat a very tattered Silver-washed Fritillary. (Geoff Stevens)

A Female Brown Hairstreak laying her eggs near the brambles. (George Kinnard)

I went to Friston Gallops for the third time this year. Weather conditions were not ideal, with a brisk wind and somewhat cool temperatures. A few Chalkhill Blues were still flying in the more sheltered areas, but numbers are now very much diminished. Most were very faded and tatty, but there were still a few relatively fresh-looking specimens. I also saw fair numbers (20+) of Adonis Blues, particularly in the SW corner of the gallops (Grid Ref: TV543991), which was sheltered from the wind. (Andy Wilson)

A Speckled Wood was a rare and welcome visitor to the garden this morning. What is more it left a little gift, an egg! Photo's of mother and 'child' are attached. (Robin Bassett)

On the outskirts of Shoreham, five seperate and quite distinct brown butterflies were quite prominent on the garden-sized area of Mill Hill Cutting on the chalk bank. All these were thought to be female Chalkhill Blues, even the one that was smaller than the others. (Andy Horton, Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List)

News for Monday 20 August: Brown Argus seen at Hope Gap, near Seaford. Also saw numerous Meadow Brown, a few Gatekeepers, Common Blues, a few Wall Brown and a Small Tortoiseshell. (Mike Kerry)

Recent news: We had another fantastic week touring the reserves, the sights we visited were as follows:
Cissbury Ring - very good lots of Dark Green Fritillary, Chalkhill Blues, Small Coppers, Brimstones, Wall, Brown Argus, Common Blues.
High and Over - our favourite site good numbers of Chalkhills, Silver-spotted Skippers, Adonis, Wall, Common Blues, Gatekeepers, Holly Blues and and many others.
Butchershole - great if you are looking for Chalkhill Blues this is the place. Thousands of marjoram plants with at least one on each (if you stand sill one could hear their wings) plus Adonis, Common Blues, Small Copper and all the others.
Windover Hill - lived up to its name Dark Green Fritillary, Silver-spotted Skippers and all the rest.
Photos here: holiday week in sussex. (Pat and Peter Gardner)

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Spent an hour sat behind the crash barrier on an embankment of the M23 today near Crawley (the car had broken down on the motorway). Spent most of that time staring at a flowering buddleia but didn't see one butterfly land on it. Did notice a Purple Hairstreak flying in a nearby oak while the police were asking us to move the car though. (Michael & Clare Blencowe)

Adonis Blues appear to be at their peak with 210 recorded on transect at Malling Down Tuesday, the second generation is certainly fairing better than the previous two years.
Amazing numbers of Wall Brown over the last week (11 on transect at Malling & more than 14 in one area near Saltdean). Great to see a second generation Dingy Skipper.

Malling transect results for Tuesday (mostly cloudy but very warm):
Silver-spotted Skipper 36.
Dingy Skipper 1.
Small White 2.
Small Copper 3.
Brown Argus 13.
Common Blue 54 male & 8 female.
Chalkhill Blue 22 male & 1 female.
Adonis Blue 197 male & 13 female.
Small Tortoiseshell 3.
Peacock 1.
Speckled Wood 1.
Wall Brown 11.
Gate Keeper 10.
Meadow Brown 539.
Small Heath 12.

The trend for Small Heath is possibly following the 7 year cycle, with the previous two years being good and the following 5 years probably being not so good. After my transect, at Malling Down, I chose to visit some sites where Silver-spotted Skipper had been recorded in past years so that they could be added to the Susses Atlas. It was my original intention to check out sites where they had been recorded in 2009 at Fulking Hill  that will have to be another day as it unfortunately clouded over. So I had to resort to looking for Silver-spotted Skipper eggs around Offham and Plumpton. But I found them!
Eggs at Offham Hill (TQ3978 1188), Black Cap (TQ3770 1287 & TQ3733 1264) and Plumpton Plain (TQ3645 1273).
I also saw a bird I just could not identify. I think it was a released helmeted guinea fowl.
Click here to download a map of Silver-spotted Skipper habitat for Sussex (64.3kB Google Earth file: Sussex_sss_habitat.kmz) produced by Dr Jon Bennie and the Research Team at Exeter University. this could be a guide as to where to look for Silver-spotted Skippers at new sites.
Anyone finding Adonis Blue near Cocking Village (SU878171)? (Crispin Holloway)

Warm conditions with light cloud cover produced lots of butterflies on Frog Firle with Meadow Brown everywhere taking advantage of the flower meadows along with growing numbers of Common Blue, Adonis Blue, Silver-spotted Skippers. Wall Brown were also very evident and small numbers of Small Blue and Brown Argus also seen. Several moths also seen included Rush Veneer and many Silver Y and a Yellow Belle. (Bob Eade)

Mill Hill transect results yesterday: Adonis Blue 121, Chalkhill Blue 8,Common Blue 11, Gatekeeper 10, Holly Blue 1, Meadow Brown 305, Peacock 1, Red Admiral 6, Small Heath 3, Small Tortoiseshell 4, Speckled Wood 4, Wall 14, Small White 1. The Adonis second brood are booming and this was the largest number of Walls I have seen on one site. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Monday 20 August 2012

Following a cool cloudy Monday morning the sun poked through so I headed to Steyning Downland to try for Brown Hairstreaks. Conditions were perfect, but the ten people hoping to see some action were disappointed. A male Brimstone, some Walls and a Small Tortoiseshell were the best sightings. On the way out I spotted a Comma caterpillar on a nettle, a first for me. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

TQ 723 118 Purple Hairstreak, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Common Blue, Small Heath, Speckled Wood.
TQ 717 122 Purple Hairstreak, Small White, Meadow Brown.
TQ 722 122 Purple Hairstreak, Common Blue, Meadow Brown, Small Heath.
Pints of Shepard & Neames TQ 707 123
We are really enjoying this Purple Hairstreak hunt, nice walk in the sunshine and then off to the pub. What could be better? (Wendy & Keith Alexander)

News for Sunday 19 August 2012: Here's an unusual shot of a Brown Hairstreak hitching a ride on a snail. Simon Quin took the image immediately after my guided walk on Sunday, having tracked its sluggish progress through a low blackthorn. Thankfully it was still waiting for me as I returned to the Rifle Range. A small group of us were then lucky enough to watch her lay a couple of eggs. (Neil Hulme)

More news for Sunday 19 August: Paul Gorringe led a group of 12 around Sheepcote Valley in east Brighton (TQ3404) on 19 August. Despite overcast conditions, and even a couple of of light showers beforehand, there was a good range of species. The main target was Silver-spotted Skipper, of which 10-15 were seen. In addition, the group saw Small and Essex Skipper, Brimstone, Large and Small White, Small Copper, Common Blue, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown, Marbled White, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and Small Heath: 17 species in all. The non-butterfly highlight was the recently constructed dewpond at the top of the valley, which was home to a pair of Emperor Dragonflies, with the female laying eggs, and two Blue-tailed Damselflies. (Nigel Bowie)

More news for Sunday 19 August: Elephant Hawk-moth caterpillar (above) found in my back garden by my children Jack, Oliver and Oscar Brandon on the North of Burgess Hill. (Paul Brandon)

More news for Sunday 19 August: In our East Dean garden (TV562984) nectaring and resting during a very hot afternoon; 1 Painted Lady (entered on main BC database). Only the second Painted Lady we have seen this year anywhere!
Also, Small Tortoiseshell - Red Admiral - Meadow Brown - Gatekeeper - Common Blue - Holly Blue - Large White - Small White. (Cassie & David Jode)

News for Saturday 18 August 2012: Steyning Rifle Range: 1 X Comma, 5 X Holly Blue, 6 X Brimstone, 2 X Small Copper, 5 X Large White, 2 X Small Heath, 1 X Silver Y, 6 X Speckled Wood, 58 X Meadow Brown, 26 X Gatekeeper, 1 X Peacock, 4 X Wall, 10 X Common Blue, 1 X Painted Lady, 1 X Brown Argos, 1 X Brown Hairstreak.
Red Lion, Old Shoreham: 1X Holly Blue.
Mill Hill, Shoreham: 12 X Holly Blue, 2 X Brimstone, 1 X Small Copper, 2 X Large White, 1 X Small White, 2 X Small Heath, 16 X Chalkhill Blue, 1 X Silver Y, 6 X Speckled Wood, 66 X Meadow Brown, 19 X Gatekeeper, 2 X Peacock, 10 X Wall, 25 X Common Blue, 8 X Adonis. (David Gower)

Sunday 19 August 2012

Today's West Sussex butterfly recording day started in hot, muggy conditions at Brinsbury College. The group gathered and we headed out to under-recorded areas of the county to fill in a few blank squares for our 2010-14 atlas project. The sky became rather overcast by 11am - the forecast had shown nothing but blues skies all day. Then there was a distant rumble of thunder. We decided to turn back towards the cars and, as we did, we saw our first bolt of lightning and quickened our pace. The lightning became more frequent (and spectacular) and at one point it really was getting a little too close for comfort. We managed to dive into our cars as the heavens opened and huge hailstones rattled down on us. Within half an hour we were back out in the sunshine under clear blue skies and the remainder of the day remained very hot. We managed to fill some more atlas squares with Meadow Browns, Holly Blues, Painted Ladies, Purple Hairstreaks and plenty of other species. No Common Blues though - this butterfly really is having a poor year in 2012. Thanks to Penny Green for organising another successful recording event (Michael Blencowe)

Unfortunately, despite Met Office predictions of full-on sunshine, my guided walk at Steyning Rifle Range was conducted under 100% cloud cover, and unsurprisingly butterflies were rather scarce. We saw the odd Wall Brown, Speckled Wood, Holly Blue, Large White, Small White, Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper, but it was the Brown Hairstreak we had all come to see. By the time I'd said my goodbyes to the majority of the 30 attendees it was 13.00 hrs and blue sky was just appearing over the top of the Downs. Predictably, I was back on site looking at a mint condition female Brown Hairstreak by 13.20 hrs! Another hairstreak was spotted elsewhere on the site, together with all of the other species we had hoped for. Despite these frustrations I was pleased that two people who had stayed behind managed to see their first Brown Hairstreak, and a visitor from Essex had not made the trip to Sussex in vain. Thanks to all that attended. (Neil Hulme)

Painted Lady in our garden (Cuckfield, Holy Trinity Churchyard). It fed from 11am to 6pm on our Verbena bonariensis and returned the following 2 days. (Julie and Malcolm Redford)

Today there were 4 Small Tortoiseshell nectaring on the Buddleia in my back garden. Perhaps this species is set to do OK at the tail end of this summer? A Brown Argus put in an appearance and posed nicely. (Martin Kalaher, Storrington)

This morning I noticed a small buddleia on the edge of a field. As I approached I saw a Small Tortoiseshell nectaring, then another, and another. When I stood by the buddleia and allowed them to settle I was able to count 13 Small Tortoiseshells, and there were probably more out of view. Every time cloud obscured the sun they flew to the crops in the next field, then came back when the sun reappeared. A Red Admiral, a Peacock and a Comma nectared on the same bush. The Tortoiseshells varied in size from about 4cm to normal. I then visited Steyning Downland and saw Neil's followers toiling up the hill, so I headed for the bottom reserve. At 1:45pm I was rewarded with a female Brown Hairstreak landing in front of me. She opened her wings enough to see the orange bands, climbed down the blackthorn twig and flew off. I attempted to follow from perch to perch, but she had a tumble with a Meadow Brown and when they broke off I followed the wrong combatant. A lovely sight while it lasted. There were a few Wall about. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Recent news: A couple of moth larvae recently seen. A Buff-tip found near Burgess Hill on the 14th August and then on the 18th Pen found a Grey Dagger in the garden in Seaford. (Bob Eade)

Saturday 18 August 2012

Today I managed to record all of what I call 'the big 5' garden butterflies in my Storrington garden, but on Buddleia not the wild bit! Red Admiral (5), Peacock (4), Painted Lady (2), Small Tortoiseshell (2) and Comma (1). Also Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood, Small Copper, Small Skipper, Holly Blue and both male and female Brimstone. Also a mating pair of Large White in the meadow just to the south of my garden. (Martin Kalaher)

I was at Seaford seafront this morning and saw a Painted Lady briefly nectaring. Later I walked along the cliffs to Hope Gap and found 2 more Painted Ladies and a Small Tortoiseshell. I saw another Tortoiseshell and a Peacock at Hope Gap. There were plenty of Common Blues, a Brown Argus, Gatekeepers, Small Heaths, 2 Walls and Meadow Browns along the cliffs. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Popped into The Cricketer's at Berwick last night for a pint of Harveys. The beer garden there has nice views over some Oak trees across the fields. Settled in for some Purple Hairstreak watching only to find that they were in fact Elm trees. This'll be a nice spot next year for White-letter Hairstreaks. Finished the pint and cruised around the back lanes near Ripe and Selmeston and found Purple Hairstreaks in all the oaks. The amount of dead elms in the landscape here now is shocking - there are so few trees in this area that do not have signs of Dutch Elm Disease. (Michael & Clare Blencowe)

A few whites flitting across our garden in Hove and some Holly Blues. No Meadow Browns or Speckled Woods today  maybe too hot! Watched a smart but small female laying eggs on our ivy and seeing off an equally smart, larger male. Will have to remember not to trim the flower buds off the ivy too soon. (John Heys)

News for Friday 17 August: My father, Roy Symonds reports the following sightings from Stansted Forest (SU745115) where the temperature was 22C: Small White (3), Green-veined White (1), Meadow Brown (5), Speckled Wood (2), Silver-washed Fritillary (2), Peacock (1). (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)

Friday 17 August 2012

Sherie New's report from Hobshort's Farm: here

On a sunny and very humid day the butterflies were out and seen almost as I left my front door. The first of seventeen different species on the day was a Small Tortoiseshell that was basking on the busy Dolphin Road in Shoreham. It took flight as I cycled towards it. Ten of the species were seen within the boundaries of the built-up area.
The lower slopes of Mill Hill was alive with hundreds of butterflies, at an average of a butterfly per square metre over the southern part of the lower slopes, usually a less favourble area for numbers. I spent under a quarter of an hour on the hill, but I still managed to see over a hundred of each of four species: Meadow Browns, Chalkhill Blues, Adonis Blues and Common Blues. (Andy Horton, Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List)

Thursday 16 August 2012

Another first for me, in this year of such sightings, is this lovely Jersey Tiger moth, feeding mainly on garden buddleia in Crawley Down. Also Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Gatekeeper, Large White and Meadow Brown in the garden at the same time. Numbers are gradually increasing as the weather improves. (Jonathan Ruff)

Today I started off at Steyning Rifle Range and almost immediately saw a male Brown Hairstreak in a field maple above the BH reserve area. After about an hour my first female of the season descended, but despite suitable weather conditions she made no attempt to lay. I suspect her eggs are yet to fully ripen and all too soon she returned to the canopy, leaving me with just enough time for a hurried record shot. I then joined my father and Simon Mockford of the South Downs National Park Authority to revisit the valley near Amberley where I saw huge numbers of Chalkhill Blue a week ago. As with the Friston population, numbers had plummeted rapidly after the spectacular peak showing. Adonis Blue males were surprisingly scarce and I don't think the species will have a strong second brood here, as the lush growth of horseshoe vetch which has suited the Chalkhill will not have been to its liking. I finished the day at Chantry Hill, where female Silver-spotted Skippers are now more common. A brief shower sent the butterflies to bed early and amongst the wide selection of species I managed to find at roost was a female Common Blue - sadly quite a rarity this year. (Neil Hulme)

A morning visit to Red House Common, Chailey produced an immaculate Small Copper and a less than immaculate, but very welcome Wall Brown. A second Small Copper was later found at Romany Ridge. (Robin Bassett)

Val and I went to Ditchling Common this afternoon and saw plenty of Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns, a sprinkling of Speckled Woods, a few Small Coppers and Small Heaths, a Green-veined White, a Small Skipper which stayed long enough to allow itself to be positively identified and a battered Silver-washed Fritillary. I can't recall seeing a Silver-washed Fritillary there before so that was nice. Best of all was a Brown Hairstreak at TQ333185  ie on the west side of the B road and further north than the handsome male which we got photos of last year on 28 July. We saw it long enough to be sure what it was but not to tell for certain whether it was male or female. Maybe it was a male - it was relatively dull-coloured on its underwings, nectaring well off the ground at my eye level (which is why Val, for once, didn't see it first when she went past it but I did) and it headed off upwards into the trees when it decided it didn't want to be photographed. On the minus side, while there may be Common Blues at Olympic park, absolutely none were anywhere to be seen on Ditchling Common despite there being plenty of places with bird's-foot trefoil. We've been going to the Common for over 35 years now and the impression I get is that the areas for butterflies which prefer shorter vegetation are gradually being squeezed out by saplings, shrubs and bracken  there is management of course, and the changes will have helped the brown hairstreaks to move in, but I do wonder if there is enough finance to ensure that diversity is retained. (John Heys)

Nice day at Pulborough, with 2 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Brown Argus, 4 Red Admiral + another Small Tortoiseshell back at the centre. (George Kinnard and Roger Billings)

A midday trip to Stenying Rifle Range produced a wonderful sighting of a pristine female Brown Hairstreak. Fortunately, she landed within a few feet of where I was standing. After scrambling over the barbed wire fence I was able to grab a quick photograph before she was off again (to the other side of the barbed wire fence) where she stayed for just a few seconds before returning high up into the tree canopy once more. Thank-you to Neil Hulme for sharing his knowledge of this wonderful butterfly (as well as giving a fantastic demonstration of barbed wire fence vaulting - If it's an Olympic event in Rio 2016 then Neil's the man for Team GB). Also, a big thank-you to everyone else that Margaret and I spoke to that morning. It was great to meet you all. Later in the day we headed to Chantry Hill to see the Silver-spotted Skippers. The sun was starting to fade by the time we arrived, but we still managed to see three, although they were still moving quickly enough to make photographing them very difficult! Other species seen were Brown Argus, Meadow Brown, Chalkhill Blue, Gatekeeper, Red Admiral and Peacock. (Paul Cox)

News for Monday 13 August: Monday morning at Seven Sisters Country Park was decidedly chilly with a strong wind coming in off the sea, not great conditions for warmth-loving butterflies, so it seemed only fair to offer a chilly Essex Skipper a little respite and place to warm its boots! (Robin Bassett)

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Mike Mullis's report from Horse Eye Level: here (photographs below)

One Marbled White was still on the wing yesterday at Thorney Deeps and a pristine Small Tortoiseshell.
We also did some mothing at Longmere Point Thorney Island from 2100 to 0100 hours. Although it was very mild this site is quite exposed and was a bit breezy so numbers were lower than expected, but we still got a few goodies. Drinker 2, Oak Eggar 2 females (8 males on the wing during day light hours) Silver Y 2, Saltern Ear, Shaded Broad-bar, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 15, Magpie Moth 2, Pale Prominent, Common Rustic agg. 2, Ruby Tiger 4, Flame Shoulder 8, Straw Underwing, Sand Dart, Obscure Wainscot, Minor sp. 2, Rosy Minor, Willow Beauty, White-line Dart, Dark Arches and a male Synaphe punctalis. (Barry and Margaret Collins)

Yesterday Kithurst Hill provided two old male Silver-washed Fritillaries patrolling the woodland edge and a Small Tortoiseshell and a Marbled White flew across the meadow. A female Brimstone and a Peacock nectared on the Hemp Agrimony on the bank. The were still Chalkhill Blues around, though most were worn, plus many Meadow Browns, and a few Gatekeepers, Common Blues and Small Whites. I then walked to Chantry Hill and found about 20 Silver-spotted Skippers, including 4 females, one of which laid eggs on the sward of a path. There were Common Blues at the bottom of the hill, plenty of Brown Argus, Small Skippers, Meadow Browns mating and Small Heaths. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Plaistow, 14 August 2012: With school summer holidays very much in full swing, I have been trying to encourage my son James to come out with me for some entomological fun! A local wildlife photographic competition with a 50 first prize finally tempted him away from his computer. Despite my preference for getting out early morning, it was 11.30am before we left the house. It was already quite hot and humid. A full sun shone above and the early morning still had been replaced by a refreshing breeze as we ventured to our local patch. Meadow Brown were everywhere; too many to count and with good numbers of pristine females nectaring on thistle. Gatekeeper were also in abundance and only second in number to their larger and equally active cousin. These were not for me, as I really couldn't be bothered with a chase of known outcome. A beautiful and very freshly emerged female Speckled Wood showed for a brief time though was sadly soon lost. Several Essex and Small Skipper were also seen along with good numbers of Small Heath. Deciding that enough was enough and that our 50 photographic prize wasn't going to be achieved today, we headed back through the meadow and along a small length of mixed hedgerow interspersed with ash and oak; my vision fixed firmly amongst the young blackthorn shoots - and there she was, a beautiful female Brown Hairstreak. Calling my son over quickly we both watched her flying and crawling amongst her larval foodplant whilst carefully selecting sites to lay her pearly white, urchin-like eggs. Occasionally she would pause and bask open-winged in the sun. She was extremely approachable and graced us with at least 20 minutes of her time before finally being lost from view. (Mark Colvin)

Another good day in the garden. At 4 this afternoon I counted 6 Peacocks, 4 Red Admirals, 2 Commas, 2 Holly Blues at last a Small Tortoiseshell, and a worn male Silver-washed Fritillary, no doubt a stray from Plashet wood, desparate to find an unmated female.
A comment on Richard Roebuck's observation of a small Brown Argus - I have found that this species often throws up considerable numbers of very small males, especially in the 2nd [summer] generation. This has no effect on their pugnatious atitude to other butterflies. Gatekeepers also show considerable variation in size, some males being no bigger than Small Coppers. (Graham Parris, Isfield)

Went for a walk around Arlington parish this afternoon and had some pleasant surprises. First were a couple of Dingy Skippers and a Wall Brown at the reservoir. Then I came across another Wall Brown at Arlington church. It was the first time that I had seen either of these species in this area. (Chris Hooker)

This afternoon I decided to check on how the relatively new colony of Silver-spotted Skippers is faring at Chantry Hill near Storrington. Just before leaving the house I noticed a Speckled Wood in the garden, so couldn't resist a closer look. It turned out to be a male, which had set up territory on the large Fatsia japonica in a sunny corner. As a small cloud passed in front of the sun it opened its wings to reveal its brand new livery - a beautiful, unblemished specimen. At Chantry Hill I was pleased to see that the colony is thriving and I easily reached a count of 47 skippers, with only 3 being females. It looks like this species may have quite a good year here. As I was more interested in assessing the population than photography, I didn't get any decent shots... but there's always next time. Amongst the other butterflies present were a pristine Painted Lady and 3 or 4 Wall. (Neil Hulme)

Perfect evening for Hairstreaks & Harveys:
Purple Hairstreaks at TQ 682 092, TQ 694 105, TQ 715 096, TQ 723 083
Pints of Harvey's at TQ 692 105, TQ 723 080. (Wendy & Keith Alexander)

In my garden in Bevendean this morning there was a female Gatekeeper with white patches on its hind wings, I can not remember seeing one like this before. It stayed feeding on the marjoram for some time so I was able to photograph it. (Geoff Stevens)

Poplar Hawk-moth caught in moth trap this morning in our East Preston Garden. (George Kinnard)

Monday 13 August 2012

Just returned from Frech holiday. Cannot believe amount of butterflies since my last butterfly count submission on 4th August... 4 Small Totoishell, 3 Peacocks, 2 Red Admirals, 1 Comma, 1 Small White, 1 Meadow Brown... all in 5 minutes. (Stuart Webster)

News for Sunday 12 August: As I suspected would be the case, with the season still running about two weeks behind recent years, my visit to Steyning Rifle Range to see female Brown Hairstreaks was rather premature. Despite perfect weather conditions none were spotted. However, the assembled hairstreak fans were given reasonable views of 2 or 3 males which teased us into believing they were coming down for a photo-shoot. Anticipation is now building ahead of my guided walk this coming Sunday (19th August), which is open to all and starts at 11 am by the Bowls Club. I then headed to the Knepp Castle Estate to complete a butterfly survey, surrounded by free-roaming longhorn cattle, fallow deer and Tamworth pigs! The 17 species seen included Essex Skipper (widespread across the re-wilding scheme area), Small Skipper, White Admiral, Silver-washed Fritillary, Purple Hairstreak, Small Copper, Common Blue, Holly Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Peacock, Green-veined White, Large White, Brimstone, Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper and Meadow Brown. I found a Comma posing nicely on a reed by one of the many picturesque lakes here. I'm looking forward to returning in a couple of weeks time, when I get my first opportunity to assess the Brown Hairstreak population over the southern part of the estate. (Neil Hulme)

News from the weekend: On Saturday I visited Chantry Hill and found plenty of Common Blue and Brown Argus at the bottom of the hill, plus some Walls on the top path. On Sunday I did my Mill Hill transect and found the second brood Adonis Blues have increased dramatically since Thursday and Chalkhills are decreasing. I also found 3 Small Tortoiseshells and 3 Walls which obligingly opened their wings. The rest of the transect results: Adonis Blue 23, Chalkhill Blue 68, Common Blue 5, Gatekeeper 7, Holly Blue 1, Meadow Brown 174, Peacock 1, Red Admiral 1, Small Heath 1, Small White 1, Speckled Wood 1. I then visited Steyning Downland in case the female Brown Hairstreaks were out. I arrived to find a dozen other enthusiasts were on the same mission. We saw a male Brown Hairstreak high up on an Ash. It headed down but we lost sight of it. I then went up the far hill and enjoyed an hour with three male Brimstones which were busy nectaring on the thistles and other flowers. I shot at 1/4000sec to capture open wing images. A Wall patrolled the path, but would not open its wings. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

More weekend news: My weekly transect at Wildpark LNR produced thirteen species on Sat 11 Aug: Large White 6, Small White 6, Small Copper 3, Brown Argus 2, Common Blue 4, Chalkhill Blue 11, Peacock 2, Comma 1, Dark Green Fritillary 1 (the first I have seen in five years of recording at this site) Speckled Wood 4, Gatekeeper 6, Meadow Brown 93 and Small Heath 6. On the same day my transect from the Liz Williams butterfly haven produced: Small Skipper 10, Essex Skipper 2, Small Blue 1, Common Blue 23, Gatekeeper 1 and Meadow Brown 42.
On my final day's (Sun 12 Aug) work at the Gallops I saw a male Oak Eggar flying at speed across the grassland and forgot to mention in my last report that I saw two Dark Green Fritillaries from this site on the 10 August. Although numbers of Chalkhills are still reasonably high at the Gallops, the population as a whole is mostly past its best and I was lucky to get a few reasonable shots of intact individuals.
Finally, a visit to Horseshoe plantation (Birling gap) on Sunday 12 Aug produced a good number of Silver-spotted Skippers, all in good condition. (Dan Danahar)

More recent news: Downs Link, 11 August: I did my routine check on the Downs Link of male Brown Hairstreaks at about 7.30 a.m., it was windy so I didn't expect to see too much activity, indeed this was the case higher up in the Ash trees. However in a sheltered spot I watched two males coming down to about 7 feet in the lower branches of an Ash, occasionally stopping to bask. They then basically circled the trees at this level before occasionally going higher. Unfortunately I broke a golden rule and wasn't carrying a camera. Nevertheless at another sheltered spot slightly later on a male Brown Hairstreak came down and flew slowly along some bracken but didn't actually settle, he was only about 6 feet from me. Apart from avoiding the strong breezes perhaps they could have been looking for emerging females. The males did not interact with each other at all and also ignored the odd Purple Hairstreak visiting the Ash trees.
Cissbury Ring 11 August: It's a while since I had visited Cissbury Ring and it turned out to be a magical experience. I went late in the afternoon and I saw the following, Peacocks, Red Admirals, Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, female Brimstones 2, Large Whites, Small Whites, Walls, Brown Argus, Small Copper, Dark Green Fritillary 4 (all worn), Common Blues, Chalkhill Blues, Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, Small Skippers, Comma, male Emperor dragonfly and my favourite beetle a Devil's Coach-horse which did an excellent threat display while sat on my finger. However the best part was later on as the sun lowered in the sky and it had clouded over a little. I found some long grass on the southern side which was a communal roost for several species including Common Blues, Small Coppers, Small Skippers, Meadow Browns and Brown Argus, with the evening light it was wonderful sight especially the Common Blues.
12 August: On the Downs near Small Dole I arrived mid-morning. Nothing much was on the wing as I walked up a path to a northerly facing slope however I eventually located a lone Buddleia in a secluded spot. The sight was a reminder of years ago, there were 6 pristine Peacocks nectaring, a Red Admiral, a Comma and a Meadow Brown. Within a few minutes they had all departed. However a marvellous sight. 1 male Brimstone flew by catching my attention and settled for a few photos. Once again familiar species were seen, Walls 5, Brown Argus, Large Whites, Chalkhills although only a few, Common Blues on the lower slopes, Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, the occasional Holly Blue. On my way back I watched a Small White fluttering close to the ground on an area which had been disturbed earlier in the year where a new stock fence was installed. I realised she was checking out the new pioneer plants that had germinated and was looking for places to lay her eggs. She was laying them singularly on the underside of leaves of a crucifer perhaps Charlock, they were elongated slightly yellow ribbed eggs.
At home there was a nice Small Tortoiseshell in the kitchen which thankfully flew out again. I then went to check out Wolstonbury Hill to look for Silver-spotted skippers - previous visits recently had drawn a blank. I parked at Pyecombe Street and as normal set off up the track which leads to the bridleway. Part way up I suddenly froze, as sat on the corner of a garden Flint wall was a female Purple Emperor. It was hot and the sun was beating down she was there just gently opening and closing her wings at 12.50p.m. She was sat directly under a tall Buddleia in full flower, but immediately next to her were three wheelie bins, one was slightly open with Bluebottles flying in and out, she was showing a bit of wear around the tips of her forewings but otherwise was in good condition. She took off flew round me once and then flew straight over the roof of a house opposite. She had flown some 50 feet upwards in seconds. I waited around for a bit, my camera was still in its bag, that weird feeling as what to do now descended on me yet again. Anyway she was gone heading south perhaps towards the Bright lights of Brighton? Then the questions, where had she come from, the wind direction suggested perhaps from the wooded side of Newtimber Hill opposite or perhaps woods slightly further away where I saw another Purple Emperor flying up whilst walking up a road a couple of weeks back. Most intriguingly, what was in that Bin? A Holly Blue egg laying on Ivy flowers behind me momentarily cleared my mind and so did an unusual green coloured Common Lizard. So back to business, the buddleias also held four Peacocks, three Red Admirals, a Comma and one Small Tortoiseshell. TQ284129 On the way along the Bridle path to Wolstonbury Hill I saw five Speckled Woods, two Holly Blues and Green-veined Whites and a male Brimstone. On the hill I was rewarded with seeing at least ten Silver-spotted Skippers. This I a major increase on previous years when I only previously saw 2 or 3 and also my first mating pair, they were all in pristine condition. Wolstonbury is at its peak with lots of flowers and numerous butterflies. Many Chalkhills were newly emerged as the main area is North facing. The season is always a little behind other download locations. I also saw a male and female Brimstone, Small Coppers, Brown Argus, Large White, white Meadow Browns, Red Admiral, Peacock, Comma, Gatekeepers, Common Blues, Holly Blues, Speckled Woods, one worn Dark Green Fritillary. Six-spot Burnets and a Silver Y, perhaps the biggest surprise was another second generation Small Blue. TQ2813 Lastly after a marathon weekend a pristine Painted Lady on a fence catching last of the evening sunshine back at home. (Richard Roebuck)

Sunday 12 August 2012

Keith Alexander's report from Horse Eye Level : here

We've kept our eyes open at the Olympic park for butterflies amongst all the wild flower gardens but had only seen the odd Small White flitting through. Yesterday it was good to see that the efforts of the landscape designers have been rewarded with a sprinkling of Common Blues near the basketball arena and a couple of Gatekeepers. If the area is maintained in its current state it could be very interesting in a few years. Our garden is also allowed to be a bit wilder now and we were rewarded today with a fresh Speckled Wood (which came into the sun lounge) and not one but two Meadow Browns at the same time. Of these, one was newish and the other very battered. We have Speckled Woods in small numbers most years now, but Meadow Browns are more occasional, so this was really quite exciting. Also they didn't fly straight through  both seemed happy to do a bit of sunbathing & nectaring. (John A Heys)

Spent a very enjoyable morning at Kithurst Hill today. The Chalkhill Blues are mainly past their best, but there are still one or two fresh specimens around. The highlight for me was an immaculate Painted Lady that was patrolling the meadow. There were several fresh-looking Common Blues, including a mating pair. Other species seen were; Green-veined White, Gatekeeper, Small Blue, Meadow Brown, Small White, Peacock, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Dark Green Fritillary, Brimstone, Small Skipper, Large Skipper, Brown Argus and Small Copper, making a total of 17 species. (Paul Cox)

Saw a nice Painted Lady near Patching Pond today. Also 1 Small Heath. (George Kinnard)

Saturday 11 August 2012

Sherie New's report from Roman Woods: here

The number of Peacocks in the garden has been building all week. Today I counted 9 on various budleias as I walked up from the garage, plus two each of Red Admiral and Comma. Sadly, we have had no Small Tortoiseshell at all this year. (Graham Parris, Isfield)

I found this rather beautiful Brown Argus today on the Downs at Clayton at the site of Old chalk workings TQ3113. It was unusual, being really small. At first when I first saw it flying past, I thought it was a Small Blue as it was about the same size and in the windy conditions it was very difficult to track. A beautiful female Brown Argus I had seen earlier and lost in the wind was by comparison a giant. There were other normal size males but this one was mint with a hint of a purple sheen. I only managed one picture before it vanished, I Saw 5 Brown Argus in total. Also seen here, 4 Walls scrapping with Gatekeepers, a few Chalkhill Blues, Marbled White, Small Coppers 3 and lots of Meadow Browns. (Richard Roebuck)

Another warm day so I decided to do another Wall Brown count on my usual circuit of The Comp, Greenway, Cradle Hill and High and Over. With 34 counted by the time I reached the end of The Comp I was confident of beating my best count of 44 from 2010 and despite the stiff breeze keeping many hidden in the shelter of the long grasses along Cradle Hill and particularly High and Over I finished the count with a very impressive 66 showing that this year continues to be particularly good for this species in our area. Other good counts including Tony Wilsons' around Edburton are also very encouraging. Also today there appeared to have been a good emergence of Small Tortoiseshell with around 15 fresh individuals on the circuit. (Bob Eade)

With perfect weather today there is no better place to visit Blackcap, which is really quite splendid at this time of year.
The walk uphill via the Bostal produced good numbers of Chalkhills, a couple of Marbled Whites with a Wall Brown perched on bare chalk being a bonus. Down through Ashcombe Bottom with good numbers of Migrant Hawkers, just commencing their flight season and Common Darters plus several pristine Peacocks.
Then on to the nearby hillside for a bite of lunch. A Brimstone appeared alongside the woodland followed by a Brown Argus. My eyes then alighted upon a tiny butterfly, which I thought would doubtless turn out to be a Purple & Gold Moth, but no, it was none other than that magic species the Silver-spotted Skipper. Then another one. So I thought why don't I try and count how many there were on this patch. Which if you think about it, is not terribly bright as the chances of succeeding are somewhere between Zero and Minus 5% as they are very small, hard to see and shoot off at a rate of knots when one approaches.
Then suddenly 2 appeared and just as quickly became a mating pair. So rather than chasing a single butterfly around for the rest of the afternoon, I was able to creep up and take a few photos, whilst their attention was focused on more important matters. (John Luck)

News for Thursday 9 August: A tiny (Small Blue-sized) Holly Blue on raspberry in a Flower's Green garden on Thursday 9th Aug this week.
Also, a small unidentified mystery moth which was in my workshop this afternoon. It rests with delta-shaped wings and a wingspan of approx 15-16mm. It could be very common... but there again I couldn't find it anywhere in the Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland... Any suggestions welcome! (Mike Mullis)

News for Saturday 4 August: Purple Emperor sipping sap taken last Saturday near Pulborough. (James Brooks-Fisher)

Friday 10 August 2012

Sherie New's update from Great Barn Farm: here

Olympic Ringlet

Perhaps most of us have enjoyed a remarkable Olympics in the field of human endeavour for team GB. However I also feel that after serious inclement weather I think that team Sussex BC has shown its true colours on the 9th of August with a monumental contribution from fellow enthusiasts. We had firm favourites in the photography stakes who never fail to deliver and a few budding Olympians with pictures of open wing female Brimstones. However there were huge contributions of moths from Portslade, how many Wall Browns up Edburton Hill and High and Over, the extraordinary pictures of a female Purple Emperor in someone's back garden that most of us can only dream of. The number of species recorded was superb from all contributors. So perhaps the Sussex BC team deserves a Gold medal. I feel proud to be able to contribute to and be part of Sussex BC. (ANON)

In my mother-in-laws back garden on Marine Drive at Bishopstone, at least 4 Wall Browns this morning, along with Small Tortoiseshell x 2, one each of Green-veined White and Large White, and 32 Gatekeepers. (Andrew Carey)

The buddleia continues to attract unusual species to my Crawley Down garden. Today a pristine Silver-washed Fritillary was followed by a White Admiral, for a first for me. (Jonathan Ruff)

The sun was shining and I had no other urgent plans, so I spent the whole day in the garden! I recorded 16 species of butterfly. The one I really wanted was Chalkhill Blue. With such large numbers so close to where I live it is surprising that one hasn't come down to pay me a visit. It didn't happen but I am not complaining as there was lots to see, as follows: Gatekeeper (12), Meadow Brown (8), Large Skipper (2), Small Skipper (5), Large White (3), Small White (5), Marbled White (1), Brimstone (male and female), Holly Blue (1-2), Common Blue (1 male), Comma (1), Peacock (2), Red Admiral (2), Small Copper (4), Speckled Wood (1), and last but not least Brown Argus (1). Three photos (above), two of Brown Argus and one of a female Brimstone trying to hide (and doing a pretty good job of it). (Martin Kalaher, Storrington)

Nigel Kemp and myself called in Ashdown Forest today for dragonflies. We were also lucky to find a female Oak Eggar and the larvae of the Beautiful Yellow Underwing. (Bob Eade)

Female Oak Eggar, caught in moth trap and now about to take flight. (George Kinnard)

A return to the Gallops on Friday to do some experimental work with the Chalkhill Blues had me sitting amongst them for most of the afternoon and towards the end of the day I too saw my first clear lyceanid aberration, ab. postcaeca. I noticed that it was the same aberration that Neil had seen on the 4th August. I also include a tatty "normal" specimen for comparison. (Dan Danahar)

Thursday 9 August 2012

Purple Emperors are still turning up across the county. On Saturday a male Purple Emperor was reported on animal droppings near South Harting by John Richardson. A female Purple Emperor was seen and photographed near Pulborough on Sunday 5th by James Brooks-Fisher. James reports "She was content to sip sap oozing from a bole on the tree, flicking her wings occasionally when bothered by flies after the same sap". Another report came in today (9th) from Tom Forward who writes "I have never seen a Purple Emperor before, nor have I actively tried to seek one out - though have been meaning to do so for ages. Anyway, gathered outside the toilet block next to the main car park in Tilgate Park at 10am this morning, with a group of 20 excited children for a day of bushcraft, when a slightly tatty looking PE landed on the wall of the toilet block to bask and apparently pick up some salts from the mortar in the brick work. We all got a good look at it for a few minutes (why do I never have the camera with me when I need it!!!), before it did a couple of Red Arrow-esque fly-bys low over the kids heads and then made it's way off over the car park!" Will Toms tatty Emperor be the last Sussex Emperor of 2012? (Michael Blencowe)

And the next two reports rather serve to reinforce Michael's point:

I noticed this large butterfly (above) in the garden today. I think it is a female Purple Emperor, but I have never seen one before, hopefully you can confirm indeed it is.... It nectared on the buddleia for several minutes. Also Holly Blue, Small Copper, Peacock, Comma, Small Skipper, Large and Small White, and numerous Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper, far more than in previous years. (Jonathan Ruff)

I decided to check a spot where I had seen a Purple Emperor some years ago on a minor road between Aldsworth Pond and Brickkiln Ponds SU760090. I had only just got out of the car when a male Purple Emperor landed on a fence post only feet away from where I was standing it remained there for a couple of minutes, giving me some fantastic views. Unfortunately I had no camera with me (Murphy's Law). It then flew onto some sallow for awhile before alighting again and landed on my head briefly and then landed on yet another fence post. (Barry Collins)

I am Vice chair and membership secretary of Herts and Middx Branch of Butterfly Cons. On August 9th at 11am in bright sunshine at a temperature of aprox. 24c we saw uncountable numbers of ChalkHill Blues, and also 6 Wall butterflies. We were high on the downs above and west of Alfriston. (Margaret Noakes)

This morning I met Simon Mockford of the South Downs National Park Authority to assess numbers on another Sussex site where the Chalkhill Blue population has exploded this year. In a couple of seldom visited valleys on the Downs near Amberley I was astounded, for the second time in a week, by the unprecedented abundance of this species. The isolated flowery slopes were covered in Chalkhills, with huge bundles of males relentlessly pursuing the females, or occasionally forming a large posse to chase a Dark Green Fritillary from their patch. By walking the large area to get an idea of the numbers of butterflies per metre square, then later examining satellite images of the site, I came up with an estimate of c.175,000; not as large an emergence as at Friston, but very impressive by any standards. Other species seen here included Brimstone, Peacock, Small Copper, Common Blue, Marbled White and my first Adonis Blue of the second brood. After a painless visit to the dentist I then headed back East to re-visit Friston Gallops. Much has changed here in a week and the Chalkhills have clearly passed their peak, with densities over the northern part of the site being (on average) no more than 1-2 per metre square now. I saw only 2 mating pairs and very few fresh specimens. However, it is still well worth a visit as numbers remain high by normal standards. Amongst the supporting cast I saw very fresh examples of Essex Skipper and Small Heath, my first (2) Silver-spotted Skippers of the year and some shiny Small Coppers. It was nice to meet new member Colleen on the slopes, who had wisely returned after only visiting the site yesterday! (Neil Hulme)

With better weather today I decided to do my Wall Brown count around my patch of The Comp, Greenway Bank, Frog Firle and High and Over. Unfortunately as I approached The Comp heavy cloud turned up so I waited a while for it to clear. The count of 41 was slightly down on last year but I think numbers will still climb for a few more days. Several fresh Small Coppers, Brown Argus, Small Blue and Silver-spotted Skippers also seen. My best local butterfly day of the year with so many wild flowers out butterflies were everywhere. A redstart and wheatear beginning their migration south also seen. Also seen were 4 Oak Eggar moths. (Bob Eade)

I did my Mill Hill transect with the following results: Adonis Blue 4, Brimstone 4, Chalkhill Blue 144, Common Blue 5, Gatekeeper 3, Holly Blue 1, Meadow Brown 192, Peacock 2, Red Admiral 2, Small Heath 4, Small White 3, Wall 3. Then I headed to Friston Gallops to see the Chalkhill Blue spectacular and was amazed by the numbers shimmering on the down. They seemed to favour the sweet smelling thyme. I also saw Adonis Blue, Common Blue, Small Copper, Brimstones, Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

The girls returned from a walk yesterday evening proudly carrying a caterpillar on a stick. Asking my expert opinion (never a good idea) I announced it was a Poplar Hawk-moth. Having pondered this fact further I checked properly and realised the red blotches were a bit bigger than expected. So actually it turned out to be a Lime Hawk-moth caterpillar. Unfortunately it was carrying a couple of wounds, possibly from a bird attack and was leaking hemolymph so it may not survive. I found some lime leaves this morning so fingers crossed. Yesterday evening we had a quick walk down the Downlink at dusk to look for Glow-worms. TQ2016. Initially enquiring if they needed to be quiet, I said oh yes!. However 5 seconds later and after a further 20 mins of "this is a waste of time" we actually found three Glow-worms, shining brightly at about 9.00 p.m. Surprisingly then then followed a period of silence as these little miracles of nature were investigated. This morning was cool and misty and on the Downslink the Brown Hairstreak males finally became active in the ash trees at about 7.45 and I eventually got some tricky long shots of them basking. I saw around ten which is the most I have ever seen, As The Brown Hairstreak is our largest hairstreak they are quite easy to see once you get your eye in and its worth checking Ash trees close to Sloes, if Brown Hairstreaks are known to be near you. (Richard Roebuck)

A nice long walk around Edburton Hill today produced lots of butterflies including 27 Walls, 6 Dark Green Fritillaries, 4 Chalkhill Blues, Painted Lady, Small Tortoisehsell, Brimstone, 6 Peacocks, a Large Skipper, 20 Small or Essex Skippers, 6 Marbled Whites, 6 Common Blues, Speckled Wood, Small Heath and numerous Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers. Also 2 Chalk Carpets and several Silver Ys. (Tony Wilson)

My father, Roy Symonds reports the following sightings from Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve (SU824098) where the temperature was 23C with sunny periods. Large White (1), Small White (2), Brimstone (4M 2F), Meadow Brown (50+), Gatekeeper (2), Comma (1), Red Admiral (1), Common Blue (2), Small Skipper (1). (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)

Following trapped in my north Portslade garden: Brussels Lace, Ruby Tiger, Silver Y, Scalloped Oak, Buff Ermine, Garden Tiger, Nut-tree Tussock, Yellow-tail, Brown-tail, Buff Arches, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Common Rustic, Campion, Pale Prominent, Knot Grass, Oak Eggar, Marbled Green, Lackey, Willow Beauty, Pale Mottled Willow, Peppered Moth, Brimstone Moth. Micros included Meal Moth (Pyralis Farinalis), Endotricha Flammealis, Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas Postvittana), Small Magpie. (Darryl Perry)

It has been a curious year to date. Today in my Storrington garden, Peacock, Large White and Brimstone have become a bit more evident. Two Peacock stayed all day, female Brimstone stayed most of the day and two Large Whites put in a brief late appearance. It was interesting to watch the female Brimstone as it nectared on Viburnum, Verbena bonariensis, Wisteria and then Sweet Pea. Brimstone usually pass through my garden very quickly so it was nice to to see this female at close quarters. I think I have now 'lost' Large Skipper but Holly Blues (1-3) are daily and settle just long enough to attempt a photograph. (Martin Kalaher)

Libby and I meet up with Bob Foreman and his wife Jo at the Gallops to see the colony of Chalkhills that Mike, Michael and Neil wrote about so enthusiastically last week. The majority are now past their best but the numbers are still quite high, although I would imagine they will have dropped since the time of the reported "Explosion". What was quite wonderful to see was the abundant opportunity to observe Chalkhill behavior. Bob and I watched a female chasing a particularly immaculate male... "That's not how it should be" said Bob. I also saw males exhibiting clearly homosexual courtship.
However, the most interesting observations were made by the multiple opportunities to see heterosexual courtship and copulation. On one occasion I watched a couple on the flower head of a Sealfheal plant. Here the female was desperately trying to remove herself from the grasp of the male by continuously contracting her abdominal muscles. To avoid this happening the male would occasionally fly off with her, suspended beneath him, until he had to rest again on another flower. At which point she would gird her loins again, take a foot hold and then start to prise herself away. The male would now undertake an alternative strategy, as she pulled he would follow, backwards, from his perspective. And so they would preform this copulatory dance on the top of the flower, never quite resting, just moving around and around the flower head. Eventually she succeeded but I had 15 mins to photograph them, in this sexual tug of war.
Whilst there, we also saw the Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, Small Skippers, some lovely fresh Small Coppers, Small Whites (along the boarders) and Jo and Libby spotted and photographed a delightfully fresh pair of Small Blues.
This last observation got me thinking and so on our way home we stopped off at the Hollingbury reserve, Brighton (nr ASDA) and here I saw about 8 Small Blues catching the last rays of the Sun, which at 19.30 was very low in the sky. A perfect time for photography. Here I also saw a Marbled White, which I think is a first for the site. It was a great afternoon, with great company. (Dan Danahar)

Ruby Tiger caught in Moth Trap Today. (George Kinnard)

Was delighted to see a Wall Brown soon after I arrived at the garden I work in just north of Shoreham airport TQ196063. During the day I also saw a male Brimstone, a Green-veined White, some Meadow Browns, two Peacocks and a Red Admiral.
Wednesday 8 August 2012A lovely three hours spent walking round Bullock Hill and the Castle Hill nature reserve north east of Woodingdean. Warm and drizzly and lots of butterflies. The highlight for me was multiples of Wall Browns, three in the same view at one point, two males and a female. Was accompanied by them along the path for quite a distance on both the north and the south parts of the circuit as they dallied from one bare patch of earth to the next. I saw at least 5 individuals and it was possibly more. Also saw lots of Chalkhill Blues, Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, unidentified skippers, Marbled Whites, Six-spot Burnet moths and one Small Copper, one Small Blue and one Dark Green Fritillary. There was lots of round headed rampion, especially thick above the track overlooking Standean Bottom from the north. I also found what I thought was an occupied cocoon of an Emperor Moth, but it was in the grass which doesn't fit with what I've looked up in books. (Tessa Pawsey)

Wednesday 8 August 2012

There's little doubt that the awful weather we've suffered this year is still affecting the butterfly calendar. Last weekend I crossed the county line to look at a couple of Hampshire venues where a few Purple Emperors have been recorded this season. Emperors failed to show but at least 15 freshly emerged Brimstones were very busy nectaring along the ride edges, oblivious to members of the opposite sex. The first flush of summer Brimstones is usually seen in the later part of July. Usually keeping to the same timetable is the Peacock, but it was only yesterday (8th August) that I first saw the species in any numbers this summer. 5 or 6 brand new males were gliding between the thistles in a rough meadow below Cissbury Ring, accessed via Findon Valley. Male Purple Emperors are still being seen with some regularity, even in Sussex where numbers have been low this season. In most years I give up looking for Emperors on about the 25th July. The season is still running two weeks late! (Neil Hulme)

Garden in Ditchling BN6 8UD. Nice large garden full of flowers and shrubs  very few butterflies  only 5 Gatekeepers and 4 Large White. (Ray Chatfield)

Buff-tip moth (above) seen in our East Preston Garden. (George Kinnard)

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Richard Roebuck's Suitcase Square Report: here

Mike Mullis's Suitcase Square Report: here

It was another irritating (Force 5) breeze spoils a day when the sun occasional shines through the clouds. On the small garden at the entrance to PC World on the top road at Hove the lawn/meadow contained Bird's Foot Trefoil and about twenty small male Common Blue Butterflies were fluttering around including my first brown female of the year. There was also a few Meadow Browns and Speckled Woods in the brief few minutes of sunshine. Underneath tree canopy a first of the year Migrant Hawker (dragonfly) looked menacing but the butterflies were fluttering around and chasing each other very quickly. After examining the out of focus record photographs, I discovered that the blue butterflies included at least one Holly Blue. The bright yellow fluttering in Southwick was a fresh Brimstone Moth. Large Whites and a Gatekeeper were recorded in Shoreham. (Andy Horton, Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List)

This Peacock was seen at Arundel near the Black Rabbit. (George Kinnard)

Richard Roebuck e-mailed to point out that there was a fascinating report on the World's largest butterfly, Queen Alexandra's Birdwing, and its conservation was on BBC Radio 4 yesterday morning, listen to it here.

Monday 6 August 2012

Another short visit after work to the Chalkhill Blues at Friston Gallops produced a very smart Pyrausta nigrata moth hiding in the undergrowth. The wind was keeping the numbers of blues down but still big numbers there including many fresh specimens. (Bob Eade)

I don't get the impression that too many Common Blues have been seen lately, so I'm glad to report both a male and a female in my flower meadow today. Also Speckled Wood and a Peacock (haven't seen one for a long time). This makes a total of 14 species in the garden in two days. (Martin Kalaher, Storrington)

Any fritillary is a very rare visitor to my Crawley Down garden, so I was surprised to see this Silver-washed Fritillary feeding on a buddleia. (Jonathan Ruff)

I first reported large numbers of Chalkhill Blues at Friston Gallops on 25th July, and having read the more recent reports of the population "explosion" there, I had to go back today and see it for myself. In contrast to my previous visit, weather conditions were breezy and much cooler, but there were still large numbers in flight. There were also a lot more females this time, with many of them being ardently pursued by one or more suitors. On the other hand, some of the males were looking distinctly past their best. Perhaps this year's emergence has now peaked.
For the record, I think it's worth saying that there were large numbers of Chalkhills on this site last year, as I reported on 3rd August 2011. I said then that "there were literally hundreds -- probably thousands", but to be honest, I was probably being conservative in my estimate. From my memory of seeing the number flying all over the gallops site, I would say that they were nearly as abundant and widespread as they are this year. I know this is very unscientific, but I am just going on my subjective impression. (Andy Wilson)

A White-letter Hairstreak found on Wild Carrot, on the meadow opposite YHA East Dean Road Eastbourne. Thought it was getting a bit late and nice to see a ground shot rather than just Brown Images on the tops of trees. Just shows what a crazy year we are having with the weather. (Anna Grist & Peter Coyston)

News for Wednesday 25 July: Purple Emperors at Southwater: Purple Emperors seen on 25th July in Madgeland Wood near the Trout Lane entrance master trees - grid ref. TQ132257. 2 males fought repeatedly in the top half of the canopy and the female (above) came down to lay eggs within a few feet of us. (Julie and Malcolm Redford)

Sunday 5 August 2012

I Finally did my big butterfly count yesterday in a grass field next to the Downs Link. Apart from the more familiar species I was pleased to see my first Painted Lady of the year nectaring on some flowering teasels. It was slightly worn and I had the suspicion that with the recent south westerly winds it had probably arrived via the Adur valley from the coast. I spent much of yesterday wandering around the Downslink and it was also noticeable that there were a lot of newly emerged Holly Blues (6) and numerous Speckled Woods. The pristine Red Admirals I saw were just fabulous. There has suddenly been a lot of interest in Chalkhills at Friston so I headed down to Butchershole again arriving at about 7.15. Indeed the Chalkhills were as abundant as my last visit but many were showing signs of wear and tear although pristine individuals were still plentiful. I also noted that the numbers of Small Coppers had risen considerably so perhaps they also had benefitted from the spring weather. I was also pleased to see two Common Blues increasing my sightings by 100% for this year. It was a wonderful time of the morning with lots of species just warming up. Ironically I was actually a little too late to catch groups of roosting individuals as many Chalkhills were on the wing. After an hour I departed and went to the Downslink at Henfield and at 10.30 I spotted my first Brown Hairstreak of the year high in an Ash tree. I got an excellent view through my binoculars whist it sat on the tip of a an Ash leaf. I presume it was a male as there was a very brief tussle with a second individual. (Richard Roebuck)

A single male Purple Emperor at the Brickkiln Ponds territory (SU756093) near Stansted Forest, sadly with nothing else to fight with. (Neil Hulme)

Spent the day visiting various sites in East Sussex. Highlights were the carpet of Chalkhill Blues at Friston along with 5 Small Blues. I then moved on to Cradle Hill and valley where I found several Wall Browns, another Small Blue and a colony of Brown Argus. I then started to find Silver-spotted Skippers and saw at least a dozen of them at various points along the valley. I then crossed the road and made my way back up to High and Over car park and was pleased to find another Silver-spotted Skipper on the slope as I've not seen them on this side of the road before. Then it was back to Hailsham where I found a Holly Blue in the middle of an estate before finishing off with a walk around the Hellingly tetrad where the highlight was 2 Purple Hairstreaks (both in areas where I've not seen them before). A great day in the sunshine and 23 species seen! (Chris Hooker)

This Common Blue (above) was seen at Angmering Park Estate on the 5th August. (George Kinnard)

Today we went for a lovely walk across The Gallops at Friston Forest to view the thousands of Chalkhill Blues. We also saw a Brimstone, a Brown Argus, a Red Admiral, a handful of Small Skippers, Meadow Brown, Gatekeepers and a few Six-spot Burnet. Very enjoyable! (Nick & Sharon Linazasoro)

Because of the dreadful weather I missed the peak emergence of Chalkhill Blues on Mill Hill this year. (The Chalkhill Blue Butterflies tend to emerge simultaneously over two days at the turn of the month.) On the first suitable (if far from ideal) day a trip to the lower slopes of Mill Hill discovered only 90 in the transect acre on a cloudy cool (>18.0 C ) day. There were 86 males seen and four females including two mating pairs. There were further male Chalkhill Blues occasionally noted on the middle and upper part of Mill Hill exceeding ten to bring the total over a hundred seen in an hour. Thirteen butterfly species (the most in a single day so far this year) and two macro moths. (Andy Horton)

There were 12 species of butterfly in my Storrington garden today with approximate numbers: Gatekeeper (12), Meadow Brown (9), Holly Blue (3), male Common Blue (1), Small White (2), Large White (1), male Brimstone (1), Small Skipper (2), Large Skipper (1), Small Copper (1), Red Admiral (2) and pride of place Painted Lady (1). Photos enclosed. (Martin Kalaher)

On Sunday morning I walked the half hour or so from my central Brighton home to Bevendean to show a friend the flowers and butterflies in Hog Trough. She was satisfyingly impressed by the beautiful variety of grassland flowers and the Chalkhill Blues were around in good numbers (can't compete with the Friston area!). As we sat and picnicked we were surrounded by their shimmer. There were many more females in evidence than when I went over last sunday. There were also good numbers of Marbled Whites, skippers which I don't know which ones, Meadow Browns, Six-spot Burnets, Gatekeepers and a beautiful new Small Copper. We spent two hours up there and did'nt see anyone else, lovely for us but a shame that more people in the town don't know or maybe care about what is right on their doorstep. (Tessa Pawsey)

Saturday 4 August 2012, Chalkhill Blue Explosion  More

Sherie New's Suitcase Square Report: here

Yesterday (4th August) I returned to Friston Gallops for another helping of this mind-blowing event. This time I retraced Michael Blencowe's and Mike Mullis' footsteps, as I was keen to see for myself how far along the huge site this Chalkhill extravaganza continued. Despite their report I was still amazed at the numbers way back towards the coast, such a distance away from the core area. In previous years, even when the population has been high, there were very few away from the northern part of the grassland. Unsurprisingly, when exceptional numbers appear, the variety in the gene pool comes tumbling out. As the butterflies began to roost I made a quick search for aberrant forms, finding 7 ab. postcaeca (6 male and a stunning female) in about 45 minutes. (Neil Hulme)

Way back in September 2011 I planned today's Grayling Festival walk over the Downs and hoped we'd spot 30 butterfly species. We've managed to acheive this record before at the Grayling Festival in August but I hadn't counted on 2012 being the worst butterfly year on record! 18 people joined me in the county's bumpiest car park and, as we climbed Windover Hill, I wondered whether we'd see 30 butterflies - let alone 30 species! The threatening grey skies meant that butterflies were in short supply but at the top of the hill the hardy Grayling put on a good show to keep the crowd happy. On the way down to the car park we added Dark Green Fritillary, Wall and Silver-spotted Skipper to the list making a total of 15 species. To make up for not delivering 30 species I promised to give the crowd a few hundred thousand butterflies instead and we whizzed 'round the corner to Friston Gallops. By now the sun had emerged and the amazing Chalkhill Blue spectacle was in full swing leaving people speechless - it really is a sight to behold! We also added 5 more species to our tally including Small Blue and Dingy Skipper. Thanks to everyone who came along today (Michael Blencowe)

One Brown Argus near Jupps View area and a single Common Carpet near the Visitors centre also a Sharp-angled Carpet and a single Ringlet. (George Kinnard and Roger Billings)

On the assumption that today everybody would be heading East for the Chalkhill explosion, we decided on a quieter location and visited Newtimber Hill instead. Species seen were: Marbled Whites, Chalkhill Blues, Small Coppers, Small and Large Whites, a Small Heath, a number of fresh Common Blues, still masses of Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers, a Brown Argus and good numbers (16+) of Silver-spotted Skippers including a mating pair. (Pauline Batchelor)

I had a wonderful few hours slowly and carefully walking around The Gallops at Friston Forest. There were literally thousands of Chalkhill Blues. I really had to be careful where I walked so as not to tread on any of them! Also spotted were Marbled White, Meadow Brown, Large White, Small White, Small Copper, Brown Argus, Gatekeeper, Small Heath, Small Skipper etc. Very enjoyable!
Also, I had a nice walk around Abbots Wood and saw Green-veined White, Small Skipper, Silver-washed Fritillary etc. (Nick Linazasoro)

Delighted to get a quick sighting of a Wall Brown while on my allotment on Whitehawk Hill in Brighton TQ329046. It was on a lavender flower but flew off as I approached. Each year I get a couple of sitings of lone Wall Browns up there to tantalise and cheer me. (Tessa Pawsey)

Spent Saturday afternoon touring the woods of Streat and Southwater. Eventually, during a sunny spell on the edge of Marlpost Wood in late afternoon, I saw my first ever definite Purple Emperor - wonderful! That's now 42 Sussex species this year; will I manage to find the full set? (Chris Hooker)

Following on from Friday's Chalkhill Blue excitement on the Downs, I had half an hour to kill mid-pm yesterday (Sat) so thought it worth trying for a second Big Butterfly Count on my temporarily neglected Herstmonceux plot as July's snapshot was a little disappointing. On a warm, breezy and sunny afternoon, I strolled around the wild flower banks and buddleia by the parking area, hacked a path into the overgrown front paddock then forced my way into the jungle-like upper plot, scythe in hands! In fifteen minutes or so, I found 8 Red Admirals, 6 Peacocks, plus solitary Small Tortoiseshell (the highlight!), Comma and Painted Lady all feeding on or flying near the buddleia. Also seen were a Small Copper nectaring on ragwort nearby, 10 Gatekeepers, 15 rather faded Meadow Browns and a couple of tatty Ringlets around the meadow and brambles bushes where there were also singles of a faded Small and a lightly fresher Essex Skipper in the long grass. I was fortunate with the whites as both Large and Small White put in an appearance plus 2 Green-veined Whites over yet more brambles. Finally, braving the stinging nettles and invisible thorns over the bracken-strewn path to the upper plot, I put up a male Speckled Wood and saw a fly-by Holly Blue... so 16 species in 15 minutes. Visible moths were limited to two Six-Spot Burnets and a Silver-Y. Also patrolling the plot were 3 Brown Hawkers, 1 Southern Hawker, 2 Migrant Hawkers and 2 Common Darters. Think I really need to spend an hour or two with the brush-cutter... but only to re-instate the paths! (Mike Mullis)

Friday 3 August 2012 - Chalkhill Blue Explosion!

On Thursday morning I witnessed something rivalled only by the great Painted Lady emergence on the Downs near Keymer in 2009. At Friston Gallops I saw the Chalkhill Blue in numbers rarely seen since Victorian times. I counted a number of 1 metre squares and came to an average of 5.2, with the highest count being 33 (not gathered on faeces - just lying in the grass). I stopped counting pairs 'in cop' at 150. Despite cool, overcast and windy conditions, whenever a little warmth forced its way through the cloud the whole ground appeared to move, shimmering in silvery-blue as far ahead as I could see. I used the bamboo cane I carry to put them up during periods when the majority were grounded, in order to save as many as possible from my foot-fall. It made for an incredible sight. I've seen the species in thousands here before, but currently the numbers are far in excess of anything I've ever experienced, with the exception of the Keymer Ladies. I have used satellite imagery to determine the area over which I saw the butterflies in these numbers; an area substantially greater than 30,000 square metres, although they occurred in lesser densities in large areas of longer grass towards the top of the slope and for some distance to the south. In order to play safe, as these quantities will always be difficult to determine accurately, I estimate that there must be between 150,000 and 200,000 Chalkhill Blues on the wing here, in the relatively small area surveyed.
I asked Michael Blencowe and Mike Mullis to make an independent assessment of these huge numbers, and their efforts to monitor the entire site continued throughout today (3rd August). I also returned this morning, this time with my father, primarily to capture the event on video, but we had to retreat after a thorough soaking. While there, it soon became evident from the large number of paired butterflies (up to 4 pairs seen in a single metre square) that the emergence continues at a phenomenal pace, and will probably peak sometime next week (6th August onwards). After assessing a few more 1 metre squares, and taking into consideration the rather conservative figure used for the area on which to base my calculations, I suspect that the true number is well in excess of my original estimate.
Update: Michael and Mike have now completed their much more exhaustive survey of the entire Friston Gallops grassland area, much of which is improving as the result of a change in the cutting regime, following discussions between the Forestry Commission and Butterfly Conservation. Their total figure of 820,000 does not surprise me, and I suspected that the number just at the northern end of the site might be in the order of half a million, but initially didn't want to venture such a figure without some corroborative evidence.
In such a poor year for most butterflies, why are we seeing such an abundance of Chalkhill Blues? I suspect that the ultimate size of the potentially largest colonies is often limited by the availability of suitable food-plants, with droughting and competition for resources being a common scenario in most summers. This year we are all-too-aware of the conditions that will have led to exceptionally lush growth of the horseshoe vetch, for once capable of supporting a veritable army of Chalkhill Blue caterpillars.
Of related interest, in the last week or so we have had reports of Chalkhill Blue males well off the Downs, at Hailsham Country Park, Horam and Coggins Mill near Mayfield. These three sites plot out on a straight line trending south to north. Friston Gallops lies to the SSW, with the greatest distance from Friston being Coggins Mill at 17.5 miles.
Make no mistake, this is the big butterfly event of the year in Sussex (and further afield). Get out there and enjoy it, but if visiting in dull weather please make every attempt possible to avoid treading on too many! (Neil Hulme)

Friston Gallops: The field to the east of Friston Forest has always put on a good show of Chalkhill Blues in late Summer. In the past 5 years of living here it has been a pleasure to watch thousands of Chalkhill Blues turn the rabbit grazed downland at the north of the Gallops into a shimmering blue. In recent years Butterfly Conservation has worked with the Forestry Commission, Natural England to assist the farmer who manages this area to create other Chakhill Blue friendly habitats throughout the Gallops.
Yesterday Neil Hulme contacted me to say that numbers at the north end of the Gallops were exceptional and today, armed with a tape measure, I walked up to Gallops and joined Neil & Eric Hulme and Mike Mullis to witness this spectacle. There were incredible numbers of Chalkhill Blues up there however, as we reached The Gallops the heavens opened in typical summer 2012 style and we ended up getting a right good soaking. Depsite this we still saw thousands of Chalkhill Blues and it was clear that 2012 was going to be a really special year at this site. After we dried off Mike and I decided to survey the entire site and estimate the numbers of Chalkhill Blue present here. The weather conditions were breezy and overcast and most of the butterflies only flew when they were approached. The site is around 250,000 metres square and we walked up and down it (twice) estimating the number of Chalkhill Blues in a number of compartments. Chalkhill Blues were present in all areas of the site - in most years they are concentrated at the north and south ends. There are now pockets of great Chalkhill Blue habitat across the site where the butterflies averaged around 5 per square metre. However at their usual favoured site (on the slopes above Butchershole Bottom car park) they have reached plague proportions! I have never seen so many butterflies in my life; at one point there was a blizzard of Blue all around me, I had to raise my arm over my face to get through! I estimated 15 per square metre in one corner of this area! When we returned home we did the maths and our rough calculations estimated that there are 827,897 Chalkhill Blues at Friston Gallops - and this I think is an under-estimate! There must be well over a million butterflies spread across this site. Absolutely amazing! We also saw 3 Small Blues, 2 Small Copper and a Red Admiral. (Michael Blencowe)

I met up with Michael B. yesterday to see the Chalkhill Blue phenomenom (seen/reported by Neil and Michael on above) and help him count the butterflies on a hillside near the Gallops along the eastern edge of Friston Forest. We soon met up with Neil H. and Mr Hulme senior but at that point the heavens opened and despite sheltering under trees for half an hour, we all had a good soaking with the rain not readily relenting. We'd only covered a small area of grassland above Butchers Hole (where there's an FC car-park - 1.50 for the duration) but with cloud down and rain still falling, we had to tread very carefully as butterflies were marooned on rabbit-cropped turf and understandably reluctant or unable to fly. There were obviously huge numbers of Chalkhill Blue present so it was frustrating for Neil and co. who'd travelled from West Sussex with only a limited time-slot. Michael and I aborted our attempted count to grab a sandwich and dry out back at his house in the hope of better conditions after lunch. Fortunately, the weather improved by 1pm so we returned to the Gallops and set off northwards along the slopes. The chalk grassland is very mixed, the best patches are where the short-cropped turf is full of flowering wild thyme and heavily rabbit-grazed, though still leafy, horseshoe vetch clumps. Elsewhere, the majority of it is typically herb-rich chalk grassland with a few patches of less flowery, longer, rank grass flattened by wind and rain, especially between the horse-jumps. Butterfly densities varied considerably, some of the rank grass patches were virtually devoid of Chalkhill Blues but the more flowery stretches held up to 3-4 butterflies /m2. There were, however, several large areas of heavily-grazed, flowery turf where butterflies were rising up in waist-high clouds of up to 50-100+ at a time as we walked through. Here, numbers were averaging 5+ per m2 on the ground with one or two spots holding double figure counts per m2, especially two areas of 80-100m x 50m of steepish turf at the northern end of these slopes. Overall, we covered an area of chalk grassland about 1.5km in length which is about half way to Jevington along the eastern edge of Friston Forest, after which the open grassland narrows to a grassy area and track along the edge of the wood with fenced-off sheep-grazed pasture on the eastern slopes below the track.
So how many Chalkhill Blue butterflies were there on the day? Estimates are always going to be highly speculative but there are certainly a phenomenal number up there at the moment. Neil H. came up with a conservative count of 200,000+ on his Thursday visit but yesterday's search covered a bigger area and who am I to doubt Michael's frantic use of the calculator back at his patio table, based on our joint-estimates of m2 densities over various paced-out grassland zones across the whole area. His final figure on the day was 800,000+ with well over 200+ mating pairs but the peak total for this colony will be very difficult to accurately calculate and there may be losses after any torrential downpours. So if the sun comes out this week-end, feel free to start counting again .. but do tread carefully! I agree with Neil that the most likely reason for these incredible numbers is the dire wet spring/summer of 2012 so every cloud has at least had a silver - or rather chalkhill blue  lining on the Downs of East Sussex. This year's abnormal rainfall has undoubtedly produced an abundance of leafy Horseshoe Vetch growth so the larval survival rates have been considerably higher than normal when the plants presumably get rapidly stripped of foliage in dryer years. It will be interesting to see if the imminent emergence of Adonis Blues bears this theory out. Other butterflies on the slopes and along the Forest edge included the usual ubiquitous Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper plus occasional Small Heath, Small Copper, Common Blue, Small Blue, Brown Argus, Small White, Red Admiral, Comma and Small Skipper. We also found a black adder basking in the long grass near the track along the woodland edge and a juvenile cuckoo struggling to fly across the slopes in the stiff breeze. It's well worth walking along that track around 5-6pm to see the incredible numbers of Chalkhill Blue roosting in long grass up there - I counted over 50 butterflies in one single m2 patch by the track just after 6pm. (Mike Mullis )

Wandered around Hailsham Park today between showers and saw 11 species including several Small and Essex Skippers, 2 Chalkhill Blues, 3 Common Blues, a Holly Blue, 2 Small Coppers and the usual selection of Whites and Browns. (Chris Hooker)

News for Thursday 2 August: On Thursday we did a circular walk from Rodmell to the Ouse, then on to Southease and back to Rodmell. As well as the expected Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers and Red Admirals there was a Peacock on the fringe of Rodmell, a couple of Small Tortoiseshells on the open land towards the Ouse, an Essex Skipper near the river and finally the first Wall butterfly that we've seen for some time. The wall was just north of Southease, a short distance along the permissive which runs back to Rodmell on the east side of the road. (John A Heys)

Thursday 2 August 2012

Following recent Purple Emperor sightings in East Sussex by Peter Farrant (Warningore Wood) and Michael Blencowe (Wadhurst and Middleton Plantation/Brocks Wood), I headed to the latter location with Michael this afternoon, after being blown out of Warningore by the inclement weather . In the breifest of sunny spells, and despite strong winds, we saw a pair of males in combat at 15.30 hrs, followed by a very large female in the wayleave at just past 16.00 hrs. We can now confirm the source of the Emperors which have visited the back garden bird table of a B&B in the nearby village of Streat in recent years. (Neil Hulme)

I was very pleased to see a Marbled Green Moth which had landed near by a light! Lovely moth! Also 2 Buff Ermine seen as well. Location in a Private Garden in East Preston West Sussex. (George Kinnard)

News forWednesday 1 August:
Yesterday, I estimated there were at least 800 Small Whites in two fields on the west side of Thorney Island,also 2 male Oak Eggars seen on the wing. (Barry Collins)

Wednesday 1 August 2012

It's great to see that we are getting reports of Purple Emperors from new sites across Sussex. This elusive butterfly is one of the species that will be hard to accurately map in our Sussex Butterfly Atlas survey so I'd certainly encourage people to try and look up over the next week or so when they are out and about. Unfortunately the 2012 weather conditions are not ideal for Emperor spotting but it's still worth giving it a try if you get the chance. We currently have records for Purple Emperor in 53 2km squares across the county. Peter Farrant's records from Warningore have been added to our database and our map now shows that there is a high chance of finding Purple Emperor just 22 minutes drive away from Brighton Pier! My record last year near Ashcombe Bottom was just 2 miles from the Brighton and Hove border - start planting those sallows in the Butterfly Haven, Dr Danahar! Purple Emperors have been recorded at sites around Plumpton, Westmeston and Streat over the past five years. I believe that woodlands in this whole area will currently hold Purple Emperors if the habitat is suitable. For this reason I am placing the following woodlands on full Purple Alert for the next seven days: Great Home Wood (TQ3718), Markstakes Common (TQ4017), Spithurst Wood (TQ4317), Knowlands Wood (TQ4017) If you live near these woods or able to visit them please grab your binoculars and give it a go. To be honest, looking over historic data, this Purple Alert applies to any woodland in Sussex north of a line from East Brighton to Rye. So, Abbots Wood, Titnore Wood, Woods Mill, Sheffield Park, Five Hundred Acre Wood, Darwell Wood this includes you too. The truth is out there - keep watching the skies. (Michael Blencowe)

Walked around part of Hailsham Park close to my house this afternoon and it's proving to be quite a butterfly site. I recorded 11 species with the biggest surprise being 5 Chalkhill Blues as I've never seen them away from the Downs before. I also found several Small Skippers and a solitary Essex Skipper nearby (which was easily confirmed through my binoculars) as well as the tatty Marbled White that I saw yesterday. Other species included 2 Purple Hairstreaks (I have found 3 colonies here and a possible 4th one), my first Peacock for almost 2 months and several fresh Common Blues. And all of this in an area of about an acre. (Chris Hooker)

On Edburton Hill the rare chalk downland moth the Chalk Carpet is reaching its peak at the moment  I found 7 yesterday, with 3 in a different spot the day before and 2 in my garden nearby. The Chalkhill Blue count reached 39 which is an all-time best for me and other butterflies were 3 Dark Green Fritillaries (including one very fresh one), 2 Wall Browns, 2 Ringlets and the usual browns. In the garden my run of good moths continues with a Waved Black, another Small Scallop, 3 Rosy Footman and best of all a very rare micro  Acleris umbrana (confirmed by Colin Pratt). Finally, Ive been watching a Poplar Hawk-moth munching the goat willow leaves right outside my bathroom window during the day! (Tony Wilson)

Tuesday 31 July 2012

Nearing the end of a series of butterfly surveys in the High Weald yesterday and my first meadow of the day (near Coggins Mill north-east of Mayfield) quickly produced ten species - mostly our typical High Weald butterflies (such as Red Admiral, Comma, Essex Skipper, Small Skipper, Meadow Brown) - when I suddenly saw what I assumed to be a rather pale, second-brood Common Blue for species number eleven. I thought it looked a bit odd at the time but put this down to the damaged left hindwing. I managed to get a fleeting pic before it rapidly disappeared... and didn't double-check the photo until uploading them all late last night. Must admit it now looks amazingly like a Chalkhill Blue to me - I didn't see or record any other blues in the area yesterday although all the meadows have plenty of Bird's Foot and Large Bird's Foot Trefoil... and I've recorded Common Blue there in reasonable numbers during previous visits. What do you think? If you can confirm it IS Polyommatus coridon, I have a theory that it's probably weather-related. There was a very dark 'curtain' of thundery cloud late on Sunday afternoon stretching eastwards from the South Downs near Polegate to the Heathfield-Battle ridge. This was very visible from the Pevensey Levels where I was cycling although we had no rain or thunder & lightning there at all, yet this localised belt of thundery, wet weather was moving quickly east just to the north of the Herstmonceux area. So it's not impossible that local gusts could have carried this butterfly away from the Downs... unless anyone can suggest otherwise!? (Mike Mullis)

At the expected peak period for the Chalkhill Blue Butterflies I felt obliged to check out Mill Hill althought the conditions were far from ideal with overcast skies and a very irritating breeze (Force 5) and cool (> 18.6C). On Mill Hill the pattern of roosting butterflies emerged with almost having to step on any butterflies to get them to show. On the lower slopes one acre transect I counted 56 Chalkhill Blues which comprised 54 active males and one mating pair spotted in about 30 minutes. The actual numbers are likely to be higher, at least double and possible many more. There were a further 30 Chalkhill Blues seen in other places including at least 24 on Mill Hill Cutting. Six other species of butterfly were seen in unfavourable conditions including a splendid fresh Wall Brown on Mill Hill. (Andy Horton, Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List)

30 July: Cycled up to the Long Man and found plenty of Grayling despite the clouds and strong wind. Also saw a Dark Green Fritillary, plenty of Chalkhill Blues, 2 fresh Small Coppers and loads of Meadow Browns.
31 July: The drizzle stopped so I decided to do a butterfly count around Hailsham Park. And I was glad that I did, recording my first ever Essex Skipper along with an unexpected Marbled White (my first sighting at this site). I also found a Common Blue, Large White and several Gatekeepers. Even in dull weather butterflying can still be good! (Chris Hooker)

News for Monday 30 July: Yesterday I did my normal transect at the Butterfly Haven and recorded Small (5) and Essex Skipper (14) Small Copper (1) Common Blue (6) Gatekeeper (6) and Meadow Brown (35). Whilst I was there I took a few photographs of the skippers because with the worn and tattered look of some of them, it was becoming more and more difficult to differentiate between the two species. I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that where previously there were only Essex skippers on the site, recording them was easy, now I think I'm going to have to take a net to give definitive identification for every insect I encounter.
Either-way, I have included two photos that show the diagnostic feature that I find most easy to use to separate the two species, the antenna. In the Essex Skipper it's quite clear that the underside of the antenna looks like it has been dipped into Indian Ink, whilst in the case of the Small Skipper there appears to be no traces of the black on the underside of the antenna. It's also clear from the photo of the Small Skipper that the antenna bends into a slight hook at the end, a feature I had not been aware of until pointed out to me by one of the participant on the butterfly walk I led at Wildpark, on Saturday 28th July. (editors note: these features are also clearly apparent in the skipper photos from Mike Mullis above)
I raise this here because the reason why we were discussing these two species was because one of the participants, Peter Couston, had captured a crippled Skipper and had placed it into a transparent container for us all to see. One of the other participants said "a ha, an Essex Skipper" and passed it on to me. I was expecting the distinctive black tip but this was not the case. The antenna was very dark grey at the end and instead of having an abrupt stop this colouration gently blended into the rest of the antenna. For the first time I could not decide what species I was looking at and I have never had a problem doing so before.
We didn't actually come to any conclusion and soon after released the specimen. However, having seen two clearly distinctive species the very next day I have found myself wondering what it was we captured? Was this a strange manifestation of the way it emerged from the pupa, as the crippled nature of its wings seem to suggest? Was it as a consequence of unusual temperatures during its maturation inside the pupa or wilder even still, were we looking at a hybrid? Unfortunately I didn't even contemplate taking a photograph. I plan to go back when the weather is a little better to have a better look at this population. (Dan Danahar)

Recent news: I'm not sure if this is a known Purple Emperor territory. I went to look at Warningore Wood, East Sussex on Monday 23rd July, walked up bridleway over summit heading north to end of wood. No sightings, so turned back to summit to have lunch. at 3.22pm saw Purple Emperor male flying over bridleway heading SW. towards hornbeam coppice. at 3.27pm saw settled in territory, a bit later two up. I couldn't believe it, they chased birds, each other, a high flying Meadow Brown and a Red Admiral, I couldn't tell if there were more than two though, but very active, left site at 4.45pm PE still in territory. Returned on tue 24th even more activity, from 2.52pm to 6.21pm. chasing birds again, each other, a Comma, and Red Admiral, by 4.30pm activity had dropped off, but after a while picked up again with two males battling or one circling around territory. On Sat. 28th had another look, between 2.20 and 2,41pm two males again doing their thing, cooler today, wind got up activity stopped. 3.43pm male chasing bird, bird didn't know which way to turn. I left territory at 4.30pm. the site wasn't known to me so was a surprise to find it, a dream come true. (Peter Farrant)

Monday 30 July 2012

Sidlesham: 4 Peacocks, 4 Red Admiral, 1 Speckled Wood, 2 Small Copper, Gatekeepers 20+, Small Skippers 20+, 10 Meadow Browns, 2 Ringlet, Six-spot Burnet. (George Kinnard and Roger Billings)

News from the weekend: On Saturday an early trip to Kithurst Hill gave me a Peacock and an Essex Skipper and Meadow Browns plus the meadow shimmered with the light blue of Chalkhill Blues: http://bit.ly/NQCgId
On Sunday my weekly transect count at Mill hill was Chalkhill Blue 14, Meadow Brown 48, Red Admiral 2, Small Heath 4, Wall Brown 2, Small Skipper 1. The Walls were spotted by Mark and Ian Cadey at the southern end: http://bit.ly/N6IMbD. (Colin Knight)

News for Friday 27 July: It was cool and humid (18.2C, compared to the last two warm days) and a visit to Mill Hill saw fresh Chalkhill Blues emerging. In the the transect acre 91 of the pale blue males appeared in 20 minutes on the verdant lower slopes. As it got warmer (20.1C) more appeared in flight estimated at 150 in the acre and I spotted my first brown female of the year. (Andy Horton, Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List)

Colin Knight's images from last week (below)

Sunday 29 July 2012

On Saturday 28th we walked our Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey square at Truleigh Hill, on the Downs behind Shoreham, and saw a good number of Marbled White, Small Skipper, Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper, along with a few Small Heath, Large White, Ringlet and Chalkhill Blue. The area was alive with Six-spot Burnets and we also recorded the Forester moth, Yellow Shell and Cinnabar.
Today, Sunday 29th, we ventured over near Milland to set up a new Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey square, with storm clouds ominously hanging around us! The conditions werent great and the first 9 of the 10 sections produced mainly Meadow Brown and Large Skippers, and then just as we got to the last section the sun came out. There was a nice hedge and woodland habitat where we were pleased to see Silver-washed Fritillary and White Admiral, and a few White-legged Damselflies too.
As we were over in that direction we printed off one of the suitcase squares, SU8026. By now the storm clouds were dangerously close and distant thunder chivvied us along, wed come this far across the county and nothing was going to get in the way of some butterfly recording. Well I say that, we managed to walk for about 20 minutes before sheets of lightening and big blobs of rain had us running back to the car. But we did manage to record Red Admiral, Meadow Brown, and Gatekeeper for this Atlas square, and we will visit again in August to see what else we can find in finer weather. (Dave and Pen Green)

News for Saturday 28 July: The Butterflies of Wildpark, LNR, Brighton - Nine of us spent time on Saturday at Wildpark to look at the butterflies there. It was overcast some of the time but quite warm all the same. Most of the participants knew as much about butterflies as I did, if not more and it was great the way we worked as a team pointing different species out to each other. The species we saw included: Small Skipper, Large White, Small White, Small Copper, Brown Argus, Chalkhill Blue, Holly Blue, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Speckled Wood, Marbled White, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and Small Heath.
In addition David Larkin (Brighton & Hove Countryside ranger) reported observing Dark-green Fritillaries at WildPark (26th July) and Beacon Hill (29th June). (Dan Danahar)

News for Friday 27 July: Well, it was our tenth wedding anniversary on Friday, so rather than go out for a nice meal or relax and watch a film, we decided to go moth trapping at a site in mid-Sussex that unfortunately meant lugging all our kit 500m from the car! Who says romance is dead.
After an awful year for mothing so far the conditions finally seemed good with lots of cloud cover and a humid and warm evening with little wind. We set up 3 125W MV traps it was a pretty good night for numbers in general with about 75 species in total. We had good numbers of some moths including 15 Drinkers, 8 Coronet, 17 Black Arches along with a couple of Waved Black, a Double Kidney, Ringed China-mark, 2 Kent Black Arches, Evergestis pallidata and Lunar-spotted Pinion.
Best of all though was a reasonably large and well marked micro moth which had us stumped. It looked like a moth called Alabonia geoffrella, but with striking yellow and brown markings. Fortunately we found an image match pretty soon online when we got home and it turned out to be Harpella forficella which has now been confirmed by Tony Davis and Colin Pratt (thanks guys). This species was new to the UK last year and this appears to be the second UK record so possibly one worth keeping an eye out for if you are trapping in Sussex this year.
(Dave and Pen Green)

News for Sunday 22 July:Grid ref SU808219... Nyewood: App 11am 22nd July 2012, splendid male Purple Emperor flew through open door of our conservatory and spent about 30 minutes (presumably seeking minerals) on ancient, dusty linen chair cover and on edges of an old detached Spanish tile. Purple/mauve wings flashing in sunlight and suddenly it disappeared. A wonderful viewing for us who have never seen one in the flesh before and who have lived here for 18 years. There are a number of large oaks around us and some of the Goat Willows in the surrounding woods and hedges seemed to enjoy the recent wet weather. I have been a 'casual' recorder for this square in Sussex in recent years but have lapsed since record sheets have ceased to arrive and have presumed that all should be done on-line. (Shirley Wright, life-member)

Last week's photos (and a report from Richard Roebuck):

Tugley Woods, Ashdown Forest and Butchershole - 23- 25 July. (Andy Wilson)

Stanstead Park, 20 July. (Pat and Peter Gardner)

South of Lavant and North of Chichester, 20 July. (Josse Davis)

Southwater Woods, Alice Holt, Abbots Wood and Kithurst Hill, 20 July. (Colin Knight)

West Dean, 21 July. (Andrew House)

Wolstonbury Hill, Mill Hill, Hollingbury and Henfield, 21 July. (Richard Roebuck)

22 July: The weather forecast finally arrived accurately. So off to Wiston and my favourite spot. On the way I had bumped in to a loan female Silver-washed Fritillary who was well off the beaten track. She was sun bathing in small pools of sunlight at the edge of a wood, there were tall oaks and an under storey of small trees and Elm suckers. As I was early I thought I would watch her for a bit. I soon realised she was there for a specific purpose as she flew off to the nearest tree trunk egg laying in fissures in the bark. She would lay 1, 2 or 3 eggs and then return to sunbathe for about 5 mins and then off again. She chose Oak trunks young and old, Maple and even Yew suckers but avoided dead wood. I even saw her attempt to lay in Moss at the base of a tree and at one point even on a blade of grass. She did return to the same trees several times, so maybe one day I can return with a magnifying glass to see if I can spot an egg. Anyway back to the main point of my visit. I camped out at last year's master trees and despite the correct timing, ideal weather and waiting for ages all I saw were two White Admirals messing about high up. After about 2 hrs. I gave up and went for a walk around a small plantation pondering why things weren't working out. I briefly stopped by a birch tree to take a picture of a nice hutchinsoni Comma. As I stepped back a huge butterfly took to the wing to my left off some bracken, I mean enormous. It circled me once about 8 feet away and then went off like a rocket across the top of a plantation. My God I suddenly realised it was a female Purple Emperor it was clearly brown and the pattern of the wings was pretty clear, there was no purple flash or anything. Wow, I couldn't believe how big it was. I was absolutely amazed. Err what to do now? time sort of stopped temporarily (shock I think). I checked about, but the were no Sallows, no big oaks, perhaps she was just sort of sunbathing. I carried on walking up the hedge line to the corner of the plantation looked up and low and behold immediately behind a very tall turkey Oak I could see a male Purple Emperor on the wing. Great. I sort of camped out here for several hours and was rewarded with seeing two males briefly. I say briefly because what actually happened was there was a hot pursuit where one appeared to chase the other straight out about 50m and then one returned the same route back to the top of the oaks. The second one did not return and the victor patrolled every so often in the baking sunshine at fairly high speed. Later on as the sun moved I eventually saw him through binoculars sitting at the end of an Oak Branch, but he was very high up. A great day but more importantly iris has survived the storms of last summer. Lastly at 7.30 this evening saw two Small Tortoiseshells on a newly mown hay field at Henfield. Marvellous day. (Richard Roebuck)

Storrington, 23 July. (Martin Kalaher)

Wepham, 23 July. (Josse Davis)

'Robin', Pulborough 24 July. (Chris Page)

Kithurst Hill, Iping Common and Southwater Woods (Leigh Prevost)

Hollingbury 26 July. (Peter Whitcomb)

Saturday 28 July 2012

Following the recent report, I popped down to Butchershole at Friston Forest this morning. I have heard of such things before, but nothing could have prepared me for my first experience of quite an extraordinary sight. Literally thousands of Chalkhill Blues many in very good condition . A quite extraordinary sight of butterflies sat all over the ground warming up in the overcast conditions. When there were small gusts of wind the air was full of clouds of butterflies just like leaves whipped up by a breeze. I and several other people were absolutely amazed at the profusion of Chalkhills. I counted near on 40 males on one piece of dog pooh. A male Small Copper just didn't know what to do with himself with so many potential targets. I also saw one tatty Dark Green Fritillary, Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, Comma, Red Admiral and two newly emerged second generation Small Blues. A good number of Six-spot Burnets and a few Silver Ys. A wonderful experience. (Richard Roebuck)

While climbing at Eridge Rocks on Saturday, I'm convinced that I saw a female Purple Emperor. Unfortunately, I was in a somewhat precarious position at the time and only had a fleeting view. The flight pattern was strong, unlike that of the White Admiral. Are there any records of the Emperor in this area? (Rob Bogue)

Mid morning I made the long drive and hike up to Windover Hill in hope of catching my first Grayling sighting. On the way up Chalkhill Blues were everywhere to be seen, they were pretty much the only butterfly I saw. On Windover Hill itself it didn't take too long before I was on my hands and knees looking at my first ever Grayling, to others it might have seemed I was just looking at a bare patch of earth, due to their fantastic camouflage. It is true what they say, off the ten or more I saw, not one opened it's wings for me, or took advantage of a more loftier position. The ground was good enough. Furthermore, I only caught a glimpse of the eye patch on a few occasions. There were a couple of mating pairs as well. Other highlights include an all but brief glimpse of a Silver-spotted Skipper, a Small Heath and numerous Meadow Browns. Walking back down the South Downs Way, I ticked off Gatekeeper (lots around the Gorse Scrub just before the top of the chalk track), at least five Dark Green Fritillaries, and two Marbled Whites. Back at the 'bumpy' carpark in the Southwest corner, there was a small population of Whites, including Large, Small, and Green-veined. I also saw a Six-spot Burnet moth which had just emerged from its papery cocoon. (Leigh Prevost)

Here in Edburton my tiny Chalkhill Blue colony has about 15  20 individuals  not quite Butchershole Bottom numbers but Im always pleased to see the colony still surviving. Also a few Dark Green Fritillaries including daily sightings in the garden where there was also Marbled White and Holly Blue today. The last few nights have been great for moths at my outside lights  Chalk Carpet, Blackneck, Black Arches, Elephant Hawk-moth, Gallium Carpet, Small Emerald, Common Emerald, 2 Rosy Footman, 10 Dingy Footman, 10 Common Footman, 3 Buff Ermines, 3 Drinkers, Blood Vein, Small Waved Umber, Willow Beauty, Engrailed, Haworth's Pug, Green Pug, Chinese Character, Small Pheonix, Small Fan-footed Wave, Dwarf Cream Wave, 4 Riband Waves, Single Dotted Wave, 2 Ruby Tigers, Silver Y, Small China Mark, Crescent Plume, Oncocera semirubella and Epiblema foenella  not bad considering I haven't got a proper moth trap! (Tony Wilson)

Pulborough Brooks: Butterflies sighted were three Gatekeepers, five Ringlet, and we were very pleased to see a Vapourer moth! Lovely day out in the Sun! (George Kinnard and Roger Billings)

Recent news: Following trapped over last 2 nights (26th & 27th July):
Peppered Moth, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Large Yellow Underwing, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Brown-tail, Buff-tip, Privet Hawk-moth, Elephant Hawk-moth, Lackey, Nut-tree Tussock, Buff Ermine, Scalloped Oak, Heart & Dart, Ruby Tiger, Riband Wave, Clay, Common Wainscot, Willow Beauty, July Highflyer. Micros included Endotricha Flammealis, Evergestis Limbata, Acleris Forsskaleana, Willow Ermine (Yponomeuta Rorrella), Crassa Unitella, Monopis Obviella.
(Darryl Perry)

News for Wednesday 25 July: For the first time in the five years we have lived here a Marbled White flew over our meadow and garden on Wednesday 25th July. We've been cultivating the meadow to encourage wild flowers and therefore butterflies, but it was two days too late, we'd cut the hay! (Jenny Huggett)

Friday 27 July

A sighting anecdote from Libby Danahar
After spending most of the week traipsing through hedgerows and Sussex mud with Dan, I finally persuaded him to take a day off yesterday (26th July) and come with me and his son to the Brighton Health and Leisure Club at Falmer, near Brighton. Here we spent most of the afternoon relaxing by the pool in and amongst the aromatic garden flowers. It therefore came as quite a surprise to me to see a Hummingbird hawk-moth flying around the honeysuckle.

Dan was at this point asleep. I was perplexed, should I wake him? Or should I tell him later? I soon realised there was only one answer to this question and so I woke him and he energetically followed this speck of fawn until it disappeared over the fence. Where upon he returned to his lounger and fell asleep again.
(Libby Danahar)

Various Sites
On Thursday I visited the Alice Holt Forest Straits Enclosure. I was delighted when a Purple Emperor appeared on the ground, although this male had damage to one wing tip. There were many Silver-washed Fritillaries plus Ringlets, Speckled Woods and White Admirals.

8am Friday morning I visited Kithurst Hill and the Chalkhill Blues in the meadow were basking with open wings. The bank was still in shadow and roosting butterflies were easier to get close to. Later I walked a circular path on the west bank of the River Arun near the mouth. I was looking for elms and White-letter Hairstreaks which are known to have been present in past years. I found three stands of English Elm, the last mixed in with Wych Elm, but didn't see any hairstreaks. There were Red Admirals, Speckled Woods, a Comma, Gatekeepers and Small Whites along the route. I came across a promising area of grass and flowers and found a pair of mating Common Blues plus a Small Skipper and more Gatekeepers.
(Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Thursday 26 July

Emperor in the East
Took advantage of this summer weather and went out to do more surveys for the Sussex Butterfly Atlas project in new unchartered territories. In a 'blank' square near Wadhurst I was amassing a respectable tally of summer species when a familiar, dark shadow in the canopy caught my eye. A Purple Emperor rose from the top of an oak and patrolled the treetops. While I watched the emperor attacked Purple Hairstreaks another emperor, a chiff-chaff and a black-headed gull. This record represents the most easterly Sussex record we have for the emperor in the atlas. I am sure the butterfly can be found at many other localities at this end of the county but there is no-one over here looking for them. This is the second new Purple Emperor site I have found in East Sussex in the past week - so if the sun is shining get out and check your nearby tree-tops wherever you are. There's nothing like finding your own emperor!
(Michael Blencowe)

News:- 26 July Sightings:
The annual Chalkhill Blue spectacular is at its height on the slopes just north (right) of the Butchershole Bottom CP, Friston Forest. They were late arriving this year, but this seems to me to be one of the best years I have seen - thousands, hard not to step on them. Still mostly males and all constantly on the move, so not liable to be a take-away snack for the birds just yet. Also, Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, Small Coppers and a couple of Small Heath.

Diplock's Wood: plenty of Purple Hairstreaks in the evening oak canopy, but I am rather pessimistic about how the White-letter Hairstreaks are doing. I have spent hours getting a sore neck and believe I have seen one little brown butterfly in the canopy of one elm on two separate mornings, but this elm is the last remaining healthy elm in a small grove which had the most WLH in the past. I have not seen them in the other two places where I have seen them in the past. I will keep looking in hope.
(Susan Suleski)

White-letter Hairstreak Sighting
Walked the whole length of the western edge of Hollingbury Woods, Brighton yesterday, also two inner glades, but just one White-letter Hairstreak seen and photographed. It was just up from the children's playground near the small walnut tree, and nectaring on Creeping thistle. Also present Comma, Red Admiral, Gatekeeper and Green-veined White.
(Peter Whitcomb)

Wednesday 25 July

Greyling Sighting
A walk from the car park at Windover Hill along the South Downs Way was a great way to enjoy another hot day on Tuesday. Chalkhill Blues fluttered everywhere. As soon as I arrived on the side of the Grayling valley I saw one Greyling flying and gliding with its distinctive V wing shape. There were many light coloured Dark Green Fritillaries on the hillside as well. This was the best day I have had for photographing Graylings. They landed on stumps of bushes and leaves and stayed put while I put a camera in their faces - amazing. It must be the heat and light wind. I met Steve, and while we talked a Grayling landed on his shorts. Jim was also patrolling the hillside. None of us saw a Silver-spotted Skipper. A Grayling flew around me, landed on my hand and took salts from my sweat. It then flew off and landed on my shoulder. A wonderful experience! I also saw Marbled Whites, Small Whites, a Red Admiral and Meadow Browns. The rare Yellow Pearl moth, (Mecyna flavalis), was plentiful.
Photos here
(Colin Knight)

Sightings for Wed 25th July
In between meetings today, I managed to get to Hollingbury park for a short "lunch break" to see the White-letter Hairstreak. Just as I made it to the glade, where so many of us have now seen this little dainty, my phone rang and I was then immersed in a conversation with a colleague for a good five minutes. As I conversed about the intricacies of some work we have planned for latter this year, a brown object alighted the common thistle in front of me. I was so engrossed in my discourse that it took quite some considerable time for me to realise that there, right in front of me, was the very beasty that I had come to see. I cut short my phone call, set up my camera and rolled off a couple of shots, before it was gone. Where it went I did not see.

I then spent about half an hour awaiting its return, but it was not to be so. However, whilst I waited I also saw Meadow Browns, Gatekeeper, Speckled Wood, Large White, Small White, Essex Skipper and Holly Blue. I also watched Red Admirals and Commas egg laying on a big clump of Stinging nettles on the edge of the glade. Unlike the Small Tortoiseshell that I observed egg laying earlier in the year, both these species avoided laying batches of eggs and instead laid their eggs individually. The majority of the Red Admiral eggs where laid on the underside of the leaves but a small number were laid on the top as well. In contrast, most of the Comma eggs we laid on the upper surface. Both, like the Small Tortoiseshell eggs, were grape green in colour and appeared to be divided into segments like an orange. In both the Red Admiral and the Comma the number of segments appeared to be the same - ten.

After this diversion I departed and walked back along the sunny edge of the Hollingbury & Burstead wood and came across another White-letter Hairstreak, feeding on thistle. As soon as I stopped, it was off and into the canopy, such frustration! No doubt I will return again another day.
(Dan Danahar)

Friendly Red Admiral
Yesterday (24 July) while working in our garden at Pulborough, my wife June and I found the butterfly equivalent to the robin in the bird world. We have all seen photographs of the friendly robin sitting on the gardner's fork while he is working close by. In the afternoon we were pruning some conifer trees and several times a Red Admiral continually flew close around us. On one occasion it seemed drawn by our metal wheelbarrow containing our pruning tools as the accompanying pictures show.

We now believe the Red Admiral could be the 'robin' of the butterfly world and wonder if anyone else has experienced similar antics by a Red Admiral? Also, can anyone suggest what the Red Admiral found so interesting in our tools and wheelbarrow?
(Chris Page)

Houghton Forest, Arundel
In an area 100 metres squared at [SU996113] seven White Admirals, seventeen Silver-washed Fritillaries, nine Small Skippers, three Large Whites, two Red Admirals and numerous Meadow Browns were seen.
(Ken Hearne)

Stansted Forest
My father, Roy Symonds reports the following sightings from Stansted Forest [SU745118]. Small White (6), Large White (1), Meadow Brown (20), Marbled White (10), Silver Washed Fritillary (6), Comma (2), Red Admiral (1), Small Skipper (3). Most of the main paths were walked where the temperature reached 23.5C.
(Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall.)

Multiple Sightings
Tuesday 24th July. Two Silver-Studded Blues (males) on the Ashdown Forest, near Smugglers car park [TQ471299].
Wednesday 25th July. Two Silver-Washed Fritillaries and one White Admiral in Swansbrook Wood, near Horam [TQ571151]
Later on Wednesday 25th, I went to the gallops above Butchershole [TV552996]. It was literally teeming with Chalkhill Blues. They were everywhere -- hundreds, probably thousands. There were also several swarms of them around bits of mud and faeces, where they were presumably getting fluids on this very hot afternoon.
(Andy Wilson)

Tuesday 24 July

Sightings for Tuesday 24th July
Libby and I drove to Southwater woods on the afternoon of Tuesday 24th July, inorder to see some woodland specialists. However, after half an hour, we had only seen five species: the 1) Large white, 2) Small white, 3) Meadow brown, 4)
Speckled wood and 5) Red admiral. Hardly an exciting list and none were in high abundance. Such a contrast to our visit to Wilmington Hill the day before.

However, we finally made it to the Trout lane entrance and here we found Leigh Prevost, with his neck craned back and a frown across his face to help reduce the glare of the sun. He looked serious in his attempt to spot an Emperor. We soon found ourselves looking up to and after some time we saw a 6) Purple Emperor glide around the perimeter of the Oak's canopy. Leigh had been there for a while and he was fairly confident that he had seen two individuals. We had no vain hope of seeing the butterflies any closer than this but we were all rewarded when the Emperor effortlessly flew amongst a series of different canopies and finally landed where we could all see him. Telephoto lenses at maximum extensions, all three of us snapped away with gusto. So now I have my first photo of a Purple Emperor, that I have taken with my own camera! Whilst watching the Emperor, we also saw some 7) Purple hairstreaks flitting around the same tree.

After a short discussion with Leigh we bid him adieu and made our way towards the Southwater meadows. On route we saw a number of high speed and erratic 8) Silver-washed Fritillary males, a single 9) White Admiral 10) Small copper and 11) Gatekeepers. In the meadow we sat to have our customary picnic, whilst being surrounded by masses of butterflies, mostly Meadow browns but also 12) Marbled whites 13) Ringlets and 14) Small skippers. It was so hot that a solitary and poor excuse for a cloud, slowly vaporised and disappeared before our very eyes. Butterfly numbers were clearly down today but perhaps this was because it was simply too hot..."
(Dan Danahar)

Sussex Walkabout
With the promise of some sun at last I decided to take a day's holiday and tour some of Sussex's Butterfly hotspots. The only decision I had to make was East or West. I plumped for West.

My first stop was Kithurst Hill. What a fantastic place at this time of the year, the meadow was alive with Butterflies! Freshly emerged Chalkhill Blues were everywhere, too many to try and count, ditto Meadow Browns. There were also many Marbled Whites, numerous Small Skippers which I tried to turn into Essex Skippers to no avail, a handful of Large Whites, one Small Blue (second brood), a few Gatekeepers, and one Small Copper. Best of all, and unexpected, were two Dark-green Fritillaries patrolling the lower slope by the hedgerow.

After Kithurst, it was on to Iping Common, I didn't get the chance to see the Silver-studded Blues earlier on in the year but hoped I may catch a few lingerers. In total I counted at least fourteen albeit, fairly worn specimens. Apart from the Blues it was fairly quite, a few Skippers, Meadow Browns and a Speckled Wood.

Next stop, and last of the day, was Southwater Wood in the hope of catching a glimpse of "His Majesty". I parked up at Trout Lane and headed to the Master Oak. Within a few minutes (at 2PM on the dot) a Purple Emperor flitted across the glade, soon after a pair (?) followed along the same path. I didn't have long to wait for another sighting, just five minutes or so. However, they were all flitting, tantilising glimpses. Eventually after a thirty minute wait or so, I saw one land in the Ash and managed to get a record shot. Whilst looking skyward I noticed at least two Purple Hairstreaks in the canopy of the Master Oak, one spiralled downwards but I couldn't keep track of it. Damn! After a brief stroll around the woods I returned to the Master Oak. Where again "His Majesty" made a few fleeting appearances over the next thirty minutes or so. I counted at least three individuals possibly five but hard to say. I also met Dan and his wife who were as chuffed as I was to final catch sight and photograph this elusive Butterfly. I should note also that I also saw one Red Admiral three-to-four Silver-washed Fritillaries, numerous Meadow Browns, Large Whites, Skippers, and one Comma. Notably no White Admirals though.

All in all a good day out butterflying, finally. Total tally for the day sixteen.
Some Pictures here.
(Leigh Prevost)

Small Coppers:
The second brood of Small Coppers is now beginning to emerge on several sites in Sussex. While the sun shines make hay and get out to enjoy this lovely butterfly. Good locations include Cissbury Ring and Kingley Vale.
More at UK Butterflies (Scroll down to foot of page: [Sussex Kipper Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:21 am])
(Neil Hulme)

Cissbury Ring
Yesterday afternoon I enjoyed a stroll around Cissbury Ring. There was plenty of butterfly activity and I saw the following: 15 Dark Green Fritillary, 12 Marbled White, Large Skippers and Small Skippers, a Small Tortoiseshell, Gatekeeper, Ringlet, 20 Chalkhill Blue and Meadow Brown. My impression is that this year there a far fewer Dark Green Fritillaries than the previous two years. Six-spot Burnet moths were mating and Cinnabar moth caterpillars were munching ragwort.
(Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

East Sussex Sighting
A white letter hairstreak in the garden at Torfield Cottage, Old London Rd Hastings. (three weeks later than last year).
(Sharon Bigg)

Wood Whites
Three second brood male Wood White in a West Sussex woodland this morning.
(Mark Colvin)

More news from Monday 23 July
Libby (my wife) and I decided to spend the afternoon having a picnic in Deep Dene, East Sussex. Libby packs a fantastic gourmet picnic, with a variety of freshly prepared home made foods and wine to boot! The weather was glorious and the walk to the site exhilarating, with the perfuse carpets of wildflowers a marvel to be seen. The butterflies were equally abundant and perhaps the award to the most abundant species went to the Chalk-hill blues which were fresh and reaching "clouds" proportions. Libby said, "I've never seen so many butterflies in England before" as seven or eight Chalk-hills danced in front of her for her entertainment. It is very difficult to estimate just how many butterflies there were over such a large landscape but they were certainly in their hundreds.

Whilst we were there we also saw Small coppers, Meadow browns, Small heaths, Small skippers, Large whites and plentiful numbers of Dark-green Fritillaries. Any estimates of numbers are really meaningless but it was fabulous to be immersed in butterfly heaven for a few hours. We watched the Chalk-hills cluster on sheep dung for mineral salts and later, as the sun went down, group together on the flower heads of Torr grass. We saw the Dark-green Fritillarieschase one another throughout the afternoon, on perilous missions of mercy, only to be disrupted by Chalk-hill blues who were clearly irritated by them entering their territories. Perhaps the most surprising thing to be seen was a pair of Dingy skippers, that Libby pointed out, whilst they undertook their courtship flight, seen during a month that the text books tell us is normally free from the adults of this species. Perhaps we can expect to see many more in their second brood?

Whilst in the vicinity of Wilmington Hill I also looked for the Grayling but only found a single male, skipping with its graceful, swallow like flight pattern, from one chalk scraping to the next. Although it would sit still, camouflaged against the chalky substrate, allowing me to take multiple photographs, none of the resulting images was of particular value because the insect would only reveal that proportion of its wing surface that helped it blend seamlessly into the white background.

One final observation was made as we walked back through Ewe dene, here the Dark-green Fritillaries were at their best, the majority of which were in tip top condition and I was delighted to see a copulating couple in flight. The sunshine reflected from the silver spots on the underwing of the suspended male. I captured a photo of a far-off individual flying above the long grass and against the deep blue sky. Here I realised we were in the kingdom of the the Dark-green Fritillaries.
(Dan Danahar)

Monday 23 July

Butterfly Walk Swanborough Hill; Saturday 21st July (Sussex BC Event Report)
Thirteen hardy souls gathered to enjoy what weathermen promised would be the first true day of Summer this year. Starting with cups of tea in sunshine the omens were good. Threading their way through seas of mud at the foot of the slope the gentle ascent to the summit began. A fresh emergence of Hedge Brown [Gatekeeper] became evident, and Small Heath and a mating pair of Small Coppers became centres of attraction. A solitary Forester moth held centre stage for a brief period before turning a corner revealed an egg laying Red Admiral, whose eggs were soon located. Marbled Whites were enjoying a rare glimpse of heat and it was only going to be a matter of time before the record for species seen here was smashed.

Er, no! Reaching the top with commanding views over Lewes Castle and the surrounds numerous family parties of swifts were beating a hasty retreat back to the Congo and the light dimmed to the familiar black and thundery. Undaunted a quick ( but thankfully not lightning! ) lunch and it was off again with accompanying gentle spots of rain. Sadly no more species were seen, leaving the butterfly total for the day at a miserly eleven. Luckily local artist Mary Smythe had once again lined up a veritable feast of cream scones and yet more cups of tea in her wonderful cottage garden for the weary travellers to enjoy. As if by miracle the skies cleared allowing a relaxing end to the day. Thank you, Mary, it was most appreciated by all.

Footnote: Rewalking the same route on Sunday 22nd and twenty-three species were observed, including the first Clouded Yellow of the year and two Chalk Carpets - blooming typical!
(David Harris)

Colin's Travels
On Saturday I visited Kithurst Hill (Springhead) at 7:30am and once again it produced surprises - a Dark Green Fritillary, a fresh Small Tortoiseshell and a second brood Small Blue. The Chalkhill Blues covered the bank and the upper meadow. I returned early on Sunday and again enjoyed the prolific Chalkhill Blues shimmering among the flowers and grasses. In addition there was a Green-veined White, Large Skippers, Marbled whites, mating Meadow Browns, a Red Admiral and very tatty Small Copper.

I then completed my weekly transect at Mill Hill and was struck by the low numbers of Chalkhill Blues compared to Kithurst. Transect count: Chalkhill Blue: male 24, female 2; Gatekeeper 2, Large White 4, Marbled White 1, Meadow Brown 15, Peacock 2, Red Admiral 2, Small Heath 4, Small White 1. There were Cinnabar moth larvae on ragwort. Finally I went to Southwater Woods and saw a Purple Emperor and Purple Hairstreak at the top of the Trout Lane master oak. A Holly Blue drifted across. There were plenty of White Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillary.
(Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

A Wandering Chalkhill
I saw a Chalkhill Blue many miles North of the Downs today (23 July), off the Cuckoo Trail just South of Horam - TQ 584165. It is a site where Marbled Whites are regularly seen, and there were plenty there today. But I have never seen a Chalkhill Blue there before.
(John Kerby)

Sunday 22 July

Horseshoe Plantation & The Butterfly Haven
A delightfully sunny day, good temperatures and clear blue sky, so in the afternoon I travelled to Horseshoe plantation (Beachy Head) to take some photos of the Dark Green Fritillary. The wind was not nearly as bad as my previous visit and this made photography a lot easier. Although the majority of 1) Dark Green Fritillaries were damaged to varying degrees, there were also a remarkable number of individuals that looked in surprisingly good condition. I would estimate that I saw between 40 to 50 individuals. There were also many fresh 2) Chalk Hill Blues along with, 3) Common Blue, 4) Brown Argus, 5) Small Cooper, 6) Large Skipper, 7) Small Skipper, 8) Small Heath, 9) Gate Keeper, 10) Marbled White, 11) Meadow Brown, 12) Speckled Wood, 13) Red Admiral, a single 14) Painted Lady but perhaps the last sighting was the best 15) a male Silver-spotted Skipper.

A late visit to the Butterfly Haven revealed Meadow Brown, 16) Essex Skipper and Gate Keepers. Sixteen species in a day without really trying... Now thats more like it.
(Dan Danahar: Big Nature)

Windover Hill (Greyling Video Clip)
Visited Windover Hill on Sunday afternoon and saw three pristine Grayling that by chance I managed to film.
[Clip here:].
There were also many Chalkhill Blues, and some Marbled Whites, Dark Green Fritillaries, Small Heath, Small Copper, Gatekeepers, Small Whites, Red Admiral and of course Meadow Browns.
Moths included Chalk Carpet, Forester, Silver-Y, Six Spot Burnet, Pyrausta cingulata, and Mecyna flavalis.
(Mark Cadey.)

Mill Hill
Fifty male Chalkhill Blues were seen as the sun came out just after midday, forty-five on the acre transect on the lower slopes of Mill Hill and another five on the Mill Hill Cutting. This is a week before the peak emergence is due.
(Andy Horton)

Barnes Wood
Today I visited Vinehall Forest near my home town of Battle in East Sussex. I saw a whole host of male Silver-washed Fritillaries flying along the rides, along with Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns and Ringlets. There were many Large White and Small White butterflies about too. I also saw a Large Skipper, a Small Skipper and a Small Copper. Just when I thought I was all done for the day, I saw a beautiful, pristine Red Admiral in the car park.
(Jim Barrett: Rother Guardians)

West Dean
At Venus Wood, West Dean on 21st July up to eight Silver-Washed Fritillaries on show, and dozens of Ringlets about, plus a Comma and a few Meadow Browns.
(Andrew House)

Saturday 21 July 2012

Purple Emperors
Yesterday I visited Southwater Woods and was fortunate to see a Purple Hairstreak on the oak canopy where we had seen four the week before. There were also Gatekeepers, Ringlets, Meadow Browns, Large Whites and a Roe Deer. I ended up at the master oak by Trout Lane at 3pm where I found Neil Hulme craning his neck. After a few minutes he exclaimed "there's one". He saw it high on the edge of the canopy a few times before claimed a sighting. He declared it to be a pristine male Purple Emperor. It was soon joined by another male and fisticuffs ensued. Then the resident male was joined by another individual, but there was no aerial battle. They snuggled up high up behind the leaves, and we could just see the wing shimmering that indicated courtship on the part of the male. However, she was having none of it and flew off after a few minutes "A previously mated female" declared Neil. After a while another male appeared and the aerial battle spiralled above the canopy of the ash where all the action was taking place. I left at 4pm, very satisfied with an outing that had produced three Sussex Emperors. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Mill Hill
No sun equals no butterflies, but a visit to a verdant Mill Hill under a cloudy sky and I managed to disturb two male Chalkhill Blues for my first time this year. After the blues two Meadow Brown Butterflies appeared, possibly because I almost trod on them. At least twenty Cinnabar Moth caterpillars were seen on just two budding Ragworts plants near the top of the steps at the southern end of Mill Hill. Earlier, on the approaches ot the Mill Hill via the now cleared Pixie Path route, I noted two Speckled Woods and two Meadow Browns near the Mill Hill Cutting and a Gatekeeper nearer the top. The white butterflies seen in the outskirts of Shoreham were thought to be Large Whites and Green-veined Whites.
(Andy Horton Adur Valley Wildlife Butterfly-list2012)

Purple Patch
On Thursday 19th July a single Purple Emperor, almost certainly a male, flew round at head height close to the house at Valewood at Barns Green. It did not settle but I was able to get a clear ID. A few days earlier on the 13th a single Purple Hairstreak was photographed on bracken in an adjacent paddock and on the 17th a single Essex Skipper was noted in the Arboretum at Barns Green.
(Bill Bacon)

Friday 20 July 2012

Kithurst and Alice Holt
Yesterday I visited Kithurst Hill (Springhead) at 7am and found plenty of Chalkhill Blues and I struck lucky with a mating pair on the bank. There were also Marbled whites, Meadow Browns and a huge Large White. I then headed to Alice Holt for the first time to find Silver-washed Fritillaries. Walking round the wood produced just Meadow Browns and a Speckled Wood. Nearby Abbots Wood was more fruitful when I found a flowery glade with many thistles. Marbled Whites, Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns, Large Skippeers and Small Skippers all greeted me. A flash of orange led me to a male Silver-washed Fritillary nectaring on thistles. Two Commas fought occasionally. Then an aerial display by a mating pair of Silver-washed Fritillaries entertained me for a few minutes. After flying round the glade several times at about four meters high they landed in a tree and then kept flying and settling in the canopy. Later a female Silver-washed Fritillary nectared on the thistles. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

A Place to Visit (for lazy men!)
I meant to post a message here last year but never got around to it. It is regarding a super little place to visit. I don't actually know its name but here are the coordinates and OS grid ref: (50.862064 -0.787326) or [SU853077] if that makes sense. Drop it into Google Maps anyway and it does the rest. It is just South of Lavant and North of Chichester. I love the spot as it is a lazy man's butterfly walk. Park the car on the road north of the common and then it's a couple of steps and you are there amongst dozens of Marbled Whites, Meadow Browns and Skippers and lots of hatching Burnet Moths. Masses of flowers to stroll through and you can take the dog too.
(Josse Davis)

The BC National Website has more information on Day-flying moths. A-Z of Day-flying Moths

A Good Book
I am finding my copy of the new Field Guide to Micro Moths most useful. Today I identified Syncopacma larseniella sitting on birds foot trefoil, a nice little black moth with a distinctive white cross stripe. Congrats to our own Mark Parsons and his co authors. (Graham Parris Isfield).

A picture of Syncopacma larseniella on the Sussex Moth Group Website.

For Information Only
[Field Guide to the Micro-moths of Great Britain & Ireland Phil Sterling and Mark Parsons, illustrated by Richard Lewington ISBN: ISBN 978-0-9564902-1-6 (paperback) Format: Format 215 x 136mm Extent: 416 pages Illustrations: Illustrated with more than 1500 artworks and photographs Publisher: British Wildlife Publishing]

Thursday 19 July 2012

Saw my first Painted Lady today and my first since 2010! To boot it even stopped briefly in my front garden which pretty much has only one plant in flower at the moment. The majority of the time was spent on the neighbour's Buddleia so had to photograph from distance. (Leigh Prevost)

I always feel that I see Rowland Wood at its best on those still, humid and lightly overcast days when Ringlets and White Admirals are inclined to laze with wings open on bracken fronds and dragonflies fly low along the rides. On such days in July I like nothing better than to wander through the wood looking for Purple Hairstreaks roosting low down in the lower branches of oak trees or basking on low vegetation. Luck was with me today and I found this female low down on brambles. She was not in any hurry to head to the canopy and I spent an hour in her company before continuing my meanderings. A short while later I watched a Brown Hawker carrying a butterfly in its jaws and settle about 20 feet up in an oak tree to devour its catch...a White Admiral. A wonderful few hours all to myself in this magical place. (Nigel Kemp)

My wife and I took a trip to Frog Firle/Cradle Hill today and we would like to congratulate whoever is managing the flower meadow, I have never seen so many varieties and colours of wild flowers, it is really amazing. We did sight some butterflies as well, even though the conditions were cool and windy. 4 Marbled White, 6 Large White, 8 Gatekeepers, 15+ Meadow Brown, 2 Ringlet, 4 Speckled Wood, 2 Skippers (Lg/Sm not sure flew off too quick) 1 Small Heath and 2 Chalkhill Blues. (Arthur Greenslade)

News for Tuesday 17 July: Four White-letter Hairstreak flying around the Preston Twins - ancient English elm in Preston Park, Brighton (TQ303 063, close to the Preston Manor walled garden entrance). Good to see that at least some specimens have survived the recent wet and windy weather. I'm hoping that as this species emerged late we will continue to record them well into August when the sun might just come out... (Caroline Clarke)

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Helen Crabtree's Suitcase Square Report: here

A great video by Pete Varkala on the Peacock butterfly here.

This afternoon the skies were leaden grey and it was raining hard, so I headed to Springhead Hill near Storrington to find some butterflies. These conditions would have made me think twice about venturing out in the days when I was a very keen angler, but this year it's a case of making the best of it... or suffering from Cabin Fever. It wasn't difficult to find some beautiful, fresh Chalkhill Blues. There has clearly been a substantial emergence here, although it wasn't the sort of day to attempt a population count. After getting a thorough soaking I returned home much happier and with my sanity intact (I think). (Neil Hulme)

News for Tuesday 17 July: Our first Chalkhill Blue of the year seen in our East Dean garden (TV562984) around 1pm on Tuesday.
As some of the Eastbourne Downland around us has been sprayed in the last few weeks, with what looked like weed killer, then ploughed up, and with the awful weather, we are not expecting much of a garden count this year. (Cassie & David Jode)

News for Sunday 15 July: First Gatekeeper of the year for me at Pagham Harbour Visitor Centre on Sunday. (Andrew House)

Tuesday 17 July 2012

A Hummingbird Hawk-moth briefly visited the garden this morning at 8.45 a.m, the first one I have seen this year. (Richard Roebuck)

At last the rain has stopped and the sunshine has returned, at least for today. Escaping the computer for a short while I took a walk along a nearby farm track to a fishing lake. The hedgerows and vegetation around the edges of the lake breathed a sigh of relief after the heavy downpours, and the warm sunshine coaxed out the butterflies. I saw Red Admiral, Comma, Large White, Meadow Browns and an unidentified Skipper that 'skipped' away before I could see which species it was. A Scarce Silver-lines moth tumbled out of an oak tree landing on the path by my feet. I gently returned it to the bracken to avoid it getting squashed by an approaching dustbin lorry. The best sighting of the day however was a small dark butterfly I saw flittering around an oak branch that dips down over the hedge. Eventually, after losing sight of it a couple of time I found it settled and was excited to see it was a Purple Hairstreak, the first I have seen here in Midhurst. (Sophie May Lewis)

Today we went to Marlpost as the weather was better and were delighted to see a Purple Emperor on the Ash tree and a Silver-washed Fritillary f. valezina. We only saw the valezina for a few moments but were pleased to get a photograph as shown above. There were few butterflies but we saw several White Admirals. (David & Molly Dancy)

A small colony of Essex Skippers along The Cuckmere valley as well as 2 White-letter Hairstreaks in the Elm canopy. (Bob Eade)

This morning blue skies sent me to Hollingbury Park, Brighton and I found a White-letter Hairstreak nectaring on thistle. I also saw a worn Red Admiral, Meadow Browns and a Green-veined White. I then visited Mill Hill and on the lower slopes I saw 11 Chalkhill Blues plus a magnificent Peacock, Meadow Browns, a Small Heath, Gatekeepers, Green-veined and Large Whites. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Small Skipper (above), taken on 17 July on a buddleia bush in my (five acre) garden at Gay Street near Pulborough. (Chris Page)

Big Sussex Butterfly Count: Friday 13 July 2012

You can read Patrick Barkham's excellent article in The Guardian here.
A superb video of the start of the event by Dan Bridges can be seen here.

Team Purple Emperor

I have heard a great deal of talk about stair-rods during this summer, particularly when describing what type of rain it is that we may be experiencing. On the evening of Thursday 12th of July 2012, it was the stair-rods of rain that were threatening to penetrate the glass roof of my conservatory, that was very much on our minds, as Patrick Barkham, Martin Warren and I considered the potential climatic conditions for the next day. One thing was certain, we all agreed that no matter what the weather brought, the Big Sussex Butterfly Count would still go ahead. By the time we went to bed we thought that we were prepared for all eventualities. However, we really hadn't considered a day mostly full of sun and blue sky.

When we arrived at the Liz Williams butterfly haven on the grounds of Dorothy Stringer School at 7.30hrs, the skyline was already looking fabulous and the buzz of enthusiasm amongst the two teams was contagious. I was in Team Purple Emperor, along with TV naturalist Nick Baker (Captain), CEO of BC Martin Warren, Guardian journalist and author of the Butterfly Isles Patrick Barkham, BC's Neil Hulme and Colin Knight, Dorothy Stringer's Head Teacher Richard Bradford and our Land Rover driver & butterfly enthusiast Jan Knowlson, whose services along with the vehicle itself, was donated for the day by the South Downs National Park Authority. CEO of the SDNPA Trevor Beattie followed us in his car, as did the Guardian Photographer. For an account of Team Silver-spotted Skipper, see Bob Foreman's report (below).

At 8.00 we were off and it was in a traffic jam on the London road that Hulme jumped from the Land Rover to positively identify our first species, an Essex Skipper (1).

We then travelled to Southwater Wood and picked up Ringlets (2) Large Skippers (3) Meadow Browns (4) Comma (5) Red Admiral (6) Silver-washed Fritillary (7) Green-veined White (8) all along one woodland ride whilst looking out for Purple Emperors. At this point Baker was having a conversation with BBC Sussex radio, whilst Tony Whitbread (SWT) Captain of the Team Silver-spotted Skipper (TSSS) was also participating in the same conversation from Malling down, East Sussex. Baker shouted "Ringlets, Large Skipper, Meadow Browns..." the radio correspondent must have wondered what this all meant.

We then marched to a meadow adjacent to the woodland to find Marbled Whites (9) Gatekeeper (10) White Admiral (11) and Purple Hairstreak (12). This truly was butterfly utopia, with clouds of butterflies rising from this flower rich meadow. None of the team could have imagined that we would have been seeing so many butterflies during such a season. A quick walk to the other side of the wood added the Small Skipper (13) to our list.

The next stop was Botany bay, which Bob Foreman assures me is within the old Watsonian vice county of Sussex (do I? - I reckon you bagged half your species in Surrey!). Here we hoped to use our trump species, the Purple Emperor and Wood White but neither was seen. Instead we found Speckled Wood (14) Common Blue (15) Dark Green Fritillary (16) and Warren found a Dingy Skipper caterpillar (17) whilst looking for an egg of the Wood White. We knew this would be contentious if it was the deciding species but added it to our tally anyway.

By this time we were feeling really quite complacent. We had acquired 17 species and the day was still young. By the time we visited Iping Common to bag the Silver-studded Blue (18) Hulme was considering light refreshments or taking in an afternoon matinee. We knew that TSSS had a local BBC TV interview at Rowland wood and we thought that this would slow them down even more. So it came as a real kick in the pants when they tweeted that they had 19 species. Suddenly our casual stroll through the heath land turned into a race back to the Land Rover.

Hulme, our guide, now directed the Emperors towards Mill Hill in the hope of picking up a Chalkhill Blue, but our search for this species was in vein but we did see the Small Heath (19) and the Small White (20). However, another tweet led to the discovery that the TSSS also had twenty species. It was neck and neck. A stop off at Hollingbury for the Small Blue bore no fruit and so we dropped off Knight and Warren at Wildpark to look for Large Whites, whilst the rest of us ran like headless chickens over Bevandean Downs in search of the illusive Chalkhill Blue. Barkham then pulled out the first of his two rabbits from his proverbial. It was a pristine condition male Chalkhill hunkering down in the rank sward, trying to avoid the impact of the wind on that exposed landscape. We now had 45 mins before the end of the competition. Picking up Warren and Knight on route, we all then motored towards Hollingbury Park to meet TSSS for a sighting of the White-lettered Hairstreak. However, when we arrived they were no where to be seen. I had stressed that they needed to be there at 16.00hrs. We had dignitaries to meet at this site in the form of Brighton & Hove's CEO John Barradell, Leader of the council Jason KitKat and Chair of the Environment Committee Pete West. Whilst I waited for these Brighton & Hove officials Barkham pulled out his second rabbit.

The story goes that as the team strained their eyes to look for the silhouettes of hairstreaks high on the canopy outline Hulme said "if only we had one on these thistles at waist height" to which Barkham responded "you mean like this one here"? The team came back to the Land Rover to meet me with cheers because they had found the White-letter Hairstreak (22) so quickly. At this point the TSSS arrived and we discovered they were stuck on 21 species, so we talked to them for as long as we could to distract them. At this point, the sun, which had been our companion for much of the day, dipped behind the clouds and so we left the other team to search for the White-letter, whilst we returned to the Liz Williams Butterfly haven for a final reconnoiter before the competition ended at 16.30. Here we picked up our last species a most beautiful Peacock (23).

TSSS soon arrived back having had no luck with the White-letter and we discussed our results, it was tight but the final results were 23 to 21 giving a total of 26 species. Everybody had had a great day and Hulme said it was the best day of his butterfly year (which doesn't say a lot given the weather conditions for most of the year).

At the Dorothy Stringer Summer Fayre, Baker was crowned Butterfly King on behalf of the Team Purple Emperor and we all finished the day with a bottle of Sussex Ale - thank you (sleepy) Warren. Along with the BBC radio interview, BBC TV interview, Guardian article and short film on You Tube (Big Sussex Butterfly Count - which has had 305 viewings at the time of writing) this was clearly a real PR success, but when you take into account the 49,555 Twitter accounts that we reached, it feels like we really have pulled off something special. I would like to thank all those who helped to make this event work, all the team members and the people behind the scenes who helped with things like publicity and websites at SWT, SDNPA, B&HCC, BC, DSHS, to name but a few organisations. I am of the firm belief that partnership is at the heart of all successful nature conservation, of which this was a good example.

Already, people are asking me what about next year? I have the proposed Brighton & Hove and Lewes Downs Biosphere Reserve in mind or perhaps a challenge between Sussex and another branch, Surrey or Hampshire for instance... watch this space. (Dan Danahar)

Team Purple Emperor

Not exactly a typical July day weather-wise, cool, breezy and only intermittent spells of sunshine, however in comparison to what we have had to become used to it counted as a glorious summer's day. The simple fact that it wasn't raining at 07:30 was cause for optimism as the two teams: The Purple Emperors and The Silver-spotted Skippers mustered at Brighton's Dorothy Stringer High School for The Big Sussex Butterfly Count.

As a member of Team Silver-spotted Skipper - Tony Whitbread (Illustrious leader), Paul Gorringe (Pilot), Nigel Symington, Crispin Holloway, Matthew Thomas, Pete Varkala and Myself - I couldn't help but notice an air of, what seem to me like disturbingly well founded over-confidence in the demeanour of the members of the opposition - okay, our team certainly knows a thing or two about butterflies but we were undoubtedly pitting ourselves against some serious heavyweights (I like to think that it was they that were the "eccentrics" that Patrick Barkaham was referring to in his article in The Guardian).

Soon after setting off on our adventure news started filtering through of an early advantage being gained by the opposition, it was only about 08:15 and they had already bagged Essex Skipper! Minutes later we were scampering up Malling Down and had levelled the score with a Red Admiral swiftly followed by Meadow Brown, Marbled White and Small Heath, by 08:30 we had gone 4 - 1 up! Tony now had to find a decent phone signal in order to be interviewed by BBC Radio Sussex, no mean task in this part of the world. We didn't linger and headed immediately for Rowland Wood where we had another appointment with The BBC (TV this time), but more importantly with our two target species for the wood: White Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillary, both of which proved to be plentiful, we also ticked off Ringlet, Large Skipper and Comma, but, despite our best efforts, we couldn't find a Purple Hairstreak before we headed back to the Land Rover and Ashdown Forest.

The sole reason for heading to Ashdown Forest was to see Silver-studded Blues and it if hadn't have been for The RSPB's Steve Wheatley, we probably wouldn't have! Thanks to him we were given access to Sussex Police's training ground at Kingstanding, an area of heathland which is normally completely off limits to the public but is wonderfully well managed for Sussex Police by Steve. We were guided to the heart of the compound and it wasn't long before the first shout went out "got one!". Species #10 in the bag, we headed south to The Downs.

Birling Gap was our intended destination but as we drove between Belle Tout lighthouse and Horseshoe Plantation another shout went out "stop - Dark Green Fritillary!!", the Landy juddered to an abrupt halt, Paul pulled onto the verge and out we all leapt. What had at first glance appeared to be a relatively run-of-the-mill roadside verge turned out to be a wonderfully varied expanse of chalk grassland, teaming with flowers and better still, hundreds of Dark Green Fritillaries, copious Small and Essex Skipper and a lone female Common Blue. There was a keen wind blowing and we decided that a rummage round the sheltered Horseshoe Plantation might be fruitful - and it was... Chalkhill Blue, Gatekeeper, Speckled Wood (we forgot to look for one of these when we had the opportunity at Rowland Wood - doh!) and an absolutely massive Painted Lady, nectaring on the brambles an the woodland edge. A quick scout around an area of blackthorn scrub near where we had parked was enough to reveal a Small Copper and a Large White!!! (the exclamation marks indicate the shout with which it was greeted). Birling Gap was a bit of a disappointment - too windy, all we found here was a solitary female Large Skipper, which we initially thought might be our namesake but closer examination proved otherwise and an Oak Eggar caterpillar. We now had 20 species in the hat and, better still, we discovered that Team Purple Emperor only had 18! This boost drove us on in search of species that we felt we should have seen already, no Small or Green-veined White, no Peacock, no Small Tortoiseshell... High and Over provided us with one of these - Small White (oh, and for those of us that hadn't visited this site before, a fabulous view!) but that was it except for a rather nice little plume moth Merrifieldia leucodactyla*. Time was now pressing - we were due to rendezvous with our rivals at Hollingbury at 16:00. There was just time to check out an area of exposed chalk behind the Police Station at Holligbury which at the right time of year is teaming with Small Blues but it was not to be, we were stuck on 21 and by now so were Team Purple Emperor, our only hope now was for a lucky White-letter Hairstreak at Hollingbury. When we arrived we were greeted by an exultant (some might say gloating) Team Purple Emperor, "How many species have you got?" they said gleefully, "twenty one" we replied "TWENTY TWO!" came the response... "Patrick found a White-letter on a thistle flower - it was the only one we saw - don't rate your chances..." off we went, the sun had gone by now and, frankly, we didn't rate or chances either, we were right, we couldn't find one anywhere and by now we had to be back at Dorothy Stringer. More bad news when we got back here too, they had found a Peacock and we were trounced!

None of us really cared, we had had a fantastic day and it really was the taking part that had mattered (what a privilege). Between us we counted twenty six species and with a little more luck and some better weather this might well have been more. The absence of some of our more common species (most notably Small Tortoiseshell) is particularly worrying but others such as White Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillary at Rowland Wood and the Dark Green Fritillaries on The Downs appear to be thriving, despite the atrocious summer we are having - so it's not all doom and gloom.

Finally I would just like to thank Dan Danahar for organising and coordinating this event, without him, I'm sure it would never have happened and certainly wouldn't have been the resounding success that it proved to be. I should also make a special mention of Paul's fine driving and Brighton & Hove City Council's generosity in their lone of a fully fuelled Land Rover (and Paul to drive it) for the day - thank you. (Bob Foreman)

* I feel I should point out that Colin Pratt, County Recorder, described this particular observation as "the best Sussex Plume Of the year so far" and according to his book "A Complete History of The Butterflies and Moths of Sussex" it is the first Sussex record of the species since 2000 - therefore, I hereby claim two bonus points and an honourable draw... well, it's worth a try...

I was privileged to participate in Friday's Big Sussex Butterfly Count. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day with great butterfly people. It was difficult to envisage not winning when we had such luminaries in Team Purple Emperor as Martin Warren, Nick Baker, Patrick Barkham and Neil Hulme who made wonderful discoveries during the day. The most memorable for me were Martin's Dingy Skipper larva and Elephant Hawk-moth. Thanks to Dan Danahar for a well organised operation to launch the annual BC Butterfly Count. My account of the day is on my blog. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Sunday 15 July 2012

And so the so called summer continues!! In a short heatwave of 17 degrees yesterday I had another fruitless search along the Cuckmere valley for White-letter Hairstreaks. Only 4 in the canopy seen so far this year. However at Littlington a Comma with the comma marking nearly an "O" of sorts. Also seen were several Meadow Brown, Red Admiral, a couple of Small Copper and Gatekeepers and a Volucella zonaria.
Meanwhile my Orange-tip pupa is now looking very smart with vein markings showing as well as other patterns. (Bob Eade)

Thought you might be interested in a Sussex record for a Ringlet ab. lanceolata that I found near Ditchling yesterday? (John Burnham) Yes indeed we are. ed.

More news for Sunday 15 July: Brede High Wood - Silver-washed Fritillary 2, White Admiral 1, Large Skipper 1, Comma 1, Meadow Brown 21, Large White 2, Ringlet 1. (Sharon Bigg, Hastings)

Botany Bay: I set out a bit late for this trip and narrowly missed a Purple Emperor on the ground which had been seen by quite a large group of enthusiasts, probably between 9am and 10am by the sound of things. It was disappointing to have missed it but the day was still a good one starting with a male Emperor dragonfly near the parking area. The same area held a Buff-tip moth snoozing after a previous nights moth trapping session by a couple I met during my walk, a Southern Hawker dragonfly and several Adders, one of them having a strong orange cast to its colouring that really made it stand out. During several walks up and down the main ride I observed two or three Silver-washed Fritillaries, numerous Ringlets, Meadow Browns, Small Skippers, one Large Skipper and two Commas. One person I met had spotted a White Admiral and others had seen Dark Green Fritillaries. Highlights of the day for me included the Buff Tip already mentioned, a tiny Broad-bordered Bee Hawk-moth caterpillar, an Essex Skipper and a Bee carcass being demolished by a colony of Wood ants. My thanks to all the people I met who provided lots of information and pointed out fantastic species to look at, it was lovely to spend the day in such great company. Sherie New)

Given the success that my friends had in the BSBC with Dark Green Fritillaries on Friday 13th, I decided I could not turn down the opportunity of searching for them myself. So last Sunday I visited Friston forest but unfortunately I only saw one or two. This was my second visit this year and so it was quite a disappointment to have such low abundances because on my previous visit I had seen none at all. Next it was to Beachy head or more precisely Horseshoe Plantation. Here I easily counted 50 individuals but the great majority were damaged specimens and exceedingly difficult to photograph in the windy conditions that prevailed. I met Mike Hoare here and he told me that just one week earlier they had been in much better condition. In our last BCSx branch committee meeting I volunteered to be the DGF species champion, so if you have any records you would care to share with me, especially if they do not make it on to the sightings page, please don't hesitate to e-mail me at Dan@BigNature.co.uk (Dan Danahar)

Recent news: Photos of White Admiral in Knelle Wood and Purple Hairstreak taken in oaks at the back of Blacksmiths Cottage during week 29 June - 06 July. (Mike Smethurst)

I took a drive over to West Sussex today and joined Neil Hulme, Paul & Biddy Dimmer and Diane Hardcastle of the Graffham Downs Trust and 20 others for a walk up to Graffham Down. Our target was the Purple Emperor but, when we reached the top of the Downs the skies were their usual summer grey and our expectations of finding the Emperor were low. However, we still managed to rack up a list of butterflies; Large Skipper, Ringlet, Red Admiral, Small Skipper, Meadow Brown, Essex Skipper, Speckled Wood, Large White. Marbled Whites were common in the meadow and a few Silver-washed Fritillary glided past. The Graffham Down reserve itself looked fantastic - a wonderful mosaic of open glades and meadows high up on the top of the Downs. The volunteers who work hard to manage this reserve need to be commended on creating this fantastic wildiife habitat - it's well worth spending the day up here exploring. I was thrilled to find a nationally rare moth up here - a Drab Looper. This moth certainly lives up to its name - it must be one of our dullest moths. Some of the group were certainly puzzled why I was getting so excited about finding it. The sky turned even greyer and we headed back but sat down for lunch amongst the orchids and under some pine trees where Neil and Paul had observed the Emperor before. And then, from our viewpoint high on the top of Sussex, we saw a sight that made our hearts race. Could it be? Surely not! Over in the distance was a thin streak of blue in an otherwise leaden sky. It wasn't much but it was heading straight towards us! If the sun could break through this gap we may have a chance of seeing the Emperor. You could sense the anticipation building as the window of blue sky drifted closer. And then the sun came blazing through. I found myself blinking in the sunshine - after 3 months of dreadful weather my eyes were unaccustomed to this much sunlight! Quick as a flash a huge butterfly leapt from its lofty perch and took to the skies acrobatically careering around the tree-tops - a Purple Emperor. As befits royalty we were all upstanding and soon we were scrambling around the meadow for a better view. The Emperor kept us on our toes as he raced around the glade but all too soon it was over. The window of blue sky closed, the Emperor went back to his throne and Summer 2012 returned. Rainclouds were gathering in the west and we returned down to Graffham - another successful trip . Thanks to Neil and all those who attended (Michael Blencowe)

We were very lucky with having fine sunny weather for our Butterfly Walk and Picnic this morning to celebrate 21 years of conservation work by the Friends of Bevendean Down.
There were plenty of Marbled Whites, Meadow Browns, Ringlets, Small Skippers, a few Small Heath and 3 Chalkhill Blues, our first of the season.
The late Colin Simmonds, a former Chairman of the Sussex Branch of B.C. was a keen member of our group and used to lead walks for us at Bevendean, one of his favourite sites. (Geoff Stevens)

This Meadow Brown appeared in my garden this morning. (Nick Gribble)

The weather forecast was awful on Saturday so naturally I headed straight back to Wiston in search of iris.
It was absolutely chucking it down when I arrived. Undaunted I set off on my quarter mile walk, I waded through lots of mud, a stream that was once a bridleway and a very boggy forest.
Eventually I arrived at 11.55. a.m. it was warm, humid and still and Purple Hairstreaks were on the wing at the top of some oaks. In addition two White Admirals were patrolling again and also nectaring on bramble flowers.
I then suddenly noticed a Purple Emperor at the top of the canopy which periodically flew out and circled just for a few seconds and returned for exactly the same spot. (mystery flying object resolved) I could watch this with one eye and the White Admiral a ground level. Clearly the flight pattern was different, A White Admiral flight is sort of jerky but the Purple Emperor is more direct and purposeful and of course he is at the top of his empire. Within half an hour it had clouded over and all PE activity ceased. So once again despite the torrential rain both day and night the master tree is once again occupied and luckily the weather is promising tomorrow. The few seconds I saw him was worth every minute of getting wet and muddy. On another note in the less than ideal conditions there were lots of Meadow Browns and Ringlets, two Green-veined Whites, 3 White Admirals (seemed more active when overcast actually), Commas 2, newly emerged Gatekeeper, Silver-washed Fritillaries 2, Small Skippers several all flying about or attempting to sunbathe. The Meadow Browns continued in the light rain but finally headed for the trees when it got heavy and the thunder started. Very pleased I went home.
On Sunday conditions looked very promising in the morning and I checked out another known location nearby at Wiston with a friend, but once again it clouded over curtailing any potential activity. Not giving up I investigated another wood not far from home at Henfield in the afternoon. I had done reconnaissance visits last winter to check out a likely spot throughout the wood. This location fitted my gut feel, together with plenty of potential Goat willows for egg laying nearby that were not in full sunlight. Purple Hairstreaks were much in evidence at the top of the trees. At 3.55 A Purple Emperor sailed into view flying between two ash trees that were sheltered behind some large oaks. Its activity was brief as once again it clouded over. A superb result. However whilst waiting between small flights I got some nice pictures of Silver-washed Fritillaries that were grouped together, very occupied nectaring on tall thistles, they were all in good condition. A nice female surprisingly received no interest from the males, apart from me as I admired the beautiful green sheen on her hind wings. Despite the weather a rewarding week end for butterflying. All records to be submitted in due course. (Richard Roebuck)

Easily the best day so far this year in my Storrington garden with a dozen or so Skippers (equally divided between Large and Small), 8-9 Meadow Brown, 2-3 Marbled White, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White, Small Copper, Red Admiral and last but not least a Holly Blue nectaring on hybrid Geranium (photos enclosed). (Martin Kalaher)

A visit to Broadwater Warren, near Tunbridge Wells, resulted in the following sightings: Meadow Brown (4), Ringlet (2), Silver-washed Fritillary (3), White Admiral (1). All these sightings were between the "Veteran Oak" and Harrison's Rocks, in a sunny spell between 11.45 and 12.15. (Rob Thomas)

I thought you might be interested in this unusual shot of a Purple Hairstreak I took in Isfield. I was photographing a pair of Spotted Flycatchers feeding young when this bird returned with a butterfly. It had been catching flying insects when the sun was out but when it clouded over it changed tactics and flew into the canopy of an oak tree and picked insects from the foliage. I have photographed Purple Hairstreaks before but this is the first time I have seen one in a birds' beak. (Phil Winter)

Recent news: A couple of Dark Green Fritillaries sighted at Seaford just above splash point between the 18th fairway and cliff top feeding on knapweed. This on Sunday 1st and again on Sat 7th July. I only mention it because I've never, in years of walking this part of the headland, seen them here before. (Nigel Linford)

Friday 13 July 2012

A full report on Friday's adventures with Team Purple Emperor and Team Silver Spotted Skipper will appear here soon. In the meantime Patrick Barkham's excellent article in today's Guardian can be seen here (butterfly eccentrics...?) and a superb video of the start of the event can be seen here.

Photographs of (above) of a Marble White taken in Ditchling on a walk towards Keymer. (Janice Tipping)

Despite the shocking weather over the past few weeks my garden flower meadow is looking very good this year and from the photos above it demonstrates the lure of our native wild flowers to Marbled White, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White and Small Skipper. I think Greater Knapweed, Field Scabious and Kidney Vetch are worthwhile additions to any garden. (Martin Kalaher)

News for Thursday 12 July: Plenty to see at Worms Wood (SU969010) this morning. Marbled Whites seem to have fared reasonably well here despite this year's miserable weather, with at least 20 on the wing whenever the sun managed to break through. Gatekeepers are now starting to emerge - 6 very pristine males were seen. Small Skipper numbers have increased considerably in the last week or so and they now seem to be outnumbering Large Skippers. The other species seen was the Meadow Brown. (Paul Cox)

Thursday 12 July 2012

2 White-letter Hairstreak flying around healthy elm bordering on Surrenden Field in Brighton today (TQ310 075). The weather conditions were not ideal - coolish with a bit of a breeze and only weak sunshine. Numbers of this species seen by me - and other recorders by the looks of it - are very poor this year. I'm sure this is due at least in part to the terrible weather. Can't be much fun being a small brown butterfly living in a tree during the wind & torrential rain... Also, whenever I have had a moment to go looking for White-letters, it seems to be raining or I am running around trying to get my washing dry having flung it into a basket, pegs still attached, and brought it indoors for the third time that day. And another thing... although the elm I surveyed this morning appears to be healthy, a number of trees in the Brighton area are not looking good. Rant over. (Caroline Clarke)

An interesting Silver-washed Fritillary, photographed (not well), at Abbot's Wood today (12th July). Possibly an ab. confluens ?? (Bob Coleman)

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Finally, the Butchers Hole Chalkhill Blue butterflies are back! Counted eleven today, mostly on lower slope. Also, lots of Meadow Browns, a few Small Heaths and 3 Marbled Whites. Yesterday I saw my first Gatekeeper, and also was puzzled by several very pale Meadow Browns, as per Sam Bayley's report, in a field (approx TQ572 035 if anyone wants to check this out). Have seen more White Admirals than usual in my area this year. Have been looking for White-letter Hairstreaks in Diplocks Wood but none seen yet  but still hopeful, if the rain stops. (Susan Suleski)

This morning I visited Hollingbury Park and saw a White-letter Hairstreak fly across an elm in front of me. Later in the afternoon blue skies tempted me to Rewell Wood where I spotted my first Gatekeeper of the year plus a Red Admiral, Marbled Whites, Large and Small Skippers, Meadow Browns, Ringlets and my first Drab Looper moth. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

This morning when I examined my moth box there were very few moths which has been the norm this year, but instead I had Purple Hairstreak. This is the second year running that I have had a Purple Hairstreak in the trap. (Keith Alexander)

Earlier today I joined good friend Nick Broomer in search of the elusive, beautiful and highly seductive Purple Emperor; a species that is several weeks late in showing in prime local territory this season. Dressed in the very best Emperor hunting fashion (wellies and waterproofs) our day commenced under heavy cloud as we waded through chest high wet grass in search of Dark Green Fritillaries. These were soon found, including a freshly emerged female, though any approach other than for a quick record shot was not forthcoming. After several heavy showers, including a brief spell of thunder and lightening, the sun started to break through the cloud; the air became hot and humid. Although storm clouds still lingered, conditions were more promising for our target.
As we left the Dark Greens to play we slowly headed along the forestry track, eyes focused on the ground ahead. As we passed a small meadow, favoured for Dingy and Grizzled Skipper, we both instinctively froze and waited for the other to give the shout! Gracing us with his presence, a pristine male Purple Emperor was circling the track in front of us. At one point he took chase of a small bird as if saying "this is my territory keep out", before finally landing on the track ahead. We moved with caution allowing him time to settle and commence taking salts. We approached and took our shots of what I believe to be the first recorded Emperor in this location this season. Pleased with our find we headed on and found two further males, the first of which carried hindwing damage and wear suggesting emergence some days previous. A great day in great company.
Species seen today:
Purple Emperor (3)
Red Admiral
White Admiral
Small Skipper
Large Skipper
Common Blue
Marbled White
Meadow Brown
Dark Green Fritillary
(Mark Colvin)

What a better day today and I grabbed an hr. or so in a local wood close to Henfield. It was alive with butterflies and in a clearing I saw about 10 Silver-washed Fritillaries males and females, and some interesting courting behaviour. One female was busy trying to reject an amorous male. There were occasional White Admirals, Marbled White, Large and Small Skippers, Meadow Browns, Ringlets and various species of large dragonfly. But two things caught my eye, a Comma sat high in a hazel bush (hence the poor image). It didn't appear damaged but there was a clear lack of pigmentation in its right forewing. I have never seen a Comma coloured this way before. Lastly I couldn't help taking a picture of a female Emperor Dragonfly who having just caught and eaten a large bumble bee, was resting in some beautiful grasses (incidentally it only took about 3 mins to eat it). The purists may hate this picture but I love the complexity of the environment the dragonfly alighted in, it's a sort of crazy 60's lampshade design. Well, dramatic anyway. (Richard Roebuck)

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Running along The Comp today in the normal dull dismal conditions there were 10 Red Admirals, a Small tortoiseshell, several Meadow Brown and Marbled Whites as well as some Ringlet. (Bob Eade)

I was sat today staring at my computer thinking when is this awful weather going to change? Then a thought entered my head that in nature life has to go on. I reflected on last Thursday and Friday evenings when sure as dam it there was a sunny spell after 6.00 p.m. and I had the pleasure of watching numerous Purple Hairstreaks chasing around the tops of Oaks, Ash trees and even Maple trees, so life goes on. It copes. So late afternoon I headed off to "my" master tree at Wiston. Somewhere I discovered three years ago. It was overcast and not at all what you would think was butterflying weather. Nevertheless it was warm and I was greeted by numerous Meadow Browns and Ringlets with scatterings of Large and Small Skipper and a Comma. There was even the odd Silver-washed Fritillary on the wing and also a White Admiral patrolling the tops of Birch tree. First stop a site I saw several iris 3 years ago even the Goat willows looked good enough to eat, I waited a while, nothing. Then on to my main spot. After 30 mins of neck straining something moved at the exact spot I had seen iris before (about 3.45 p.m.). A short flight in a semi-circle and back in a the top of a tall Oak. My pulse was racing. Then absolutely nothing, I was praying for some sun. Then again a short burst of a flight for a few seconds and it disappeared from site again. Then a long delay with only the odd Purple Hairstreak darting about high up. I waited in anticipation trying to ignore a huge dragonfly that kept flying in front of me. Suddenly a butterfly appeared from the same spot and came down in a dive just missing my head and disappeared. Another took flight to the left in a concerted straight line over several tall Oaks - I snapped a long range picture as it headed off to the distance. - and then another descended from a nearby by oak. I thought my God there's two. It gently fluttered done and then I realised it was a White Admiral but why so high? It's appearance squashed me. Had I or had I not seen iris at the top of the oak? And who was that who sped off in a straight line at high speed (see the pic above). I stayed a while longer to watch two White Admirals patrolling around the Goat willows nearby. I even saw two sat next to each other possibly eyeing each other up. It was 4.45 and I had to leave and on the way back the sun came out AAAAAHHH!. I will be back. (Richard Roebuck)

News for Monday 9 July: Yesterday morning I found a Meadow Brown butterfly at my survey site to the north west of Warnham, which on first look appeared almost white and presumed to be heavily worn and faded. On closer inspection, I realised that although it was a bit tatty around the edges the orange parts were still evident, but all of the normally brown scales were replaced with a off white, including its body parts. Somehow I managed to catch it with my bare hands (never a butterfly net around when you want one) later managed to take a series of photos, before it made a very swift and sudden escape! I have noticed from the photos, that there were two small symmetrical oval blotches of brown retained on the upperside of the forewings. With thanks to Graeme Lyons, Colin Pratt and R. Barrington it has been identified as the very rare genetic aberration cinerea which has only been recorded in Sussex twice before in the last 160 years! The first was in Bexhill in 1925 and the second in Ringmer in 1985, so also the first West Sussex record.
The other Meadow Browns present were all of regular colour, but had a lot less wear and I can only presume that the amount of wear on this individual is due to the fact that pale pigments wears a lot quicker than dark pigments. (Sam Bayley)

News for Sunday 8 July: I just had reported to me a late Orange-tip sighting - a male was seen on Sunday in West End Lane, Henfield. (Penny Green)

Monday 9 July 2012

What a surprise to find a Painted Lady on our Hebe in the front garden in Bexhill this afternoon, the first butterfly I have seen for over a week. (Keith Alexander)

News for Sunday 8 July: Spent Sunday afternoon seeing what I could find in between showers. I started at Withdean Park where I found Comma, Large White, Meadow Brown, Red Admiral and my first White-letter Hairstreak of the year. Then I moved on to Southwater Woods and saw Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Large and Small Skippers, Comma, Silver-washed Fritillary and several Purple Hairstreaks. No sign of an Emperor despite the Hairstreaks and Admirals buzzing around the master tree. (Chris Hooker)

Sunday 8 July 2012

This morning I spent a few hours wandering around the wet woods of Southwater with my father, before he left me to get a couple more soakings on my own. I later met several other enthusiasts squelching through the mud, all searching in vain for an Emperor. This season was always going to be tricky for Emperors and Admirals in Sussex, but with the added weather problems it's barely happening at all. In a brief spell of sunshine we did visit a nice colony of Small Skippers, and later came across the occasional Silver-washed Fritillary and White Admiral, but numbers are lower than for many years. The Red Admiral is currently a strong contender for my 'butterfly of the year' and I saw another half dozen today, including an immaculate specimen that posed nicely for me. (Neil Hulme)

On Cradle Hill and Frog Firle today lots of Marbled Whites including a mating pair. Also many Meadow Brown, a Gatekeeper, Small Skipper and a couple of Ringlets. All this between a very heavy shower and breezy conditions. (Bob Eade)

Highlights over the weekend in Edburton were a Dark Green Fritillary in the field next to the house, the first Chalk Carpet of the year on the hill and yesterday, a Hummingbird Hawk-moth on the Valerian. The supporting cast was a few Marbled Whites, Red Admirals and Ringlets with moths being represented by plenty of Silver Ys, 3 Small Elephant Hawk-moths, Buff Arches, Lackey, Swallow-tailed Moth. On the micro front I recently caught an Ethmia dodecea and a Nephopterix angustella, both confirmed by Colin Pratt, who also helped in re-identifying my recent Forester photograph as a Cistus Forester! (Tony Wilson)

Saturday 7 July 2012

Twenty two hardy enthusiasts surprised me by turning up for my walk at Botany Bay (Chiddingfold Forest) this morning, despite an appalling weather forecast. In the end things were rather better than expected, with brighter spells punctuating sporadic showers. Unsurprisingly we didn't see the Purple Emperor, which is late on the scene this year. However, we were fortunate in seeing a good variety of butterflies and those who stayed on into the afternoon were treated to an additional couple of species. The full tally included White Admiral, Silver-washed Fritillary, Dark Green Fritillary (thanks to Nick Broomer for finding us a pristine male), Wood White (after lunch), Purple Hairstreak, Marbled White, Ringlet, Small Skipper, Large Skipper, Common Blue, Red Admiral, Meadow Brown and Speckled Wood (after lunch). I was more than happy with thirteen species under less-than-ideal conditions. Thanks to all that joined me for an enjoyable day. (Neil Hulme)

Despite another thoroughly unpromising morning, a good turnout thoroughly enjoyed Neil's walk at Botany Bay. Alas no chance of Purple Emperor but notwithstanding the rain, a dozen species were seen, some in reasonable numbers especially Ringlets. Highlights though were the Marbled Whites and a single Dark Green Fritillary that posed beautifully and, for those of us that stayed on, a couple of late Wood Whites also posed nicely. As ever, huge thanks to Neil for a terrific morning. (Gary Faulkner)

Friday 6 July 2012

First Sussex Purple Emperor of the year spotted today at Southwater Woods. More at http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=4065&start=1000 (Neil Hulme)

A visit to Rewell Wood this afternoon for an hour was rewarded with a male Silver-washed Fritillary, Ringlets, Marbled Whites and Large Skippers. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

True to form, it started raining again when I arrived at Rowland Wood this afternoon and my expectation levels were as gloomy as the sky. However, it wasn't too long before the sun reappeared, swiftly followed by more butterflies than I have seen all year. There was one sunny glade in particular that was an absolute delight, I counted 12 Ringlets and 15 Meadow Browns a Red Admiral 3 White Admirals and 2 Silver-washed Fritillary on a patch of bramble no more than 3 metres square. Nearby I also spotted a Barred Red on a bracken frond. (Bob Foreman)

News for Thursday 5 July:Thursday morning I visited Southwater Woods. I found some White Admirals, including one taking salts from the path. He flew in circles a few times, then landed on my leather boot and imbibed salts from that. I also saw Marbled Whites and Meadow Browns, Silver-washed Fritillaries, though not as many as usual, Ringlets, Small Skippers, Commas and Red Admirals. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Thursday 5 July 2012

This afternoon I spent a few hours wandering around the BC Park Corner Heath and Rowland Wood Reserve. Although butterflies were far from abundant it's always a pleasure to soak up the calm and relaxing atmosphere here. My final tally was White Admiral (7), Silver-washed Fritillary (1), Ringlet (10), Meadow Brown (5), Small Heath (1), Speckled Wood (2), Large Skipper (4), Red Admiral (2) and Comma (4). Earlier in the day, during an unsuccessful search for White-letter Hairstreak at Litlington, I saw my first Gatekeeper of the year. (Neil Hulme)

At Vert Wood (close to Park Corner Heath) there were numbers of Silver-washed Fritillaries, White Admiral and Marbled White, the latter in the nearby uncut meadows. Also both Large and Small Skippers. (Simon Quin)

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Just a couple of sightings from today, at Lullington Heath nature reserve - one White Admiral, one female Dark Green Fritillary, one male Common Blue, one Ringlet, one Marbled White (actually closer to Jevington than the reserve), one Small Copper, several Skippers either Large or Small, and about a gazillion Meadow Browns. Lovely! (Nick Walford)

With the weather still very hit and miss at least Marbled Whites are doing well. In the so called waste land near home my 1st Small Skipper was seen along with a newly emerged female Marbled White. A sunnier afternoon on the 4th produced small numbers of Dark Green Fritillaries in Friston Forest. Several Commas and Red Admirals also seen as well as a Small Magpie in the undergrowth. (Bob Eade)

Late morning I ventured onto Stedham Common in dull but fairly dry conditions. I found 2 male Silver-studded Blues by the path then another 16 males plus 3 females at a nearby hotspot.. Some were in very good condition and while I was photographing one I glanced down and saw a mating pair nearby. Mostly they resting with open wings. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com) (below are Colin's photos from Cissbury Ring on Tuesday)

Tuesday 3 July 2012

In our East Dean garden (TV562984) early afternoon during light rain; 1 Hummingbird Hawk-moth (entered on main BC database). (Cassie & David Jode)

Yesterday I joined Mark Colvin at Cissbury Ring where we found mist on the hill and mild drizzle - perfect butterfly weather! Undaunted we set off up the hill in search of the Dark Green Fritillary. We saw a Speckled Wood by the path, searched the north-east Ring and found a male Common Blue. We scoured the southern top in the long grass where there were plenty of Meadow Browns and Small Heaths. We then tried the north-west ring and the meadow on the north-east side. Here a Dark Green Fritillary was hunkered down in the grass, wings half open. After a while he became lively, waved his wings to warm up, then climbed up the grass and flew off. We also found several Marbled Whites and Ringlets. Seven species, not a bad haul for a damp drizzly day when sensible people stay at home and keep their feet dry. Moths were also seen at all stages: Common Heath, Cinnabar, Yellow Shell, Five-spot Burnet larva and pupae. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

In overcast conditions I managed to find only 36 Silver-studded Blues at Iping Common today; unsurprisingly numbers are down on recent years. I usually visit these colonies when the weather is dull, but it only takes the merest suggestion of sunshine to persuade them to open their beautiful blue wings. (Neil Hulme)

Monday 2 July 2012

Recent news: Woods off Spithandle Lane, three White Admirals all in good condition, Silver-washed Fritillaries 8 (all male) one pair flying very high up in Oak tree and made my heart miss a beat. Speckled Woods 3, Red Admiral 3, Comma 4, Large Skippers, Ringlets and Meadow Browns numerous, pretty similar numbers to last year at this time. TQ1615
Sunday 1 July: At a local Wood to Henfield, male Silver-washed Fritillaries 4, all dashing about in a large open glade, also tussling with male Large Skippers and male Meadow Browns. White Admiral 1. TQ2514
Woods off Spithandle Lane, 4 White Admiral, 3 Marbled Whites, 3 male Silver-washed Fritillaries, Red Admiral 2, Comma 2, Ringlets numerous, as were Meadow Browns. Large Skippers 5. TQ1516. (Richard Roebuck)

Sunday 1 July 2012

In between rain showers, the first sighting today (photo above) of a Silver-studded Blue at the colony near Smugglers car park, Ashdown Forest (after checking the site since June 20). Almost daily high winds and rain seem to have delayed this Ashdown Forest colony this year (the only one I visit). In recent years they have usually emerged in mid-June. (Simon Quin)

A walk around Rowland Wood early this afternoon was very productive. I saw lots of Meadow Browns, Ringlets and Speckled Woods as well as 6 Red Admirals, 4 White Admirals, 2 Large Skippers, a Small Heath and a Silver Washed Fritillary. I then moved on to walk around the Helllingly tetrad and found dozens of Meadow Browns, 4 Red Admirals and 5 Large Skippers. (Chris Hooker)

After completing a transect at Mill Hill and recording just 8 Small Heaths, 1 Red Admiral and a Meadow Brown it was a delight to arrive at Southwater Woods again and find some pristine butterflies, including Ringlets, Red Admirals, Commas, Silver-washed Fritillaries, Large Skippers & White Admirals and in the meadow Marble Whites and Meadow Browns. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

News for Saturday 30 June: On Saturday I spent several hours planting out a couple of hundred primrose plugs in woodland on the Norfolk Estate, in order to further improve the habitat for the Duke of Burgundy. Despite disappointing numbers of the butterfly this spring, due to the foul weather that blighted most of the flight season, it was gratifying to see larval feeding damage to Primula which had been planted here the year before. Thanks are due to both my mother and Martin Kalaher, who grew each batch from seed. I then surveyed the area and was pleased to see good numbers of Large Skipper (34) and Ringlet (c.60). It was even more pleasing to see that the Marbled White (8) has colonised the newly created habitat, adding to the ever increasing list for the site. Other species included Silver-washed Fritillary (5), Painted Lady (2), Meadow Brown (c.25), Speckled Wood (2), Green-veined White (1) and Red Admiral (8), most of which were freshly emerged. I then moved on to Southwater Woods where more (11) mainly fresh Red Admirals were seen. Silver-washed Fritillary just made double figures but White Admiral numbers (5) are still disappointing. Small Skipper (6) has started to build but as yet there is no sign of the Emperor, which again was absent today (1st July). (Neil Hulme)

More news for Saturday 30 June: I passed by Stedham common near Midhurst at 17.30hrs. The sun was strong, as was the wind, which made photography a little difficult. I saw about 20 Silver-studded Blues mostly thermoregulating, trying to direct the sunlight directly onto their bodies, before shutting up shop and closing their wings for the night. Most were in very good condition and the ratio of male to female was about 10 to 1. (Dan Danahar)

I finally managed to see a Silver-studded Blue in Ashdown Forest on the 26th June. In the few minutes of sunshine, I managed to find 5 of these lovely little butterflies at Sussex Police's training site at Kingstanding. I announced this exciting find to Chief Inspector Diane Lewis of Sussex Police Dog Unit who was there training. She said "Little blue butterflies? Ive seen loads of them", then produced a photo taken using her Blackberry device of a Silver-studded Blue on 18th June (above). (Steve Wheatley)

Earlier Sightings

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