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Wednesday 30 April 2014

On Wednesday my transect at Mill Hill recorded 3 Green Hairstreaks, 12 Dingy Skippers and one each of Grizzled Skipper, Orange-tip, Peacock and Brimstone. I twice saw an orange butterfly rush by which did not look like a Comma. I then visited a site where I saw one freshly emerged Duke of Burgundy several Grizzled Skippers, an Orange-tip, Peacock, Small Purple & Golds and a Small White Wave. At Kithurst Meadow a crowd surrounded a Duke of Burgundy. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

My father, Roy Symonds reports the following sightings on 30th April from Stansted Forest, Rowlands Castle (SU745115) where the weather was sunny, temperature of 16C. Brimstone (3M), Small White (4), Orange Tip (3M) and Peacock (1). (Richard Symonds)

This morning I paid a brief visit to woodland near Arundel, before spending the rest of the day surveying butterflies around the Storrington area for the 'South Downs Way Ahead' Nature Improvement Area project. Highlights at the first site included my first woodland Duke of Burgundy of the year, 6 freshly emerged Grizzled Skipper, a Fox Moth and my first (2) Drab Looper of the season. I then moved on to Springhead (a.k.a. Kithurst) Hill where up to 4 male Duke of Burgundy are currently holding territory in the meadow. Further along the Downs at Chantry Hill there were numerous Dingy Skipper and Green Hairstreak, and a few very tired looking Red Admiral (3) and Painted Lady (1), suggesting a modest influx from the south. As I finished my count for the day I watched 3 beautiful Small Copper males catching the last rays of sun. (Neil Hulme)

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, "To have one springtime skipper Sussex BC event without skippers is unfortunate, to have two looks like carelessness". Thankfully today in Vinehall Forest I saw two Dingy Skippers, right at the point where I was about to give up and go home. So for this relief much thanks as we now at least stand a reasonable chance of seeing them again on Saturday. I am still very concerned about the Grizzled Skippers as I have not seen them at all yet. The Speckled Yellow moths are now out in Barnes Wood so unlike last year my event should not be totally Lepidoptera free. Fingers crossed. (Jim Barrett)

Today in 1-km square TQ2810 I saw one Small Tortoiseshell, one Peacock and one Wall Brown. (Helen Crabtree)

News for Tuesday 29 April: Between Birling Gap and the drive-way to Belle Tout lighthouse we saw a Dingy Skipper, a couple of Brimstones, a couple of Small Tortoiseshells, a couple of Peacocks, a couple of Speckled Woods and a Small Copper. Plenty of Early-purple Orchids were out and we counted at least 40 early Spider Orchids too. (John and Val Heys)

More news for Tuesday 29 April: A visit to a West Sussex site on Tuesday afternoon provided a fresh Duke of Burgundy, many Small Purple and Gold, a micromoth and a Speckled Yellow. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Tuesday 29 April 2014

Dingy Skippers were plentiful at Chantry Hill today, with at least 40 recorded. Also Green Hairstreak (20), Grizzled Skipper (4), Small Copper (2) (my first of the season), Brimstones, Peacocks etc etc. (Martin Kalaher, Storrington)

Fellow B.C. member, Trevor Rapley, and I decided that it might be worth a visit to Kithurst Hill this morning in the hope of seeing the Duke of Burgundy, which was a species that I had not previously seen. We arrived at Kithurst meadow at about 11.30 hrs., however it looked as if we had had a wasted journey as the sky was overcast and there was no sign of any insect activity. However, at about 12.15 hrs. the sun began to appear and shortly afterwards we saw our first Duke of Burgundy. During the two and a half hour that we were at Kithurst Meadow we had many sightings of the Duke of Burgundy with the maximum seen at any one time being three. We estimate that we saw between 10 and 15 of this species. We also saw several Dingy Skippers, Orange Tips, Brimstones and a single Grizzled Skipper. Attached are images taken today. (Douglas Neve)

Monday 28 April 2014

I suffered a frustrating wait for the clouds to part during a short, morning visit to Chantry Hill. I found plenty of butterflies at roost (mainly Dingy and Grizzled Skipper) and just needed the sun to show its face in order to see a couple of species in their full glory, including freshly emerged Brown Argus and my first Small Copper of the year. With literally a couple of minutes to go before I had to leave, the sun broke through with force and I was suddenly surrounded by squadrons of dog-fighting butterflies, adding Green Hairstreak, Orange Tip, Green-veined White, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock to the list. In the end I only managed to photograph (yet another) Grizzled Skipper, but they're one of my favourite species and I can't get enough of them! (Neil Hulme)

Great News. Two Wall seen today at the Pevensey Levels site. I did not see any at all last year and feared that the atrocious weather in the early part of the year might have obliterated this small colony, however they are still there. (Roy Wells)

An afternoon a visit to Kithurst Meadow provided two fresh Duke of Burgundies, a Dingy Skipper, a Burnet Companion, Green-veined Whites and a Peacock. Two male Brimstones were trying to persuade a female to succumb to their charms. Bluebells and orchids were out and the meadow was covered with cowslips. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Today I made the most of the weather which was mostly cloudy with some short sunny periods. At Hollingbury Hill Fort I found masses of one kind of moth, very small and hard to find when settled, a very light cream/white base colour with brown coloured markings, the biggest density was seen at (TQ322078). I also saw one Small Copper, a confirmed first this year for me, seen at (TQ32250797). Moving onto the dew pond area, at the edge of Wild Park I saw a very small moth which momentarily landed on an Oak leaf, it was red and gold in colouration and it's marking were very similar to a Red-barred Gold Moth, however from memory I think my one had long and pointed Palps, seen at (TQ32540774). Moving away from the dew pond toward Lewes Road I saw a single Speckled Wood at (TQ32770773). At the start of Wild Park by the Lewes Road I saw one Large White fly past at (TQ33140777). I then went into a gated area, which consisted of a South facing slope, previously not visited I wanted to look at the habitat. I was about to leave when I noticed a single Green Long-horn which settled on a leaf at shoulder height, seen at (TQ32990756).
I then moved onto Home Farm Road, I was on a thin stretch of verge, on the side of the railway line when I found a single Dingy Skipper, a first for me this year, seen at (TQ33000741). In the same area I noticed something that looked like and could have been Abia sericea, it had visible abdomen segments created by division grooves, seen at (TQ33000741). Next to Covers Merchants I was able to see two Dingy Skippers together seen at (TQ32860731), later I found another Dingy Skipper, this one had noticeable darker markings, seen at (TQ32880732). Other then these skippers I believe there might have been one or two more Dingy Skippers in the same area whilst I was there, hard to tell with the possibility of repeats that only cover a small area. I was able to identify both male and female individuals whilst there. I saw one Large White at (TQ32870731) and one Brimstone at (TQ32850731). On the way back to Wild Park I saw another single Dingy Skipper at (TQ32990740). On Wild Park's South facing bank I saw one Small White (TQ33190804), two Small White (TQ33130810), one Large White (TQ33120810), one Brimstone (TQ33070814), one Small White basking (TQ33050814) and one Peacock, I noticed when settled to bask it was lacking it's right palp, seen at (TQ33110811). Further up the slope, moving East toward the end of the coomb of Wild Park, in the enclosed area, I saw one Brimstone (TQ32870813), two Small Tortoiseshell (TQ32860812 and TQ32860809) and two Small Coppers seen at (TQ32720811 and TQ32690816). I saw my first Green Hairstreak of the year seen at (TQ32710812) and to finish my trip I saw three Small Tortoiseshells chasing each other, all seen at (TQ32690815). (Jamie Burston)

Another visit to the open area to the north of Abbots Wood this afternoon was rewarded with a sighting of a mating pair of Pearl-bordered Fritillaries (images above) between the tractor tracks. I was able to observe them for about 10-minutes before separation. At the time it was sunny with a cool east wind blowing and the air temperature was about 15 degrees C. During the 30-minutes that I was present in the area I sighted between eight and ten Pearl-bordered Fritillaries. (Douglas Neve)

News for Saturday 26 April: Nate Wood, Abbots Wood. TQ5746706690. checked for Pearl bordered Frits. but none seen in this area. 2x Peacocks, 1x Orange-tip (f), 1x Large White, 1x Green-veined White, 2x Nightingales singing, and a pristine Hairy Dragonfly(f), as the sun had gone in I held in my hand. on way back at Cophall farm TQ 576 060 on fallen pole a Common Lizard sunbathing.
And Sunday 27 April: Foyles Way TV60005497016. 1x Wall (m) flying along bank in overcast conditions, it flew and settled under chalk overhang 12.26pm, it was still there at 2,17pm. near the Whitebread sports field a web of Small Tortoiseshell larvae. In large area of garlic mustard found 2x Orange-tip eggs, and 1x Green-veined White (m). near Cow Gap two sites of Early Spider Orchids, one site counted 14, because of erosion some on cliff edge. on other site 27, this one away from cliff. (Peter Farrant)

Recent news: On Thursday at Rewell Wood I found a Small Purple and Gold (Pyrausta aurata) and a Speckled Wood. On Saturday at Kithurst Meadow I found a micromoth, Falseuncaria ruficiliana and a few Green-veined whites. At Rewell Wood there were plenty of Pearl-bordered Fritillaries. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Sunday 27 April 2014

Wall Brown numbers continue to increase on Frog Firle. Larvae still showing as well so fresh butterflies will still be showing for some time yet. More pics on bobsbutterflies.blogspot.com. (Bob Eade)

Pleased to see some good looking Pearl-bordered Fritillary this evening at Rewell Wood; I counted at least 4 individuals just as they were going to roost. (leigh Prevost)

Once the Sunday sun appeared, a Galium Carpet on the southern slopes below Lancing Ring along with small numbers of Holly Blue, Orange Tip, Green-veined White, Red Admiral, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Brimstone, Speckled Wood and unidentified Whites. Also a Wall there on Friday. (Lindsay Morris)

Saturday 26 April 2014

A late afternoon visit to Chantry Hill to look for roosting Grizzled and Dingy Skippers (I found about half a dozen of each) produced my first (2) Brown Argus of the year. (Neil Hulme)

Took a chance on the weather today and went to Heyshott to see the Duke of Burgundy. After a couple of hours we started to get some prolonged sunny periods and Dukes began to appear and few Dingy Skippers. Thanks to Gary for finding a mating pair. Just had time to pop into Rewell Wood on the way home and see my first Pearl-bordered Fritillary of the year. (Mark Cadey)

Went for a run around Abbots Wood this afternoon and came across a Red Admiral (my first of the month) and 2 Pearl-bordered Fritillaries (on the northern edge of the area of scrub to the SE of the car park). Also saw a Green-veined White and a female Orange Tip. (Chris Hooker)

Saw a Wall on my allotment today on Whitehawk Hill Road in east Brighton, much better timing this time. Also Commas and still lots of Small Tortoiseshells. (Tessa Pawsey, TQ321051)

Friday 25 April 2014

Doug Neves image from Abbots Wood actually shows two male and one female (left of image) Pearl-bordered Fritillary. Although there are very subtle differences in size, wing shape, base colour and markings, the abdomen shape gives an easier method for differentiating the sexes; fatter/shorter in the female. (Neil Hulme)

News for Tuesday 22 April: We walked on the Downs on Tuesday afternoon and it was not favourable butterfly weather  having turned rather cool and cloudy. However, Kithurst meadow was looking absolutely stunning. Superb display of Cowslips so well done to those managing it. I hope The Dukes flourish. One male Orange-tip showed during a sunny interval. (Colin Booty)

Thursday 24 April 2014

One male Wood White, Sussex wood near Plaistow. (Margaret Hibbard)

I spent this morning at Ashcombe Bottom near Lewes with National Trust ranger Lee Walther. This wooded valley on the downs near Lewes is part of a large area of downland owned and manged by the National Trust and a great spot for butterflies. Last year Lee and Crispin Holloway led a walk here and recorded an impressive 28 species. The woodland is an interesting mix of habitats with chalk grassland glades hidden amongst old oaks, hawthorns and hazel coppice - you can see silver-spotted skippers flying alongside white admirals! The National Trust are maintaining and improving this diverse habitat and ensuring that this glade and ride network which has allowed butterflies to thrive here is not lost. Lee and I chatted about the site's proposed management plan and I advised on improvements that could be made for some of the more intersting species here. While up at the site I saw my first Small Copper, Dingy Skipper and Green Hairstreak of the year. Lee and Crispin are leading another walk here later in the year - see details on our events schedule - it's a really interesting site that's certainly worth a visit (Michael Blencowe)

Today, with the help of my father, I performed a thorough survey of Rewell Wood, recording Pearl-bordered Fritillary (PBF) over six discrete areas. By returning to finish off with a couple of 'new' blocks in the evening I ended up with a tally of just over 100 PBF. This is very much in line with counts over recent years, but this total has been achieved significantly earlier in the flight season, with only a single female recorded. This gives some indication that the species is set to do well at Rewell this year. On sunny days (particularly early/mid morning and later in the afternoon) plenty can be seen nectaring on bugle and dandelion beside the tracks along the route described under my 17 April posting. I suspect there are plenty more yet to emerge. (Neil Hulme)

Today I was invited out by Steve East to Abbots wood, whilst there it was cloudy and slowly brightened up. I saw two, possibly three Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, we saw the first which settled at (TQ56950823) and then the other one/two flying at (TQ56910822). We also saw Speckled Yellow moths in the same area seeing about 7 all within (TQ569082) and another single sighting beforehand at (TQ56430802). Finally for Abbots Wood we also saw a single Small White at (TQ56300788). We then took a visit to Park Corner Heath where some astonishing work has been done, a big thank you to all the volunteers, fingers crossed SPBF picks up in numbers this year. Whilst at the reserve we saw two different Peacocks, seeing them at (TQ51081484 and TQ51071490). Back in Brighton I saw a Brimstone at the side of a round-about seen at (TQ32210960) and then in a garden off Fiveways (Private Property) I saw two Holly Blue. In the Evening walking the dog I saw a single Small White along my road seen at (TQ31450833) and once I got back from the walk I saw two Speckled Woods in the back garden (TQ31650845). Here is a link to footage I took of the Green-veined Whites from the 23rd - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kD8Z3TDA6o. (Jamie Burston)

I returned to the open area north of Abbots Wood this afternoon at about 13.00 hrs. in the company of another B.C. member, Trevor Rapley. Although it was cool with the sky generally overcast with occasional sunny breaks we were hopeful of seeing Pearl-bordered Fritillaries again as well as Green Hairstreaks. Almost immediately we saw two or three Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, which were either nectaring on bluebells and bugle or possibly looking for a mate. We were at the site for approximately 90-minutes and during this time saw in excess of 10 of this species. Above is an image of a trio of Pear-bordered Fritillaries, possibly one male and two females, seen close to the tractor tracks. We also had sightings of several Grizzled Skippers and Peacocks. (Douglas Neve)

A lovely fresh female Orange-tip was a highlight on my lunchtime stroll in the sunshine around the SWT's Woods Mill Reserve today. I also encountered two male Orange-tips, a male Brimstone and a couple of Peacocks. (Bob Foreman)

Recent news: This has been an interesting week with Pearls at Rewell Wood, Green Hairstreaks at Chantry Hill and the highlight  Emperors at Kithurst Meadow. I saw my first two Small Heaths of the year at Mill Hill on Tuesday with 4 Dingy Skippers (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Today required much patience, as the wayward weather forecast failed to predict the complete lack of sunshine over Heyshott from mid morning to late afternoon, not to mention the sporadic drizzle. Luckily, just enough warmth occasionally bled through the clouds to get a few butterflies airborne, but it was well after 2 pm before things really got going. Earlier in the day I met BC Sussex members Susie and Katrina, both of whom had already located a few Duke of Burgundy. Fortunately, Katrina had the location of a freshly emerged, roosting male marked (thanks!), so it wasn't long before I had some reasonable shots in the bag. Later in the afternoon I started to find a few more Dukes and many more Dingy Skipper, finishing with counts of 10 and 23 respectively. There is clearly a sizeable hatch of both species underway and it would be well worth a visit this coming weekend if the weather behaves. Other species were in short supply, with just single Grizzled Skipper, Red Admiral, Orange Tip and Speckled Wood seen. (Neil Hulme)

I love the butterflies and moths, every sighting feels me with optimism but I must be honest, there is nothing I find so exciting in the countryside as finding caterpillars. It takes me back to my childhood in the 60's, when my mother used to accompany me on bike rides into the country around Arundel. One early memory was cycling out, to Binsted Woods, it was evening and I was on my tricycle, that's how young I was. We saw a beautiful Brimstone Moth flying along the lane ahead of us and were trying to keep up, when suddenly a Nightjar swooped down and grabbed it! But as I say, it was chiefly the caterpillars that held my fascination. Clymping was all Elm trees back then and a visit to the beach meant a walk along side these trees and hedges. Once I saw a caravan of lackey moth caterpillars acting like the Buff-tip, nose to tail, about two feet in length like a miniature underground train with their beautiful blue and red stripes. Today at New Pound, Wisborough Green, Adam, a colleague at work, called me out to see a caterpillar he had just found. He lead me to a hedge right next to the road where the traffic passes at 70 mph. The grass was damp and I was expecting to see a Drinker but no, it was on the top of a hawthorn and privet hedge amongst the ivy. A lovely Oak Eggar caterpillar, pretty near fully grown. Eventually we found seven at three different stages of growth; 2cms, 4cms and 5cms in length. I hope the variety in size may reflect different clutches of eggs and therefore a colony of Oak Eggar. I regularly record the Drinker Moth family at the Mill Stream in Arundel, which have returned for decades to the same patch of grass. I wonder if the Oak Eggar have survived well in this particular patch because the hedge is isolated between a busy main road and a dry old car park and there is little worry of predators. (Josse Davis)

Today I visited the Asda industrial estate reserve, Hollingbury. Whilst there I saw one Brimstone at (TQ32170908) also close by I found a mating pair of Green-veined Whites at (TQ32180908). At the far opposite side of the reserve I found another single Green-veined White which briefly settled for identification, seen at (TQ32270922). Also seen were a couple of Whites which I couldn't identify. A nice surprise turned up and luckily settled in the grass. Looking it up online I found it to be a marvelously coloured Red Twin-spot Carpet Moth, with bold deep red colouration, seeing it at (TQ32200909). (Jamie Burston)

Tuesday 22 April 2014

An unexpected Painted Lady on Frog Firle this morning. (Bob Eade)

After photographing a female Emperor Moth at Springhead Hill this morning I gave accurate directions to its location to Colin Knight, who had only just started his Transect walk at Mill Hill when I 'phoned him. I then moved on to Rewell Wood to survey for Pearl-bordered Fritillary, seeing a total of 30 males over two areas. Whilst there I received a call from Colin, informing me that he had found the Emperor. The even better news was that it was now being attended by a male! With the nursery run looming I just had time to speed back to Springhead to snap the happy couple! (Neil Hulme)

Well if ever an afternoon screamed "Grizzled Skippers" it was today. Barnes Wood irradiated a vernal green that would top the bill of any counted blessing list while the warm sunshine delightfully contrasted the background chill of the season. Perfect Skipper weather indeed. No such luck though. Though numerous bumblebees (Bombus pascuorum), and what I have now dubbed the "false alarm" fly (Flesh flies; Sarcophagidae family) got the pulse quickening, still no Skippers. By way of consolation I did see a lovely pristine Speckled Wood and a few less than pristine Peacocks. (Jim Barrett)

News for Monday 21 April: Stuart Sutton and I found three freshly emerged Pearl-bordered Fritillaries at Site 2 just after midday on Bank Holiday Monday - possibly the first ones to emerge there in 2014. This marks ten years of PBF surviving at Abbots since we first released fifty captive-bred butterflies back in 2004. We also found our first Abbots Wood Grizzled Skipper for 2014, along with a Green Tiger Beetle (one of many). Also around the wood: Peacock (6), Brimstone (4), Small Tortoiseshell (1), Green-veined White (3), Orange Tip (4), Comma (1), We then scoured the rest of the likely PBF sites around the wood without success before returning to Site 2 mid-afternoon to try and find my glasses! These didn't turn up unfortunately but we did find another four PBF at the same location around 14.50. If anyone happens to find a black Specsavers glasses case (hopefully still with contents) somewhere around Abbots Wood, I'd love to hear from you! (Mike Mullis)
If you do find Mike's glasses e-mail me at sighting@sussex-butterflies.org.uk and I'll pass the news to Mike straight away - unless, that is, you found them immediately after wondering what that nasty crunching noise was that your right foot just made. ed.

More news for Monday 21 April: Lovely afternoon in Abbots Wood 2 Brimstone. 2 Peacock. 2 male Orange Tips at TQ572082 1 Grizzled Skipper and highlight was 8 Pearl-bordered Fritillaries of which there were 2 mating pairs. (Janet and Neville Richardson)

Monday 21 April 2014

I saw my first Pearl-bordered Fritillary at Park Corner Heath and a Brimstone laying eggs. I also saw Peacocks, a Large White, Speckled Woods and more Brimstones. (Gary Norman)

This afternoon I visited Abbots Wood in the company of fellow B.C. members, James and Claire, and in the hope of seeing early Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Green Hairstreaks. We arrived at the large open area to the north of the wood at about 15.00 hrs. and almost immediately saw two active Pearl-bordered Fritillary, which, due to their pristine condition, we thought had probably just emerged. After about 15-minutes, when the sky had became overcast, James spotted a Pearl-bordered Fritillary close to the tractor tracks, which had settled on low-level brambles (above). No Green Hairstreaks were sighted. (Douglas Neve)

A great day on the Downs today. Went in search of the Green Hairstreak, which was at first elusive. Started by seeing Grizzled Skippers and Dingy Skippers, then some Orange-tips put in an appearance. They seemed to ignore most other flowers in favour of nectaring on Herb-robert - surely the ultimate in butterfly bling! Numerous Brimstones around - at times 4 or 5 together, spiralling upwards together and out of sight. An unfortunate Small Tortoiseshell was caught in a spider's web - it put up an almighty struggle but every time it stopped the spider ran down and wove another thread around it. The spider won in the end. Peacocks in great abundance, and at one point I saw three Small Coppers together on a patch of bare soil. A common lizard came to have a look at me, then late in the morning the Green Hairstreaks came out in abundance. (Nigel Symington)

News for Sunday 20 April: Despite the appalling weather on Easter Sunday morning, I went looking for spring Skippers, finding half a dozen roosting on seed heads at Chantry Hill near Storrington. When light levels improved later in the day I returned to find this photogenic pair sitting on a 'hardhead', precisely where Id left them 6 hours previously. (Neil Hulme)

Sunday 20 April 2014

News for Saturday 19 April: I saw another Wall Brown in my Seaford garden on Saturday. I have yet to see them in their most frequent location nearby (Blatchington reservoir). (Chris Brewer)

News for Friday 18 April: Sorry for late posting but pretty sure had my first Wall Brown of the year on Friday on some scrubby waste just before the Ivy Arch Tunnel between King Edward Avenue and Station Road in Worthing. I didn't have a camera and it was just a little too far to get a good view but I'm fairly certain despite the unusual location. (Leigh Prevost)

Saturday 19 April 2014

Sorry for the delay in posting, have been sunning myself in Devon for a couple of days. ed.

A lovely, unexpected early sighting of a Small Copper butterfly beside the pond at Broadwater Warren nature reserve. The pond and its surroundings have recently been restored as part of the RSPB's 10 year habitat restoration project near Tunbridge Wells (Steve Wheatley)

Friday 18 April 2014

An afternoon visit to Heyshott Escarpment provided my first Duke of Burgundy in Sussex this season. I saw them at Noar Hill in Hants. last week, but you cant beat seeing them on your own patch, particularly when youve spent the winter preparing their living quarters for them! More at base page www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=4065&start=10000 (Neil Hulme)

Small Heath today on Frog Firle. (Bob Eade)

My first sightings this year of Green Hairstreak (12), Grizzled Skipper (5), Dingy Skipper (5) at Chantry Hill and 2 Pearl-bordered Fritillaries at Rewell wood on the main ride either side of the timber stacks. (Tom Parker)

I saw a Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera) in my Seaford garden this morning  TQ484010. (Chris Brewer)

I had a walk around Cissbury Ring today. Although a bit chilly I hoped to see a Green Hairstreak. Eventually I did, in a warm protected spot where a male was guarding his territory and frequently intercepting Speckled Woods (3) and a female Holly Blue and other Green Hairstreaks. But the highlight was a stunning porcelain white newly emerged male Small White. He was fairly weak on the wing and stayed close to the undergrowth avoiding the wind, so it was difficult to get a decent shot. There were no obvious markings on the wings at all, apart from very feint wing tip scales on the left forewing. Spots were completely absent. Also saw Small Tortoiseshells 3, Peacock 4, Brimstone, male and female, Small Copper 3, Green-veined White 3. I also noted that at last the over grown area to the back of Cissbury ring has been Cut back with a topper. Great stuff because butterflies were already bathing in the sunlight on the now open ground which will also allow low level Downland plants to return. (Richard Roebuck)

On a short mid morning stroll around Mill Hill today in glorious sunshine I saw a good selection of butterflies: Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, and Peacock, and my first Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper, Speckled Wood, Large White, and Green Hairstreak of the year. Later I saw my first Holly Blue of the year near Worthing Town Centre. (Leigh Prevost)

Sometime over the last day or two three overwintering garden Red Admiral caterpillars hatched from their chrysalids and hopefully flew. This dovetails in nicely with newly arriving migrants. It has been a reasonable year for caterpillar overwintering, so hopefully a successful year lies ahead for this species in Sussex. (David Harris, Newhaven)

News for Thursday 17 April: During my two UKBMS transects at RSPB Broadwater Warren today I recorded 67 Brimstones plus 8 Peacocks, 2 Speckled Woods and 1 Small White. (Linda Loweth)

Thursday 17 April 2014

Today I returned to Rewell Wood and surveyed a large area, finding Pearl-bordered Fritillary (10), Brimstone (25), Peacock (13), Speckled Wood (10), Orange Tip (8), Green-veined White (7), Small Tortoiseshell (3), Holly Blue (2), Comma (1) and my first Speckled Yellow moth of the season. The bluebells were magnificent and are already approaching peak, this year slightly ahead of the beech leaves. Access to Rewell Wood: Due to problems with cars interfering with the passage of timber vehicles, the amount of parking at the southern end of the wood (from the A27) has been reduced to a two car bay on the right-hand side before reaching the gate (SU98280730). From here walk north past the sawmill to the junction at SU984077 and turn left. You should see PBF (when numbers build in a couple of days time) on the edge of the coppice block between 200 and 350 metres along this track. At the furthest point (SU980079) there is a right turn, which you can take and walk uphill until reaching the junction of tracks and paths at SU984087. There are several blocks on the right of this path with PBF. If there is no parking available you can enter Rewell Wood via Fairmile Bottom on the A29, parking at SU983090. From here take the footpath across the open grassland area and up the slope through the trees, arriving at the aforementioned junction of tracks and paths at SU984087. Simply reverse the route described earlier. The Norfolk Estate has requested that visitors stick to this route and other public rights of way, which can be viewed on both online and hard copy maps. As always it is best to see and photograph this species towards the end of a warm, sunny day, when they will emerge from the coppice blocks to feed and sunbathe on rides and tracks. PBF at Houghton Forest: This species will emerge in 7 - 10 days time at Houghton Forest, in and around the large clear-fell at SU994115. There are numerous open access tracks and paths around and across this area. (Neil Hulme)

2 walks today and although the breeze kept activity down, there were still several butterflies to be seen.
Hailsham Country Park: Speckled Wood (6), Orange Tip (2), Small White (2), Holly Blue (2), Peacock (1), Small Tortoiseshell (1)
Abbots Wood: Peacock (16), Orange Tip (6), Brimstone (5), Speckled Wood (2), Green-veined White (2), Comma (1)
(Chris Hooker)

I had another look at Houghton Forest, to decide on the best route if I were to do a PBF survey. I mentioned two days ago that many of the tracks are rather shaded - well some are but there are also plenty of wide rides and violets are plentiful enough. I also mentioned that I only saw two Brimstone - well today I saw closer to 60! Also lots of Peacocks, a good few Green-veined Whites and Orange-tips, two Comma and a Holly Blue. I have only seen four Comma this year so far. (Martin Kalaher, Storrington)

News for Wednesday 16 April: It's great to see such encouraging results so soon in the 'South Downs Way Ahead' Nature Improvement Area (NIA) project, designed and co-ordinated by the South Downs National Park Authority. This project was awarded a 608,000 DEFRA grant in spring 2012, as one of twelve successful bids for NIA status. 'South Downs Way Ahead' aims to link chalk grassland habitat along the South Downs Way between Winchester and Eastbourne, and the grant is being supplemented by other lines of funding to finance a c.3 million plan to safeguard and enhance this endangered habitat and its associated flora and fauna, including butterflies and moths. On Wednesday I spent four hours surveying butterflies around the Chantry Hill area near Storrington. It took this long for two reasons; some of the slopes are 'mountain goat territory' and, more importantly, there were so many butterflies to count. Several species are reacting remarkably quickly to the habitat management work in the area. The final tally was Green Hairstreak (55), Dingy Skipper (16), Grizzled Skipper (13), Green-veined White (3), Brimstone (2), Speckled Wood (2), Small Tortoiseshell (5) and Peacock (3). Also seen were the day-flying moths Pyrausta aurata (10) and P. despicata (3). Later in the day I visited Rewell Wood and saw the first Pearl-bordered Fritillary of the year. A thorough search revealed 4 males. (Neil Hulme)

More news for Wednesday 16 April: On Wednesday I went to the Hollingbury Hill Fort and Wild Park area in Brighton, I saw three Speckled Wood, seeing them at (TQ32340804, TQ32400789 and TQ32480780). I saw four Small Tortoiseshell, seeing them at (TQ32270777, TQ32280796, TQ32350837 and TQ32370848). I saw two Green-veined White at (TQ32300792 and TQ32230829) and a single Peacock seen at (TQ32580818). Orange-tip and spring Skippers still seem to be absent locally. (Jamie Burston)

News for Tuesday 15 April: We found this caterpillar in a dormouse nestbox at RSPB Broadwater Warren during a nestbox check. Can anyone identify it for us? There were identical single caterpillars in 2 other nestboxes. (Alan Loweth)

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Following yesterday's transect at Mill Hill I saw 3 Grizzled Skippers, 6 Dingy Skippers, a Green Hairstreak and a Wavy-barred Sable (Pyrausta nigrata). Most of the action was at the north end at the foot of the hill. A Kestrel perched on a tree at the top of the hill, then took off and gave wonderful close-up views (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

I visited Mill Hill early this afternoon for about 90-minutes in the hope of seeing the Green Hairstreak. It was sunny and the air temperature was about 14 degrees C. I checked the area around the top car-park where I had seen them in 2011 but had no sightings, possibly due to the exposed location and the cool easterly breeze blowing at the time. I then made my way to the lower level, spotting several Peacocks on the path down. I found that the western boundary of the lower level was protected from the breeze and consequently felt much warmer than at the higher level. During the 30-minutes that I was there I sighted three Green Hairstreaks which settled at low-level close-by, allowing photographs to be taken. I also observed several Dingy Skippers and Grizzled Skippers close-by. (Douglas Neve)

On "my" lane on Pevensey Levels at the moment I notice great variation in the size of individuals in both Small Tortoiseshells and Peacocks, some being only half the size of others. Some of the Peacocks seem particularly small and with very dowdy colouration. At least they are here this year, eight today, more than I recorded during all of last year. (Roy Wells)

News for Tuesday 15 April: Spent the afternoon on Mill Hill and, despite the chilly breeze, I managed to find 11 species. Best sightings were several Green Hairstreaks (at least 6 individuals) mostly at the northern end of the foot of the slope, 6+ Grizzled Skippers and 10+ Dingy Skippers. Also seen were Large and Small Whites, Orange Tip, Brimstone, Holly Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Speckled Wood. My next challenge is to find Green Hairstreaks on my doorstep in Abbots Wood (any suggestions as to the best parts of the forest to search would be welcome!). (Chris Hooker)

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Taking advantage of the continuing fine weather I thought I would have a look at Houghton Forest. If I am in Sussex at the appropriate time I will check it out for PBF this year and with that in mind I undertook a violet survey. Many of the tracks and rides in Houghton Forest are fairly narrow and many are shaded but none-the-less there is certainly scope for a sizeable colony of Pearl-bordered Fritillaries - in due course. Whilst checking for violets I counted approximately one hundred Peacock. They are everywhere this year. Interestingly only two Brimstone. I guess Peacock can cope with more shaded conditions. Also Green-veined White (8), Orange-tip (7), Small Tortoiseshell (3) and Comma (1). Also one Red Admiral high up on the downs near Bury Hill. Only my second Red Admiral this year (another migrant, I suspect). (Martin Kalaher, Storrington)

Trevor Rapley and I returned to the patch of Cuckoo Flower near Arlington today at about 10.00 hrs. in the hope of seeing more Orange Tips, however due to the low air temperature and partial cloud cover at the time there were no sightings. We then visited Abbots Wood seeking Green Hairstreaks, without success, before returning to the Cuckoo Flower paths. Fortunately, the air temperature here had risen to about 14 degrees C. and it was sunny. We soon saw a single male Orange Tip followed by a second one later. A single Green-veined White also appeared, which appeared to be egg laying. We then moved onto Frog Firle where we saw two Holly Blues together on Ivy and a small number of Speckled Woods. (Douglas Neve)

News for Monday 14 April: One very small male Orange Tip in my Brighton garden today. (Caroline Clarke)

More news for Monday 14 April: Went for a walk in Vert Wood a saw a few butterflies including Brimstones, Comma, Peacock etc. Also saw a grass snake. (Nick & James Linazasoro)
Went for a walk around Arlington Reservoir and saw male Orange Tip, Green-veined White, Peacock, Comma, Red Admiral and a water shrew and some water voles and some slow worms. (Nick Linazasoro & Drew Easton)

Monday 14 April 2014

Mill Hill at Shoreham is gradually livening up, but it's been a slow start to the season here. This is one of the sites which was hit particularly hard by the 2012 wash-out summer and will take a little while longer to fully recover. Even this morning, two weeks into their season, there were still only 3 Grizzled Skipper on offer. Early indications are that this species might be down in numbers across much of Sussex this year. Equally noticeable is the very low number of Pyrausta spp. (small day-flying moths) here since 2012. Green Hairstreak (5) and Dingy Skipper (6) are now fully underway and faring a little better; they may well go on to do well this year. The former species was seen at both the northern and southern ends of the lower slope, and in the glades between scrub adjacent to the upper car park. Also seen was a male Holly Blue, one Speckled Wood, a few Whites, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock. (Neil Hulme)

Today I visited Ladies Mile LNR near Hollingbury Industrial Estate, whilst there I saw Small Tortoiseshell, seeing seven at (TQ31760914, TQ31890931, TQ31640927, TQ31610925, TQ31620926, TQ31620925 and TQ31560920). Also seeing three Speckled Wood at (TQ31510912, TQ31690930 and TQ31990952). I saw one Comma at (TQ31870951), one male Brimstone at (TQ31800957) and one Large White at (TQ32010953). I also saw two Small White at (TQ31850957 and TQ31840953) and two Peacock at (TQ31780937 and TQ31680930). (Jamie Burston)

I hiked from Kithurst Hill car park to Arundel and back via the Angmering Estate and Harrow Hill. It was not a butterfly walk as such but I counted as I went along, as follows: Peacock (23), Small Tortoiseshell (21), Brimstone (12), Orange-tip (10), Green-veined White (8), Small White (1), Comma (1) and Red Admiral (1). At last I have seen a Red Admiral - a probable migrant, seen at the very top of Chantry Hill. Also one Humming-bird Hawk-moth. I have never seen so many spring Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell. (Martin Kalaher, Storrington)

Today we saw 2 Holly Blues in the central area of Littlehampton and a rather distant yellow butterfly (probably a Brimstone) heading west along the beach nearby. The first Holly Blue in our garden (Hove) turned up on 10/04/14, nectaring on a forget-me-not, which I havent seen before. It might have not been long emerged as it looked very fresh & one wing was a bit crinkly. In 2013 we didnt see any Holly Blues in Hove until 1st May and in our garden until 6th May. (John and Val Heys)

News for Sunday 13 April: On Sunday I decided this to check out an area I hadn't been to for some time North of Cowfold TQ2125. Ideally I was hoping to see a Speckled Wood as locally at home I haven't seen any yet this year. The area was mainly forest, conifer plantations with a few unused fields in the middle. I was surprised to see Peacocks in abundance and probably saw 25 plus on my walk around the footpaths Second commonest butterfly were Orange Tips 10 or so seen and then Commas about 8, male Brimstones 7 female 1, Small Tortoiseshells (all worn) 6, and perhaps one Speckled Wood which caught the breeze and vanished in some trees. I then went to a bridleway near Wiston where I always see Speckled Woods. None here, 4 Orange Tips, 3 Commas and a couple of Peacocks. I had parked on a bend next to a boggy area with lots of lady's Smock which were being visited by male Orange Tips nectaring. As it was lovely and warm I waited a while and then found 3 Speckled Woods on the road verge. Lots of courting going on but no pairing. Any way I decided to wait a bit longer hoping an Orange Tip would eventually go to roost. One snook down for the night on a lady's smock flower and I was pleased to get a pic. around 5.30 p.m. TQ164161. Lovely afternoon out. (Richard Roebuck)

Sunday 13 April 2014

A Sunday morning visit to Mill Hill gave a fresh and very territorial Green Hairstreak. The only other butterfly to be seen, a Brimstone. (Dave Potter)

This morning I visited a patch of roadside Cuckoo Plant located near Arlington in the hope of seeing Orange tips. I arrived at about 09.30 hrs. and found 3 males and a single female feeding. These were fairly active and quite difficult to photograph. After about 30-minutes another B.C. member, James, turned up and we fortunate to spot a male Orange Tip on a food plant, where it remained for at least 5-minutes allowing photography to take place. At the time it was sunny and the air temperature was about 12 degrees C. (Douglas Neve)

At Mill Hill on Saturday briefly saw a Green Hairstreak, Dingy Skipper and 3 Grizzled Skippers which posed nicely when the cloud came over. On Sunday found 2 Dingy Skippers at Saddlescombe/Devil's Dyke (TQ269118) and a Green Hairstreak which had set up its territory on a Juniper Bush. Then finally caught up with some Orange Tips while driving near Arlington (TQ540068). (Mark Cadey)

Sunshine and butterflies on my allotment on Whitehawk Hill Road in east Brighton. Lots of Small Tortoiseshells, plenty of Speckled Woods patrolling up and down the paths between the hedges, commas, a Holly Blue and lots of whites, don't know if they were large or small, all classed as cabbage whites by allotmenteers I'm afraid, and a Ruby Tiger moth whizzed by as we sat and drank tea. TQ329046. (Tessa Pawsey)

Went for a family walk today and sneaked in a few butterfly shots on the way! We saw Brimstones, Peacocksand Small White. (Nick Linazasoro)

I went on my regular walk from my Storrington garden to Chantry Hill and back. A total of ten butterfly species was recorded, the numbers as follows: Peacock (27), Brimstone (20), Small Tortoiseshell (18), Orange-tip (8), Green Hairstreak (6), Green-veined White (3), Small White (2), Large White (1), Speckled Wood (1) and Holly Blue (1). My target species were Grizzled and Dingy Skippers but I didn't connect. I was surprised by how many Green Hairstreak there were (and I suspect a thorough search would have revealed a lot more). And I still haven't seen a Red Admiral this year! (Martin Kalaher)

Saturday 12 April 2014

I saw 2 Small Coppers today at Friston Gallops, Brimstones, Small Tortoiseshells and Peacock. I continued into Friston Forest and saw 2 Speckled Woods, 4 Green-veined Whites and a Red Admiral. (Gary Norman)

Today Sunday at 10.15 am Alan Wingrove recorded his first Small Copper of the season in his garden in Hermitage (near Southbourne) West Sussex.

Today I visited 3 locations and was rewarded with Peacocks, male and female Brimstones, male and female Orange-tips, Red Admiral, Green-veined White, Comma, Speckled Wood plus 2 Grizzled Skippers at Kithurst Meadow. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

I saw one Small Tortoiseshell at the edge of Hollingbury golf course along Ditchling Road at (TQ32240827). Then at Wild Park, in Moulsecoomb I saw two Comma on the south facing bank, seen on the section closest to Lewes Road, seeing one at (TQ33130810) and the other at (TQ33100812). Also in the same area of the bank I saw one Small Tortoiseshell, seen at (TQ33110811). Moving further west into the coomb near the cafe building, I saw another single Small Tortoiseshell, seen at (TQ33040813). Moving on past the cafe I saw another single Comma, seen at (TQ32970813). I then went along and entered the enclosed area where the grazing sheep are normally kept, it was lovely to see most of the slope was covered in Purple from thousands of Ground Ivy flowers. In the enclosure I saw two more Small Tortoiseshell, one at (TQ32830806) and the other seen at (TQ32870808). I also saw a Butterfly in flight, looking a lot smaller which I believe to have been a Small Copper, however I can not confirm this, for anyone visiting who might want to look, I saw it at (TQ32880810). On the way back seen on the nearest bank section to the Lewes Road I saw another Small Tortoiseshell seen at (TQ33100812) however this is most likely to be a repeated sighting of an earlier butterfly. (Jamie Burston)

Today I thought that I would try out my new camera. So what better way to try it out than on a butterfly hunt. Today I saw Brimstones, Peacocks, Red Admirals, Speckled Wood, Small White and one Holly Blue. But alas some were just too fast for me. I will have to read up on how to operate it all. (Nick Linazasoro)

Dan Danahar and I offered to cruise some tetrads to look for species where we have no or limited records for the Sussex Butterfly Atlas. Michael duly allocated us 7 tetrads to survey in the Horsted Keynes/Danehill area, and we set off on Friday with a favourable weather forecast.
First up was a male Brimstone, at Cockhaise Brook TQ376257, followed shortly afterwards by another at TQ365274. The weather was lightly overcast, with the temperature often dipping below the magic 13 degrees, but our next stop was in a damp, cuckoo-flower filled meadow below Horsted Keynes station TQ368284. There we saw our first Orange Tip of the day - a female - closely followed by 2 Green-veined White, a Comma and a Peacock.
Then on to the North of the allocated area. We parked on the side of a narrow lane bordered with plentiful stinging nettles, and it proved to be Small Tortoiseshell Alley. We counted 8 in a limited area within view of the car. TQ387304. Walking down through the woods to Horsted Keynes, we found 2 male Orange Tips on the grass banks of a pond TQ386301. Further down the track, nectaring on some prunus blossom, was a very tatty Peacock, with half of one hind wing missing. How do they still fly like that?? TQ386297 Further up the path, in a sunny clearing, a Speckled Wood flew alongside us. TQ384289 Finally, just as we came into Horsted Keynes, a very faded Red Admiral - clearly camera shy, it flew off into an area filled with bee hives. We didn't follow! TQ383288
Turning South, we called in on Danehill Churchyard - an area managed with ecology in mind - and found another Small Tortoiseshell. TQ402276
So... 8 species in one day in April, serenades from Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs in the woods, Green-winged orchids and wood sorrel blossoming at our feet, a sumptuous picnic generously provided by Libby (together with lashings of ginger beer) - what could be a better day??? (Nigel Symington)

Wall pupa found near High and Over today along with a fully grown larva. With the adult butterfly yesterday it's 3 stages seen in 2 days!! (Bob Eade, bobsbutterflies.blogspot.com)

3 Grizzled Skippers, 1 Dingy Skipper, and several Peacock at Mill Hill on a dull and mostly cloudy Saturday afternoon. The Grizzled Skippers were posing most obligingly. (John Williams)

Short afternoon visit was worth the walk. A single Grizzled Skipper, 2 Green Hairstreaks in aerial combat, at least 8 Peacocks and 4 Small Tortoiseshells, a Comma, 2 Brimstones and an Orange Tip on the road on the way up. Its spring! (Chris and Helen Corrigan)

Near home this morning I witnessed a male Small Tortoiseshell harassing a Peacock. The Peacock eventually dived into a small patch of nettles followed closely behind leaving the Tortoiseshell, just outside. I waited and watched. The Small Tortoiseshell departed and a while later the Peacock flew out. Thinking perhaps the Peacock was egg laying I explored but found nothing. Now I have seen pairs of Tortoiseshells diving into nettles just prior to mating. As regards Peacocks I have seen them doing huge vertical courting flights and only once have I seen a pair high up in a tree. Can anyone explain this behaviour or is it just testosterone?
Back home with a few Male Orange tips and other Peacocks visiting the garden I mowed the lawns and did a small amount of striming near the back door. I then spotted a large chrysomelid beetle which I have I think is Chrysolina americana (Linnaeus, 1758). Apparently this has appeared in the UK only relatively recently. This beetle does not originate from America, but was originally a southern European species. It first appeared in the UK in the 1990's. The adults are around 8-9mm and can potentially be found on Rosemary, Lavender and other herbs, It was the most beautiful beetle I have ever seen in the U.K. and new to me, but unfortunately due to the crack in the right Elytron etc., possibly a casualty of my striming for which I am mortified. However on a positive note at 4.45 a.m. this morning I woke up to the beautiful song of a Nightingale and a little while later a Cuckoo. (Richard Roebuck)

News for Friday 11 Apri: Thanks to Neil for helping me find and photograph my first Orange Tip on Friday. We had up to 5 males and 1 female at one point. (Leigh Prevost)

Friday 11 April 2014

On Wednesday following my weekly transect at Mill Hill I watched two pairs of courting Peacocks and an adder. Yesterday I enjoyed a visit to Kithhurst Meadow where Bee Flies (B. major) were nectaring on primroses and cowslips. This afternoon at Angmering Woods at 3:30pm the sun suddenly beamed down and I was able to pursue two Orange-tips and a female Small White. While creeping up on a roosting Orange-tip a firecrest called to complete a lovely woodland afternoon. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Over the previous couple of days (Thursday and Friday) I've met up with a few friends to go hunting for Orange Tips around Billingshurst and Wiston, with good numbers appearing at both locations. Other highlights have included two pairings of Green-veined White at Billingshurst on 10.4.14, my first Green Hairstreak of the year at Mill Hill and a very early Beautiful Demoiselle damselfly at Wiston, both on 11.4.14. More at www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=4065&start=10000 (Neil Hulme)

Regular as always the Drinker moth caterpillars have appeared again so I imagine that the Cuckoo won't be far behind. Here's a picture of one of the three my mother and I found on Thursday 10 April. (Josse Davis)

A little more success on my second transect walk of the year at Rowland Wood today (on last week's walk I recorded just one Peacock). This week the weather was much better, despite the clouds that appeared midway which rather sent the butterflies into hiding. Good numbers of Peacock and Brimstone were seen as well as my first Speckled Wood and Green-veined White of the year. I was particularly pleased to see the pair (above) doing their best to maintain their population in the wood. (Bob Foreman)

More recent News: My Father, Roy Symonds reports the following recent sightings from Stansted Forest, Rowlands Castle (SU745115).
9th April. Temperature 14C. Brimstone (11M 2F), Orange Tip (1F), Peacock (7).
10th April. Temperature 13C. Brimstone (16M), Orange Tip (6M 2F), Peacock (7), Small Tortoiseshell (1), Comma (1). (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)

Thursday 10 April 2014

My first outing of the year and my first posting, both on the same day. I visited Mill Hill between 1030 and 1330, where I managed to find 2 freshly emerged Dingy Skippers and a single Grizzled Skipper. Full supporting cast of Brimstones, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacocks. Met Neil Hulme who provided me with lots of excellent advice - thanks Neil. (Dave Potter)

On a walk from High and Over car park along Cradle Hill and the Comp 1 Red Admiral 7 Peacock 2 Small Tortoiseshell 7 Speckled Wood 2 Brimstones and the highlight was 1 Green Hairstreak at TQ4803 which we hope Bob and Peter also found. (Janet and Neville Richardson)

Well done to Neville and Janet Richardson for spotting a Green Hairstreak. They kindly told me where to look, I couldn't locate that one but then found another 2 on the Downland between High and Over and Bo Peep. I only managed a poor record shot before it vanished!! (Bob Eade)

This morning I visited Beckley Wood in the hope of seeing Orange Tips. It was sunny and the air temperature was about 14 degrees C. I was fortunate in seeing three male Orange Tips upon arrival at the open area where the paths merge, however it soon became overcast and no further Orange Tips were observed. I did however see a single Peacock later.
In the early afternoon, on the downs just above Willingdon Village and during a period of about 40 minutes, I observed 10 Speckled Woods, 8 Brimstones and a single Comma. (Douglas Neve)

Went for a stroll around High & Over to see how the Rathfinny Wine Estate is coming along and a bit of butterfly spotting. Spotted were 1 Holly Blue, 4 male Brimstones, 1 Green-veined White, 2 Speckled Wood, 3 Comma, 3 Peacock that I can remember. (Nick Linazasoro)

Not a butterfly sighting, but a white-tailed bumblebee queen got trapped in our polytunnel at Seaford Community Garden Wednesday morning. After a valiant struggle one of the Committee of volunteers captured it in a shrimping net and released it. A cabbage white was seen fluttering through the adjoining Peace Garden shortly afterwards. (Bob Brown)

Wednesday 9 April 2014

A lovely sunny afternoon for weeding my allotment on Whitehawk Hill in east Brighton despite the cool breeze and some butterflies about, Small Tortoiseshells both tatty and new, a Peacock, a crisp new looking Speckled Wood and to my delight a male Orange Tip. I've planted honesty and hesperis especially for the Orange Tips so I hope he finds a female. TQ329046. (Tessa Pawsey)

Two Speckled Wood seen in my Hollingbury back garden at (TQ31640846) from the behaviour of the pairs interaction I would guess a male and female. Later in the garden I also saw a single male Brimstone, seen in the same 10m grid reference square. (Jamie Burston)

Today I spent a few more happy hours amongst the butterflies and wild flowers of the meadows and country lanes around Billingshurst and Five Oaks. Orange Tip, Green-veined White, Small White (my first of the year), Speckled Wood, Peacock, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral were all present, with numbers of the first two species now on the increase. During the afternoon, while the butterflies were too active to get anywhere near, I drove slowly around the area surveying the flower-filled roadside ditches, finding an average of 3.5 Orange Tips per mile. (Neil Hulme)

Finally; I saw my first Orange Tip of the year in Barnes Wood today and somewhat surprisingly it was a female. Usually it is the easier to identify males that I spot first, but fortunately this one settled on some Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis) which made the identification possible. Is it just my imagination or is there much more Cuckooflower about this year?
I also got my first sighting of a Speckled Wood. Though sunny, the day was still rather chilly, but that did not seem to discourage the many male Brimstones, a Comma, a few Green-veined Whites and a couple of Peacocks. I also saw this rather nice little solitary bee, no idea what it is but never mind, Spring has sprung in Rother.(Jim Barrett)

Tuesday 8 April 2014

With the welcome return of sunshine this morning I started the day at Mill Hill, in the hope that the Grizzled Skipper emergence is now well underway. It isn't, and I only saw a single male, along with a Green-veined White, a few Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell, and a beautifully marked Adder. I then moved on to Billingshurst, via a minor road through the small village of Wiston. I noticed a male Orange Tip flying along the road verge, so pulled over next to a pretty water meadow. It was immediately obvious that there had been a good emergence of Orange Tip earlier that morning, with at least 6 very fresh specimens nectaring on the cuckoo flower, including a couple of females. A Speckled Wood and Green-veined White were also seen here. I then headed to the quiet lanes around Billingshurst, to meet a friend who is currently visiting the area from Mull. My favourite early season meadows are now awash with spring flowers and the banks are painted in beautiful shades of lilac, blue, yellow and white. I counted 5 Orange Tip, 3 Green-veined White, 3 Comma and a Red Admiral. My brother and his family are visiting from Antwerp, so I know where we'll be heading tomorrow. (Neil Hulme)

My first Green-veined White of the year was a pleasant surprise in my Birdham garden this afternoon as the sun came out. Unfortunately its appearance coincided with the dog's 'ball-time' so getting a better shot than this was out of the question....... (Ads Bowley)

My first Green-veined White of the year today at Copthorne. (Chris Prince)

Sunday 6 April 2014

Female Emperor Moth at Frog Firle today. (Bob Eade, bobsbutterflies.blogspot.com)

Saturday 5 April 2014

We saw our first Orange Tip (Male) of the year this morning in our Eastbourne Garden (TQ587016) (John & Sue East)

News for Thursday 3 April: One male Brimstone flew through the back garden (TQ31650846) then I saw a single Speckled Wood settle in the back garden for a while, looking as if it was establishing a territory at (TQ31640846) and then in the corner of the garden I saw two Small White at (TQ31650847). (Jamie Burston)

Thursday 3 April 2014

My Father, Roy Symonds reports the following sightings from Stansted Forest, Rowlands Castle (SU745115). Brimstone (17M 1F), Orange Tip (3M), Small White (1F), Comma (2) and Peacock (7). Weather was sunny with a temperature of 17C. My best total number of butterflies at this site so far this year. Many Brimstones and my first sightings of Orange Tips in West Sussex for 2014. (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)

A newly emerged female Holly Blue near the house today along with 2 others seen nearby. More on bobsbutterflies.blogspot.com. (Bob Eade).

Today I followed up on Lindsay Morris's report from the area between Steep Down (Sompting) and Lancing Ring. I focused my searches along the paths and tracks around Steep Down (TQ166079) which provide the rather modest strips of habitat sufficient to keep the Small Tortoiseshell happy within this essentially arable landscape. The low banks on one or both sides of these tracks are carpeted in young nettles, many of which are now holding large clusters of lime-green eggs. I only managed to cover about half of the suitable habitat before thickening cloud and plummeting temperatures sent the butterflies scurrying deep within the nettle-beds. However, by this time I had already counted 63 Small Tortoiseshell. It just goes to show that when this species is doing well, it will thrive in the least promising of places. In 2013 and 2014 I've seen more Tortoiseshells than I have since the 1970s, and long may this resurgence continue. The Peacock was also here in good numbers, with 17 seen. (Neil Hulme)

A first sighting of Holly Blue in a warm sheltered garden in Bexhill in front of Rhododendron bushes but did not alight. (Colin West)

I went for a 12 mile walk today, starting at North Stoke and taking in Burpham, Angmering Park, Harrow Hill - you get the drift. I had a birding agenda but checked the butterflies en route. There were plenty of them with Brimstone (15-20), Small Tortoiseshell (15-20), Peacock (15-20), Orange-tip (2), Comma (1). This reflects what I am seeing in my Storrington garden with the first three species mentioned very plentiful but as yet no Comma or Red Admiral. The Comma seen today was my first of the year. (Martin Kalaher, Storrington)

Wednesday 2 April 2014

I saw my first Orange-tip of the season outside Arundel WWT this afternoon. Later I was able to photograph another at Angmering Woods. An acquaintance has told me that Orange-tips have undergone their larval stages on Honesty (Lunaria annua) in their garden near Eastbourne. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

One very bright yellow Brimstone seen today flying through the garden. Also an almost wingless Peacock butterfly seen fluttering through the crocuses. The sun has brought them out. (Ann Spencer)

Still getting regular visits here by a Hummingbird Hawkmoth in the garden (after a first sighting 5 days ago), feeding on buddleia and occasionally erysimum and ribes. (Jonathan Ruff)

Steepdown Sompting - after a dull day it brightened up suddenly after 3pm and I counted at least 71 Small Tortoiseshells and 10 Peacocks along a nettley bank. Another 12 Peacocks and 10 Small Tortoiseshells at Lancing Ring along with a single Brimstone. (Lindsay Morris)

First Orange Tip (male) of the year in our Frant garden this afternoon. (Alan Loweth)

Tuesday 1 April contd:

On Tuesday I completed my first transect of the year at Mill Hill: Brimstone 6, Comma 1, Peacock 6, Small Tortoiseshell 1. A Pyrausta nigrata moth landed in front of me during the survey. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

In the afternoon sunshine around the edge of Angmering Woods (TQ 066 068) there were two Brimstones, three Commas, at least one Peacock, one Speckled Wood, and two newly hatched male Orange Tips. I saw another white but was unable to identify it. (Colin Knaggs)

...and finally
Pleased to report that my cowslips have found a good home where they will be grown on and planted out on the downs to help the Duke of Burgundy butterfly to spread to new sites. (Mavis Hards)

Tuesday 1 April 2014

My first Grizzled Skipper of the year was seen at 10.30 am on the lower slopes of Mill Hill at Shoreham. Later in the day I found a mating pair of Orange Tip in a meadow near Billingshurst - my earliest record of a coupling. More at www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/phpBB/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=4065&start=1520 (Neil Hulme)

I was just driving out the Close today heading for High and Over when a Holly Blue flew past the car.
Early Wall Brown sighting continued...Further to the sighting by Tessa of the Wall Brown, I have checked with the County Recorder, Colin Pratt, and he tells me that his records go back to 1848 and this is the first record for a Wall Brown in March!!!! (in Sussex). (Bob Eade)

While doing a reconnaissance visit to a new BBS square, this morning, I noticed 1 (possibly 2) Brimstone and 1 (possibly 2) Peacock along the bridle way, at TQ521117. (Teresa Fowler)

A fellow member of B.C., Trevor Rapley, and myself visited Abbots Wood this morning in the hope of seeing Orange Tips and other species. We arrived at about 10.15 hrs. and departed at about 11.45 hrs. The weather was sunny and the air temperature was about 17 degrees C. All of our time was spent at the north of the site and we were fortunate to see 10 male Brimstones, 10 Peacocks, 1 Small Tortoiseshell and 1 Comma. Unfortunately, we didn't see any Orange Tips. (Douglas Neve)

Male Orange-tip seen this morning on my Copthorne delivery. (Chris Prince)

On the A27, on the way to Friston Forest I saw a Small White at (TQ48210805). At Friston Forest I saw - Brimestone, two seen at (TQ51890030) also a single Red Admiral seen around about (TQ52050047) and one Peacock at (TQ52190032). Then later at Litlington Tea Gardens I saw one Small White and one Green-veined White both at (TQ52410176). (Jamie Burston)

Don't be fooled - all the butterflies were in Lancing today. 10 Brimstones, 4 Peacocks, 4 Small Tortoiseshells, 3 Orange Tips, 2 Speckled Woods, Comma, Small White. (Lindsay Morris)

News for Saturday 29 March:Apart from a couple of Red Admirals seen whilst walking part of the Cuckoo Trail two weeks ago, I had not seen any butterflies this year. However on Saturday morning a Speckled Wood fluttered down onto the pavement of Broad Street in among the shoppers, and later a Small Tortoiseshell sunned itself on the daisies in a patch of grass near Ringmer Road. (Bob Brown)

Monday 31 March 2014

A male Brimstone seen flying through Coldean woods Brighton. (Dr Dan Danahar)

Our first garden butterfly of the year here in Worthing (TQ 137039) was a Speckled Wood sunning itself on the wall of the house this afternoon. (John & Shena Maskell)

Sunday 30 March 2014

Today I joined Linda, Joyce, John, Martin and Martyn for some rhododendron clearing in Brede High Woods. Martyn and Martin (not a law firm) regularly lead a group of Woodland Trust volunteers in doing conservation work here in the Rother District. There was a real sense of triumph in bringing down the big rhododendron stump shown in the photograph. Despite our thin veneer of civilization, here in Rother we are still hunter gathers at heart. Ug (Short for Ugly, aka Jim Barrett)

Our first Speckled Wood of the year seen at Arlington Reservoir (TQ5307) and also two Peacock butterflies, one feeding on Blackthorn flowers. (Linda Rowlinson)

After a brief tour of the quiet lanes around Billingshurst and Five Oaks on Saturday, during which I saw my first Orange Tip and Green-veined White of the season, I returned on Sunday to find both of these spring gems (again one of each), together with a supporting cast of Brimstone (6), Comma (2), Peacock (2), Small Tortoiseshell (1) and Red Admiral (1). (Neil Hulme)

This morning at Bevendean Roger Carter and I on the way to the steep south facing bank known locally as Cardboard Hill where we are trying to control the invasive privet and hawthorn we saw 4 fresh Speckled Woods and numerous Small Tortoiseshells and a couple of peacock butterflies. (Geoff Stevens)

Have had at least 3 Small Torts fly out of my Pulborough garage in the last 24 hours. Presumably late emergers from hibernation. (Martin Ellis)

Ellie and I paid an afternoon visit to Mill Hill to see if we could sneak an early Grizzled Skipper. Alas no, although not helped by the thin cloud which blocked out most of the sun. Did see 4-5 Peacocks, a Brimstone and a Small Tortoiseshell. (Chris and Ellie Corrigan)

Male Orange-tip a mile and a half east of Ashington in marshy valley TQ154159 on landranger 121 seen this morning. (Jonathan Crawford)

We've seen many Brimstones and a few Peacocks in the west country over the weekend, but in Sussex all we've seen is one Brimstone (A27 near Chichester) and one Speckled Wood (Richmond Road, Worthing). (John & Val Heys)

News for Saturday 29 March:My father Roy Symonds reports the following from 29th March. After visiting a few local sites in Hampshire where I saw a few sightings, I ventured just over the border into West Sussex to Stansted Forest (SU740110). Here I saw Brimstone (25M), Comma (3) and Peacock (7). Surprised not to see a single female Brimstone. The temperature was 15C. (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)

And finally, from our Wall Brown Species Champion:
Well done to Tessa for spotting the first Wall for the year. For information the first Wall in Britain was last week on the 26th March in Devon. I had larva in February much larger and advanced than expected so it is not too much of a surprise that an early one has been seen. Normally the first sightings in Sussex are either Mill Hill or High and Over so look out for them at these locations. I will have to put an even bigger effort now to find a pupa!!. (Bob Eade)

Saturday 29 March 2014

I am a bit hesitant to send this sighting in but I saw a Wall butterfly on my allotment on Whitehawk Hill Road in east Brighton. It was in the morning before the breeze got up so much and at first I thought it was one of the Small Tortoiseshells as it fluttered by in the light wind but then it landed briefly on an open patch of soil so that I could see it's markings. I know it is much too early but I do see Walls on my allotment site every year so at least the location is right! (Tessa Pawsey)
While this is a very early date, the first Wall sighting in 2012 was on 2 April, so maybe not that early. Are there poly-tunnels or cold-frames on the allotments that might have hosted the chrysalis, the extra warmth causing an early emergence? ed.

I saw a female Orange-tip today at Abbots today. My first freshly hatched butterfly of the year and a much welcome sight. (Gary Norman)

Two male Orange Tips observed this morning near Billingshurst. In addition, good numbers of Brimstone, including a solitary female, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, and singletons of Red Admiral, and Comma. A possible Speckled Wood was also sighted (Mark Colvin)

This afternoon, as a passenger on a train on the on the Kent and East Sussex Railway, I observed two male Orange Tips just inside the East Sussex border near Northiam Station. This appears to me to be an early sighting for this species. Unfortunately, being on the train I was unable to take any photographs. (Trevor Rapley)

Just after lunch we saw a freshly emerged male Green-veined White in our Seaford garden (Simon, Fran and Amy Fletcher)

Today I visited Angmering Woods where I saw plenty of male and female Brimstones, a Small Tortoiseshell, a Peacock, several Commas and my first Green-veined White of the year. (Colin Knight, www.seapic.com)

On a glorious afternoon of warm spring sunshine in Barnes Wood I saw 11 Peacocks, 5 Commas, 4 male Brimstones, 3 Red Admirals and a Small Tortoiseshell. (Jim Barrett)

5 species seen on a stroll along The Comp with lots of Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and smaller quantities of Brimstone, Comma and a Small White. More on bobsbutterflies.blogspot.com. (Bob Eade)

Crawley Down - I was very surprised to see a Hummingbird Hawkmoth in the garden today, feeding on buddleia asiatica in strong sunshine. As I approached with the camera it darted off. Also several Small Tortoiseshells and a Small White. On Worth Way, several more Small Tortoiseshells defending territories, a Peacock and a Brimstone. (Jonathan Ruff)

We had our first Small White of the year in our Frant garden today. That's 2 months earlier than the first last year. Also Red Admiral, male Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma and Peacock. (Alan Loweth)

A lovely day and my first Peacock of the year was seen basking in the back garden. A single Brimstone was also seen fluttering by in Coldean woods. Finally at 3.10 in the morning of Sunday 30th March, whilst waiting for my son to finish work at Stanmer House, Stanmer Park, Brighton, I saw my first Brindled Beauty of the year. This photo taken with my iPhone. (Dan Danahar)

Thursday 27 March 2014

This morning I found a fat, full-grown, 5th instar Pearl-bordered Fritillary caterpillar at Rewell Wood. At this rate of development the Pearls will be on the wing in the third week of April. (Neil Hulme)

Saturday 22 March 2014

'Brimstone on Hawkbit' (above) which came second in the RSPB Futurescapes competition 'Wildlife' category. On Saturday we enjoyed tea, cakes and good company with other winners - Neil Hume, organisers - Rachel Whitfield and Steve Gilbert and Anna Allum from Pulborough Brooks. Thanks again to all for a lovely afternoon. (Julie Redford)

This afternoon I attended the opening of the RSPB South Downs Futurescapes (www.rspb.org.uk/futurescapes/southdowns) Photographic Exhibition, held at RSPB Pulborough Brooks Nature Reserve. Rachel Whitfield gave a great talk on the project, which is part of a welcome trend towards conservation on a landscape scale and involving close working partnerships with other conservation groups. After a bit of 'pond-dipping', which kept Mia happy until she was forced to return her Water Boatman to its home, we took a quick tour of the reserve before being served tea and cakes back at the visitor centre. I was very pleased to pick up first prize in the 'Wildlife' section, with this image of a Duke of Burgundy. BC Sussex member Julie Redford came in second with a lovely shot of a Brimstone, and Kenneth Turner made it a trio of butterflies with a pair of mating Chalkhills. Thanks to Rachel, Steve, Anna and others from the RSPB. (Neil Hulme)
Congratulations Neil, fabulous photo! If Julie or Kenneth would like to send their entries to photo@sussex-butterflies.org.uk I'll put them on the website too - I'm sure we'd all love to see them. ed

Friday 21 March 2014

Today I joined a team of a dozen staff and volunteers representing Butterfly Conservation, Forestry Commission and South Downs National Park Authority at Houghton Forest near Arundel. We were there to continue recent habitat management work to benefit Pearl-bordered Fritillary and other species including Grizzled Skipper. Moving about 100m further up the track from where we created the last glade, we completed another sunny opening in a single visit. That's it for work parties until autumn - now bring on the butterflies! (Neil Hulme)

Thursday 20 March 2014

A Small Tortoiseshell was observed flying around the nettle patch in the Liz Williams Butterfly Haven today. This patch has extended somewhat since last year, on the nutrient rich soil covering the lower half of the reserve. No doubt this is good for any vagrant Vanessids looking for an oviposition site. Interestingly, the Small Tortoiseshells always seem to know the site is here but perhaps individuals from this colony hibernate close by and so are always able to recolonise it quickly in the spring.
And on Wednesday: Nigel Symington & I joined the BC crew and members from the Murry Downland Trust to help on one of the Heyshott Escarpment working days. This was my first attendance on a work day (work commitments usually make this impossible) and the level of high grade management that has taken place over winter is truly remarkable. We were working at the top of the reserve and the scrub clearance has made for an impressive view of the West Sussex countryside. Let us hope that the Dukes appreciate it too. Fantastic camaraderie and we were even graced by several Small Tortoiseshells, flirting with the nettles in the lane leading from the escarpment back to the village. (Dan Danahar)

The Wednesday work party at Heyshott Escarpment was attended by an impressive 13 people today, with the usual mix of Murray Downland Trust and BC Sussex volunteers. The initial climb to the giddy heights of the very top of the slope would have been enough to put lesser mortals off, but the views from the top, now much improved, made every step worthwhile. If Carlsberg did nature reserves, they would probably look like this one. (Neil Hulme)

Monday 17 March 2014

Irrespective of how many Purple Emperor, Brown Hairstreak or rare migrants I see this year, one of the highlights of my season will undoubtedly be the spring crop of Small Tortoiseshell along the banks of Ferring Rife. Today I managed to squeeze in another hour and a half there, and was richly rewarded. I only had time to perform a less-than-thorough count over about three quarters of the east bank below the footbridge, but still managed to record 77 Small Tortoiseshell and 2 Peacock. There are still many specimens around in excellent condition, particularly the females which are now showing strongly. Many of these are being pursued 'Benny Hill style' by numerous amorous males, forming strings of sometimes 5 or 6 butterflies. Egg-laying is now well underway and I watched several females sitting low amongst the bankside vegetation with their abdomens curled tightly below emerging nettle leaves. One of my images shows the untidy pile of fresh green eggs left behind. It is interesting to watch the female butterflies as they test each plant for suitability; after tipping forwards slightly, she will often use her under-developed forelegs to 'drum' on the leaves. (Neil Hulme)

My daily visit to Angmering Woods gave me my first Small White of the year, in addition to a Peacock and Comma. It seems to have been too cool for the Brimstones which are prolific here on warm days. My highlight was hearing two Firecrests, one of which was very photogenic. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Sunday 16 March 2014

This morning we headed out on a 4 hour walk taking in some of the local daffodil woods around Wisborough Green, Fittleworth and Stopham. Many flowers seem to be a couple of weeks advanced on 'normal' with the first bluebells coming into flower already. Altogether we encountered 2 Comma, 1 Speckled Wood, 10 Brimstone (only one of which was female), 4 Peacock, 8 Small Tortoiseshell and 1 Red Admiral. How different from this time in 2013! (Dave and Pen Green)

Today saw the Coldean Woodland Workers finish their final felling for this season and we believe that this wood for fuel scheme has made our woodland management much more productive than many of the other woodland groups in Brighton & Hove. Apart from the massive community feel that this project has generated, we also benefited by watching countless male Brimstones travelling through the woodland glades, we have only recently created. (Dan Danahar)

The 2014 butterfly season has started in style; it's a long time since I've seen so many post-hibernators around. I've now seen really good numbers of Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Peacock and Brimstone on one or more sites during my travels through Sussex and to the Isle of Wight. Only the Red Admiral is showing poorly, but I don't think many were around at the start of the 13/14 winter. This morning I visited Rewell Wood, and stayed there all day! By the time the sunshine was losing its strength I had covered most of the wood, seeing a fantastic number of butterflies. My tally was 74 Peacock, 56 Brimstone, 13 Comma, 3 Small Tortoiseshell and 1 Red Admiral. At one point, as I sat on the slopes of a primrose strewn valley (private area), I could count 16 male Brimstone. Many of the butterflies were congregating on sallow trees, some of which were heavy with flowers (pictured). Also seen were 9 Orange Underwing moths, including 2 females egg-laying on silver birch. (Neil Hulme)

Had a lovely walk in the sun around Friston Forest and saw 3 Comma, 1 Peacock and 1 Brimstone. (Nick Linazasoro)

Saturday 15 March 2014

Crawley Down - Numerous sightings of Small Tortoiseshells flying through the garden and a single female Large White feeding on daphne odora. (Jonathan Ruff)

Friday 14 March 2014

A rather splendid Comma appeared in the garden today nectaring on Blackthorn flowers. (Richard Roebuck, Ashington)

With my part of the coast shrouded in thick fog, I put my faith in the Met Office weather map and headed to our Park Corner Heath and Rowland Wood reserves. Here, a thin layer of mist was just enough to keep most butterflies inactive, but I came away happy after photographing some of the reserve's equally famous adders. More at base pagehttp://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=4065&start=10000 (Neil Hulme)

It has been pointed out by an extremely authoritative source that Helen Crabtree's moth is in fact a Square Spot , must admit that had never occurred to me.... ed

Thursday 13 March 2014

Speckled Wood in Peacehaven garden today (13th March) (Peter Francis)

At last, a sighting - a moth in our sun lounge (Hove). I saw it briefly late yesterday afternoon. Then hid itself until today, when I accidentally killed it while washing the floor. It's a bit mangled now, but I'm 99% sure it's a Light Brown Apple Moth. I note from the Sussex Butterfly website that they can be seen this month and as they are very common and a pest, it's bound to be one of them. This was a very pale version. (John Heys)

News for Wednesday 12 March: My father, Roy Symonds reports the following sightings on 12th March from Stansted Forest, Rowlands Castle (SU745115) where the temperature was 13C. Brimstone (4M), Comma (1). (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Seen today in Beckley Woods - several Peacocks and Commas flitting back and forth and then, while searching for Adders I discovered a Large Tortoiseshell basking on the bracken. (Stuart Cooper)

This morning I joined forces with Nigel Symington and two volunteers from Nat-West, London - Richard and Paul, who had kindly agreed to donate a day to volunteer with the Murray Downland Trust work party at Heyshott. As usual we cleared and burnt more habitat for the Duke of Burgundy on this fine day. As we made our way down the escarpment we saw four butterfly species to complete a satisfying day's work: Brimstones, a Comma, a Peacock and a Small Tortoiseshell. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

The "Mulcher" returned to Rowland Wood today - a Chieftain Tank-sized piece of equipment that we brought to the wood to remove the stumps from one of the blocks of clearfelled conifer plantation. Without the stumps we will be able to manage this area much more easily. 25% will be allowed to return to woodland but the rest will be kept permanently open and will become, in time, habitat for fritillaries and Grizzled Skippers.
There were plenty of butterflies on the wing around the reserve too, Commas, Small Tortoiseshells, Peacocks and Brimstones. Also had a brief glimpse of an Orange Underwing. (Bob Foreman)

I found this amazing moth today in New England Wood near Cuckfield (TQ299250). I've no idea what it is! Also on the wing at the same spot were quite a few Small Tortoiseshells. (Helen Crabtree)

At Pulborough Brooks today a Small Tortoiseshell on the wing and a Peacock sunning (TQ058166). Whilst my husband saw 2 Small Tortoiseshell feeding on Viburnum shrub flowers (TQ583030). (Linda Rowlinson)

Today I saw a single Small Tortoiseshell resting on heather (TQ27373424) whilst at Tilgate Park, Crawley, spending time with my one year old nephew and family. (Jamie Burston)

I've been in the garden in Hove all afternoon. Glorious sun but no butterflies on the wing - the only butterfly I've seen in 2014 was north of Sussex. As consolation, a female sparrow hawk flew almost under my nose with a shrieking blackbird in its clutches (pretty exciting - & the blackbird escaped) but still hoping for a comma or a red admiral or anything. (John Heys)

More news for Sunday 9 March: Having seen Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, and Red Admiral over the last week here in Lewes I did not give much attention to the sight of a Large White in my Lewes garden. I appreciated that it was an emergence more than that, well I am not a butterfly person more in to birds.
A conversation last night prompted this contact as the other person with his modern phone device said better report it could be the first one in Sussex. So Sunday 9th around 11.00 Lewes BN7 1LT. (Kevin Murphy)

Sunday 9 and Monday 10 March 2014 contd.

I had certainly planned the March work party at Park Corner Heath well. It was great to arrive on the site and feel the warmth of the sun on your face and hear the first chiffchaff of the spring in full song. Today's task was clearing the bracken and bramble off an area south of the main reserve. However, the task was made harder by repeated interruptions by butterflies awakening from their winter slumbers. Peacock, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell and Comma were all seen but there Brimstones everywhere; constantly flying around us as we worked. A few pale female Brimstones were seen too - each attracting the attentions of the yellow males. Elsewhere adders were on the move and toads were returning to the ponds. A lovely morning out in the woods. Thanks to those who attended Dave, Alan, Helen, Mark, Jim, Ian, Nigel, Nigel, Graham, John, Bob, Bob, Keith, Richard, Chris, Carole, Paul, Ash, Natalie, Gav, Hannah, Theresa, Gary, Julie, Malcolm, Colin, Andrea, James and Rosy. And thanks to Carola for supplying the ginger cake. (Michael Blencowe)

My father Roy Symonds reports the following sightings from an early afternoon visit to Stansted Forest, Rowlands Castle (SU745115). Brimstone (10M 1F), Comma (7), Peacock (2) and Small Tortoiseshell (2), the temperature was 16C. A pair of Commas were in courtship flight. Not so many Brimstones as Barry and Margaret Collins. (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)

My brother John writes to me that he saw a Painted Lady in Kemp Town (Brighton) on March 9. He asks if this is an early record. I would guess that it is - very. (Jeremy Tatum)

Butterflies are out in our garden - greatly helped by a vigorously blooming goat willow tree.
Sightings are:-
Species9 March10 March
Small Tortoiseshell21
Red Admiral1-
(Dr Andy Tilbrook)

Monday 10 March 2014

A Taste of Spring: A very spring-like day in Barnes Wood this afternoon. I saw a total of eight Commas, three Peacocks and a male Brimstone sunning itself on the warm leaf litter on the top of a bank adjacent to the woodland ride.
This season appears to be continuing on from where it left off last year. Let's hope it lasts. (Jim Barrett)

Whilst waiting for a bus near St Peter's Church, Brighton, I saw a Small Tortoiseshell (TQ31420475). Once I got home my parents told me they had seen 3 Red Admiral (TQ317081) along Cuckmere Way, Hollingbury. (Jamie, Gail and Jeff Burston)

My first ever visit to Park Corner Heath and Rowland Wood this morning and I spent an enjoyable couple of hours exploring. The first thing that struck me walking from the car park was the abundance of birdsong! Beautiful! A lovely sunny morning, but with an occasional fresh breeze, which maybe deterred the butterflies slightly. However, Park Corner Heath was very warm in the sun and I was expecting to see some butterflies or a basking adder there, but unfortunately not. Hearing my first Chiffchaff of the year whilst seeing a Buzzard circling overhead made up for it though! Then at last, in Rowland Wood I did manage to see 2 Brimstone and 2 Small Tortoiseshell at TQ514150. Two more butterflies flew past, but they were too quick for an ID. Driving away from the car park I saw a further 2 Brimstone (TQ515147). I look forward to returning to this reserve. (Linda Rowlinson)

10 March and past week re Cuckmere, Friston Forest, Folkington, Polegate: I thought I would just add my happy voice to all those welcoming the Small Tortoiseshells back in numbers I have certainly not seen in past years. I have seen them here and there on all my walks this past week and had 5 together on one flowering bush in my garden this morning. Also lots of Brimstone around, plus a very tatty Comma in Friston Forest yesterday. (Susan Suleski)

Brimstone has been found on 10th March 2014 12:31 at the coordinates: longitude: -0.082878 latitude: 51.146332 (Chris Prince)

A visit to Angmering Woods at Dover Lane today was very fruitful, with several Commas and Peacocks and many Brimstones including a female. One Brimstone landed on ivy and showed how well its shape and colour camouflage it on this plant. The Brimstones nectared on celandine and primrose. A Comma chased a bumblebee, and there were territorial disputes between Commas and Peacocks, and both chased Brimstones. (Colin Knight, www.seapic.com)

Sunday 9 March contd.

Sunday was a super sunny day, with temperatures in Coldean reaching 18 degrees Celsius. At 10.20 I was driving down the slip road at Falmer, which leads to the A27 travelling west (TQ 3520 0884) where I saw a male Brimstone flying by. I kept an eye open for more all day but didn't see any others. (Dan Danahar)

On a sunny Saturday afternoon I took my daughter for a nature walk up Ferring Rife. Although we saw frogs, toads, spawn and plenty of butterflies, it wasn't the time to do an accurate, systematic count. However, there were clearly in excess of 50 Small Tortoiseshell on the wing, with courtship chases occurring both in the air and through the nettle beds. Only one attempt at coupling seemed to be successful while I watched, with the female leading a very excited male deep into a leylandii hedge. We also saw 4 Peacock. On Sunday morning I returned without Mia and managed to photograph some of the butterflies, many of which are in excellent post-hibernation condition. I also performed a count over both the west and east banks of the Rife, south of the foot bridge. I ended up with a total of 59 Small Tortoiseshell, 4 Peacock, 3 Brimstone and 1 Comma. It's wonderful to see the Small Tortoiseshell continue the spectacular recovery it made last year, after so many years in the doldrums. The Environment Agency is to be congratulated for looking after this site so well; it's certainly the best place I know of in West Sussex to see this species. Even on sunny days it takes until about 1 pm for them to really get going, although the few early-risers are easier to photograph at 10.30 am. (Neil Hulme)

My father, Roy Symonds reports the following sightings from Sunday 9th March. Funtingdon (SU784082) Brimstone (1 male); Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve (SU824098) Brimstone (6 males), Peacock (1), Red Admiral (1); Stoke Clump near West Stoke (SU832094) Peacock (1), Small Tortoiseshell (1); West Stoke tea rooms (SU829086) Small Tortoiseshell (1). (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)

We spent much of the day at Ebernoe Common NNR doing the annual monitoring count of the wild daffodils (2014 is a good year for their flowering) but, during that time, male Brimstones were seen in nine different areas around the reserve. However, we only saw one Red Admiral and one Comma. (Colin Booty)

Male Brimstone butterflies constantly flitting over garden - TQ174105. (Mike Warren)

I saw remarkable numbers of Small Tortoiseshell butterflies today - the mild winter appears to have been very kind to them. On a walk across the Downs between South Heighton (TQ448024) and Mount Pleasant (TQ457021) I saw a total of 39. For me personally, these are unprecedented March numbers - and of course very welcome! A further walk over the Norton escarpment near Bishopstone revealed a further 11, bringing the total seen to 50.
I also saw my first two Small White butterflies of the year at TQ462021 and TQ458021 and an Oak Eggar larva basking in the sunshine. (Steven Teale)

Sunday 9 March 2014

As a recent new member to Butterfly Conservation, I am excited to be able to post my first butterfly sightings of this year! A Brimstone (TQ583030), 3 Small Tortoiseshells (TQ574032), and a further Small Tortoiseshell at TQ568031. (Linda Rowlinson) - Great to hear from you, welcome aboard! ed.

At Southwick Canal there was one Brimstone, 2 Peacocks, one Small White and multiple Small Tortoiseshells. (Katrina Watson)

My first visit today was to Cissbury Ring where I had many male Brimstone sightings plus a courting pair, plus a Peacock. On the way to Ferring Rife I saw more male Brimstones. The rife was alive with Small Tortoiseshells and I witnessed many pairs flying, a couple of trebles and one foursome. There was much courting occurring on the ground. I estimate that by that I saw 40+ STs plus two Peacocks. (Colin Knight, www.seapic.com)

Lunchtime at Rackham Wood (TQ045145) brought at least 20 Brimstones, 5 Small Tortoiseshells, 1 Peacock and 1 Comma. Later, a Small White in the car park at Tesco, Shoreham. (Steve Gilbert)

Three Peacocks - 2 at Downlands School, Hassocks (TQ309 151) and 1 at Blackstone, near Henfield (TQ238 161). (Kevin Clarke)

My first butterfly sightings of the year! 1 male Brimstone on Devil's Dyke (TQ261 107) and one Small Tortoiseshell seen from a car flying parallel with Devil's Dyke Road close to the intersection with the A27 (TQ283 083). Also, 1 male Brimstone in my Brighton garden. (Caroline Clarke)

Solitary Red Admirals and Peacocks on my sunny allotment on Whitehawk Hill in Brighton, Small Tortoiseshells basking on patches of bare soil and also spiralling up in twos and threes or chasing bumblebees. (Tessa Pawsey)

Small Tortoiseshell finished very strongly at the end of last summer. From what I saw today they may have another good year. In my Storrington garden there were two chasing each other at 10.00am, another two doing the same at 2.00pm and finally three all in a whirl at 3.30pm. Most years I see very few of this species in the garden until late summer. Also 2-3 male Brimstone and 2 Peacock. (Martin Kalaher, Storrington)

Stopped by for a short walk around Rowland Wood and Park Corner Heath from 3.30 this afternoon. Saw 3 Comma, 3 Peacock and a Small Tortoiseshell. No Brimstone though - they seem to go to bed early! (Chris Hooker)

Two Peacocks in the garden today, one feeding on erisymum. At Crawley Down pond, one comma and one Small Tortoiseshell disturbed while working to clear the water. One Brimstone seen on the wing crossing the road between Haywards Heath and Ditchling. (Jonathan Ruff)

We cycled 14 miles to various sites in the Stansted Forest area in the lovely spring like weather which encouraged the hibernating butterflies to take to the wing Brimstone (53 all males), Small Tortoiseshell (6), Peacock (8), Comma (4). (Barry & Margaret Collins)

I couldn't resist reproducing Dan's report from 13 March 2013 just to remind us how truly awful last year's weather was.
(Or am I tempting fate...?) ed.

This year the conservation grazing on the Liz William's Butterfly Haven has taken a new turn with the weather adding a new dimension to the welfare of the sheep. Thankfully my wife (Libby Danahar) has been as enthusiastic about looking after the sheep as are the rest of us. Roll on spring! (Dan Danahar)

Saturday 8 March 2014

Today I went to the Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare, whilst there I saw a Red Admiral at (TQ47951428). (Jamie Burston)

The sun was out, so where else to go but the beach - The Shoreham Beach shingle reserve. I walked part way along down to the fort and along the way counted 27 Small Tortoiseshells and 3 Peacocks. Most of them were just basking, warming up, odd ones were nectaring on celandine and grape hyacinth flowers. Flowering hyacinths and daffodils added to the eclectic mix of garden escapees. There was sporadic courting by the torts with males following females, although there were several spectacular vertical aerial pursuits with the Peacocks to great heights. Oddly there were no obvious nettle patches anywhere to be seen- it's a beach, but that possibly isn't relevant anyway. Why there were so many newly emerged torts from hibernation in this habitat seemed a little odd apart from it being a warm spot. On my return walk, along the same route, they had virtually all departed by about 13.30. The car temp gauge was reading only 10.5 degree air temp. In addition I saw 60 plus European Wall lizards but to be honest I gave up counting. There were loads of large adult males and females, youngsters and groups of up to five together including mature males - perhaps they over winter together in groups. In the afternoon I visited a Small Tortoiseshell site at Thakeham TQ1117. I spent about an hr. with one pair watching the courting and pursuit behaviour. Eventually they darted over a hedge late in the afternoon. Early days yet especially as the nettles are only just growing. Moth trap on tonight so, Happy days return. (Richard Roebuck)

Butterflies aplenty today in the warm sunshine. I started off with a Small Tortoiseshell in Hailsham Country Park. Then it was off to the northern half of Abbots Wood where I found 5 Brimstones and 3 Commas. Finally I visited Park Corner Heath and Rowland Wood and saw 10 Brimstones and 5 Commas (including 2 pairs). (Chris Hooker)

2 Small Tortoiseshells at Keymer churchyard. Brimstone in flight at Lindfield. (Malcolm Le Grys)

Friday 7 March 2014

Following Neil's report I walked along Ferring Rife this afternoon and after the sun had raised the temperature I spotted a pair of Small Tortoiseshells flying from the east bank to my side. After they landed the male fluttered in front of the female, but she was not interested and flew off. I raised a Jack Snipe from the marshy area and spotted about 50 lots of frogspawn, mostly at the southern end of two ponds. There were 3 herons in a field. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Red Admiral nectaring on mahonia flowers in our garden in Frant this afternoon. (Alan Loweth)

Crawley Down -Another Small Tortoiseshell sighting in the garden today in the afternoon sun. Spring has sprung, so hopefully numbers will rise quickly. (Jonathan Ruff)

Thursday 6 March contd.

Just to let you know that yesterday (6th) I saw a Painted Lady from the path that leads from the hide at Castle Water towards the farm along the edge of the lake. I have submitted this information to RX Wildlife. (Jeremy Gould)

A Small Tortoiseshell was flying in my garden this morning (Thursday) - first one here this year. (Robin Harris)

Val saw a white butterfly moving south across the prom towards the sea at Worthing on Thursday but it was too far away for her to identify it properly and I couldn't find it when I went onto the beach. (John and Val Heys)

Thursday 6 March 2014

Thursday was a wonderfully warm and bright day, even the sheep at the Liz Williams Butterfly Haven agreed (see picture). When the banks in this reserve had been originally created, a lot of flints and other rocky debris had been exposed and this was widely distributed over the entire site. In the past, when our friends from the Murray Downland Trust have come to help remove excessive vegetation growth, these flints and rocks had presented a very real health and safety problem for them, whilst using their equipment. So yesterday, Paul Gorringe and Huw Morgan arranged for the Sussex Wildlife Trust's Conservation Volunteers to help move all the rocks to just one central location within the reserves, so that a "hibernaculum" could be created for a host of creepy crawlies. We had a fantastic day and it was with a great sense of satisfaction that I was able to thank the participants of this worthy cause. Paul even saw a Small Tortoiseshell on the site, so clearly the butterflies appreciated our efforts. (Dan Danahar)

I'm optimistic that the strong recovery made by the Small Tortoiseshell in Sussex last year will continue into 2014. This morning I counted 16 along the banks of the Ferring Rife, including 3 courting couples. This site is usually quite slow to get going in the spring, as it is only 100 - 500 metres from the beach, and quite exposed. The nettles need to be about another 10 cm above the ground to provide ideal egg laying sites, so I'll be back in a couple of weeks when there should be a lot more butterflies around - I counted 194 here last April! I later moved on to Rewell Wood, to search for Pearl-bordered Fritillary larvae. By now it was probably too cool and too late in the day to have much chance of success, but I did see my first Common Lizard of the year scrambling through the sweet chestnut leaf litter. (Neil Hulme)

A beautiful male Brimstone flitting around the garden where I work near Shoreham airport. It landed for a brief while on a hedge so that I could admire it's special greeny yellow colour, the colour of a sunny spring day with a backdrop of primroses. Also saw what I think was a small tortoiseshell whizz by but not a positive identification. TQ196063. (Tessa Pawsey)

Crawley Down - a Small Tortoiseshell through the garden in warm sunshine. (Jonathan Ruff)

During a walk around RSPB Broadwater Warren this morning I saw 4 Brimstones (3 males and 1 female). (Alan Loweth)

News for Wednesday 5 March: Quite a few Small Tortoiseshells have been reported so far this year and I can add another three for the 5th, with one in my mother's garden in Hailsham and another two nectaring on winter heather in one of the Hailsham cemeteries. (Martin Kalaher)

Recent news: We saw a Brimstone in central Burgess Hill near St John's Park on 24th February (TQ30951937) and in Cuckfield in a friend's garden at TQ31302475 and our garden at TQ30412449 yesterday - 5/3/14. Also a Comma at Warnham Nature Reserve, Horsham at the entrance at TQ168323 - 5/3/14. A great start to March. (Julie and Malcolm Redford)

Wednesday 5 March 2014

The weekly work party at Heyshott Escarpment was attended by 7 volunteers and a beautiful male Brimstone. As always, plenty of sawing, strimming, raking and burning left the site in excellent condition. More at base page http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=4065&start=10000 (Neil Hulme)

I saw a single Small Tortoiseshell (TQ31910890), this being my first Butterfly of the year, It was flying around in a front garden near to Carden Park. I later saw another Butterfly at (TQ31740852), however seeing it for mere seconds it looked like a Red Admiral. (Jamie Burston)

My usual lunchtime walk yielded a fine male Brimstone flying around Southover Grange Gardens in Lewes. Is Spring on its way? (Chris Hooker)

This morning Roger Carter and I were doing some conservation work at Bevendean Down and saw several Small Tortoiseshell and a nice bright Brimstone, I managed to get a picture of the tortoiseshell. It was a lovely sunny morning with the temperature up to 12C. (Geoff Stevens)

A male Brimstone seen today near Twineham at TQ241208. (Helen Crabtree)

Alan Wingrove topped his attendance at Lewis' victory over Maidstone on Tuesday evening with sightings of 26 individual butterflies at Friston Forest today.
In attendance were 11 Brimstones, 2 Red Addies, 2 Small Torts, 2 Peacocks and 9 Commas. "Big Four + one" to quote Alan. (Sightings posted for Alan by envious Tom Dunbar)

A Small White was seen flying across the Liz Williams Butterfly Haven, Brighton at midday on a very warm Wednesday. (Dan Danahar)

A good walk around Rowland Wood with Nigel Kemp produced in excess of 20 Brimstone, 1 Comma and 1 Small Tortoiseshell as well as an early Orange Underwing. (Bob Eade, bobsbutterflies.blogspot.com)

A walk at St Leonard's Forest this morning got my butterfly tally for the year off to a good start with Billy the Butterfly Hound putting up a Red Admiral basking in the sunshine and later we spotted a male Brimstone on the wing. All before 11am too. A good morning's work :) (Susie Milbank)

My first butterflies of the year today - 3 Brimstones seen at Pulborough Brooks. (Katrina Watson)

News for Tuesday 4 March: On Tuesday morning I joined Neil Hulme, Rob Thurlow (Forestry Commission) and Simon Mockford (South Downs NPA) at Houghton Forest to finish the creating the large clearing which should enable violets to grow and attract Pearl-bordered Fritillaries in a couple of years. A Red Admiral has already taken up residence and flitted around the glade while we worked. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Tuesday 4 March 2014

I was at work today on our Park Corner Heath reserve with Mike Fearne's hard-working Brighton Conservation Volunteers. The team were due to help us in February but their planned visit coincided with some ferocious storms and I had to cancel. Today was a different story - no wind and a clear blue sky. The sun was shining, birds were singing and adders were basking. We worked on the plateau taking down invasive birch, created some great ride-side habitat and cleared bracken. Thanks to Mike and the team for helping out today. (Michael Blencowe)

Today I joined Colin Knight (BC Sussex volunteer), Rob Thurlow (Forestry Commission) and Simon Mockford (South Downs National Park Authority) to complete the creation of a large woodland clearing at Houghton Forest near Arundel. A few weeks ago this area was dark, damp and cool, and suitable only for the Speckled Wood. Thanks to the efforts of today's workforce, and all of those who have attended either of the previous work parties, more than 0.5 hectare of prime Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Grizzled Skipper habitat has been created. Continuation of this sort of work in future years will soon see Houghton Forest improving greatly for butterflies and other wildlife. (Neil Hulme)

News for Tuesday 25 February: On Tuesday 25th February just after lunch we saw a freshly emerged Small White in our Seaford garden. Also later in the afternoon a Red Admiral decided to sun itself in the garden. (Simon, Fran and Amy)

Saturday 1 March 2014

In the sunshine this morning we saw no fewer than six Small Tortoiseshells. These were at Mount Pleasant in Newhaven (TQ461022), the Norton escarpment (TQ467018) (3 seen there), near the Rookery at Bishopstone (TQ465011) and at Norton Hill (TQ465017). (Steven and Amanda Teale)

Earlier Sightings

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