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Thursday 30 April 2015

Brown Argus, probably 2 on Cradle Valley today. (Bob Eade)

A visit to monitor the Pearl-bordered Fritillary at Rewell Wood today showed that their numbers are building just in time for the first Fritillaries for the Future walk this Saturday. Despite difficult weather conditions (sunshine one minute, stair-rods the next) I still managed to find 11 freshly emerged males in one area. (Neil Hulme)

On 30th April before the hailstones forced me to beat a retreat I had a fair few Holly Blue in my Storrington garden. They are not always the easiest butterfly to count as they move around the garden but I was fairly sure there were six different individuals, which is a garden record. Last year was pretty dire for this species so it seems to have bounced back. On this one observation alone I would expect Holly Blue to have a good season. Otherwise not much else, with Speckled Wood (2), Orange-tip (2) and a single Small Tortoiseshell. (Martin Kalaher, Storrington)

A pair of Dingy Skippers at the bottom of Cardboard Hill Bevendean Down, a third one tried to join the party. (Geoff Stevens)

On Thursday at Mill Hill in addition to Grizzled and Dingy Skippers, Green Hairstreaks, Peacocks & Brimstones, I saw Wavy-barred Sable, Green Carpet, Violet Cosmets and 2 adders. At Rewell Wood the past 3 days I spotted male and female Green Longhorns, Hemp-agrimony Plumes, a Small Purple and Gold and a Small White Wave. On a Cuckoo Flower I found an Orange-tip egg. (Colin Knight bit.ly/1c3jFK4)

An all too brief lunchtime visit to the sunny, sheltered bottom of Mill Hill produced 6 Grizzled Skippers, 8 Dingy Skippers, 4 Green Hairstreaks, Small Heath and Wall amongst 8 species of butterfly. Horseshoe Vetch just coming into flower - Come on You Blues! At this time of year I wait to change my allegiance from Albion to Adonis. - Let's hope team Adonis have a more successful season than The Albion... ed. ;-) (Lindsay Morris)

Mystery solved...

I think Colin Knight's mystery caterpillar from 28th April is that of a Meadow Brown. The short twin tails and long, backward curving hairs are the main diagnostic features, but I'm not sure it's doing on Bugle. (Vince Massimo)

Tuesday 28 April 2015

My father, Roy Symonds reports the following sightings on 28th April from Stansted Forest, Rowlands Castle (SU745115) where the temperature was 12C. Brimstone (1F), Small White (5), Green-veined White (1), Orange Tip (3M) and Peacock (1). (Richard Symonds)

Really pleased to find a co-operative Green Hairstreak this afternoon on Wolstonbury Hill. See also www.sussexrambler.blogspot.com. (Peter Lovett)

We've had very few butterflies in our garden this year, maybe because our proximity to the sea has worked against us for once. There have been cold breezes and even colder days of sea mist, when inland it has been much warmer. So two Small Whites (both at the same time) was quite a plus this morning. One settled briefly on a bluebell, but otherwise they only visited strawberry flowers. Then, while I was sitting on a step with my granddaughter Lillica as she tried to pick up ants (they mostly escaped  she's only 16 months old) we noticed a green caterpillar heading across a temporary brick wall we've built to stop Lillica treading on our birdsfoot trefoil. The ants seemed very keen on it so I'm guessing one of the female Common Blues we saw last year was successful in its egg laying. I'm not sure why it fancied a walk across the bricks but soon it disappeared off into the birdsfoot trefoil. (John & Val Heys)

The past few days at Rewell Wood I found a Wood-rush Case-bearer (Coleophora otidipennella), a male Green Longhorn moth (Adela reaumurella) and an interesting larva as yet unidentified feeding on bugle. (Colin Knight bit.ly/1GDVBtW)

Monday 27 April 2015

I spent an enjoyable day with James Arnott, and later on with Garry Philpott, on the Downs at Storrington. I didn't keep an accurate score today, but the main attractions were Green Hairstreak (c. 20), Dingy Skipper (c. 30) and Grizzled Skipper (c. 10). Recent grazing with Sussex cattle has brought the Chantry Hill area into excellent condition. A few more warm days and the place will be swarming with spring butterflies. The South Downs National Park Authority-led Nature Improvement Area work, performed here in partnership with local farmers and BC Sussex, has left a lasting legacy. (Neil Hulme)

Three Small Tortoiseshells including a pair in courtship was seen today at 39 Acres (TQ32290823), just off Ditchling Road in Brighton. Additionally my mum saw a single Speckled Wood in our Hollingbury back garden. (Jamie & Gail Burston)

Sunday 26 April 2015

I have a sighting  I'm not 100% sure so offer it tentatively  only because I am not a butterfly boff. I was birding up on the Downs above Amberley the area known as the Burgh on Sat 26th April and think I saw a female Small Blue?. I'm sure it was a blue and it was brown on top  so guess it can't be much else. I'm not sure how interesting that is  ie thin on the ground at this time of year etc. Same location, same date - there were also lots of Orange Tips. (Julie Alexander)

A Holly Blue roosting on the ivy opposite my kitchen window this morning, and as the weather didn't improve, stayed there all day (TQ306191). Later in woods on the outskirts of Burgess Hill, vaguely in the area I saw a female last year, I found a Silver-washed Fritillary larva hiding under a partially eaten violet leaf. Very small, less than 1cm, but very distinctly marked (TQ290196). (Mark Cadey)

Recent news:

On Tuesday I visited Rewell Wood and found a Grizzled Skipper in the patch of Wild Strawberry where I saw them last year plus some micromoths: Vetch Piercer (Grapholita jungiella) and a Grey Gorse Piercer (Cydia ulicetana). At Mill Hill on Thursday I saw a Dingy Skipper eject pink meconium onto the leaf below it. I spotted the underside of a dead leaf and was struck by its similarity to the underside of a Brimstone hind wing. I have previously noted the similarity of the Brimstone's colour and shape to Ivy that a male had roosted in last year. The camouflage of butterflies is amazing. On Friday I visited Heyshott escarpment and didn't see a single butterfly in spite of the temperature warming up in the afternoon. Plenty of Primroses and Cowslips are ready for the Duke of Burgundy to lay its eggs on soon. On the way back I checked out a Rewell Wood site and found several micro moths: Vetch Piercer (Grapholita jungiella), Small Purple and Gold (Pyrausta aurata) and a Hemp-agrimony Plume (Adaina microdactyla). (Colin Knight bit.ly/1A12zBz)

A Holly Blue posed on the holly in my garden in Lower Bevendean. (Geoff Stevens)

An observation for elsewhere:

I was interested to see in the April 8 posting the comparison between the Large and Yellow-legged Tortoiseshells. Although I'm not supposed to send non-Sussex butterflies to this site, I thought that viewers might like to see an upper- and under-side of the California Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis californica), photographed here in Victoria, British Columbia, by Wendy Ansell in April 2013. Can you tell the difference? I can't! (Jeremy Tatum)

Saturday 25 April 2015

A visit to Heyshott Escarpment today showed the Murray Downland Trust (MDT) reserve to be in the best condition I have ever seen it... by far! The hard work performed by MDT and BC Sussex volunteers over the winter has created some of the best butterfly habitat I have seen anywhere in the UK. The entire site is covered in spring flowers, including violets, cowslips and primroses. Violets are common across all habitat types on the reserve, and are already becoming established on bare ground which was exposed by work parties only a couple of months ago. The prospects for Pearl-bordered Fritillary at Heyshott are exciting. Cowslips and primroses are also becoming established along the coombe bank, which was cleared of derelict coppice a few years back. Being a cool site, things are yet to really get going, but today I saw my first Duke of Burgundy (2) of the year, and other species including Grizzled Skipper (2), Dingy Skipper (3), Small Tortoiseshell (4), Peacock (3), Orange Tip (1), Brimstone (2) and Speckled Wood (3). On my way home I stopped briefly at Rewell Wood and saw 2 Pearl-bordered Fritillary in the same spot that I saw my first of the season on 22 April. Look out for Fritillaries for the Future project walks and training events at Rewell Wood (Saturday 2 May and Sunday 10 May) and Heyshott Escarpment (Sunday 3 May) on the Sussex Branch Events page. (Neil Hulme)

Managed to find Stuart Sutton's first Abbots Wood Pearl-bordered Fritillary of 2015 (he saw his on Thur 23rd Apr - one day later than Rewell's I understand). Saturday's PBF was joined by a second male so I took a couple of photos and saw a possible third butterfly on the opposite side of the clearing. These pics confirm three different PBF's as per the subtly varying wing markings. Not much else of note yesterday with temperatures only borderline for butterflies when the sun went in and cooler, damper weather forecast for Sunday.
NOTE: please avoid trampling on the violet and bramble vegetation in the clearings at Abbots Wood as pupae will still be in the leaf-litter throughout - there are plenty of bare ground or grassy patches where the butterflies are sometimes basking and one or two bare paths/tracks around the site. (Mike Mullis)

I stopped off at Mill Hill for an hour early this afternoon more in hope than expectation as it was cloudy and quite windy. However, the sun did break through occasionally resulting in some butterfly activity on the lower slopes (where it was sheltered). My final count was Peacock (2), Large White (1), Small White (3), Grizzled Skipper (2), Dingy Skipper (2), Green Hairstreak (1) and Small Heath (1). (Chris Hooker)

I was slightly surprised to see a Painted Lady sunning itself on a hedgerow at Church Norton, Pagham Harbour at around 13.45. (Andrew Howard)

Thursday 23 April 2015

Checking out the Skippers at Frog Firle I decided to have a brief look at the little patch where I found the Wall Brown pupa last year and was amazed to find another in the same spot!! I had already seen a near fully grown larva as well as a male adult Wall flying.
Earlier in the day a few Small Coppers at Greenway Bank, but little else apart from a single Grizzled Skipper and many Peacock. (Bob Eade)

Arrived at Devil's Dyke too late in the day to find any Green Hairstreaks, but made for it by finding 14 roosting Dingy Skippers at Saddlescombe (TQ270117). (Mark Cadey)

Wednesday 22 April 2015

A Holly Blue flew around the Community Garden in Seaford on Wednesday morning around 11 a.m. Seemed to like perching on the privet bushes nearby! (Bob Brown)

A lovely afternoon on Heyshott today. Small Tortoiseshells flying round the path on the way up, and a cloud of Brimstones - both M and F - patrolling all the chalk grassland area. The areas which have seen conservation work in recent years are carpeted with flowers - violets, primroses, cowslips and wild strawberries. A Burnet Companion moth came and landed near me, and an early-purple orchid flowered higher up. (Nigel Symington)

Despite a bus breakdown and a less-than-balmy breeze, Devil's Dyke and Saddlescombe rewarded us with 16 Green Hairstreaks, 7 Dingy Skippers, 5 Orange Tips and a Small Copper amongst the 10 species recognised. Sadly, the only Grizzlies on view were my brother and I! (Lindsay & Paul Morris)

St Leonard's Forest, Peacock, Brimstone, Speckled Wood, Small White and Green-veined White. (Patrick Moore)

A few recent sightings. 22nd April produced 1 Green-veined White at Ladies Mile (TQ317091). 21st April produced a garden first for me, overjoyed to say I saw a single female Orange-tip (TQ31640847). Lastly back on the 20th April I saw 1 Peacock by Wild Park feeding and repeatedly landing on dandelions (TQ32380794). Of note in the seven years I've been seeing and recording butterflies locally around Brighton, I have never seen such a fantastic year for Peacocks, their numbers have truly surprised me. In previous years I would struggle to see three in a year, already just into April and the total I've seen so far this year is into double figures. What a delight to see! (Jamie Burston)

Tuesday 21 April 2015

The strong Easterly wind has been holding things back a bit at Frog Firle, but today with the wind easing a little the butterflies have started at last to emerge with my first Grizzled and Dingy Skippers and also my first adult Wall Brown. (Bob Eade)

This afternoon on a brief visit to Mill Hill, on the lower slopes we found at least 3 Clouded Yellow (in view at same time, but could possibly have been more), Also one Grizzled Skipper and several each of Common Purple and Gold (Pyrausta purpuralis) and Wavy-barred Sable (Pyrausta nigrata). (Jan-Paul Charteris)

Lower Beeding, Brimstone and Holly Blue.
Summer Down, Saddlescombe area, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Large White, Small White, Orange Tip, Red Admiral and a first for me, ever! Green Hairstreak (and I also saw Swallows for the first time this year). (Patrick Moore)

Visited Mill Hill for the first time today. More butterflies seemed to be out compared with this time last year. Butterflies seen: Green Hairstreak, 2, (including one on blackthorn flower), Grizzled Skipper 4,Dingy Skipper 2, Orange Tip 4, Brimstone 4, Small Tortoiseshell 1, Comma 1, Peacock 2. (Simon Quin)

Today I was working from home, so it wasn't until I took a break and looked out over the back garden that I saw Brimstones and Holly Blues flaunting themselves and taunting me. I could scarcely believe my eyes when a Speckled Wood then settled on my office window. I was out the door in a flash and managed to get one of the most bizarre butterfly photographs I've ever taken. The window cleaner has been sacked. (Neil Hulme)

Monday 20 April 2015

I wasn't working today, so had a second day of freedom to enjoy this lovely weather. I started at Rewell Wood, where I saw Orange Tip (5), Green-veined White (4), Peacock (18), Small Copper (1; a rarity here), Holly Blue (1) and Speckled Wood (2). One male Orange Tip gave his presence away by flashing his wings, as another male investigated him. He never relinquished his tight grip on a Beech sapling, and squirted several droplets of meconium, indicating that he was freshly emerged. I later joined Brian Henham at Wiston, where we waited patiently for the Orange Tips (7) and Green-veined Whites (3) to settle down to roost, in a shady area carpeted with Ramsons and Lady's Smock. Once they decided to turn in for the night they arrived one after another. At one point 4 males were fluttering around us within a couple of square metres, making it tricky to keep an eye on them all, as they landed, snapped shut their wings and disappeared. Purely by chance I then noticed a beautiful female Orange Tip at roost, which had sneaked in un-noticed. (Neil Hulme)

This morning I returned to the A27 bank and immediately my first Small Copper of the season landed in front of me. I couldn't find the Adonis larva for some time, then spotted it crawling along the chalk face 3 metres above where it has been for the past two days, without its guardian red ants. I found a late instar Muslin Moth larva, and Brimstones flew by. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Sunday 19 April 2015

I found a tiny White Admiral larva at Rowland Wood today, partially wrapped in a dead leaf. (Mark Cadey)

Today was the first full day this spring when I could forget the time and fully indulge myself in this magical time of year. At Chantry Hill (Storrington) the Green Hairstreak numbers are building fast, with 23 seen before the thin cloud was sufficient to stop them flying. I also saw my first Grizzled (2) and Dingy (1) Skippers here this year. At Wiston Church I spent an hour amongst the aromatic ramsons, enjoying the under-rated Green-veined White (5), flying together with Small White (1), Orange Tip (1, female) and Speckled Wood (2). By the time I reached a damp meadow nearby, the butterflies had gone to roost, but a careful search soon revealed 2 male Orange Tip and a Green-veined White. (Neil Hulme)

We took a walk over the Downs from East Dean (the one in West Sussex) to Graffham Down. Grizzled Skipper were in good numbers on Levin Down and were whirring over the turf all along the path through the reserve. There's certainly plenty of Peacocks around and every ride in Charlton Forest had a few males holding territory on the tracks. Grahham Down looked great in the spring sunshine. This whole part of the Downs is looking great and has really benefitted from some butterfly-friendly management. We're especially proud of the scallops created at Graffham Down through advice from Sussex BC and a financial contribution donated to us in memory of a West Sussex butterfly lover. These scallops could provide a stepping stone to allow rare butterflies like the Duke of Burgundy and Pearl-bordered Fritillary to travel along the South Downs. The violets were looking fantastic up there - lets hope a wandering female Pearl-bordered Fritillary thinks so too. I'll be leading a walk up to these reserves in May. We also had a rare sighting of a naked rambler but he was even trickier to photograph than the Grizzled Skippers. (Michael Blencowe & Andy Reynolds)

Was delighted to see this Green Hairstreak (my first!) along with several Peacocks and a Grizzled Skipper at Castle Hill yesterday. Two Speckled Woods and a Holly Blue sighted in the garden too! (Brighton). (Jennie Fellows)

High & Over: I had my first butterfly walk of the year and so I didn't really have my eyes trained on this go, but I did spot several Peacock, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell and Small White. (Nick Linazasoro)

Today I returned to the A27 bank to make videos of the Adonis Blue larva with attendant ants. These can be viewed at bit.ly/1HniFvu. I also found more Grizzled Skippers and Little Roller mico moths. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Despite pretty chilly temperatures to day I spotted a very weak flying newly emerged Speckled Wood that landed on the lawn. The tenth species to visit the garden so far. (Richard Roebuck)

News for Tuesday 14 April:

On 14th April I saw a Common Blue? butterfly on a south facing lower slope of the golf course at Cowdray Park, Midhurst. (Dianne Hardcastle. Graffham Down Trust member)

Saturday 18 April 2015

Yesterday Dan Danahar took me to a chalk bank beside the A27 just east of Brighton to search for Adonis Blue larvae. The slope is covered with Horseshoe Vetch with ant hills and flowering blackthorn at the bottom of the hill. We saw several Dingy Skippers plus Pyrausta nigrata moths. Then I spotted an Adonis larva covered with ants. This was followed by a Green Hairstreak nectaring on the blackthorn. Dan has created a video of the experience on the Butterflies of the Biosphere site: Adonis video. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Counted 10 Green Hairstreaks walking up Devil's Dyke and 15 walking back down the same route when it had warmed up a bit. One of these had a loop of white dots on its hindwing (TQ2611).
In the chalkpit across the road there were now at least 6 Dingy Skipper (TQ270117). (Mark Cadey)

This afternoon I joined Andrew Burns on the lower slopes of Mill Hill at Shoreham. The skippers are only just getting going, so it's still quite hard working spotting them. After much searching the final score was Grizzled 7 (including the pictured female), Dingy 2. (Neil Hulme)

Mill Hill lower slopes and waterworks road below. Ten butterfly species including 3 Grizzled Skippers, Green Hairstreak, Orange Tip. Also an Adder. Purple & Gold and Cinnabar identified amongst several day flying moths. More Peacocks than anything else, a lot less Small Tortoiseshell than last week. (Lindsay Morris)

Walked Southease west, South Downs Way to Black Cap then to Lewes. Painted Lady, Front Hill, Kingston Ridge (401060). Also Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Large White, Small White, Comma and Holly Blue. (Patrick Moore)

During a brief stroll around Chantry Hill this afternoon I saw one Grizzled Skipper and a single Green Hairstreak. Amongst the many Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells on the South Downs way I was surprised to see a very faded Painted Lady. Could this specimen have over wintered? Still waiting to see my first Orange Tip of the year! (Tom Parker)

Friday 17 April 2015

In the chalkpit at Saddlecombe a female Dingy Skipper and a Common Carpet Moth (TQ269117). Then on to Mill Hill where I saw my first Grizzled Skipper and also found a mating pair of Pyrausta purpuralis. (Mark Cadey)

I met Dan Danahar at Mill Hill yesterday afternoon to film the Grizzled Skipper for the Butterflies of the Biosphere site. Conditions were perfect late afternoon for the many species of micro moths which are emerging and I found 3 new ones, including the Black-headed Conch (Cochylis atricapitana). Mark and Ian Cadey kindly showed me a mating pair of Common Purple and Golds. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

St Leonard's Forest, Horsham, my first Speckled Wood of the year as well as Peacock, Brimstone, Small White, Small Tortoiseshell and Comma. (Patrick Moore)

Thursday 16 April 2015

I did my Mill Hill transect this afternoon, recording 25 degC at the bottom of the hill. I found my first Green Hairstreak of the year and several Grizzled skippers, one of which roosted at 4:30pm. I saw the same moths I reported Tuesday: Violet Cosmet, Straw-barred Pearl, Wavy-barred Sable & Common Purple and Gold plus a Little Roller. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

I went scouting for locations for habitat shots for the butterfly atlas this afternoon. on a footpath on the Knepp Estate I saw my first male Orange-tip of the year, while my first cuckoo serenaded me in the distance. (Nigel Symington)

Following the sighting yesterday of the Clouded Yellow, Matt saw another migrant this afternoon, a Painted Lady in the lower Cuckmere near the scrape. Is this a sign of a good butterfly migration year? (Bob and Matt Eade)

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Plenty of sightings here in yesterday's very warm weather at my wildlife plot near Herstmonceux Castle, East Sussex: 3 Brimstones (incl. a female egg-laying on tiny leaf-shoots on a small, potted Alder Buckthorn), 2 Orange Tips, 3 Green-veined Whites, 4 Speckled Woods (3 of them along the woodland bridleway), 2 Peacocks and 3 Commas. Also a dubious contender for a possible first Meadow Brown (larva) of the year which the local Robin fed to its young in their hidden nest amongst flowerpots on the plant bench (note the white 'tails' on the green caterpillar). It also flew in with two different Water Carpet moths... (Mike Mullis)

I visited Rewell Wood late afternoon today and saw a male Orange-tip, fighting Peacocks and a Comma in exactly the same place that I see one every year. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

15th April - 1 Holly Blue seen passing through my Hollingbury back garden. In the early afternoon I went for a walk, I saw 1 Peacock on Keymer Road at (TQ32050848), 1 Speckled Wood at Woodbourne Meadow (TQ32170830), 1 Small Tortoiseshell at the start of 39 Acres field (TQ32300831). I again visited the dew pond at Wild Park to check up on the Purple Hairstreak egg, from what I can see I don't believe it to have hatched yet, the tree itself is now producing flowers. At Hollingbury Hill Fort I saw 3 Peacocks as well as a single Green Woodpecker (around TQ322078). Nearby I found a single Speckled Wood at (TQ32290799), Lastly seeing a single Peacock at the edge of Woodbourne Meadow to the side of Ditchling Crescent (TQ32140830).
10th - 14th April - 3 Peacocks (likely the same individual) and 1 Speckled Wood all in my Hollingbury back garden.
9th April - 1 Small Tortoiseshell showing egg laying behaviour (TQ30990840), 1 Small Tortoiseshell (TQ304090) - near Horsdean Recreational Ground. At Horsdean Recreational Ground (around TQ30460918) - 1 Green-veined White, 1 Brimstone, 1 egg-laying Small Tortoiseshell. Ladies Mile NR, parallel with Braeside Avenue, Patcham I saw the following along the back path which starts at TQ30530919 running east to TQ32070953 - 3 Comma, one of which was taking moisture from the path, 7 Peacock, 1 Green-veined White, 8 Small Tortoiseshell 1 Blue Tit, 1 Great Tit, 1 Buzzard. Continuing at Ladies Mile NR I saw a another two Peacocks and a single Brimstone at (TQ31800944). Moving upto the main top field I saw a single Comma at (TQ31830940). At Ladies mile top field I saw a single Jay. Moving onto Hollingbury Industrial Estate Reserve I counted 2 Peacocks and 1 Brimstone, whilst there I saw a peculiar Butterfly which flew over my head which seemed to be around the size of a Brown Hairstreak, I guess I'll never know (Orange Underwing moth? ed.). Heading back home, cutting through Carden Park I saw 5 Small Tortoiseshells and another Brimstone around (TQ321090). At the edge of Carden School playing field I saw 2 Small Tortoiseshells (TQ31930876). (Jamie Burston)

A bit of a surprise today with a male Clouded Yellow near Arlington. It was very flighty, having the odd battle with Small Tortoiseshell and nectaring very briefly a few times on Cuckoo Flower. Unfortunately no photographs were possible. It was in excellent condition from what we could see. (Bob Eade and Nigel Kemp)

Two years ago I found a single Lady's Smock plant in the garden in a damp area. With sympathetic mowing thereafter, I now have quite a large patch, which today has seen a steady procession visiting of male Orange Tips and Green-veined Whites, this is so much better than a green lawn. Also seen in the garden today Holly Blues, Small Tortoiseshells, Peacocks, Comma, male Brimstones, Large White and Small White. This excellent day was proceeded by a singing Nightingale at 1.30 a.m. marvellous. (Richard Roebuck)

This is the Peacock that has been patrolling my Horsham garden, attacking most insects that fly near it, landing on my head and even clicking at me! There was also a visit from a Comma but it wasn't allowed to stay for long! (Patrick Moore)

Tuesday 14 April 2015

A single Green-veined White at Mount Harry.(TQ387127) and back in Burgess Hill 4 Holly Blues, a Speckled Wood and a male Orange-tip (TQ2919). (Mark Cadey)

I checked out Mill Hill this afternoon and found my first Grizzled Skipper of the year laying an egg. I also found four moths: Violet Cosmet (Pancalia leuwenhoekella), Straw-barred Pearl (Pyrausta despicata), Wavy-barred Sable (Pyrausta nigrata) & Common Purple and Gold (Pyrausta purpuralis). (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Sunday 12 April 2015

Small White, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell in my Horsham garden.
French interlude; 8th April Small White and Holly Blue, Montmartre, Paris. (Patrick Moore)

I saw my first Orange-tip of the year, a female, at Amberley today. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Scarce Tortoiseshell News:

Sorry for belated sending of this, but here are photos of the Scarce Tortoiseshell I found at Pulborough on 07/04/15, the first Sussex record of this species. One photo has already been included as part of an ID feature on Sussex BC. I first located it at 12.20 at the bottom of the zigzags at Pulborough Brooks TQ 05716 16734. At first I was uncertain as to whether it was Large or Scarce Tortoiseshell, but after ID discussion on a Facebook group, followed by closer views and photos showing the pale yellowish legs I released news as a Scarce Tortoiseshell. This ID was then confirmed when I sent photos to Neil Hulme. Luckily a fair few other observers managed to see it, and it was also present all day on 09/04/15. It was extremely confiding at times and even took to landing on observers, yet also went missing occasionally for long periods, and indeed all day on 8th April. It was a territorial individual which chased off any other butterflies that came into its favoured area. (Jan-Paul Charteris)

On Thursday 9th April, whilst over Pulborough with the family and dog, I received a text to say the Scarce (Yellow-legged) Tortoiseshell was back (having previously first been reported on Tuesday 7th but subsequently vanishing on the 8th). I made a quick dash into the reserve and had great views for 10-15 minutes, after which I had to leave. What a great find by Jan-Paul Charteris! (Leigh Prevost)

On Thursday I did my second transect at Mill Hill and saw just one Peacock, one Brimstone and one Small Tortoiseshell, though more showed as the temperature rose in the afternoon. I was pleased to find a new micro-moth, a Little Roller (Ancylis comptana). John pointed out a Wavy-barred Sable (Pyrausta nigrata) and Ian found a Brimstone Moth and a Straw-barred Pearl (Pyrausta despicata). Later I visited Pulborough Brooks for the third time in 3 days and struck lucky with the Scarce Tortoiseshell which was showing at 1:03 when I arrived and flew off at 2:17. This is the only other day this butterfly has been seen since it was discovered by Jan-Paul Charteris on Tuesday. I was there with others on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and drew a blank. I had great adder sightings at Mill Hill and Pulborough. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

News for Friday 10 April:

A Small Copper in our Cuckfield garden on Friday 10th April. Our first this year. (Julie and Malcolm Redford)

News for Thursday 9 April:

We walked from Cranleigh to Slinfold along the Downslink path. Although we saw a wider variety of butterflies in Surrey, there were some Brimstones and Peacocks in Sussex. We did see a moth (picture above) which was sunning itself on the path rather like a butterfly. We thought was a Light Orange Underwing (rather than an orange underwing) as it was very brown on the top wings and quite a strong contrast of orange-red and black on the lower wings when exposed. (Is it?) It wouldn't stay still so it was hard to get a decent picture & this one doesn't really do the colours justice. I'm afraid it may have been just in Surrey as we were on the north side of the tunnel near Rudgewick. (John & Val Heys)

Friday 10 April 2015

Another first of the year at my wildlife plot (near Herstmonceux) this week - a rather tatty Red Admiral, presumably a migrant on 10th April which I guess has had a bit of a rough ride getting here. It visited this woodland-edge goat willow/great sallow while I was trying to identify bees and hoverflies feeding on the flowers. (Mike Mullis)

I only saw a few Peacocks, 1 Small Tortoiseshell and a Brimstone at Rowland Wood today. However, I did see huge numbers of bee-flies in more or less every sunny spot I walked past, I think they were mostly males scouting for females, some were nectaring, mainly on primroses but the most surprising was the one I encountered that appeared to be "mud-puddling" in a patch of damp soil in the middle of a path. Normally I find bee-flies to be pretty wary of being approached too closely, tending to fly off at the slightest disturbance - this one didn't seem to care as I knelt down to get a closer look, it was completely fixated on probing the ground with its long proboscis allowing me to watch it at close quarters for quite some time. (Bob Foreman)

Thursday 9 April 2015

Came across this Small Copper while walking along the cliff path through Hastings Country Park near Fairlight, on the return leg of our Pett Level to Hastings (via the beach at low tide) bird walk today (Thurs 9th April). First one I've seen this year... (Mike Mullis)

Levin Down - Grizzled Skipper. (Ann Griffiths)

I was splitting some Devilbits Scabious yesterday but keeping a look out for garden butterflies and had five species in total, Brimstone (2-3), Peacock (2), Small Tortoiseshell (2), Comma (1) and Small White (1). The latter was so small I think it should be called diminutive or tiny White. It demonstrates the value of having a variety of garden plants (and a mixture of native and hybrids) as I watched a Peacock nectaring on Red Dead-nettle, Honesty and then White Dead-nettle. (Martin Kalaher, Storrington)

Wednesday 8 April 2015

In view of the exciting, recent developments regarding 'bigger tortoiseshells', I've posted some ID guidance (below)in separating the Large and Scarce Tortoiseshells, when the paler legs of the latter species cannot be seen. The Large Tortoiseshell was found and photographed by Gary Norman on Monday 6th April at Lullington Heath, and the Scarce Tortoiseshell (first for Sussex) was found and photographed by Jan-Paul Charteris at RSPB Pulborough on Tuesday 7th April. (Neil Hulme)

Scarce Tortoiseshell at RSPB Pulborough, photo by Jan Paul Charteris

Large Tortoiseshell at Lullington Heath, photo by Gary Norman

Had 2 Speckled Wood on the wing this morning at Thorney Island,my first sightings of this species this spring. (Barry Collins)

Paid quick visits to various sites this afternoon and found the following:
Hailsham Country Park: Small Tortoiseshell (5), Peacock (2), Small White (2).
Park Corner Heath & Rowland Wood: Brimstone (4), Peacock (2), Comma (1).
Arlington Reservoir: Peacock (5), Comma (2), Brimstone (1), Small Tortoiseshell (1). (Chris Hooker)

Just to say, I saw a Comma butterfly sitting on a Lesser Celandine in my garden. The first time I have ever seen one this early in the year and the first time I have seen one in my garden for a few years. (Louise)

Tuesday 7 April 2015

My father, Roy Symonds reports the following sightings from Stansted Forest (SU745118) where the temperature was 12C. Most of the main tracks through the forest were walked. Brimstone (25M), Peacock (5) and Comma (2). (Richard Symonds)

The first Orange Tip of the year seen at my wildlife plot (aka Wild Flower Barn) near Herstmonceux Castle, East Sussex, early this afternoon. I watched it nectaring on Daffodil, Primrose, Lady's Smock and finally a very small Daisy. (Mike Mullis)

Levin Down - Tuesday 7 April 2015 Dingy Skipper. (Ann Griffiths)

5 species again this afternoon in the sunshine. Hailsham Country Park produced Small Tortoiseshell (2), Peacock and Small White. I then moved on to Abbots Wood where I found Peacock (27), Brimstone (6), Comma (6) and a Small Tortoiseshell. (Chris Hooker)

Peacock and Brimstone in garden, Horsham.
St Leonards Forest; 21 Peacock, 7 Brimstone, 4 Small Tortoiseshell, 4 Comma, 1 Large White and after checking my identification books 1 Small White. (Patrick Moore)

Two pairs of Small Tortoiseshell were alternating between basking and flying rapidly around my Seaford garden for well over an hour and a half this afternoon. After the flights each pair returned to the same sunny spots. (Stuart Ridley)

There were lots of butterflies in the garden here at High Beeches today. I identified Peacocks, Commas and Brimstones. (Sarah Bray)

4 Speckled Woods, 1 M Brimstone, 1 Peacock seen today at Grattons Park, Poundhill, Crawley. (Alastair)

Monday 6 April 2015

Sorry, Gary's spectacular Large Tort photo should have been in today's reports - not Sunday where I originally placed it, ed.

Gary Norman sent the photo above in on Sunday, Gary thought that there was a possibility that it was a Yellow-legged Tortoiseshell: "I saw it today after my Butterfly count for Natural England at Lullington Heath. It was larger than a Peacock and didn't fly like a normal Tortoiseshell. It was also very bright." I forwarded Gary's photo to Neil Hulme who said "That got my heart racing, but it is a Large Tortoiseshell. Which is off course b****y brilliant in its own right! Feel free to attribute the ID to me, and I'll eat humble pie if proved wrong." All in all a pretty cracking sighting to get the Easter weekend up and running...

Spring is definitely here. I had my first two Orange Tip sightings this morning. The first, a male, flying near the pond in Loxwood, and the second, surprisingly a female, found flying around the lanes near Billingshurst.
Also, A single Green-veined White seen today at Runcton. (Mark Colvin)

The warmest day this spring produced a good number of butterflies at Thorney Island. Holly Blue 1, Red Admiral 1, Small White 1, Brimstone 6 males, 8 Peacock, 3 Comma, Small Tortoiseshell 4. (Barry and Margaret Collins)

Had a fine Peacock in immaculate condition sunning itself on our terrace this afternoon. (Nigel Symington)

Houghton Forest was awash with butterflies today, as spring arrived in spectacular style. We saw approximately 40 Brimstone, 20 Peacock, 10 Comma and 2 Small Tortoiseshell. Being a family day out I had promised not to take my camera, so the inevitable happened. Mia found a mating pair of Brimstones, which I've never done before! At 5 months old Jacob saw his first butterflies and I'm sure I detected a real interest. We had seen at least 8 Brimstone and several Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell on the drive between Worthing and Arundel. I hope that today sets the tone for the rest of the 2015 season. Here we go! (Neil Hulme)

I was working in my Storrington garden on the morning of April 6th when I had for company two male Brimstones and then later on two female Brimstones. I had said to Mary that I thought the males might be lucky to see a female, as the warm weather has only just arrived, and low and behold there were two (one of which was rather tatty). Later on there were a couple of Peacocks and a couple of Small Tortoiseshells. We went for a walk across the Parham Estate and around Rackham Woods when in total we had 20 Brimstones, 12-15 Peacocks and about a dozen Small Tortoiseshells. I cannot remember a spring when there was such a contrast i.e. very few butterflies for weeks on end and then 40 + on the first warm sunny day. (Martin Kalaher, Storrington)

On 6th April my father, Roy Symonds completed a circular walk around Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve (temperature 17C) and surrounding area, where he noted the following:
Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve (SU824098), Brimstone (13M 1F), Small Tortoiseshell (2) and Comma (1).
Stoke Clump (SU832094) Brimstone (1M).
Inhams Lane, West Stoke (SU835090) Brimstone (6M 1F) and Red Admiral (1).
Hillside Cottages, West Stoke (SU932084) Small Tortoiseshell (1).
Also on 6th April Roy Symonds visited Stansted Forest, Rowlands Castle (SU745118) Temperature 18C, where a dozen Brimstones were noted all males. Brimstone (12M), Small White (2), Peacock (5) and Comma (4). (Richard Symonds)

Today my first transect of the year at Mill Hill produced 7 male Brimstones plus a female, Peacocks with 3 involved in aerial combat plus several Small Tortoiseshells. The Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells were nectaring on Wood Violets. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

The weather was lovely so I went out to check on the Purple Hairstreak egg at Wild Park. On the way I came across my first Butterfly of the year, a single Small Tortoiseshell seen at Woodbourne Meadow (TQ32190831). Crossing Ditchling Road I soon found another Small Tortoiseshell at the edge of 39 Acres field (TQ32320835). Heading towards Wild Park I soon found a single Speckled Wood along a woodland path at (TQ32320808). Further along the path I saw two Brimstones (TQ32410787 & TQ32420777), one Red Admiral (TQ32420778) and one Comma (TQ32410787). At the dew pond I checked on the development of the Purple Hairstreak egg, no change but the buds are just beginning to open slightly. Nearing the Hill Fort I saw two Peacocks (TQ32350789 & TQ32340790), I noticed that the second Peacock seen and photographed was interested in probing the moist path with its proboscis. I noticed a greater abundance of violets on the Hill Fort this year, this could potentially be a good thing for the growing Dark Green Fritillary population. Later with my nephew at Carden Park I saw a pair of Small Tortoiseshells, these appeared to be in courtship (TQ31810891). Additionally seeing another two Small Tortoiseshells nearby at (TQ31910894 & TQ31930875). (Jamie Burston)

Sunday 5 April 2015

I spent this weekend in Bodmin in Cornwall to catch up with a long standing friend and while I was there I explored Caradon hill, which is an SSSI site and a rather famous copper, tin and arsenic mining area. I also explored the Minion, stone circles and the famous Cheese Ring. There is a transmitter on Caradon Hill which is 780 feet high and the views from here are fantastic. Near an old copper mine pump house building - whilst sat on a precarious spoil heap with my dogs, there was a Raven sat about 30 feet way. Anyway by a bit of luck I found its huge nest on a window ledge of a disused pump house. Curiously I could call to the two chicks and they responded squawking accordingly, that's a first. (iPhone Pic) That night I saw the third episode of Poldark which sort of put everything into context which was a bit ironic. This morning I set off home on the long trail back to Sussex and as the temperature soared I saw loads of male Brimstones through Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Hampshire and finally Sussex. It was as though a switch had been turned on. After a 5½ hr journey finally got home to be greeted with a male Brimstone in the Garden. I spotted a Peacock on the fence which was quickly joined by another. I rushed in and grabbed the camera. This was a male and female. The male was antenna tapping the female from behind pretty much the way Small Tortoiseshells do, however this was first time I had seen this behaviour with Peacocks. Hoping for more action I watched but, eventually the female had had enough and flew off straight into a blackthorn thicket, the male returned to his territory attacking the male Brimstone and hoverflies, but for now his love was lost. But all is not lost as a first for me witnessing this behaviour in Peacocks. (Richard Roebuck)

Wednesday 1 April 2015

On Tuesday I saw my second Brimstone of the season at Houghton Forest. As I parked the car, it came down to nectar on a Lesser Celandine but didn't stay for a photo. On Wednesday I joined Nigel Symington and MDT members for the last Heyshott work party of the season. The primroses are everywhere, ready for the Dukes, and violets are appearing to tempt the Pearl-bordered Fritillaries. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Nigel Kemp and myself went looking for Wall larvae on Frog Firle today and had a record count of 14. Lets hope it is a good year again in the area for the Wall Brown. (Bob Eade)

News for Monday 30 March:

My father, Roy Symonds reports the following sightings from Stansted Forest, Rowlands Castle (SU745115). Brimstone 6 (all males) and 1 Comma. (Richard Symonds)

Tuesday 31 March 2015

I have yet to be at Ferring Rife under sufficiently good weather conditions to determine the size of this year's crop of Small Tortoiseshells. During my last visit (27th March) it was too cool and cloudy, and I only saw 16 before returning to the car, at which point the sun broke through and the temperature rose rapidly. With only 10 minutes before my deadline to leave for a meeting, I quickly retraced my steps up the east bank. Over only a third of the usual stretch I survey, I counted 64 Small Tortoiseshell and 2 Peacock. However, today it was the turn of strong winds to disrupt my count. I only managed to find 13, but 11 were females, either egg-laying or taking a rest between episodes of doing so. This can be a prolonged business and one female I watched laid approximately 100 eggs, shifting slightly to create a second batch when the first grew to a pile 3 eggs deep. The fact that almost all seen under such testing conditions for flight were female butterflies, demonstrates the difference in priorities between the sexes. Today was unsuitable for showboating, scrapping and wooing, so the males were largely inactive. I then moved on to the shelter of the chalk garden at Highdown Gardens, where 2 Peacock and a Red Admiral were enjoying the abundant early nectar. (Neil Hulme)

My butterfly season really took off this afternoon, despite the strong breeze, with 5 species seen and plenty of individual sightings. Outside my house beside Hailsham Country Park were 2 Small Tortoiseshells and a Peacock. Then I moved on to Abbots Wood where I found Brimstone (6 - all male), Red Admiral (2), Comma (10) and Peacock (5). A great afternoon in the sun! (Chris Hooker)

Sunday 29 March 2015

My first sighting of the year today - a Peacock flying around in Fletching church. (Nigel Symington)

Recent news:

Just a note (my first) to report sightings of a Comma in our Littlehampton garden on Stachyurus flowers for several hours on both the 26th and 27th March. Apart from the odd mid-winter Red Admiral, Commas are almost always the first butterflies in our garden every year. (David Humphries)

Friday 27 March 2015

Sorry to be a day late with this. By good fortune, I happened to be looking out of my front window at the precise moment a Brimstone a flew into the garden and landed on a wall. I dashed out with my camera and managed to get a few shots before a noisy recyling lorry arrived and scared it off! Location: Hailsham (TQ59100896) (Teresa Fowler)

Brimstone, South Downs Way west of Alfriston. Two Small Tortoiseshells mobbing a Red Admiral, Cuckmere River, Alfriston.
26th March, Brimstone and Small Tortoiseshell, Lower Beeding churchyard. (Patrick Moore)

Thursday 26 March 2015

My earliest ever sighting of a Small White today, as one flew across my back garden in Worthing town centre. (Neil Hulme)

Wednesday 25 March 2015

On behalf of the Murray Downland Trust and Butterfly Conservation Sussex Branch, I would like to say thank you to all those who have contributed to another highly successful work part season at Heyshott Escarpment. A huge amount has again been achieved. The Duke of Burgundy, Pearl-bordered Fritillary and a wide range of other fauna and flora will benefit greatly from this winter's work. More at murraydownlandtrust.blogspot.co.uk. (Neil Hulme)

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Another iPhone moment. A window of warmth in the otherwise disappointing weather today allowed me to search out this male Small Tortoiseshell on the Liz Williams Butterfly Haven, Brighton. As the weather improves this species will become ever more present within the surrounding green spaces. Keep an eye out for them. Males are territorial and await the approach of cruising females. As the Biosphere liaison committee member for SxBC, if anybody within the Biosphere sees some Small Tortoiseshells it would be great to hear from them or you could post your findings on the new "Butterflies of the Biosphere" FaceBook page. (Dan Danahar)

Sunday 22 March 2015

I came in from the garden about 5.30pm this evening to see a yellow butterfly keeled over on the kitchen doorstep. Brimstone, I thought, but No, it was a remarkably early Large White. It managed to cling on to my finger so I deposited it in our garage in the wood-pile to give it something of a chance of survival. (John Luck)

Recent news:

Apologies for belated report, but on March 17th I saw a Small White, a Comma, a Peacock and 6 Small Tortoiseshells in or near my garden at Rye. This was the last warm sunny day here before the cold cloudy easterlies set in. It wasn't my earliest Small White - that was on 15 March 2012. (Pat Bonham)

Friday 20 March 2015

Small Tortoiseshell in my Keymer garden, nectaring on flowers of Daphne bholua in the afternoon sunshine. (Malcolm Le Grys)

Wednesday 18 March 2015

On Sunday I joined Michael Blencowe, Neil Hulme and Graffam Down Trust members for some conservation work. I was impressed with the clearance work that has been accomplished in the past few years. Scarlet Elf Cups were found near the bonfire. Tuesday afternoon was spent at Ferring Rife where Neil Hulme was spotting the Small Tortoiseshells which were courting in numbers. I saw six Snipe on the marshy area on the west side, frogspawn hatching in the ponds and a Little Egret feeding in the rife. On Wednesday I joined Neil, Garry Philpott and Katrina Watson and MDT members at the Heyshott escarpment work party. There are two more Wednesday morning work parties this season: 25 March, 1 April, subject to weather. Afterwards I enjoyed the sunshine for a few hours at Iping Common where I found some tiny Cricket Bat Orb-weaver spiders among the heather. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

It was great to see so much Cowslip and Primrose on the slopes at Heyshott Escarpment today. As the work party season draws to a close we eagerly anticipate the first Dukes of 2015 - only 5 or 6 weeks now! More at murraydownlandtrust.blogspot.co.uk Our thanks go to everyone who has contributed to yet another magnificent effort here over the last 6 months. (Neil Hulme)

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Brimstone at Turf Plain and Red Admiral on the damp ground in St Leonards Forest, Horsham. (Patrick Moore)

A little sunshine this afternoon tempted Colin Knight, Mick Canning, me and 36 Small Tortoiseshells out on the banks of Ferring Rife. I've been monitoring post-hibernation numbers here for several years now, and the site seldom disappoints. Egg-laying should begin very soon, and I expect numbers to swell considerably over the coming weeks. (Neil Hulme)

My first Comma of the year, flying and settled at 11.30am, seen in Pevensey Road, Polegate. On Saturday 14th March 2015 in Hampden Park, Eastbourne, while waiting for an MOT to be done on my motorcycle, saw an ALBINO Squirrel amongst the trees at 10.04am. not a very good photo but you get the idea. (Peter Farrant)

Recent (and not so recent) news...

Brian Reeve's report of Clouded Yellow sightings from last year reminds me that we saw one on 29 November 2014, but my e-mails kept bouncing back from the "sighting" address at the time so it didn't get reported then. We saw it by the A27 at Sussex University where there is quite a wide, well-cut grass verge in front of bushes and scrub. We were on our way to watch Albion v Fulham and there in the sunshine on the grass was this Clouded Yellow fluttering round a dandelion. I chased after it with Val's phone camera and eventually got one half decent picture. That's definitely the latest date we've ever seen a Clouded Yellow. (John & Val Heys)

Perhaps I am slightly outside the summer holiday pics window and also slightly a bit off piste by about three miles but I happened to be at the North Norfolk coast last week and got a pic a of a rather large Oak Eggar caterpillar which seemed a bit early The other side of the dunes was a whole different ball game with an astonishing Grey Seal Rookery (for more info see www.friendsofhorseyseals.co.uk), but in all honesty I have seen many nature programmes via the Antarctic region with naturalists visiting this sort of spectacle. So to see this in England was just amazing. (Richard Roebuck)

Saturday 14 March 2015

A very drowsy newly-awakened Peacock inside Keymer church this morning. (Malcolm Le Grys)

Thursday 12 March 2015

I was working today with primary school children, providing much needed environmental education. I took them to the Liz Williams Butterfly Haven, to explain about the work we had carried out there to successfully attract 27 butterfly species (76% of the Brighton & Hove Butterfly fauna) when some of the children pointed to some butterflies. We raced towards them and saw that it was a pair of Small Tortoiseshells participating in a courtship flight. I'm not sure if the children found it as interesting as I but they clearly found it exciting chasing butterflies through the long grass. A little later we saw another Small Tortoiseshell at the bottom of the hill. This was quite surprising in a way because there was a considerable chill in the air, despite the sunshine of the mid afternoon. (Dan Danahar)

A fine afternoon at Pulborough Brooks on Thursday started with my first Brimstone photo of the year and ended with a Great Spotted Woodpecker visiting the feeder by the cafe. A Green Woodpecker flew across a field. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

News from yesteryear...

Sunday Oct 18th. There were 4 Clouded Yellows flying together in the sun at about 3.15 pm on the lower slopes of Beeding Hill.
Monday Oct 19th. There were 4 more Clouded Yellows on Mill Hill, Shoreham at about 3.45 pm and a pristine Common Blue. (Brianne Reeve)

Wednesday 11 March 2015

The sun shone on us at Heyshott escarpment this morning when I joined Garry Philpott and MDT members John, Mike, Andy, Nick and Peter. Two fires were lit by firemeister Andy and a snow storm of embers landed downwind. A pair of buzzards circled overhead and primroses were flowering, reminding us that the Duke of Burgundy could be with us next month. Afterwards I visited nearby Iping Common and found a small Drinker larva hiding under one log and a Lesser Bloody-nosed Beetle under another. A large moth rose up nearby but disappeared into the tree tops before I could id it. Goldcrests and Long-tailed Tits twittered in the birch and gorse. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Tuesday 10 March 2015

My father, Roy Symonds reported the following sightings from Stansted Forest (SU745115) on 10th March. The weather was hazy sunshine temperature 12C. Brimstone (3) and Comma (1). The Comma was his first sighting this year. (Richard Symonds)

Male Brimstone through our East Dean garden (TV562984) between Noon and 1pm in today's sunshine followed by a Speckled Wood. The Brimstone was seen four times as presumably the same specimen. (Carole & David Jode)

Two Brimstones in garden near Preston Park this lunchtime. (C & V Brooks)

Hazy sunshine at Broadfield Pond, Crawley encouraged 2 Commas into activity at lunch time. They were defending different territories, with one being the individual seen on 7th March. There was also a Red Admiral seen nearby. (Vince Massimo)

We saw a Brimstone this morning in Carlton Terrace, Portslade near the junction with Old Shoreham Road. The butterfly flew briefly from a back garden over a garage and then away into the garden again. I don't recall seeing any Brimstones so much in the built up area before, but the location is near the south end of Benfield Valley and google earth reveals that there are some quite large gardens hidden behind the houses at the north end of Carlton Terrace. (John & Val Heys)

A Small Tortoiseshell enjoying the warm sunshine today near the Lewes Priory ruins. (Chris Hooker)

News for Saturday 7 March:

My father, Roy Symonds reports the following sightings from Stansted Forest on 7th March where the temperature was 12C: Brimstone (8M) and Red Admiral (1). The walk covered most of the main tracks, the Brimstones, all males being very active and not settling. (Richard Symonds)

News for Friday 6 March:

I saw two Red Admirals in the garden here at High Beeches on Friday. (Sarah Bray)

Sunday 8 March 2015

Today was the last work party of the season and again we struck lucky with the weather (I don't think we've had any rain on any of this year's work parties!). Today's job was to tour the reserves and do some tidying up to get them looking ship-shape for the coming season. So there was a bit of raking here and there, trees which had fallen over paths had to be sawn, stripped and cleared. The Park Corner Heath signs needed a good polishing and the sightings book in the shed had to be restored and ready for visitors to fill in their sightings throughout 2015. The weather was great - warm and blue skies and Red Admiral, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell were on the wing. With the temperature heating up I decided to start a sweepstake for the time we would see the first Brimstone. 25 seconds later the first Brimstone was on the wing and we saw others throughout the morning. Also noted today were Woodcock, emerging Adder and the first (very early) Green Tiger Beetles of the year. Hopefully this mild weather will continue through the Spring and give plenty of butterflies a chance to enjoy the reserve in 2015. Thanks today to John, Helena, John, Keith, Mike, Laurie, Gary, Theresa, Andrea, Colin, James, Rosie, Malcom, Julie, Bob, Ian, Mark and Laurie - and everyone else who has taken time to to help out throughout the past 6 months. (Michael Blencowe)

A Comma through our East Dean garden (TV562984) around 1pm today after the sun had disappeared. (Carole & David Jode)

Red Admiral, back again this morning on the Daphne odora. (Patrick Moore)

Saturday 7 March 2015

As I walked into Coldean Woods, a tired Small Tortoiseshell butterfly flew past me. It landed a short distance away, giving just enough time to get a photo with my iPhone before it flew off once more. My first adult butterfly of the year... (Dan Danahar)

I saw my first butterfly of 2015 today, followed by another eleven. A dozen Small Tortoiseshells were enjoying the mid afternoon sunshine on the banks of Ferring Rife, including a couple of almost scale-perfect specimens. This is my favourite Sussex site for this species and I hope to see numbers increase ten-fold over the next few weeks. The early indications are that the Small Tortoiseshell recovery is set to continue, rekindling childhood memories of days of plenty. I'll never take the Small Tortoiseshell for granted again. A rare beauty is becoming common once more. (Neil Hulme)

Broadfield Pond in Crawley produced sightings of 3 male Brimstones and a Comma at lunchtime today. (Vince Massimo)

Red Admiral enjoying the Daphne odora nectar in the garden sunshine today. (Patrick Moore)

Today I spotted my first Brimstone and Small Tortoiseshell of the year on the south-west side of Cissbury Ring. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

At Lewes Football Club on the north side, where there is a south-facing grass bank, our daughter Ele was first to see a Small Tortoiseshell. It had settled with a fine view of the game against Kingstonian until I disturbed it trying to take a picture. (John Heys)

2 Wall Brown larvae found today with one being only 1.2 cm. long, the other was over 3 cm. long and was feeding on the grass. Later in the day at least 6 Small Tortoiseshell around the back of Seaford. (Bob Eade)

Warmest day to date and I thought I am bound to see a butterfly today. Unexpectedly at 12.00 there was a Small Tortoiseshell fluttering against the second bedroom window, an unpaying tenant who had spent the winter and I had overlooked. Quickly I grabbed it to release it. I thought it would fly away never to be seen again. However it flew in big circles settling immediately in one of the borders on the ground. Decided to watch it for a while and after a bit of sunbathing it was busy marching around and then suddenly I noticed its proboscis down in the soil. It's conjecture as you may think it was thirsty after many months in hibernation - may be so. However perhaps it was "mud puddling" i.e. the behaviour of predominantly male butterflies to suck up water and with it minerals and salts which are then incorporated into their sperm. It stayed in situ for about 45 mins and then disappeared. The race to reproduce is definitely on and this is the first time I have ever seen this behaviour with a Small Tortoiseshell - may be all the males do it? So a great start to the 2015 Butterfly Year. (Richard Roebuck)

Active Brimstone in bright sunlight in my garden at 12 noon today, Little Dippers, Pulborough. TQ 055184 (Christine Burgess)

It feels like Spring is getting close as I had a 2 species day! First was a Brimstone near Parham House early this afternoon. Then there was a Small Tortoiseshell flying around my house beside Hailsham Country Park when I got home mid-afternoon. (Chris Hooker)

A pair of amorous Small Tortoiseshells were chasing round the garden at lunchtime today. (Bob Foreman, Lindfield)

A Red Admiral on the wing was our first butterfly sighting of the year in our Worthing garden.
Looking at last year's records we see that, incredibly, our first garden RA wasn't until 19th May! Fortunately things picked up later in the year. (John & Shena Maskell)

Brimstone has been found on 7th March 2015 10:44 around Domewood. (Chris Prince)

News for Wednesday 4 March:

Following Wednesday's work party at Heyshott escarpment I visited Iping Common again. I was pleased to find a micro moth, the Heath Button. The larva of this moth feeds on heather and heath in spun shoots. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Thursday 5 March 2015

Rowland Wood produced the goods today with a very nice Brimstone and a tatty Peacock. A flyover Red Kite was also good to see. More on my blog and Flickr photostream. (Bob Eade)

A very active Brimstone spent about a hour patrolling along the south facing hedges of the garden in Turners Hill, before settling upside down on some evergreens for the rest of the day. (Tom Parker)

On Wednesday, Small White seen in Kingston near Lewes seen by Louise Holloway. Small Tortoiseshell in Kingston near Lewes by Crispin Holloway. Red Admiral seen in The Avenue Lewes by Crispin Holloway.
Today (Thursday) Small Tortoiseshell, The Avenue Lewes Crispin Holloway Brimstone, Kingston near Lewes John Holloway. (Crispin Holloway)

Wednesday 4 March 2015

On a sparkling spring day I joined BC members Colin and Neil and Murray Downland Trust volunteers John, Andy, Mike and Greg - and Nick who left before the picture was taken - and we cleared most of the rest of the area that we've been working on all winter. Kestrels and buzzards flew overhead, and at one point 11 fallow deer ran across the field below where we were working. Early primroses are starting to appear on the reserve. It's at the end of next month that the first Dukes will take to the wing, and we expect they'll be well pleased with what they see.
Next week is possibly the last work party of the season, so if you want to take part, be sure not to miss the chance. (Nigel Symington)

Tuesday 3 March 2015

Red Admiral on the wing at Old Lodge, Ashdown today. (Tim Parmenter)

Today I returned with a ladder and my camera with macro lens, photographing the same Purple Hairstreak egg at Wild Park in Brighton. (Jamie Burston)

Monday 2 March 2015

I have visited Iping Common several times recently to see Dartford Warblers and the Great Grey Shrike. Today I found a micromoth, Gorse Flat-body, floundering in a puddle with plenty of its food plant in the vicinity. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Sunday 1 March 2015

I've yet to see an adult butterfly, so to me it seems amazing to say my first two species I've seen this year are both Brown and Purple Hairstreak, in the egg form. Yesterday (28th Feb) I met Richard Roebuck together with Dan Danahar, at Ditchling Common. Before Dan and I arrived, Richard managed to locate three Brown Hairstreak eggs around the car park area. It was incredible to see the eggs for the first time, reminding me of the size of butterfly eggs. This really puts into perspective how they are one of natures miracles. Today, inspired to find Purple Hairstreak eggs, something we didn't manage to do in the weather conditions yesterday, I went looking at Wild Park, around the dew pond area. Methodically I searched every single twig and bud which I could reach. For over an hour I searched looking on the south-west side of the tree. Branches facing this direction didn't have any Purple Hairstreak eggs. I then moved to the side directly facing south, within the first two minutes, on the second branch that I reached for I found a single and perfectly formed egg. This was found at a height of 7ft, 8 inches or 2.33 meters. I stood there looking through my hand lens, the stunning structure and detail was mesmerising to say the least. I hope to follow the development of the egg within it's natural habitat through it's life cycle. It had better behave for me and not stray too far! (Jamie Burston)

I saw 3 Small Tortoiseshells battling gallantly with the wind today on the Downs above Eastbourne. I've been doing a map survey up there and will make a few visits in the spring and summer to see what butterflies are there - it looks to have good potential for a variety of species. (Chris Hooker)

A Red Admiral flew past the kitchen window earlier today!! (Bob Eade)

Caught a brief glimpse of a Small Tortoiseshell as it visited the garden in Lindfield today. (Bob Foreman)

Earlier Sightings

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