Butterfly Conservation - saving butterflies, moths and their habitats
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Monday 30 April 2012

My father, Roy Symonds reports to me the following sightings from Stansted Forest (SU745115) where the temperature was 15.5C. Brimstone (1M), Orange Tip (7M), Small White (3) and Green-veined White (3).
Nice to see the sun again, but most sightings were along a single track where I also saw a mating pair of Green-veined Whites. (Richard Symonds, Cornwall)

Houghton Forest: The sunny conditions prompted me to take two hours out and look for pearl borders. Good numbers of Peacocks, several Orange-tips and Brimstone. Surprise find were at least three Grizzled Skippers in the center of the clearing. Finally found three, possibly four Pearl-bordered Fritillaries. They were very active with much chasing and dog fighting. (Paul Stevens)

Pearl-bordered Fritillary numbers have been very erratic so far this season with remarkably few butterflies seen in the traditional areas (Main Ride & compartments etc) or adjoining clear-fell. Today's first proper transect (with Stuart Sutton) reflected this trend and the overall count for the whole wood was only about 50 butterflies despite the first ones being seen some ten days ago. Undoubtedly, April's wet weather is the most likely culprit and Abbots Wood is certainly very muddy and soggy at the moment. Emergence is currently very slow so perhaps it's just heading back to the more traditional early May date after the recent warm Aprils. Monday's visit was hardly unsuccessful though as we found thirteen species of butterfly and also counted/mapped 23 singing Nightingales around the wood. Butterfly highlights included 2 Painted Ladies (one in good condition and the other well-faded), a Red Admiral, 2 Dingy Skippers, 2-3 Grizzled Skipper, one Small Heath, three Brimstones (incl 2 males and 1 egg-laying female) and numerous Orange Tips, Green-veined Whites and Peacocks.
NOTE: Saturday's walk (Abbots Wood amble) will be very muddy in places so please wear suitable footware. Any queries, please phone or email me beforehand. (Mike Mullis, 07932 683245, mikem.wfp@gmail.com)

A single Painted Lady reported to me today at Hollingbury Wildpark. My transect count at Beacon Hill LNR, Rottingdean today only produced single Small White, Peacock and male Orange-tip. (Peter Whitcomb)

Following a visit to my Doctor this morning I was ordered to bed for a week. This order was also given by my nearest and dearest; bless her heart. 'Right', I said to myself, if I have to go to bed I will take the scenic route via Heyshott Down.
The sun was shining, Skylarks were singing overhead, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers were calling from the trees. A far cry from the last couple of weeks. I pushed hard to reach the escarpment where Neil had once again beaten me to get the first Duke of Burgundy. Despite hunting high and low I only found the one. He looked about as healthy and pristine as I did!! Nevertheless it was my first Duke of the year and its sighting was heralded by the Mewing of two overhead Buzzards and a hovering Kestrel. A single Grizzled Skipper, four Brimstone, two Orange Tips, Large and Small White added to a fabulous afternoon. I was lost in this halcyon day when I heard my mobile break the silence. It was the wife!! Ive never got home so quick. Thats all folks. (Steve Morgan) (Let's just hope Mrs M. doesn't look at this website then... ed.)

Today provided very welcome respite from the recent awful weather and butterflies made the most of the warm Sussex sunshine. I started off by meeting Susie Milbank and Mark Colvin at Houghton Forest, where we visited a large clear-fell to assess the size of the newly established Pearl-bordered Fritillary colony here. Many other species have also moved in, which goes to show the immense benefits of opening up otherwise dark and lifeless conifer-rich plantations. Our tally was 8 PBF, 5 Grizzled Skipper, 18 Orange Tip, 15 Peacock, 5 Brimstone, 3 Speckled Wood and a Comma. We then moved on to a site nearby where we added a Duke of Burgundy, a Dingy Skipper, 3 Grizzled Skipper, 2 Speckled Wood and single Peacock, Large White and Brimstone. In the afternoon I headed to Rewell Wood with my parents and my capable assistant Mia Iris, later joining Brian Henham, a friend from Chichester. The Pearls were out in force and I counted 90 over five different areas of the wood. Along a 100m stretch of the narrow ride margin adjacent to a coppice block there were 31 PBFs nectaring on bugle, with 5 or 6 to a square metre on the best patches. Other species included 3 Peacock, 3 Orange Tip, 2 Brimstone and single Large White, Green-veined White and Comma. On the way back to the car we found a large swarm of the longhorn moth Adela reaumurella performing their strangely erotic dance at the top of a tree. Certainly the best day for quite a while. (Neil Hulme)

This morning I did my weekly transect at Mill Hill and apart from many Dingy Skippers and some Grizzled Skippers I was pleased to find several Green Hairstreaks at the northern end of the lower slope. I then visited a local site and found a Small Heath, male and female Brimstones, an Orange-tip and a solitary Duke of Burgundy. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

This afternoon a pair of Speckled Woods came into my garden in Bexhill, did their business and the female shortly afterwards laid an egg on a dandelion leaf.
So please DO NOT pull up those dandelions. They are beautiful this year! (Anne Carey) Don't worry too much, Speckled Wood caterpillars won't eat dandelions, they feed on a variety of grasses, but the adults will feed from dandelion flowers. ed.


Sunday 29 April 2012

I was absolutely convinced that my guided walk at Rewell Wood today was doomed. Since yesterday afternoon the area had been battered by near gale-force winds and lashing rain, unrelenting until lunchtime. Although the wind dropped and the rain eased, the forecast was still predicting complete cloud cover for the afternoon. I was rather surprised when cars started to arrive at 2pm and by the time 13 of us set off into the woods at 2.45pm there were thin bands of blue in the sky! After sheltering from a short shower we positioned ourselves along the edge of a coppice block and waited for the fast-approaching break in the cloud to meet the sun. Within 10 minutes Pearl-bordered Fritillaries started to appear around our feet. 5 minutes later the sunny spell was over and the butterflies returned to roost on the sweet chestnut, giving everyone with a camera the opportunity for fantastic close-up shots, while others were content to marvel at the beautiful underwing pattern through close-focusing binoculars. We were undoubtedly given a lesson in how the resourceful and opportunistic behaviour of these insects allows them to survive the worst that the British weather can throw at them! The only other Leps seen were numerous specimens of that crazy longhorn moth Adela reaumurella. Thanks to all those that joined me on the least promising of days. (Neil Hulme)

Haven't been a member of BC for many years now and have been watching the sightings for a couple of years. I am very impressed with the amount of enthusiasm and work the society do. The chance to see Pearl-bordered Fritillaries again spurred me to rejoin the society and attend today's walk. Just like to say many thanks to Dan, Neil and rest of the intrepid souls that turned up at Rewell Wood for the Pearl-bordered Fritillaries. It was a close run thing but the briefest of sunny spells brought out about half a dozen from their hiding places. Everyone got close views of these fantastic insects and all agreed it was well worth dodging the rain!! Hope to meet many more of you on future walks. (Paul Stevens)

Thanks to Neil for a great walk this afternoon, whilst dodging the showers I think we saw at least 5 Pearl-bordered Fritillaries; well worth the effort for this stunning little butterfly. A couple of photos (above) and on my Flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/48896022@N08/. (Leigh Prevost)

Having had a less than personal encounter with the very 'flighty' Pearl-bordered Fritillaries on Friday evening, I was keen to return to Rewell Woods for Neil Hulme's "Pearls of Rewell Wood" field trip. All weekend I was dipping in and out of the weather forecasts and by midday on Sunday 29th April I thought that there was a reasonable chance of good weather by the mid afternoon.
Neil had a good turn out of about 12 people, given the leaden sky. It rained sporadically as we walked to the Sweet Chestnut coppice where Neil indicated we should expect to see the butterflies. The coppice looked like it was just a year or two old and we considered searching the Sweet Chestnuts for roosting Pearls whilst we huddled for cover to avoid getting too wet. Then the rain stopped and, magically, blue sky appeared. It was like a count down, waiting for the passing clouds to reveal the full spring sunlight. When it did within 2 or 3 minutes the first Pearl broke cover and immediately we were all entranced. What I find so rewarding at moments like this is to see the smiles on so many people's faces. I was delighted to meet Paul Cox and his wife, whom I had met just once before when searching for Wood White last year and I could not help reflect on how fantastic it is to share my interest with other charming enthusiasts, not an uncommon experience on these trips.
I guess we saw about 20 individuals at most, but either way the weather was perfect for photography, a little sun and a little cloud, enabling us to follow various individuals who would flit around the coppice stools before returning to bask when the cloud passed by. Once a butterfly went to roost on the tips of the Sweet Chestnut poles, they were easy to see but search for them without seeing them land on their roosting site and it was virtually impossible to find any. There was considerable variation in the quality of the insects, some had clearly been flying for some time, whilst others had only recently emerged. I was particularly interested in one individual that was definitely a lot darker than all the others (see photos). Although I don't think it is likely that this is either ab. tatrica or ab. pittionii, it is clearly quite different and this could be due to the extreme weather conditions that the pupa may have experienced during its recent development. In total we probably had 30 to 40 mins with the Pearls before the weather changed for the worse.
Thanks must once again go to Neil Hulme for a wonderful tour and the conversation of the other participants. (Dan Danahar)

After 24 hours solid rain I wasn't optimistic about the field trip in Rewell Woods on Sunday afternoon. But once again Neil Hulme the butterfly whisperer managed to conjure up the target species - Pearl-bordered Fritillary - when the clouds parted for a brief 10 minute spell of sunshine. We managed to keep them in sight after the sun had gone in, providing a good opportunity to photograph the delicately beautiful undersides while they at roost. (John Williams)

With torrential rain falling throughout the morning and early afternoon, prospects didn't seem too good for the first Branch Walk of the year at Rewell Wood. Despite the awful weather, 13 people braved the elements and set off up the hill in search of Pearl-bordered Fritillaries. Another heavy downpour as we reached the target site seemed to signal that today wasn't going to be our lucky day. However, soon after the rain stopped there was a break in the clouds and the sun appeared. After 5 minutes of sunshine, Pearl-bordered Fritillaries suddenly started to emerge from their hiding places, zipping along at speed, occasionally basking in the sunshine with their wings outstretched. Although the sunshine didn't last for long, we were able to keep track of some of the butterflies and follow them to their roosting places where they posed very obligingly for photographs with their wings closed. So, against all the odds, it turned out to be an excellent afternoon for butterfly watching, with everybody getting the opportunity to observe this very beautiful butterfly at close quarters. Very many thanks to Neil Hulme for leading the walk and sharing his expert knowledge with us. (Paul Cox)

Our semi resident female Holly Blue put in a brief appearance on Sunday in a break in the torrential rain. I had to wait patiently for about 10 mins until she finally opened her wings. (Richard Roebuck)

News for Friday 27 April: Friday unexpectedly turned into a sunny day, with white puffy clouds and significant expanses of blue skies. Given that the weather forecast was not good for the rest of the weekend I wanted to make up for lost time and so directly after work I jumped in my car and headed towards Mill Hill, LNR.
As I drove out of Brighton I observed two male Orange Tips patrolling the edges of their territories (TQ 302 074 & 295 090). Things were looking good!
On arrival at Mill Hill I immediately bumped into Dingy Skippers, in fact during the course of my visit I counted approximately 15 individuals, including a few cases of courting couples. It was fascinating to watch the prenuptial flight of these butterflies. If the trajectory of the male could have been represented by a rotating bicycle tyre, the female would have been at the hub of that wheel. However, I would not have liked to have rode the said bicycle because the males orbit around the female was irregular and no doubt any cyclist on such a hypothetical machine would have had a very bumpy ride. Its most likely that he was flying from behind her, over her body and in front of her, only to drop so that he could waft her antennae with his andriconal scent. At which point he would loose speed, she would fly on above him and then the whole cycle would repeat itself. It least thats what I would imagine was happening, it would be great to see some slowed down video of the process. Eventually I found a couple in coitus and managed to get some nice photographs. Its interesting to note the slight difference in ground colour, the male being paler. I also saw 3 Grizzled Skippers, 5 Small Heath, a single Green Hairstreak, a Peacock and a white of some description.
Next I travelled to Rewell Wood and the sun was low in the sky, here I saw a couple of Peacocks, a Speckled Wood and about 7 Pearl-bordered Fritillaries. They were getting ready to roost and mostly seemed to be heading for low growing birch saplings.
I went home feeling that I had spent my time well. (Dan Danahar)


Saturday 28 April 2012

Friday afternoon Holly Blue nectaring on Forget-Me-Knot in my next door neighbours garden. Another flying on the downs link at Henfield, one Speckled Wood, Orange-tip male and a Small White. Saturday started off well when I read the annual report cover to cover superbly written by all contributors and has given me good ideas to help contribute more records to the atlas this season. Funnily enough I don't buy newspapers either. Not to be beaten by the awful weather found two Brown Hairstreak eggs near Wineham on a young but large Blackthorn bush, this was in a young tree plantation. I have never been able to find eggs on suckers in this spot. Each egg had a neat little hole in the top where the caterpillar will have emerged in the last few weeks. TQ237213 (Richard Roebuck)

Recent news: Herewith my few Sussex butterfly records for the year so far.
27/03/2012: TQ 2836C - 1 Comma.
28/03/2012: TQ 2836A - 1 Large White.
03/04/2012: TQ 3230B - 1 Small White.
11/04/2012: TQ 2636B - 1 Speckled Wood.
16/04/2012: TQ 2436A - 1m & 2f Orange Tips; TQ 2436C - 2m & 3f Orange Tips; TQ 2436B - 1 Speckled Wood.
17/04/2012: TQ 2836A - 1 Holly Blue.
21/04/2012: TQ 2636B - 1 Speckled Wood.
(Andrew Guest, Three Bridges, West Sussex)


Friday 27 April 2012

Did you know that although you think you live in West Sussex you might not? It's possible that you really live in East Sussex (or even Surrey!). You may be content in the knowledge that you live in Kent, but no, unbeknown to you, you might actually live in East Sussex... For a detailed explanation go here.

The first Green Hairstreak and Dingy Skippers emerged today on Cradle Hill. These were seen along with several Grizzled Skipper. Large White, Orange-tip, Speckled Wood, Small White, Comma, Peacock also seen as well as 2 Silver Y. Then met up with Nigel Kemp at Abbotts where small numbers of Pearl-bordered Fritillary were seen as well as an egg laying female. We found the egg attached to a bit of wood. Grizzled Skipper, Orange-tip, Brimstone and Small Coppers also in the area. It was good to get a full day of sunshine before the wet weekend we've been promised!! (Bob Eade)

With the weather forcast showing that today could be more reasonable we decided to chance our arm and visit Newtimber Hill again. Starting off in a mixture of sun and cloudy conditions, this eventually cleared leaving us with clear, blue skies, although a strong breeze was always with us. By the time we came off the hill some five hours later we had seen a total of eleven spieces : Orange Tip, Brimstone, Speckled Wood, Small White, Green Veined White, Peacock, Small Copper, Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper, Small Heath and a Comma. (Pauline Batchelor)

This morning I visited Rewell Wood with my father, where Pearl-bordered Fritillary numbers are building nicely. We saw a total of 45 across three different areas of the wood, including 2 egg-laying females and a pair in cop. I managed to photograph a nice trio jostling for position on a dandelion, narrowly missing a four-shot! Also seen were 4 Orange Tip, 3 Peacock, 2 Brimstone and a Large White. Unfortunately the weather forecast is for a return to pretty miserable conditions over the next few days, making my first guided walk for PBFs a potential wash-out. (Neil and Eric Hulme)


Thursday 26 April 2012

In a moment if sunshine today 12.35 a Speckled Wood was seen thermoregulating in the rank grassland of the butterfly haven. And a male Orange-tip seen at the Dorothy Stringer woodland reserve 13.00. (Dan Danahar)

Pearl-bordered Fritillary numbers are building at Rewell Wood and Houghton Forest with dozens of sightings Tuesday and today, together with Orange-tips (especially at Houghton Forest), Peacocks, a Speckled Wood and a female Large White. A Green Tiger Beetle was particluarly interesting (photos above). (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

An area I keep an eye on near Offham I visited today in the hope of seeing some downland species. I was only half expecting to see some as the area is shaded for a good part of the day and it is also North facing. At least it was a bit sheltered from the strong wind today, however, not a single butterfly was seen on the main bank. It will probably still be another 2 or 3 weeks before this site really gets going. However, before getting to the bank I spotted a very fresh female Orange-tip (above) roosting in the shade. The sun soon reached it and it then flew off. This afternoon I went for a bike ride around the country lanes between Seaford and Chiddingly and there are masses of Hedge Mustard growing on many verges. Lets hope the local councils leave this Orange-tip food alone this year!! (Bob Eade)

Despite the wind today a male Orange-tip fed on some purple honesty in the garden where I work north of Shoreham Airport TQ196063. It complimented the orange tulips planted amongst the honesty. Also saw a Green-veined White which I was chasing around to confirm it's identity. It finally landed on some anthemis which meant I caught up with it. (Tessa Pawsey)


Wednesday 25 April 2012

And the winner of the "Sussex's most optimistic butterfly spotting trip award" is...

What an awful day weatherwise!! However, the afternoon brightened up enough to tempt me out to try to get Pearl-bordered Fritillary. Amazingly 3 were seen along with a cold and windswept Grizzled Skipper and an Orange-tip at Abbotts. A Pyrausta moth was also seen but as soon as it landed a lizard tried to catch it. The moth escaped both a positive id and the lizard! I'm glad I made the effort to go out although at the time it did seem a bit of madness!!! (Bob Eade)


Tuesday 24 April 2012

I'm hoping for at least a little sunshine for the first of my guided walks at Rewell Wood this coming Sunday (see Events Listing), although at the moment computer says "no". Only short spells of half-decent weather should see the Pearl-bordered Fritillaries on the wing, but I'm hopeful of finding a few at roost even if the forecast is correct. A brief visit this afternoon confirmed that they are now emerging even in the more elevated parts of the wood, which often lag behind. Fingers crossed. (Neil Hulme)

My father Roy Symonds, reported the following sightings from Stansted Forest (SU745115) where the temperature was 12C. Orange Tip (1 male) and Comma (1). (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)

Given that it's not much fun outdoors at the moment, I thought it would be interesting to share some developments from inside the Danahar household. I reported last October that I was given some Deaths Head Hawkmoth caterpillars which fed very well and went into diapause at the end of that month. The pupae maintained a healthy condition throughout the winter and then about a week ago began to darken. The first individual to emerge was a small male that soon learned where the hole was in my collapsible cage and escaped. I found it the next morning and returned it to the cage. It found its way out again through the same tiny hole the next evening and was free in the house for the next two nights. I recaptured it at 2 am when it decided to fly around our living room. Over the last two nights two females emerged and I am expecting a third to emerge either tonight or tomorrow night.
I have a lot read about the noise that this moth can make, a type of squeak that is made by expelling air through its proboscis. I had imagined that this was a rare occurrence but in fact the moths squeak quite loudly every time they are picked up. Furthermore, in taking the accompanying photos, the moths were picked up and placed on the wall, were upon they tried to run up the wall. All I had to do was to show my hand in front of them and they stopped. They could see my hand and responded very much like a small rodent would. Indeed this type of behavior and the squeaking noises it makes gives the impression that these moths are very aware of changes in their surroundings and know how to interact with it. I don't think I have ever known a moth to behave quite like it. Other hawk moths seem placid in comparison. However, the escaping through tiny holes, the squeaking and the response to things in their immediate environment make it very easy for me to see how the moth might use these skills to find its way into Honey Bee hives and calm the bees. In fact it was originally called the Bee Tyger by the early Aurelians and I have read accounts of many Deaths Head hawk moths being found locked into the waxy honeycomb's of a single hive.
Finally, the size variation between male and female is quite distinct and the variation in the skull imagery is greater than I had anticipated, although this is easier to appreciate in the live specimens. (Dan Danahar)


Sunday 22 April 2012

Houghton Forest SU993114, this is the clear fell site where we found PBF's last year, on Sunday there where Pearl-bordered Fritillaries 6 males, Orange Tips 3, Brimstone 2 and a Green-veined White, unfortunately it looks as if the Forest Commission is preparing to re-plant the area. (Paul Day) (Thanks Paul - BC Sussex is liaising with the Forestry Commission and provision will be made for this population - Neil Hulme)

Who doesn't love Spring? I do wish it would slow down a bit more so that I could savour it properly. In my garden yesterday: 2 male Orange Tips, 1 Brimstone and 1 Small White. I can just about handle the appearance of the Orange Tips, Brimstones and Skippers but c'mon P-b Fritillaries and DoBs too? I'm not ready! BTW, one Small White pupa has been spending the winter on the drawer front of a cabinet in my shed that we use to store bird food in. That particular drawer sticks so I really have to bang it to shut it properly and I have to shut it properly to protect the bird food from interested mice. I think that particular butterfly is gonna have one hell of headache when it wakes up. Is there a group that protects butterflies from abuse - oh yes that would be BC! (Sherie New)

The first of hopefully many Duke of Burgundy emerged this morning at Heyshott Escarpment, taking up territory in one of the lower pits on the eastern flank. A couple of Grizzled and one Dingy Skipper kept it company, while a few Orange Tips patrolled the lanes approaching the reserve. (Neil Hulme)

Small Copper seen at the butterfly haven and Small Copper, Peacock, Small White and a very dark form of a female Large White were seen at WildPark LNR, Brighton. (Dan Danahar)

A better day on Sunday with the following on the wing, Grizzled Skippers 3, Holly Blue 1, Orange-tip 1 Large White 1, Speckled Wood 4, Peacocks 4, Pearl-bordered Fritillaries 6 (records submitted)
As lovely as this butterfly is the underside is a whole different ball game an amazing piece of Modern art. It's not often you actually want the clouds to appear to slow the action down. (Richard Roebuck)


Saturday 21 April 2012

Seeing butterflies recently has been somewhat difficult and this morning was no better with a single male Orange-tip at Arundel. However this afternoon went to Mill Hill and saw Grizzled Skippers 5, a Small Heath and about 12 Dingy Skippers.
Weather conditions were perfect with the passing clouds and Hail! I could see the Dingys waking up when the sun came out and shutting down magically when the sun disappeared. There were some bouts of chasing around.
Interestingly even a LBJ like this has its own beauty. Penny Green may be interested to know that the Dingy Skipper has even bigger eyelashes then the Essex Skipper (photos above). (Richard Roebuck)

In between walloping great showers 2 lovely Pearl-bordered Fritillaries in Rewell Wood (SU984 087) - at the corner of the recently coppiced area. (Chris and Ellie Corrigan)

Pulblborough Brooks: Comma 1, Orange-tip 1, Green-veined White 2, Speckled Wood 2. Had good day with nightingale serenading us all the time (photos above). (Pat and Peter Gardner)


Friday 20 April 2012

If you heard the reporting of Butterfly Conservation's press release on Radio 4's Today programme or saw it in the press on Friday you will be interested to read Clare Blencowe's latest blog posting. If you didn't then you will still want to read it!

Male Orange Tip sighted in Ewhurst Green post code TN32 5TD Grid Reference TQ7924. Unfortunately, no photograph. (Karen Wake)

After several fruitless searches for a Wall Brown pupa on High and Over, following success with the larva, today I found a likely spot I hadn't tried before and as I parted some grass there it was, a green pupa about 3 inches off the ground (above). Another surprise on Cradle Hill was a Silver Y moth. Also seen was at least 6 Holly Blue at High and Over, 2 Peacock on Cradle Hill along with several Small White. 2 Orange-tip and back to High and Over a Grizzled Skipper. 2 Speckled Wood were also near the carpark. (Bob Eade)

Four days after we started searching for the first Abbots Wood Pearl-bordered Fritillary of the year, I finally tracked one down at Site 2 (the mulched triangle) with help from Nigel Kemp who quickly found a second butterfly. This is a day later than last year but at the same location within the wood. We also found several Grizzled Skippers in the same clearing. Also seen en route were Orange Tip (5), Green-veined White (3) including a male that was somewhat smaller than an Orange Tip, Speckled Wood (2) and a rather tatty Peacock (photos above). (Mike Mullis)

Here in on Friday there was wall to wall sunshine in spite of the forecast and the temperature rose to 13c for the first time this month.
On the Bevendean transects I saw 1 Grizzled Skipper, 2 Small White, 3 Orange Tip, 1 Comma and 6 Speckled Wood. (Geoff Stevens)


Thursday 19 April 2012

On our way home from school today my daughter & I counted over 180 Small Tortoiseshell larvae all in one small alley-way between St Mary's Road and Gore Park Road in Eastbourne. And those were only the ones we actually saw - who knows how many there really are! My daughter remembered the "cloud" of butterflies from last year, and her and my 2 nieces have affectionately named it Butterfly Lane. We are very excited to see them back again and can't wait for the butterflies :-) (Ms T Roberts)


Wednesday 18 April 2012

Unsurprisingly, there doesn't seem to be too much going on by way of butterfly activity at the moment, so if you're stuck inside wondering when the sunshine is going to return I thoroughly recommend visiting Clare Blencowe's (our Recording Officer) blog for a swift refresher course on Ordnance Survey Grid References. Invaluable information to get under your belt before the recording season gets going (again).

Mike Mullis sent these two photos of Grizzled Skippers, one of which is ab. taras (above, right) taken at a private site near Isfield on Friday 13 April.


Tuesday 17 April 2012

It was just a tad warmer today, but more cool weather ensured there were still very few butterflies on the wing in Rewell Wood. Solitary Brimstone and Green-veined White were only just outnumbered by Pearl-bordered Fritillary (2) and I suspect it will be at least another week or so before the main course is served, just in time for our guided walks. (Neil Hulme)

Whilst the cold snap here has caused a hiatus in butterfly activity, our North American cousins are observing a mass migration of historic proportions which has arrived in Ontario and Quebec in the last couple of days. The migration consists primarily of Red Admirals, and numbers of more than 100 per minute have been documented moving through some sites. This mass of butterflies will likely reach the Eastern Canadian Maritime Provinces today (perhaps they are already in western New Brunswick). If they don't arrive today they will be there with the next warm weather system. Canadians are recording observations on eButterfly (ebutterfly.ca) which is trying to accurately document the leading edge of this migration. Also of interest are estimates of the number of individuals moving through an area per hour, as well as the direction of the movement. (Dan Danahar)


Monday 16 April 2012

At Rewell Wood today Mark Colvin and I saw a fresh Pearl-bordered Fritillary (above). In spite of the cold wind, during a sunny spell it flew across our path, then landed for some photos. During another sunny spell it suddenly opened its wings and flew off. We hunted hard for others without success. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Despite the sun shining when I left home, by the time I had walked upto High and Over the cloud was beginning to build up and the temperature was not ideal for insect hunting!! A single Speckled Wood near the car park and a Grizzled Skipper near the base of the scarp both put in an appearance when the sun did show. 2 Pyrausta moths also seen, one very smart purpuralis (above, left) and one I believe to be despicata (above, right). (Bob Eade)

A romp around Thorney Island today, produced the following species; 8 Speckled Wood, 6 Peacock, 2 Green-veined White, 6 male Orange-tip, 5 Small Copper and 2 Large Red Damselflies. (Barry and Margaret Collins)


Sunday 15 April 2012

On Friday 30th March, pupils and students from the seven different educational institutions on the Surrenden Campus, Brighton (Varndean College, Downsview link College, Varndean School, Dorothy Stringer High School, Balfour Primary School and Dorothy Stringer creche) took part in the first campus wide Green Day. During the day a number of different activities were undertaken, the first of which was sowing seed on the newly established second butterfly haven to be constructed on the Surrenden campus. As has been previously explained (29th February old sightings/jan-feb2012.html) this new butterfly haven has been constructed of 100% chalk (of the Seaford chalk formation) with banks which are curvi-linear in shape, thus producing multiple aspects and considerable variation in ground temperature.
John Gapper, from the Brighton & Hove Parks Department, demonstrated to the children how they should sieve some of the soil that had been previously covering the chalk and into some of this "growing medium" John mixed a variety of locally collected wildflower seed. The species included:
1) Common Poppy (Papaver rhoeas) 2) White Campion (Silene latifolia) 3) Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) 4) Cowslip (Primula veris) 5) Dropwort (Filipendula vulgaris) 6) Hop Trefoil (Trifolium campestre) 7) Meadow Vetchling (Lathyrus pratensis) 8) Common Bird's-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) 9) Horseshoe Vetch (Hippocrepis comosa) 10) Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria) 11) Wild Carrot (Daucus carota) 12) Common Centaury (Centaurium erythraea) 13) Viper's-bugloss (Echium vulgare) 14) Wild Basil (Clinopodium vulgare) 15) Selfheal (Prunella vulgaris) 16) Harebell (Campanula rotudifolia) 17) Small Scabious (Scabiosa columbaria) 18) Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis) 19) Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra) 20) "Hawkbit" (Leontodon spp.) 21) Mouse-ear-hawkweed (Pilosella officinarum).
John then demonstrated how the children should scatter the mixture over the Butterfly Haven. This whole process took no more than 40 minutes and when we had finished many of the children still wanted to continue with the work. A great time was had by all participants and this habitat restoration project is turning into a truly fabulous community project. All colleagues, students and pupils were grateful to John Gapper from the City Parks department, as were we all to Gary Black who, also from the City Parks, originally did the intensive work landscaping the site. Well done Brighton & Hove City Council!
We will watch this site carefully over the next couple of years to see just how quickly it forms a new habitat for our rare early successional downland butterflies and other wildlife. (Dr Dan Danahar)

Just the one butterfly in the garden today (well I only saw one), this female Orange-tip, she was carefully examining the garlic mustard we have in a sheltered corner but as soon as the sun went in she landed on a wild strawberry flower until the sun returned. (Bob Foreman, Lindfield)


Saturday 14 April 2012

A late afternoon visit to Mill Hill produced only a handful of Grizzled Skippers, a freshly emerged Dingy and a Large White, with activity being suppressed by cloud cover and temperatures only borderline to flight. In reply to Leigh, it is best to follow the skippers until they are preparing to roost. For the 30 minutes or so leading up to bedtime they show an increased tendency to sit on low scrub (rather than on the deck), and they often sunbathe with wings flat open. If it's a clutter-free image you are after you must seek them out at this time of day. I don't even attempt to photograph them earlier. (Neil Hulme)

Popped over to Mill Hill to see if I could catch-up with the Grizzled and Dingy Skippers reported earlier in the week; unfortunately the weather wasn't playing ball so only managed a few sightings when the sun shone through the clouds: 3 Dingy and 2 Grizzled Skipper sightings, though they may well have been the same individuals as never saw more than one at any one time. The Grizzled was looking very fresh. A few ok-ish photos (on my blog here: mud-puddling.blogspot.co.uk/) but as they only ever seem to rest low to the ground, I couldn't avoid the distracting vegetation. How does Neil manage to get them all so nice and isolated?!
A highlight however was meeting Jake Everitt and finding/learning about a nationally scarce moth (Pancalia sp. ) and a fungi (Cordyceps gracilis) that grows out of a caterpillar! He also found an Adonis Blue Caterpillar, which was a new one for me.
As I was about to leave I nearly stood on a couple of adders, one brown and one stunning black Adder (both were at the foot of the slope towards the southern-most corner, close to the hedgerow. (Leigh Prevost)

News for Friday 13 April: In total contrast to yesterday's visit to Newtimber Hill when we only saw only one butterfly there, we visited it again today and have seen eight, possibly, nine different species:- Brimstone, Orange Tip, Speckled Wood, Holly Blue, Green Veined White, Peacock, Comma, Small Copper and a white which we think was a Small White but were not close enough to say definitely. (Pauline Batchelor)


Friday 13 April 2012

This Holly Blue (above) spent the afternoon mooching around the garden today, shortly after I took the photograph at about 5:30pm we had a heavy shower and the butterfly obviously decided that he was going to stay put for the night, as I write (Saturday morning) he is still there, sheltering under a bamboo leaf. We also had a couple of Orange-tips and a Large White. (Bob Foreman, Lindfield)


Thursday 12 April 2012

A Small Copper seen on Newtimber Hill this morning (above). (Pauline Batchelor)

News for Wednesday 11 April: In between work commitments I managed a quick visit to High and Over on Wednesday where I came across a moth that was new to me. It has been identified by both Nigel Kemp and Colin Pratt as an Ethmia bipunctella. This is a moth that has been very scarce but is increasing in number in Sussex. (Bob Eade)

News for Sunday 8 April: On a trip up from Cornwall to a family wedding which took place the previous day, my father and I made a quick visit to Stansted Forest (SU745115). The weather was overcast and showery, however luckily the sun did appear for around 20 minutes during which time we recorded 10 Orange Tips (including 1 female) (above). The area which seems to be favoured has been felled of trees in the past 18 months allowing more light and shrubs to grow. This work has certainly helped improve the butterfly habitat. Nearby are several Oaks with honeysuckle close by where in the past we have seen White Admirals in the summer. (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)


Wednesday 11 April 2012

Spotted two lovely Small Coppers on the banks of the river Arun in Littlehampton today. Didn't have my camera with me! Will go back tomorrow and see if I can get a couple of shots. (Celia Curtis)


Tuesday 10 April 2012

Nigel Kemp and myself walked around High and Over and Frog Firle and found 3 Grizzled Skippers (above, left) along with 1 Orange-tip and a Small White. Although sunny there was still a cool breeze blowing. We also found a Small Purple-barred (above, right) and an Oak Eggar larva. (Bob Eade)

A couple of hours at the Dover on the Angmering Park Estate produced 7 Orange Tip (including 2 females), 6 Green-veined White (including a mating pair) and my first female Holly Blue of the year. (Neil Hulme)

I visited the meadow just below Kithurst Hill car park today but didn't see a single butterfly. So I made my way to Mill Hill where I saw a couple of Grizzled Skippers, a couple of Dingy Skippers (above), a Small Heath and two unidentified whites. (John Williams)

In spite of the sunshine it was chilly and there was a stiff breeze blowing at Rowland Wood today. The only butterflies I recorded for this week's transect were two Speckled Wood and a Peacock. Did manage to bag a couple of "drive-by" Orange-tips though, either side of Plumpton Green, the first at TQ364151, the second at TQ364182. (Bob Foreman)

While sitting having yet another cup of tea on my allotment on Whitehawk Hill in Brighton TQ 329046 two small bright movements caught my eye, a pair of moths whizzing about even though it was sunny. I wrote down a description which I looked up in a couple of books when I got home and thought they were Ruby Tigers. This was confirmed when I looked on the Sussex Moth Group website and saw some photos taken by Micheal Blencowe. The moths bodies were a lovely bright salmony red with rich brown barring, very exotic. All excuses to spend more time sitting and drinking tea. (Tessa Pawsey)

The photo above is of the first recorded Great Prominent at RSPB Pagham Harbour LNR on Saturday 7 April. (Ivan Lang, Conservation Warden)


Sunday 8 April 2012

In spite of yesterday being a dull day I headed off to Orange-tip territory mid-afternoon. This turned into an intensive photo shoot with an obliging butterfly. The more I photograph them the more I appreciate this harbinger of Spring. On Saturday in the same area I enjoyed watching a wren working his territory vociferously. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)


Saturday 7 April 2012

After a relatively quiet start to the year with all the usually suspects through March and early April (Common Quaker, Hebrew Character, Early Grey, Early Thorn, Oak Beauty, Pine Beauty, March Moth, Powdered Quaker, Small Quaker, Twin Spotted Quaker and the migrants Silver Y and Diamond Backed Moth) Easter was truly lit up by the discovery of a Great Prominent in the trap near the visitor centre, the a first for the reserve. (Ivan Lang, Conservation Warden)


Friday 6 April 2012

Today at Mill Hill, various Grizzled Skippers, 2 Dingy Skippers, 2 Small Heath, 1 Speckled Wood, 1 Peacock and 1 Large White. (Joaquim Pinho)

Today seemed a perfect day for a trip to Mill Hill. I parked next to Neil's car and hurried down the hill knowing that if a Dingy Skipper was around then Neil would have bagged it. I was right! Not only that but he spotted a Green Hairstreak "on a mission". I was able to locate several more Dingies and saw the little green fella dash past me and settle briefly on a leaf. Joaquim came along and showed me a photo of a Small Heath he had seen. I also saw many Grizzled Skippers, a Speckled Wood, a Green-veined White and a Peacock. Four adders and a green lizard completed a very satisfying afternoon. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

An early start at Mill Hill produced the first Dingy Skipper and Green Hairstreak of the year. Grizzled Skippers were plentiful and other species seen included Green-veined White, Speckled Wood, Comma and Peacock. I then joined a large gathering of Hulmes for a walk around the beautiful, quiet lanes near Five Oaks. A good number of Orange Tips were seen, along with Green-veined White, Speckled Wood, Comma and Red Admiral. All details have been entered directly into recording software for inclusion in our Atlas project. (Neil Hulme)

With a short while this morning spare before work I had a short visit to High and Over area hoping for an early wall Brown following Nigel's sighting earlier in the week. I also tried to find a pupa where I had found the larvae, but no luck on either front. However, I did find 3 Grizzled Skippers. Very early record for this site for these. Also 3 Speckled Wood including 2 newly emerged weak flyers. On Cradle Hill there were no Green Hairstreaks yet, just single Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell. By the car park at High and Over a Red Admiral. (Bob Eade)

Lots of Orange Tips (all male), a Small White, a Holly Blue and a Brimstone at TQ077275 Oakhurst Lane (about a mile north of Billingshurst). (John Williams)

Sadly a walk from East Dean through Crowlink and over Seven Sisters to Exceat yesterday afternoon produced not a single sighting of any butterflies despite the sunny conditions. Were they discouraged by the cold wind? I suppose it's too early for the downland - as opposed to the woodland and suburban - species. (Bob Brown)


Thursday 5 April 2012

News for Tuesday 3 April: I returned to Angmering Estate Woods at Dover Lane on Tuesday morning and enjoyed more Orange-tips. At 2:50pm I was following two male OTs who were twirling around each other when they suddenly dropped and landed on the same leaf cluster to roost. I transferred one to another leaf and took photos. I returned the following morning and found them in exactly the same place. At 11:30am one Orange-tip cleaned its face, opened its wings and after 15 seconds took off. The other one followed 30 minutes later and flew directly to an id card on my tripod which had a light and dark blue patch. It fluttered around it for some time but couldn't land. It repeated this behaviour then flew off. I noticed that most of the nectaring had been on Bluebells and Wood Violets so there was a definite preference for flowers at the blue end of the spectrum in spite of the abundant Wood Anemones. Celandines were ignored. I saw them nectar on Wood Anemones twice and Ground Ivy and Herb Robert once each. One OT veered towards a blue coloured drinks can. They ignored my blue jeans! Studies have indicated that some butterflies have an innate preference for certain coloured flowers on emergence, but this may be modified by finding nectar on flowers of other colours. This is a fascinating field which has been studied to a limited extent. I would be interested to hear from other observers about the flower colour preferences of nectaring Orange-tips (photos above). (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

News for Monday 2 April: One Large White garden near Plaistow. (Margaret Hibbard)


Wednesday 4 April 2012

Saw several Grizzled Skippers bimbling around and a single Speckled Wood during a 2 hour stint at Mill Hill this afternoon. (John Williams)


Tuesday 3 April 2012

My father, Roy Symonds reports the following sightings from Stansted Forest (SU745115) Orange Tip (8 males). Surprisingly no other species flying. Temperature was 12C. (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)

Stansted Forest: Brimstone 2, Comma 2, Orange-tip 5, Peacock 7 and Small White (photos above). (Pat and Peter Gardner)

A male Orange-tip in my Brighton garden today. The first of the season for this species for me. (Caroline Clarke TQ30 07)

Due to the plague of ear, nose and throat ailments doing the rounds in our house, I haven't been out and about as much as usual. However, this afternoon I spent a couple of hours on the slopes of Mill Hill at Shoreham. I failed to find the early Dingy Skipper that I almost expected, but was more than satisfied with the numbers of fresh Grizzled Skipper on show (above). Of the 26 I counted only one was a female, suggesting that the species is likely to have a good season. A handful of Peacocks and single Comma and Small White were the only other butterflies seen. (Neil Hulme)

News for Monday 2 April: Yesterday we endured the 30 minute queue at Crossbush roundabout near Arundel to visit the Dover Lane woods. The glades and rides are covered with Wood Anemones and a few flowering Bluebells. I was delighted to see my first male Orange-tip of the year, and even more pleased when a female came along. They met briefly, but the female bent her abdomen up and the male quickly took the hint and continued nectaring on the bluebells and anemones (photos above). (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)


Monday 2 April 2012

It was a lovely day for the start of a new transect recording season at Frog Firle... normally I only expect to see Peacocks and other waking hibernators on the first week but the warm and sunny weather during the last two weeks of March had raised my expectations a little. Frog Firle is often two or three weeks behind Mill Hill for emergence of Spring species; the transect route crosses east and north facing slopes and the east facing scarp of High and Over is often blighted by cold easterly breezes early in the season. Although the scarp has been bathed in warm sunshine for the last couple of weeks I was still astonished to see my first Wall of the year (2nd April). The great advantage of transect recording at the same site is that numbers of butterflies and dates of emergence or population peaks can easily be compared year-on-year. Since I started walking the transect in 2005, my records show that this is the earliest transect sighting for the Wall by nearly three weeks. The previous earliest sightings were 2011 and 2007 when the first Wall was seen on 22nd April. All other years have seen first emergence during the first week in May. The latest first sighting for the Wall was 28th May in 2006. Whilst I make no conclusions about our changing climate, our butterflies are clearly able to take immediate advantage of any weather change from the norm. (Nigel Kemp)

This male Holly Blue (above) was a welcome visitor to my garden at Barnham, West Sussex (SU972037) (Paul Cox)

Having worked Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights and missed the festivities at Mill Hill. I thought I needed some R and R today. Decided to look for Speckled Woods on the downs Link at Henfield. Right on cue or is that queue, I am never sure (my money's on "cue" - ed.), two appeared tussling in the air and then joined briefly by a third. Having seen this before, it can take an age for anything to happen, I didn't think much of it. Although I saw where two had landed. I crept up on them, as you do, and the courting couple took flight followed by an enthusiastic suitor and landed in a hedge opposite. After much malarkey the suitor gave up, but I got a few pics (above). So a triple Speckled Wood Pic is a just reward for the antisocial work pattern I have just endured. (Richard Roebuck)

I have spent a lot of time in the general area of the Burgh over the past two days and have seen eight species of butterflies. Yesterday, Green-veined White, Speckled Wood, Comma, Peacock and Orange-tip (including several females) and today Small White, Small Tortoiseshell and male Brimstone. But no Red Admiral. (Martin Kalaher)

My father, Roy Symonds reports the following sightings from Stansted Forest (SU745115) where the temperature was 13C. Orange Tip (8 males 1 female), Comma (1) and Red Admiral (1). (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)

With the weather forecast for the rest of the week looking pretty grim, I grabbed the opportunity to get over to Rowland Wood and Park Corner Heath today for my first transect walk of the season. It was a little while before I saw my first butterfly, a Speckled Wood busily staking a claim to a sunny spot amongst the trees. After that more started appearing and by the end of the walk I had counted 9 butterflies; 1 Brimstone, 3 Peacock, 2 Comma and 3 Speckled Wood. I also saw 2 Orange Underwing, neither of which were prepared to settle for a closer look. (Bob Foreman)


Sunday 1 April 2012

I saw my first Holly Blue of the year in the garden this afternoon as well as a Speckled Wood, Orange-tip and a couple of Small Whites, a good start to the month. (Bob Foreman, Lindfield)


Friday 30 March 2012

Finally I gave in to temptation and went to Mill Hill today where I saw five Grizzled Skippers in various places. One in particular was immaculate and quite beautiful, so presumably newly emerged.
In addition to all the Pyraustas on the wing I noticed several tiny, but delightful Violet Cosmet, Pancalia leuwenhoekella (approx. 3-4mm ). Extremely difficult to get a decent pic of this fidgety moth at this scale (photos above). (Richard Roebuck)

My father, Roy Symonds today (30th March) visited Stansted Forest (SU745115) where he saw the following: Orange Tip (10 males 4 females), Small White (2) and Brimstone (5 males). Temperature was 15C surprisingly no Nymphalids. (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)

Of the 7 Orange Tips I saw while wandering the quiet lanes near Five Oaks (TQ0728), 2 were females already out egg-laying! Also seen were 3 Green-veined White, 1 Small White, 2 Brimstone, 3 Comma and a Red Admiral. (Neil Hulme)

Ninfield TQ6911 1 Comma, 1 Orange Tip, Wartling TQ6609 1 Comma. (Roy Wells)

Diplock's Wood TQ575 042: My first Speckled Wood (5) and Orange-tip (1 male) properly started off my butterfly year this morning, though I have seen Brimstones, Red Admirals, Commas, Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells and Small Whites on walks in the Wannock-Folkington area for the past couple weeks. Also saw 3 Small Tortoiseshells at the Rye Harbour Reserve yesterday. (Susan Suleski)

On Wednesday afternon I was just taking a rest beside Blatchington Pond in Seaford - now just over the road from our temporary library site. A butterfly was fluttering in amongst the banks of daffodils and narcissi, and resting on something periodically. Before I had made my mind up to see what it was, it vanished and then I saw it resting on of all places, the side of my LIDL plastic bag propped up against my seat. It hovered specifically on the blue part of the LIDL logo (rather than the yellow or red part) atempting to feed off it, then flew off.
It was a Small Tortoiseshell which had obviously emerged from hiberrnation, desperate for nectar. I looked down amongst the daffodils etc afterwards and found a single blue rampion plant flowering. This is obviously what the Tortoiseshell had been attracted to and it "recognised" the blue on my bag as potentially another flower!
Would be interesting to know how much nectar-gatherers are keyed to seasonal colour, given that nearly all white and yellow plants flowering now are not suitable for them. (Bob Brown)


Thursday 29 March 2012

A walk around both Abbotts Wood and Park Corner/Rowland Wood today was pretty disappointing today with only 6 butterflies seen. 4 at Abbotts and 2 at PCH. I started by looking for Pearl Bordered fritillary larvae but had no luck. A Comma, Peacock, Brimstone and a very smart Orange-tip were seen. Also present were several Orange Underwing moths (possibly Light Orange Underwing). At PCH 1 Brimstone and 1 Comma seen as well as several reptiles. (Bob Eade)

I was glad to see a male Brimstone in my garden in Bevendean TQ336064. This is the first one seen in our garden for a couple of years. (Geoff Stevens)

Holly Blue, Peacock and Small White in my Storrington garden today. (Martin kalaher)

2 Orange-tips spotted at Arlington Reservoir. (Sally Milne)

A Comma and a Speckled Wood seen near Ditchling village. (Dave Bell)

2 Comma and 1 Peacock in Stanmer Great Wood. (Dan Danahar)

Hastings, East Cliff TQ8209 1 Holly Blue, 1 Comma, TQ8310 1 Holly Blue
Wednesday 28 March: Penhurst TQ6916 1 Brimstone. (Roy Wells)

News for Wednesday 28 March: 7.15pm on 28th March a Hummingbird Hawkmoth on an osmanthus bush in a Henfield back garden. (Bryan Michie)

More news for Wednesday 28 March: Speckled Wood at Hangleton, Brighton & Hove. (Sally Milne)


Wednesday 28 March 2012

Managed to get out for a while today and the first butterfly I saw was my first Orange-tip of the year trying to avoid cars bombing down the Alfriston Road. After avasive action it landed briefly on the roadside and allowed a couple of shots. Then into the field by the side of the road where several Small Tortoiseshells were seen including one male holding territory in the corner seeing off all other butterflies including Peacocks and Commas. Finally my first Speckled Wood also seen in the same area (photos above). (Bob Eade)

Holly Blue seen in our garden next to Holy Trinity Churchyard, Cuckfield - OS TQ30380 24539. Wed 28/3/2012 at 1pm (Julie and Malcolm Redford)

Seven species of butterfly were seen on the outskirts of Shoreham in the early afternoon including my first of the year male Orange-tip and a Green-veined White. These two are new Adur Nature Notes records for March bringing it up to a total of 12 species seen during this month. My first Small Tortoiseshell of the year was present as well as a Peacock, a Comma and a Small White. (Andy Horton, www.glaucus.org.uk)

News for Tuesday 27 March: I did my first butterfly transect of the year at Mill Hill yesterday morning and saw 2 Grizzled Skippers (above), 2 male Brimstones, 2 Commas, 4 Peacocks, 3 Small Tortoiseshells, 1 Small White and 1 Speckled Wood plus the pyralid moths Pyrausta nigrata, Pyrausta purpuralis and Pyrausta despicata. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

More news for Tuesday 27 March: My father, Roy Symonds reported the following sightings yesterday (27th March) from Stansted Forest (SU745115), where the temperature was 18C : Brimstone (7 males), Orange Tip (6 males 1 female), Peacock (6) and Comma (4). Orange Tips just starting to emerge here in Cornwall! (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)

The photograph of the Camberwell Beauty (above) was taken at Marley Common on 22 March by Matt Bramich, Area Warden for The National Trust.


Tuesday 27 March 2012

It was like the middle of the summer in Rowland Wood today - it must have been over 20C in there. I was half expecting a Silver-washed Fritillary to fly past. I was joined by the hard-working team from the Brighton Conservation Volunteers and we sweated in the hot sun raking and dragging to improve one of our new rides for future flowers, butterflies and other wildlife. Thanks again to the team - if you would like to get involved more details of their regular Tuesday work parties around the Brighton area can be found at www.brightonconservationvolunteers.org. (Michael Blencowe)

Having not read the weekends sightings I was surprised to find a freshly emerged Grizzled Skipper on Mill Hill. There were also half a dozen Peacocks and a Small Tortoiseshell. Reptiles were also out enjoying the sunshine, 1 black adder 2 common lizards and a slow worm. (Tim Newman)

With all this great weather about and sightings of Orange Tips being reported it has been very frustrating having long days at work. A standby today allowed me to sit in the garden where several Small Whites were seen as well as Holly Blues. Both species my first of the year. Late afternoon I was able to get out over the back of home to The Comp. On the way there was an area where several Holly Blues were seen with a couple coming down to get moisture or salts from the mud. Lots of Commas and Peacock also seen. (Bob Eade)

A Red Admiral patrolling the trig point and adjacent gorse bush at the top of Wilmington Hill on the South Downs in the late afternoon sunshine. Why it was up there when all the other butterflies seen were down in the warmer and less breezy valley at Alfriston is a mystery to me. (Jonathan Ruff)

Whilst enjoying the glorious sunshine and admiring the wild daffodils at West Dean Woods this morning we saw 3 male Brimstone Butterflies, 1 Comma, 1 Red Admiral, 1 Peacock and a fresh male Orange Tip. Also some Bee Flies. Near the car park a Holly Blue flew along the road. We were quite surprised to find Bluebells in flower (Chris & John Hamilton, Horsham)

On 27th March I recorded TEN different species in a day, which I cannot recall ever doing before during the month of March. In just a couple of hours at Mill Hill (Shoreham) I counted 4 Grizzled Skipper, 1 Orange Tip, 1 Speckled Wood, 1 Holly Blue, 1 Brimstone, 1 Small White, 14 Peacock, 1 Red Admiral, 2 Small Tortoiseshell and 2 Comma. The day-flying moths Pyrausta purpuralis and P. despicata were both present in good numbers, along with the odd P. nigrata. (Neil Hulme)

Intent on doing some "drive-by" butterfly spotting on my journey to Brighton today I was a little disappointed only to see one butterfly, my first Orange-tip of the year on Beacon Road heading towards Ditchling (TQ325143). (Bob Foreman)

News for Monday 26 March: My father, Roy Symonds was busy walking most of the main tracks in Stansted Forest (SU745118) where he reported the following sightings (including his first Orange Tips of the year): Brimstone (16 males), Orange Tip (2 Male 1 Female), Peacock (4) and Comma (2). The temperature was 18C. (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)

More news for Monday 26 March: On Monday evening saw 5 Small Whites nectaring on the first flowers of Winter Oil seed Rape accompanied by Pollen beetles (Meligethes spp.) at Edburton Sands (Richard Roebuck)

Some late news from March 1: A Monarch was seen sunning itself and occasionally nectaring in Arundel Churchyard (it had either been released or had escaped from a butterfly house!) (Graham West)


Monday 26 March 2012

I saw a female Brimstone at Stanmer Park (Brighton) and a male feeding from Primrose flowers in my garden, Coldean, Brighton, today. (Dan Danahar)

Whilst attending a funeral at the Woodland Burial Site at Clayton this p.m. an extremely fresh Male Orange Tip flew past. (Chris & John Hamilton, Horsham)

This time of year is great! Saw my first 2012 Holly Blue in Kingston near Lewes (TQ39152 08629) as well as 2 Speckled Wood, 3 Peacocks chasing, 2 Comma, 1 Small White and 2 Brimstone (M & F). Chiffchaffs are all over the place, Jackdaws nesting in chimney pots and nicking each others nesting material (lots of noise and augments), Great Spotted Woodpecker, Long-tailed Tits must be nesting near-by, saw several Bee-fly in Kingston (expecting to see dotted bee fly soon), Pollen Beetle, Grass Snake and a Common Lizard. (Crispin Holloway)

The last two days in my Edburton garden have produced 7 species of butterfly - Brimstone, Large White, Peacock, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma and Orange Tip. On the moth front the last week has produced the following at my outside lights - Early Thorn, Oak Tree Pug, Early Grey, Mottled Grey, Engrailed, Twin-spot Quaker, Clouded Drab, Common Quaker, Hebrew Character, March Moth and plenty of Shoulder Stripes. (Tony Wilson)

The Ruby Tiger caterpillar reported on Monday 19 March (thanks to Bob F, Jim B and Katie W for the ID) has now pupated in situ on the gate post in the visitor car park at RSPB Broadwater Warren. Unfortunately it's in a spot where it could get disturbed, so I think we're going to make visitors aware and trust them not to disturb it. If you visit Broadwater Warren check out the kissing gate at the end of the car park. Also look out for Orange Underwing moths in the car park (Steve Wheatley)

Today, 3 Holly Blues on cherry laurel at Playden Church and one on a holly in Love Lane, Rye. (Pat Bonham)

In the sunshine under an azure blue sky, I was surprised by an early Small White Butterfly, my first of the year, over the twitten by the Hamm Road allotments in Shoreham. I also spotted my first Brimstone Butterfly and my first Speckled Wood south of the bridge over the A27 to Mill Hill. Amongst the thousand of Sweet Violets on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, the first Dog Violets were in flower. Small pyralid moths were frequently seen flitting amongst the violets on the lower slopes of Mill Hill, with Pyrausta nigrata, Pyrausta pupuralis and Pyrausta despicata seen very clearly. The micro-moth Violet Cosmet, Pancalia leuwenhoekella, was spotted on a Sweet Violet flower. A few Peacock Butterflies were also around. (Andy Horton, http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Butterfly-list2012.html)

"Ooh look! A Peacock - right in front of me!" said Dr Dan Danahar (at the Dorothy Stringer High School, Brighton), as he was talking to me on his iPhone this morning ("instant" photo above). (Bob Foreman)

News for Saturday 24 March: My father, Roy Symonds reports the following sightings from 24th March at Stansted Forest (SU745118): Brimstone (4 males 1 female), Peacock (5) and Comma (2). The temperature was a massive 20C. (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)


Sunday 25 March 2012

Two Brimstones, several Peacocks, one Speckled Wood and a mating pair of Small Whites seen on a walk around the fields at Barnham, West Sussex (SU972037). (Paul Cox)

Today was our first butterfly hunt of the year. We ventured around Blatchington Golf Course and Frog Firle Farm. Spotted were 8 Comma and 3 Peacock and a mouse about 3 feet in front of our faces in a high bank. (Nick & Sharon Linazasoro)

Another fabulous spring day and having read Dave Sadler's sighting of the Grizzled Skipper at Mill Hill I was spurred on to find this species myself and so I visited Wildpark LNR because I have recorded this species from there in the past. I checked both the east facing slope off the Lewes road and the South facing slope within the park but neither had the butterfly there at the time of inspection.
I then walked to the top of the park where there is a dew pond. I did so because Jamie Burston had monitored Purple Hairstreaks at this location last year (see archive material) and having read Richard Roebuck's excellent and inspiring account about searching for Purple Hairstreak eggs, recently uploaded on this sightings page, I decided to spend any spare moments I had to look for them as well. Furthermore, on last year's Big Butterfly Count, Nick Baker, David Larkin, Neil Hulme, Bob Foreman, Matthew Thomas, Councillor Pete West and I spent some of the most enjoyable moments of the whole summer looking for adults of this species, which we saw flying around an Oak at this location (TQ 325 077) that had no trunk, but that had many branches growing up from close to the ground.
I have recently read an account on the Upper Thames branch website that spoke about the eggs being found on Oak branches at head height and on the south facing sides, so I walked to the Oak and started to look. Within a minute I found my first Purple Hairstreak egg. I was really surprised and excited to find one so quickly but soon realised that sadly this particular egg had been parasitised. I took the twig off of the tree and took some photos before returning home to further investigate this fascinating find.
Under the microscope there were a number of discoveries to be made. Firstly, the egg had been laid between the stem of the twig and an axillary bud. Using fine nosed forceps I carefully removed this bud and then it was quite easy to remove the egg. It was at this point that I noticed that one side of the egg had been compressed, presumably when the female had pushed it between the stem and the bud. Of course this implies that when the eggs are laid they are supple and are to some degree plastic. Presumably this compression of the egg's volume does not hamper the development of growing embryo and I assume that the female had done this to hide the egg from predators. Secondly, the egg came away from the twig really easily but had adhered to its base some form of material that looked like a golden brown fabric (see photo of the egg alone) and I assume this is an exudate secreted by the female and is designed to glue the egg to the substrate. By the end of the winter this was not doing it's job very well. Thirdly, the base of the egg shell was concave in shape and appeared to be constructed of a single layer of cells. Finally, the micropyle of the egg was very roughly broken open (more clearly seen under the microscope than can be seen in the photo I have supplied) and it looked very much like it had been the exit route of a Trichogramma wasp. Indeed there was visible debris still to be seen within the egg shell. If I had more time I would have looked for more eggs for I wondered how long it would have been before I had found my second egg.
If you are interested in looking for eggs of this species you need to be quick because Wendy Wilson of the Upper Thames Branch reported them hatched by April 4th last year. Having found the Purple, Green, Brown and Black Hairstreak eggs in the wild I would be really interested to hear from anybody who has found White letter Hairstreak eggs.
Finally, I saw a male Brimstone fly down Coldean lane, Brighton (TQ 334 083) and a Small Tortoiseshell on 39 acre field, Wildpark LNR (TQ 329 082). (Dan Danahar)

Spent a lovely couple of hours walking through Castle Hill nature reserve to the east of Brighton and saw 9 Peacocks, 1 Comma, 6 buzzards and not many people. The butterflies were mainly on the violets which carpeted the chalky slopes. Quadrant of TQ370060. (Tessa Pawsey)

I watched my son, Ed, play his last league football match of the season on a pitch close to the Benfield Valley in Hove (TQ265 068). 2 Peacock (1 very battered, 1 very fresh), 2 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Comma, 3 whites (probably Small White but they flew off over a fence before I could get a good look at them). On the way home I spotted a Brimstone and another white at the ede of the Benfield Valley nature reserve. (Caroline Clarke)

Sun 25 March: jaded after a late night party and clock change so blew away the cobwebs with a short walk to Mill Hill. First Neil Hulme sighting of the year! Managed to see a Grizzled Skipper just before we met and then spent over an hour trying to refind it (or them). Eagle eyed Neil eventually spotted 2 in aerial combat and the tail end of what was probably the one we saw initially. So we agreed on 3 Grizzled Skippers in all. Also c10 Peacocks and a Small Tortoiseshell. Glorious!
Sat 24 March: 5 Brimstones, 2 Small Tortoiseshells, 1 Comma, 1 Holly Blue, 1 Red Admiral and 1 Peacock on a circular walk from Coates Common/Lords Piece taking in Sutton and Burton Mill Pond. (Chris, Helen, Ellie and Tom Corrigan)

News for Saturday 24 March: A Brimstone and a Speckled Wood in my Bognor Regis garden (SZ924999) yesterday (Saturday) afternoon, 1st of the year for me, lovely. (Trevor Gibson-Poole)

More news for Saturday 24 March: Colin Knight, Richard Roebuck and I went to see Dave Humphries' remarkable collection of Clouded Yellow butterflies on a fine spring day, yesterday in Littlehampton. Whilst there we also saw a male Brimstone and Small White in David's Garden. He has also confirmed that a Comma and Holly Blue were seen there after we left. On my drive home through Worthing (A27) I saw a male Brimstone flying by the road. On return my wife Libby presented me with a female Brimstone in a cage. She had said that it had flown into our conservatory (TQ334085) and she had captured it for me, what a wife! (Dan Danahar)

And... On Saturday morning at a friend's house in Littlehampton I saw a Small White and a male Brimstone, in the afternoon he told me he had seen a Holly Blue and Comma in his garden. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

News for Friday 23 March: Seen while organising reptile survey in Chailey:
2 Peacock @ TQ399182.
1 Speckled Wood @ TQ399179.
1 Brimstone @ TQ398178.
1 Comma @ TQ397177.
1 Comma @ TQ398181.
Plumpton:
1 Peacock @ TQ362164.
(Jon Wood)

Recent Sightings:
Monday 19 March: Peacock seen by Brian and Brenda Winter in their East Dean garden (TV559984)
Wednesday 21 March: Male Brimstone in our East Dean garden (TV562984)
Male Brimstone seen in East Dean (TV559981)
Friday 23 March: Large White seen in Seaford (TV499992)
Saturday 24th March: Comma in our East Dean garden (TV562984)
(Cassie & David Jode)

And finally... The extremely worn Red Admiral and Peacock shown on 15 March bear all the hallmarks of being on the receiving end of a severe cat mauling! It is not only Britain's garden birds that fall victim to feline fervour, witness the several larger moths I have seen over the years reduced to a similar, usually moribund, state by the neighbours' beloved moggies. (Ralph Hobbs)


Saturday 24 March 2012

At Mill Hill this morning there was a Grizzled Skipper as well as Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells and a Brimstone. (Dave Sadler)

09:30 am: Sitting here, at the computer updating this website with all yesterday's sightings a Speckled Wood almost flew through the open doors, I chased after it and it briefly settled on the patio table but disappeared before I could get the camera. A Comma passed by as I looked around to see where it might have gone. (Bob Foreman, Lindfield)

News for Friday 23 March: Sightings in Small Dole Garden: Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, 2 Peacock.
Also in MV trap over-night: Small Quaker, Common Quaker, Clouded Drab, Hebrew Character. (David Plummer)

More news for Friday 23 March: Seen in my garden one Small White Butterfly p.m. Fitzhall Lodge, Iping, Nr. Midhurst, is this the first this year? Not quite, the first reports of Small White arrived on 12 March - ed. (Michael Bridger)

And a little more... My father, Roy Symonds reported the following sightings from Stansted Forest (SU745118) from 23rd March: Brimstone (1 male), Peacock (9) and Comma (4). Surprised by the lack of Brimstones and the number of Peacocks flying. The temperature was 18C. (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall.)


Friday 23 March 2012

On a local walk around Blackstone today we have seen Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Brimstone, Orange Tip and a Green-veined White (photos above). (Pauline Batchelor)

A visit to Broadfield Pond, Crawley today produced my first Orange Tip of the year. It was a male which was flying between 2pm and 3pm. Also on the wing were 2 male Brimstone, 1 male Small White, 5 Comma and a Peacock. A quick scan of the sparce Blackthorn sprigs opposite the pond (TQ2434) produced 7 Brown Hairstrerak eggs, including a group of 3 (photos above). (Vince Massimo)

Oddly I was just saying to Neil today, Orange tips immanent. Hooray!
With all the goat willow in flower at the moment I thought I might find a few Peacocks. High up in a tree I got a pic of a Peacock indulging in spring delights (above). (Richard Roebuck)

This afternoon I checked out a local wood Wood and found five Commas. There were plenty of aerial battles and war fever was so great that I saw a bumble bee being chased off by one Comma. A boonus was seeing two slow-worms and four lizards. I have also enjoyed visiting the Earnley Butterfly exhibit (near Chichester) this week (photos above). (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

There were three Small Tortoiseshell on the footpath between Sullington Church and Washington, spaced approximately 100 metres apart. Also male Brimstone and Peacock in my Storrington garden. Several Orange Underwing moths over the past 2 weeks (in various localities). Hopefully the Small Tortoiseshell will do well this year? (Martin Kalaher)

My decision to stay local was the right one, as today was my turn for the 'Great Awakening'. I arrived at Birchfold Copse, located next to Kings Park Wood in West Sussex, mid morning. The sky was clear, the sun was shining and the temperature was around 17C upon arrival, though this soon increased to a high of around 20C. Almost as soon as I entered the wood a Comma flew past almost immediately followed by a male Brimstone. My spirits were instantly raised. Conditions were perfect and I soon added more of both species along with Red Admiral and Peacock. Although the Brimstone and Peacock were not sitting around for anyone, the Comma and Red Admiral were readily sitting and noted feeding on various dung types on more than one occasion. I also observed one Comma feeding on a high level sap run. My totals for the session were 13 Comma, 3 Red Admiral, 2 Peacock and at least 17 Brimstone (possibly more), of which only one was female. (photo above). (Mark Colvin)

News for Thursday 22 March: My father, Roy Symonds reports sightings from two sites visited yesterday.
At Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve (SU824098) the temperature reached 19C where the following were observed: Brimstone (14 male 1 female) and Peacock (4). A pair of Brimstones were found mating.
At Stansted Forest (SU745118) most of the main tracks were walked where the temperature was 18C. The following were observed: Brimstone (5 male 1 female), Peacock (6) and Comma (4). In addition a Peacock took a rest on his head! (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)


Thursday 22 March 2012

Today I spotted my first Holly Blue of the year, bimbling around some shrubbery near the Chichester old city walls. (Ben Rainbow)

Seen in our garden in Blackstone (near Henfield) at lunchtime today, an Orange Tip on Snowflake and Bittercrest and also a Small White fluttered by. (Pauline Batchelor)

At work today in a garden north of Shoreham airport and from the corner of my eye saw that very particular yellow which alerts one to a male Brimstone butterfly. Had to stop and watch it with delight. TQ196063. (Tessa Pawsey)

Plumpton. 1 Comma @ TQ361164.
And... Wednesday 21 March: East Chiltington. Finally seen my first Brimstone of the year while surveying some private woodland. It was flying repeatedly along the southern woodland edge @ TQ366152. (Jon Wood)

News for Wednesday 21 March: Orange Tip Seen chasing a Brimstone in Stedham Village, West Sussex. Is this the first record yet? Looks like it! - ed (Michael Bridger)


Wednesday 21 March 2012

Another look at the Wall Brown larvae today at High and Over. Despite several searches I keep only finding the one and always in the same grass growth. The larvae is the most inactive larvae of any type I've come across. The butterfly makes up for this when it becomes very active!! I managed today to get a much better image of it. Last week (15/3/2012) when I was hunting for them I came across what is thought to be the larvae of the Shoulder-striped Wainscot moth (above, right). If anyone can confirm that this is indeed what it is I would be very grateful. (Bob Eade)

On a walk across the downs to the west of Lewes (TQ399 102) I saw one Peacock - my first of this species for 2012 - flitting around in the warm sunshine. (Caroline Clarke)

Today I finally saw my first Brimstone this year, in Batt's Wood at TQ631275. There was also an Orange Underwing moth out on the grass beside Wadhurst Park Lake at TQ632279. (Helen Crabtree)


Monday 19 March 2012

My father, Roy Symonds reported the following sightings from Stansted Forest (SU739109) today where the temperature was 12C and sunny. Brimstone (5) all males, Comma (4) and Peacock (1). (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall.)

Whilst hanging out my washing at 10am this morning in bright, cold sunshine, I was about to brush a 'leaf' off the line when I realised it was a snoozing Comma. (Caroline Clarke TQ30 07)

A bright Comma butterfly joined the honey bees feeding on the shrubby honeysuckle, Lonicera x purpusii, in the garden where I work north of Shoreham airport, TQ196063. (Tessa Pawsey bevendeandown.wordpress.com)

Its possibly the third year running that I have not won one of those super Raffle Prizes at another enjoyable BC event. However money well spent anyway. Back to the plot, this is a bit of a Dj vu from last year and also the year before. My rabbit warren colony of Small Tortoiseshells are emerging on approximately the same date three years running. There was a pretty hard frost last night but nevertheless this afternoon one pair were already busy courting, this pic (above) was bit of a long shot as they were pretty skitty (hence a bit grainy). Let's hope the Small Tortoiseshells have a good year this year. (Richard Roebuck)

This caterpillar (above) was spotted today near top of an oak gate post in the car park at RSPB Broadwater Warren today. It's about 1.5 inches long. Any thoughts on what it might be? (Steve Wheatley) - Ruby Tiger? ed.


Sunday 18 March 2012

Whilst on a run a Small Tortoiseshell was seen at High and Over. My first of this species this year. (Bob Eade)


Saturday 17 March 2012

Passport and visas packed, phrase book at the ready, today started off with a long drive across the border into the darkest depths of East Sussex. Robertsbridge Community Hall was my destination for the Spring Social of Sussex Butterfly Conservation. After the usual welcome and announcements Michael Blencowe, our resident speaker, gave a detailed and humorous presentation on progress to date of the Sussex Butterfly Atlas. The Sussex Butterfly Atlas project was launched in 2010. It is the aim of Sussex Butterfly Conservation to map the distribution of the butterflies of Sussex over the five-year period 2010-2014. An incredible 80,000 records have been received and processed to date. After a short break for tea and raffle, Heather Martin, representing the Rother Guardians, gave a brief presentation of activities. Chris Bentley, our guest speaker, then spoke of the lepidoptera and habitat types to be found at the 326 hectare Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, which is one of the most important conservation sites on the Sussex coast. Rye Harbour Nature Reserve has been recognised as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Protection Area for birds, a Special Area of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive and a candidate Ramsar site that takes account of its importance as a wetland on an international scale. Chris has been Warden on the reserve since 2004. All in all a very pleasant way to spend a wet afternoon (photos above). (Mark Colvin)

News for Thursday 15 March: A big thank you to the Sussex Wildlife Youth Rangers who joined me in Rowland Wood on Thursday. Twenty-five hard working Youth Rangers helped with raking and lifting and we also found time to go looking for adders, lizards and butterflies too. Brimstones were flying - as were Comma and Red Admiral. The team meet each Thursday and undertake a variety of conservation tasks in the county. (Michael Blencowe)


Thursday 15 March 2012

Reference Robin Basset's Peacock, reminded me of a rather worn Red Admiral I saw at Hollingbury last July. Not only could it fly easily it was also very keen on intercepting any other Red admiral that flew past. Tenacious little character. (Richard Roebuck)

My father Roy Symonds reported the following sightings for 15th March from Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve (SU822106). Comma (1) and Brimstone (1 male) temperature was 14C. (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)

I visited Steyning Rifle Range for the first time this year and was rewarded with my second UK Butterfly of the year. First I saw two adders on the way up the hill, then a female Brimstone on the north west of the slope, then a male nearby, followed by the pair of mating grass snakes. On the path by the allotment I spotted my second Peacock of the year. At Woods Mill reserve I watched mating toads and frogs. A good day! (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

After the lovely pictures of lovely fresh Commas and Peacocks that have been submitted in recent days, the Peacock that I found today at the East Sussex County Council Rights of Way depot at Kingston was probably about as beaten up as it's possible for a butterfly to be. Poor thing. However, despite its terrible condition I was alerted to its presence by its determined flight before it alighted on one of the Council's trailers to warm itself in the sun. (Robin Bassett)

Two Small Whites (seen simultaneously) in my garden at Rye today were my earliest ever by 11 days. (Patrick Bonham)

Our second butterfly of the year - a beautiful Peacock settled in our Eastbourne Garden (TQ587016) in the afternoon sunshine today. (John & Sue East)


Wednesday 14 March 2012

Thanks to all Murray Downland Trust and BC Sussex volunteers who turned out for yet another work party at Heyshott Escarpment today. Mark Colvin sent me this amazing image of the reserve, taken as he hung 'I'm a Celebrity' style from a helicopter. The elongate area of heavy scrub and secondary woodland cleared over the winter can be clearly seen centre left. We will be running an event here to mark the beginning of 'Save Our Butterflies Week' this year, so keep an eye out for our 2012 Field Trip Listings - coming soon! (Neil Hulme)

Had a Small Tortoiseshell join me in the sunshine today as I stopped for a cup of tea on my allotment on Whitehawk Hill in Brighton TQ329046. (Tessa Pawsey)


Monday 12 March 2012

I made my second visit of the month to Mill Hill and was rewarded with my first UK butterfly of the year. It was wonderful to see the Peacock land on a patch of chalky soil. I also saw a grey adder to add to the four sightings on Saturday. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Lovely Small Tortoishell in the garden where I work just north of Shoreham airport, TQ196063. (Tessa Pawsey)

Our first garden butterfly of 2012. A male Brimstone in our East Dean garden (TV562984) on Monday. (Cassie Jode)

A Small White flew into my son's garden at Keymer settling for a few minutes on a variegated holly leaf before flying off. (Stuart Ridley)

Red Admiral nectaring at Staplefield TQ267279. Saw a Small White today at the level crossing at Eastern avenue, Shoreham TQ222052 possibly having come from the allotments nearby and at Small Dole junction of New Hall Lane, male Brimstone. TQ214132. (Richard Roebuck)

With the sun shining this morning and with no wind I decided a trip around the patch was in order. Along The Comp a male Brimstone was flying strongly. This was followed shortly by a Comma that landed at a nice height to get my first butterfly photo of the year. At the bottom of the hill leading to Rathfinney pumping station a male Brimstone, another Comma and a very smart Peacock were all flying. Near the end of the walk a tatty Peacock was also seen. However, my main target today was a search for Wall Brown larvae. I decided to look at an area near High and Over where I have seen fresh adults in the past. I only found the one but was really pleased to find my first ever at my first attempt (photos above). (Bob Eade)

I spent a very enjoyable day, in glorious sunshine, with several committee and reserve management group members at the Park Corner Heath and Rowland Wood Reserves. About a dozen male Brimstones patrolled the rides until 2.30 pm, but they retired early when they realised there were no females to impress. Many other hibernators emerged from their winter refuges throughout the day and by the time I retraced my steps around PCH at 3.00 pm the numbers of Comma (9) and Peacock (6) had increased significantly. (Neil Hulme)

On a warm sunny walk this afternoon on Bevendean Down I saw 3 butterflies, 1 Peacock and 2 Commas, one of which posed for me (above). (Geoff Stevens)

Just getting my bike out of the car to go down the Forest Way this afternoon & my first Brimstone flew right past me in the car park at Forest Row.

After only seeing 1 Small Tortoiseshell during last year I'm happy to report seeing one already while out with my granddaughter in the fields behind where I live in East Grinstead. Hopefully a good sign for this year. (Kevin Sexton)

A single male Brimstone visited my Brighton garden (TQ30 07) today - the first butterfly of the season at this site. (Caroline Clarke)

1 Comma basking in the sun in our garden just north of Preston Park, Brighton, this lunchtime. (Colin Brooks)

My father Roy Symonds, reported to me the following sightings from Stansted Forest (SU739109) on a cloudless sunny day where the temperature was 15C. All main tracks were walked: Brimstone (5 males), Comma (8), Peacock (3) and Red Admiral (1). (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)

A fantastically sunny spring day, at midday, on Monday 12th March brought my second species of the year, a gloriously brilliant male Brimstone dancing along the edge of Coldean Woods, Brighton (TQ 3340 0855). (Dan Danahar)

News for Sunday 11 March: Yesterday morning we saw our first butterfly of the year - in the morning sunshine, a lovely Comma in very good condition settled for well over a minute in our Eastbourne Garden (TQ587016). (Sue & John East)

More news for Sunday 11 March: The first chance this year to spend time sorting the garden out in warm sunshine (Uckfield). Rewarded with my first Small Tortoiseshell and a Peacock which weren't that surprising given the weather, but in the afternoon a Large White flew into the garden, circled round a few times without landing then flew off over the fence!. Felt quite excited as a harbinger of things to come. (Andy Stokes)

And some mews for Sunday 11 March: Seventeen people joined me on Sunday for the last work party of the season on our Park Corner Heath & Rowland Wood reserves. After we spent time raking, sawing and lifting we took a walk around the reserve looking out for signs of spring. A Brimstone fly-by was the first butterfly of the year for some and it was soon followed up by a pair of Commas. The snakes were out and about too - a big Adder was sunning itself on The Plateau. Thanks to Sherie, Lucy, Roger, Alan, Mike, Colin, Caroline, Miles, Clare, Dave, Nigel, Dave, Anna, Teresa, Gary, Peter and Chris - and to all the other volunteers who have helped out over the 2011/12 work season (Michael Blencowe)

Saturday 10 March: Woolbeding Common, single Comma and Red Admiral (SU24 86)
Sunday 11 March: Comma near Jessops Farm (east of Ashington - TQ154 159)
Spring is here! (Chris Corrigan)


Sunday 11 March 2012

I broke my duck today: my first species of the year is the Comma, seen in the garden of Jay Clifton & Heather Smith in Coldean, Brighton (TQ 3316 0833). Sadly, this individual had lost it's right forewing, so we supplied it with sugar solution in an act of compassion. It's all ahead of us! (Dan Danahar)

Saw one male Brimstone, a Peacock and a Small Tortoiseshell in Beckley Woods this morning. Eight Buzzards overhead at one point too! (Stuart Cooper)

A visit to Broadwater Warren, on the Sussex side of Tunbridge Wells, resulted in the sighting of 1 Comma this afternoon. (Rob Thomas)


Saturday 10 March 2012

Single Red Admirals seen at Treyford Hill and behind the Royal Oak beer garden at Hooksway. (Neil Hulme)

My first Small Tortoiseshell of the year on the banks of the Ferring Rife. I regularly walk here and it's the best site I know for the species. (Alison Skelding)

In my role as Grayling species champion I took a journey north of the border today to visit my Grayling-loving counterparts in Surrey. Geoff Eaton and Howard Street met me off the train and took me on a tour of some of the Grayling hotspots in their county. Our aim was to try and solve the mystery of just what this enigmatic species requires on its heathland sites. We visited four Grayling sites in the county and looked at a number of habitat variables that this butterfly require; bare earth, fine-leaved grasses, grass tussocks etc. Each site was very different - the most extraordinary site we visited was the sandpit in Horsell Common - where the Martians landed in 'War of the Worlds'. Here Geoff has witnessed Grayling nextaring on a lone buddleia and perching high up on the trees on the edge of the dark pine plantation - a very different habitat to the one which 'our' Graylings inhabit. The trip left me with more questions than answers but it did inspire us to watch Grayling behaviour more closely this summer (photos above). (Michael Blencowe)


Friday 9 March 2012

After a rather stressful week at work I thought there's nothing better to clear the mind (or make it worse) than attempt to find overwintering Purple Hairstreak eggs.
I had tried before but with no success. This time armed with a decent magnifying glass and a suitable oak with low branches at a sheltered site, I eventually found my first eggs.
On a group of terminal buds there were two Purple Hairstreak eggs and a third black egg (incidentally the same egg appears on a similar photo I found on the BC site for Upper Thames Branch ).
Slightly tricky to photograph on the end of a wobbly branch, but the challenge cleared my head and a great end to the week. (Richard Roebuck)


Thursday 8 March 2012

While staring at my computer screen, designing this year's "Sussex Butterfly Report", I was distracted by a Comma flying past the window. I rushed outside just in time to see it settle on top of the ivy on the fence, irritatingly, too high to get a decent photo (even with the aid of a rickety garden chair), but a fine sight on a sunny March day nonetheless. (Bob Foreman, Lindfield)


Saturday 3 March 2012

"Do you want frass with that?" We were having fajitas for tea last night and made an interesting lepidopteral discovery when we cut open a green chilli. The inside of the chilli was filled with frass and there was a 3cm long caterpillar in residence. The chillis were purchased in a well-known supermarket and had been in a sealed pack. They had originated in The Gambia. I'm sure most people would have been disgusted but I actually quite enjoy finding exotic caterpillars in my food - it's a shame it doesn't happen more often. (Michael Blencowe)


Friday 2 March 2012

News for Thursday 1 March: My father contacted me with the following sightings at Stansted Forest (SU739109), Brimstone (4 Males), Comma (2). The weather was sunny, temperature of 14C with all butterflies very active. (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)


Thursday 1 March 2012

Two Brimstones flying around the south-facing slopes of the Rifle Range, and two, seemingly amorous, Small Tortoiseshells (above) on the flowering Prunus near Mouse Lane. (Pete Varkala)

Well at Last, with all these sightings I was thinking I was really missing out. Two Red Admirals seen today with one in the garden at 9.15am and then on a run I had another between The Comp and Bo Peep. At last my butterfly year had begun!! (Bob Eade)

News for Wednesday 29 February: A friend of mine (Mrs J. Over) saw a Peacock butterfly at Barcombe Sewage works. (Peter Whitcomb)


Earlier Sightings

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