Butterfly Conservation - saving butterflies, moths and their habitats
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saving butterflies, moths and their habitats
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Saturday 30 June 2012

Despite the breeze I called on High and Over briefly this afternoon and was pleased to see lots of Marbled Whites. It looks as if it may be a good year for this species along with good numbers of Meadow Brown. About time there was some better news!! A courting pair of Small Tortoiseshell were also seen on the scarp face. The male was standing just behind the female vibrating his wings. Every few seconds he then hit her body with his antannae, hard enough to hear the impact! After a couple of minutes she flew off at speed closely followed by the male. (Bob Eade)

On a visit to Southwater Woods this afternoon, we were almost tripping over Meadow Browns there were so many of them, we also saw Silver-washed Fritillaries, Ringlets, Large and Small Skippers, Red Admirals, a Comma and five White Admirals one of which is really following Neil Hulme's prediciton in his post of 26th June and is already having a "stinker" of a year! (Pauline Batchelor)

Yesterday I headed for Southwater Woods. The flower meadow was full of Meadow Browns with many Marbled Whites which obliged by nectaring a lot. Bramble flowers by the woodland paths gave me plenty of Silver-washed Fritillaries, though all except one were males. I also saw a Comma, Large Skippers, 2 White Admirals in the trees, a Red Admiral and a possible sighting of a Purple Hairstreak in the canopy of the master oak. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Thursday 28 June:
Crowlink (TV550980) - 1 Large White
Friston (TV551982) - 1 Red Admiral
Friday 29 June in our East Dean garden (TV562984):
1 Small Tortoiseshell
1 Hummingbird Hawk-moth (entered on main BC database)
Saturday 30 June in Friston Forest:
Small Heath 8
Large Skipper 4 (TV538990)
Marbled White 4 (TV543991)
Speckled Wood 3
Meadow Brown 3
Red Admiral 2
Ringlet 1 (TV538990)
Comma 1
Large White 1
(Cassie & David Jode)

Sightings reported by my good friends and neighbours Barbara and Cyril Burwell In their East Dean garden at TV563985:
Tuesday 26 June - 1 Hummingbird Hawk-moth (entered on main BC database)
Thursday 28 June - 1 Comma and 1 Meadow Brown
At Crowlink TV545975:
2 Speckled Wood
(David Jode)

Stanstead Park: Meadow Brown 50 plus, Ringlet 50 plus, Marbled White 4O, Large White 1, Silver-washed Fritillary 5, Speckled Wood 3, Large Skipper 8, White Admiral 1, Red Admiral 1, Silver Y moth 4. A Good Day Was Had By Both. (Pat And Peter Gardner)


Friday 29 June 2012

Yesterday a couple of hours wandering over Cissbury Ring yielded a surprise appearance by a male Adonis Blue in reasonably good condition plus Meadow Browns and Small Heaths I had about 20 sightings of Dark Green Fritillaries, though photographic opportunities were few as they used the wind to fly a long distance when disturbed. Most were on the top of the southern end among the long grass mixed with brambles and clover. A slow walk through the vegetation enabled me to spot a few resting low down with wings open. I also found a few in the north-east ditch. I also saw the following moths: Silver Ys, a (possible) Brown Plume, Stenoptilia pterodactyla a Common Heath, Five-spot Burnets and a Cinnabar. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Improvement in numbers but still less variety of species than usual. The following trapped in my North Portslade garden: Numerous Heart & Dart, around half a dozen Heart & Club, 2 Privet Hawk-moths plus single Small Elephant Hawk-moth, Elephant Hawk-moth, Clouded Silver, Pale Prominent, Common Pug, Dark Arches, Buff Tip, Small Magpie. (Darryl Perry)

A walk around Rowland Wood and Park Corner Heath this evening after work produced the following; Red Admiral (3), Ringlet (2), Large Skipper (1), Meadow Brown (3), White Admiral (1) and a Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary beside the hut. (Chris Hooker)


Thursday 28 June 2012

Today, Mark Colvin showed me round Hog Wood by Oaken Wood near Botany Bay. The humidity was 37% and temperature 30C. We didnt see large numbers of butterflies but we did cover 13 species: 1 Silver-washed Fritillary, 3 White Admirals, Large Skippers, Speckled Woods, Ringlets, Small Heaths, Meadow Browns, 2 Marbled Whites, 6 Woods Whites, a Small Skipper, a male Brimstone and 2 Red Admirals, including one imbibing salts from poo! Mark also saw a Comma. A young frog and a brown female adder also showed up. The highlight for me was witnessing a Wood White laying an egg on vetch by the Tugley Wood main path.(Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Quite a few Butterfly Conservation members were criss-crossing Southwater Woods on a very humid day. In line with other comments, I saw only one White Admiral and a number of Silver-washed Fritillaries (photos above). No Purple Emperor in evidence and no Skippers seen. The uncut meadows contained only large numbers of Meadow Browns. There were some newly emerged Ringlets. (Simon Quin)


Wednesday 27 June 2012

2 Marbled White seen this afternoon in East Dean @ TV560984 and TV560983. (Cassie & David Jode)

This morning the Orange-tip larva changed into a pupa proper. The picture shows the discarded head from its final moult!! (Bob Eade)

About two weeks later than usual, my first Hummingbird Hawk-moth of the year appeared in my Edburton garden today. As usual it spent the late afternoon nectaring on Red Valerian outside the patio window. The last few nights have been much better for moths in the garden with the following either on the Valerian or by the outside lights  2 Small Elephant Hawk Moths, up to 10 Silver Ys, 2 Cinnabars, Buff Ermine, White Ermine, Willow Beauty, Green Pug, 6 Shears, 2 Riband Waves, Mullein Wave, Common Wainscot, Straw Dot, Dark Arches, Grey/Dark Dagger, Shark and a few others. Also, took 4 Mullein caterpillars into captivity to stop them destroying my verbascum flowers (they get the leaves now instead). Not many butterflies in the garden but Large Skipper, Ringlet, Holly Blue, Red Admiral, Small Heath and plenty of Meadow Browns. My final count of flowering orchids in the garden was 21 Bees, 31 Pyramidal, 2 Common Spotted and 5 Common Twayblades. Last but not least I took this nice photo of a Forester Moth on the hill near the house the other day. (Tony Wilson)

The following sightings were recorded on the bramble blossom at the top end of the path leading to Park Heath Corner. Weather conditions on both days were dry but overcast with sunny breaks.
19 June 2012 - A single Silver-washed Fritallary
27 June 2012 - A single White Admiral
(Doug Neve)

Yesterday I visited Cissbury Ring and saw 12 Dark Green Fritillaries. Most times the high wind took them away before I could get near them. There were hundreds of Meadow Browns, dozens of Small Heaths and solitary, old specimens of Common Blue and Small Copper, also a Five-spot Burnet moth and a Cinnabar caterpillar. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

On Monday 25th, I reported a male Essex Skipper from the Butterfly Haven. At that point I did not have my camera and so I returned yesterday to see if I could photo the said specimen. Unfortunately, no Essex skipper butterflies were to be seen. The only butterfly I managed to photograph was a Large Skipper. However, whilst walking around the site I stumbled across a black ant's nest (Lasius niger) and noticed that there was a green caterpillar on the top of the mound, which was being assaulted by two ants. I picked the caterpillar up and brushed the offending ants off, to get a better look at it. It was familiar and so I got out my iPhone to help me confirm my suspicions and looked up one of the four apps on butterflies that I have on it. The app I used on this occasion was "bird guides  Butterflies of Britain and Ireland". This app is great because amongst other things it has illustrations by Richard Lewington. I scrolled through to the caterpillar of the Essex Skipper and there it was. The distinctive head capsule left no doubt, this was the caterpillar of the Essex Skipper.
This discovery leaves two interesting thoughts in my mind: 1) clearly unlike their lyceanid cousins, the Essex Skipper and perhaps all skippers do not benefit from ant protection, quite the contrary, they are a food resource  no real surprise there and 2) the phenogram of the life history stages of this species, included in the app implies that the larva and imago's don't usually overlap. Perhaps this is a consequence of the unusual weather we have experienced this year or perhaps this phenological data is incorrect. Either this discovery and subsequent identification was both interesting and satisfying.
Finally, I inspected the dogwood flower heads on which the Holly Blue had oviposited as reported on Friday 25th May and interestingly I could find only one of the empty egg shells. See photo above. This egg had clearly hatched because the tell-tale characteristic grazing patterns of the young larvae can be clearly seen on what remains of the egg shell. However, only one egg was to be seen. Why I wondered could I not find the other two eggs I had seen on May 25th? On my return home I looked at the earlier images I had taken of the eggs and I found that it appeared that the other eggs had been laid on the Sepals of the flower and that the remaining egg was attached to the Receptacle. Did this mean that the other two eggs had been discarded when the sepals had been dropped? This then begs the question; did they hatch in time? Clearly this observation would benefit from a minor investigation. (Dan Danahar)

News for Tuesday 26 June: At Kiln Wood, Blackboys, East Sussex:
8 Large Skipper
1 Speckled Wood
1 Comma
3 Small Heath
3 Ringlets
30-40 Meadow Brown
(Arthur Greenslade)

News for Monday 25 June: My father, Roy Symonds reports the following sightings from Iping Common (SU847220): Silver-studded Blue (42 male 4 female). Temperature was 19C. (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)


Tuesday 26 June 2012

While taking a stroll around Southwater Woods with Matthew Oates and new Sussex Branch Chair Nigel Symington this afternoon we came across an unusual combination of Skippers. While I was busy trying to photograph a Small Skipper, Matthew spotted a rather tatty Grizzled; as far as I know these are respectively the first and last records for the county this year. As we wandered further afield we came across our first female Silver-washed Fritillary of the season. We then met up with my father who had managed to see just a single White Admiral on his tour of the woods, adding weight to my fear that this species is going to suffer a real 'stinker' in 2012. Amongst all the bad news stories this year it's nice to see so many freshly emerged Red Admirals at the moment. A male was holding territory in the Marlpost car park and repeatedly settled on our heads, as Red Admirals habitually do every year in this precise spot! (Neil Hulme)

A walk around the Belle Tout area early this afternoon, just after the sun disappeared, produced:
Dark Green Fritillary - 7 @ TV566954, 1 @ TV564955 Meadow Brown - 3 @ TV561958
Marbled White - 1 @ TV564956
Small Heath - 2 @ TV566954, 10 @ TV561958
(Cassie & David Jode)

Visited the road verge at the Cock Inn, off the A26 today. Swarms of Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet moths on the wing, too numerous to count. This is an excellent site for this species. In May I counted over 40 larvae feeding on Meadow Vetchling, this seems to be their prefered food plant. This is also a good site for Marbled White, but none seen today. (Graham Parris Isfield)

This morning conditions were perfect for photography so I visited Stedham Common. I found many male Silver-studded Blues flying and settling for long periods. I was delighted when a female crossed my path. She rejected several males and I witnessed her laying 2 eggs on young heather stems. A few Meadow Browns also showed. I also found two dead moths, a Common Heath, Ematurga atomaria and a True Lover's Knot, Lycophotia porphyrea. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Yippee, I've just seen a Scarlet Tiger moth in my small Brighton centre garden TQ321051, very close to where I saw a caterpiller earlier in the year. Yesterday on my allotment on Whitehawk Hill TQ329046 I saw my first Marbled White of the year, they used to be very common up there when the allotment site was very overgrown with long grasses but since allotments have become popular and therefore cultivated I hardly see them. I also saw a Red Admiral, Small Tortoishell and an unidentified Skipper. On friday evening Friends of Bevendean Down had an evening moth trapping event which was very enjoyable despite the windy weather, I'm afraid that the only name I can remember is Small Elephant Hawk-moth but there were a lot of them much to our delight. (Tessa Pawsey bevendeandown.wordpress.com)


Monday 25 June 2012

Today at the butterfly haven, the sunshine brought a welcome change. I spotted 3 Common Blue, 5 Small Blue, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, a calling female Large Skipper and a single male Essex Skipper. Finally, a Cinnabar (a new species to the site). A good day considering. (Dan Danahar)

At last! My first White-letter Hairstreak sighting of the year. One soliatry individual at TQ311 076 on Surrenden Road in Brighton. I looked in Hollingbury Park first but no luck there. Middx & Herts Branch have a first recorded for 23rd June & Hampshire Branch significantly earlier on the 17th June. My sighting for 2012 compares to a very early 4th June for 2011. (Caroline Clarke)

This morning I did my Mill Hill transect and found just 2 Meadow Browns, 17 Small Heaths and a Marbled White, my first of the year. In the afternoon I visited Rewell Wood and saw one female Silver-washed Fritillary nectaring on Marsh Thistle, many Ringlets, again a first for the year, some Meadow Browns, Large Skippers and a pristine Red Admiral. Also a new moth for me, the Brown Silver-line. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

In bright sunshine this morning we headed for Friston Forest to make the most of what looks likely to be the best day of this week. We were not disappointed; the Marbled Whites are now building up nicely with 20+ being seen. We were also pleased to see Dark Green Fritillaries (c.10), a Comma, Small Tortoiseshells, Red Admirals, Small Heaths, masses of Large Skippers and Meadow Browns and still a few Small Blues and Common Blues with the majority of the butterflies being in pristine condition. If only we had "proper" summer weather to do them justice! (Pauline Batchelor)

Having saved 5 Orange-tip eggs from the council mowers a few weeks ago I have seen the larvae growing rapidly. Yesterday one of them started to pupate and I hope to be able to follow it through until hatching next spring. (Bob Eade)

I was rather thwarted by the weather yesterday as I walked my Rowland Wood and PCH transect, sunshine was watery and intermittent. By the time I reached the plateau at Park Corner Heath the sun had gon completely and I didn't record a single butterfly on that section. However, the visit was by no means a disappointment as I saw two Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary in Rowland Wood, one of which was further into the wood than I have ever seen one before. The other highlight was seeing my first Ringlet of the year, very fresh and fairly torpid, presumably having only recently emerged. On my previous visit to the wood I watched a number of day flying moths flying like butterflies amongst the rows of conifers, never coming close to the ground, preferring instead to stay closer to the canopy, irritatingly, I never actually managed to find out for sure what they were. This time I managed to net one to discover that, as I suspected, they were Bordered White whose larvae feed on Scots or Corsican pine. Sadly the photo above was the only one it was prepared to pose for. Continuing on the moth front, I also a number of Speckled Fanner, Glyphipterix thrasonella over the rushes in the damper areas of the wood, these are curious little beasties that rarely sit still, constantly pulsing (or fanning) their wings when at rest. Also, the occasional Silver Y. Numbers of both Brown Silver-line and Yellow-barred Long-horn, Nemophora degeerella now seem to be on the wain, with just a few seen and I only saw one Speckled Yellow.
Incidentally, back in 2008 I found a very unexciting, small brown moth which I couldn't identify. After some considerable investigation (not by me I should add) the moth proved to be the first UK example of Blastobasis vittata. Remarkably, 2 years later (almost to the day) in November 2011 I caught another one in my moth trap. Lo and behold last week I found another sitting on my front door! In the intervening period, the species has, to my knowledge, been recorded elsewhere in Sussex and also in Hampshire but it certainly looks like it is breeding somewhere around Lindfield. (Bob Foreman)

During recent bird and butterfly surveys in the High Weald, I've been lucky enough to visit some wonderful woods, ghylls and meadows here in East Sussex. Sadly the diversity of species isn't that great in mid-late June but that should be gradually improving as we go into July and and August. Recent visits have produced the usual suspects - Ringlet, Large Skipper, Meadow Brown... and Peacock larvae, all taken yesterday (25th June) near Mayfield. I'm afraid I was just another ignoramus when it came to the Meadow Brown, casually dismissing it (every year!) as our dullest butterfly. But hang on a minute! I hadn't read Jeremy Thomas's fascinating insight in the wonderful 'The Butterflies of Britain & Ireland'. There's a lot more to the very variable spots on the female's forewing than first meets the eye. Those on the butterflies in these photos vary from almost non-existent (in the mating pair) to three bold spots on the solitary specimen. You'll just have to read the recent Thomas & Lewington book to find out more... (Mike Mullis)


Sunday 24 June 2012

The 2011 Stamford Raffles Award

Is awarded to Dr Dan Danahar, Biodiversity Coordinator and teacher of Environmental Science at Dorothy Stringer School, Brighton and Biodiversity & Conservation Officer (Brighton & Hove) of the Sussex Branch of Butterfly Conservation.

"Dan is a teacher with a difference: he is passionate about increasing bio-literacy, not just in his pupils but right across his city. He has converted an ordinary-looking school campus in Brighton into an extraordinary network of chalk grassland, aquatic and woodland habitats (raising butterfly species richness, for instance, from a handful to 27 in just four years); worked with his colleagues to bring biodiversity and sustainability into the core of the curriculum; set up the highly successful city-wide Big Biodiversity Butterfly Count, which encouraged Butterfly Conservation and Marks and Spencer to unroll this approach nationally as the Big Butterfly Count; and led the citys response to the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity. His latest project is to promote the development of the Big Nature Centre on the school grounds as a supportive piece of Brighton and Hoves bid for the city to become a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Dan is a fantastic champion of urban nature and of the contribution it can make to all our lives. With his infectious enthusiasm, Dan has promoted within the community, and beyond, a way of thinking that has inspired ordinary people and gives hope that we can all make a difference. The Stamford Raffles Award is presented in recognition of his tremendous contribution to the advancement of biodiversity education."

You may recall that on the 1st of June, Richard Roebuck posted a photograph of a pupa that had developed from a Purple Hairstreak caterpillar he had beaten from an Oak tree on May 25 2012. Richard dropped this delicate cargo off to me at Dorothy Stringer School on Wednesday 20 June because he was going on holiday the very next day. At this point the pupa looked very much like it had on the website when Richard posted his original report. However, by the very next day the pupa had changed its colour quite considerably, with the wing cases darkening and sections of the abdomen showing similar changes. After I noticed this, I sprayed the pupa with an atomiser, to deposit a thin layer of water droplets onto its surface. I have found in the past that this can help insects break through the thin membranes between the major structures outlined on the exoskeleton of a pupa and thus facilitate emergence.
This particular butterfly emerged on Friday 22 June, I estimate three weeks and two days after Richard recorded its formation. Examination of the pupa with a hand lens showed the surface to be covered in a sward of sparsely distributed curved projections, somewhat hair-like in appearance. As can be seen from the various photographs above, this natural "velcro" seemed to grip pieces of debris, including hairs, close to the pupa. In the wild, if they do ever reach the ground, I'm sure this would help to camouflage the insect by braking up its outline. In the bottom of my emergence cage these grips seemed to have helped the butterfly crawl free of its puparal shell, I assume because they must have caught in the mesh of the cage, holding the shell fast. Indeed, some of the butterflies "body fur" can be seen still attached to the top of the empty pupa but I do not think this has anything to do with these external projections.
I knew that Richard was keen to see the results of all his hard work and the pressure was now on to get some good photographs. On the morning of Saturday 23 June I placed the butterfly into the fridge at 4C for 30 minutes, to cool it down and then carefully positioned it on a Gerber. I did this for two reasons: firstly, the contrast in colour was one that I felt was good for a butterfly that had a predominately grey ground colour on its underwings but also with some orange and secondly, I did not want to give the illusion that these photographs were taken in a natural setting. I've always felt that one of the great advantages that the butterfly photographers have over the butterfly collectors is that there is considerable information that can be derived from photographs taken in the field. These photographs taken appropriately may have considerable ecological integrity. For example, I consider that my photo of a Duke of Burgundy taken on Friday 25th May at Heyshott Down, to be a good example of this because it demonstrates arboreal roosting behavior, of an adult, in a Yew tree.
Was I successful, well its not for me to judge but I do think that this whole process, from egg through to adult has been a very inspiring experience and I thought that Richard with the Purple Hairstreak and Bob Eade with his similar observations of the Wall Brown have both done some excellent work documenting these processes and should both be commended. I for one would really like to see more of this this type of "whole life cycle work" in the coming years, on the website. It may also extend the "season" simply because the material would not be restricted to adults. (Dan Danahar)

While doing a spot of path clearing at Bevendean Down this afternoon the sun came out and a few butterflies appeared, Marbled Whites, Large Skippers, Speckled Woods and a very fresh Ringlet, my first of the season. (Geoff Stevens)


Saturday 23 June 2012

After all this awful wet weather we have had this June I was worried that the Silver-studded Blues would really struggle this year, if any emerged at all. I was more optimistic when I saw that there were a couple of sightings on BC website of these blue butterflies on Iping and Stedham commons in twos and threes over the last week, so I headed up there today with my fingers crossed! From the Iping Common car park, I walked along the gas-main path and saw several SSBs, mainly fresh pristine males but also females and a worn old male. When I got to the fork in the park, I decided not to turn left towards/past the Iron age barrows but continued straight ahead on the path going downhill parallel to the main road, later bearing left (once level with Aylings garden centre that is across the road to the right) and followed around back across the common, stopping at the pond near the car park to check out the dragonflies. In total I counted 33 Silver-studded Blues including 3 females. Although a few of these were found in their usual habitat of very short heather, strips and patches of which are mown or cut for the butterflies benefit, the majority were in long grass and more mature vegetation, possibly sheltering from the strong gusty winds which were blowing any butterfly that attempted to fly, a long way off course! Although initially worrying, I did wonder if this may perhaps assist these reluctant fliers in the development of a few new colonies? Out of interest, I also saw a female Clouded Buff moth and 5 woodlark, Downy Emerald dragonfly, including a mating pair, Four-Spotted Chaser dragonfly and Black Tailed Skimmer dragonfly, with Large Red damselfly and Azure Damselfly. (Sophie May Lewis)

We went for a walk northwards from Chichester (on the east side) to Lavant and back down west along the old railway this afternoon. Plenty of big trees on much of the route and in some places there was good shelter from the blustery wind. Despite the sun being out only fleetingly & it was warmer in these spots and we saw Red Admirals  about half a dozen of them, but no other butterflies  and a Speckled Yellow moth. (John Heys)

Yesterday morning I visited Southwater Woods. Mark Colvin and Neil Hulme had the same idea and we assembled at the cross-paths and witnessed the first batch of 7 Silver-washed Fritillaries on the brambles. When the sun shone they flew down for nectar, then frustratingly rested high up on the trees for long periods. There were plenty of Speckled Woods about and Meadow Browns were abundant in the meadow, also Silver Ys. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)


Friday 22 June 2012

Helen Crabtree's Suitcase Square Report: here

Purple Hairstreak (above), seen this afternoon at Chichester College, Brinsbury Campus in grassland struggling with the wind and temperature. (Paul Foskett)

While the awful weather continues and butterflying opportunities are few and far between it's a good time to spare a thought for BC Honeymoon Challenge couple Sami and Seth Gibson. Here's a couple of excerpts from their latest diary posting. "Well, despite YET MORE torrential downpours, high winds and generally rubbish weather ... we've made it to Wigan in one piece. We're taking a canal route northwards to Kendal as the next leg of our journey. Sami's leg finally stopped giving her pain just 4 days ago (poor girl, a whole month suffering agonising shin-splints. We're both extremely relieved it has finally cleared up) so we plan to pick up the pace somewhat from here onwards ........ Right now it's bucketing down once more. We've nipped into a library to dry out (!) but packing away a wet tent and getting back into a wet tent whilst being rained upon is becoming just a tad tedious". I think you'll agree that their courage and determination in raising money for BC by walking from Land's End to JOG deserves all of our support. If you have not already done so please click here http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/reports_honeymoonchallenge.php then click on the prompt at the base of the page to give whatever you can to support them in their super-human effort. Please help them to help our butterflies. (Neil Hulme)


Wednesday 20 June 2012

On June 12 & 14 at Stedham Common I saw a Drinker moth caterpillar (Euthrix potatoria), a Fox Moth caterpillar (Macrothylacia rubi), a Common Heath moth (Ematurga atomaria) and 2 male Silver-studded Blues. On June 13 at Mill Hill I saw 8 Adonis Blues (3 male, 5 female) and 6 Small Heaths. On June 16 at Cissbury Ring I saw Small Heaths, Large Skippers and Meadow Browns. On June 17 at Mill Hill I saw 12 Small Heaths, a Holly Blue, 2 Small Tortoiseshells, a Meadow Brown and large Mullein moth larvae (Shargacucullia verbasci). On June 18 at Park Corner Heath I saw a Green Oak Tortrix (Tortrix viridana), a Mother Shipton (Callistege mi), a Meadow Brown and a Speckled Wood. At the same place today I saw a very active Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary flying all over the reserve area at high speed plus a male Brimstone and a Meadow Brown. Beside the path near the entrance I saw a White Admiral nectaring on bramble flowers. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Plenty of Silver-studded Blues flying in the bright sunshine at Iping Common this morning. In total, about 15 males were seen within the space of an hour (11am-12pm). Just like Rog Pendell yesterday, no other species were seen. (Paul Cox)

I have been seeing several of these day flying moths at Bevendean the last few days, are they Yellow Shell? (Geoff Stevens) (Yes, indeed they are - I had one flying around my garden in Lindfield yesterday too. ed.)


Tuesday 19 June 2012

Helen and Nick Crabtree's Suitcase Square Report: here

 

On the way home this afternoon, I called in at Iping Common at about 3.30pm. By 4pm I had seen four smart male Silver-studded Blues making the most of the warm sunshine. On the down side, these were the only butterflies I saw. (Rog Pendell)

Diplocks Wood (TQ575042): 3 Small Tortoiseshells enjoying the red valerian in my garden encouraged me to go out looking for more butterflies, which have been rather scarce on my walks this year. I was surprised to see 2 Large Skippers (male) on brambles in a small sunlit clearing in Diplocks Wood. This is the first time I have seen them there, and brings to 19 the total butterfly species I have seen in this tiny ancient wood. Also several Speckled Woods. I then wandered around tetrad TQ5602 and saw my first Meadow Brown this year and several Small Heath  a bit disappointing. (Susan Suleski)

As it was a beautiful summers day we made a trip to Iping Common today for the Silver-studded Blues. This is the first time we have ever seen these; what a cracking little butterfly. We found 20+ males, 3 females and a mating pair. Also seen were Meadow Brown (2) and Large Skipper (3).
News for Sunday 17 June: Marbled White on Friston Hill. (Pauline Batchelor)

News for Monday 18 Jun: A fine late morning at Iping Common with Silver Studded Blues and an afternoon at Botany Bay with Wood Whites. The sun is out! (Maggie and Steve East)


Monday 18 June 2012

After quite a lot of searching I have finally found a Green Hairstreak habitat that is away from the Downs, in fact it's in a clearing surrounded by mainly conifer plantations TQ213255.
One individual seen but hopefully, later on in the season, a few more. Also seen 6 Large Skippers and 4 Meadow Browns, 1 Red Admiral, 5 Small Heaths. Nearer home saw my first Burnet moth of the season I believe a Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet, (however I am getting this checked) TQ2414. Having seen a Small Tortoiseshell at this location I went to check another couple of locations one area drew a blank but at the second one I found 14 Small Tortoiseshells (all pristine) in close proximity to one another, most of which were basking on discarded old potatoes, a perfect habitat for sunbathing and a rich supply of nutrients for Nettle growth. Finally another male stag beetle in Henfield which flew and landed on my step-son's arm as he was walking home yesterday evening. (Richard Roebuck)

News for Sunday 17 Jun: I saw this Silver-washed Fritillary on Sunday at Rewell Woods, there were 3 of them about. (Mo Brown)

Silver-studded Blues (above) taken at Iping Common on Sunday 17th June. The underwing photo shows a couple of 'studs' shining a brilliant blue. (Chris Hooker)


Sunday 17 June 2012

I saw a Silver-washed Fritillary (above) today at Rewell Wood near Arundel. (Nick May)

On a run around Lancing Ring this morning I flushed up my first Ringlet of the year. Then I moved on to Iping Common this afternoon where I saw 8 Silver-studded Blues (7 male and 1 female). (Chris Hooker)

Mill Hill  3 Painted Ladies (one of which was in the adjoining cattle field field to the north). All looked very well worn, one almost transparent! Also a Meadow Brown, Common Blue and perhaps a dozen Small Heaths.
Anchor Bottom  unfortunately the wind was funnelling up the valley so not a butterfly in sight. 2 small butterflies at the bottom on the concrete track in.
Sat 16  Iping Common  windswept and only the occasional burst of sun but thankfully a single male Silver-studded Blue was out. Looked newly emerged and must have felt lonely and wondered what it was doing as it clung onto the heather stems! (Chris and Helen Corrigan)

At Kiln Wood Blackboys East Sussex: 2 Small Heath, 6 Large Skipper, 5 Meadow Brown. (Arthur Greenslade)


Friday 15 June 2012

There are lots of Orange-tip larvae now on the Garlic Mustard. I found one which had just shed its skin. (Bob Eade)

I was in the garden and noticed a male Stag Beetle which had climbed half way up a Buddleia stem gripping on for dear life in the strong wind with grappling hook claws. Interestingly it seemed a smaller than usual but otherwise great to see in the garden at Henfield. (Richard Roebuck)


Thursday 14 June 2012

Bob Foreman and I had a meeting and so decided to have it in Rowland Wood, so that he could carry out his transect at the same time. The weather was sunny and cool and in addition to many Speckled Woods, we also saw about 3 to 5 Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries. They were a little flighty but we managed to get a photo or two. (Dan Danahar)


Wednesday 13 June 2012

Seen this morning at Friston Forest, a single Dark Green Fritillary, Large Skipper, and an Adonis Blue. (Simon Quin)

Had a walk around a couple of fields at Woodmancote as perhaps summer had arrived, saw Large Skipper (13) Red Admiral (2), Small Heath 2, Meadow Browns male 3, Small Tortoiseshell 1, Small White 1, Mother Shipton 1, Cinnabars 5, Silver Y 4
Caterpillars - Lackey (3 inch long!), Ruby Tiger and two attractive yellowish caterpillars feeding on Bramble which I suspect could be early instar Emperor Moth? Then again I could be completely wrong as I have never seen these before. Also seen numerous Broad-bodied Chasers and one female Emperor Dragonfly TQ2414. (Richard Roebuck)

After the recent deluge, it was nice to see a few butterflies around my Edburton garden today. A Meadow Brown and Wall were amongst the Bee and Pyramidal Orchids and Small Heath, Common Blue and a Brown Argus were in the field next to the house. A Small Elephant Hawk-moth, Silver Y and a few Shears were feeding on the Valerian yesterday evening. (Tony Wilson)

Whilst I was out and about checking Red Kites in Sussex, Mary recorded in our Storrington garden: Large Skipper, Red Admiral, Meadow Brown and Speckled Wood. (Martin and Mary Kalaher)

A Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary at Park Corner Heath basking in the late afternoon sun. Eventually the sun went behind a small cloud and I was rewarded by it closing its wings so I could take some shots of the beautiful underside. (John Williams)


Tuesday 12 June 2012

I was surprised to find this Privet Hawk-moth on my car near Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne this morning. (Peter Perry)


Monday 11 June 2012

With yet another iffy day weatherwise I spent the morning hoping the rain would stick to staying west of Brighton. I stayed around Cradle Hill area of Frog Firle. Plenty of Common Blues seen and a Small Blue. My 2nd Painted Lady also seen and as I got back to the car opposite Frog Firle Barn I spotted a Small Tortoiseshell trying to get as much warmth as possible from the weak sun. (Bob Eade)


Sunday 10 June 2012

Despite the grey skies and drizzle I headed out West to join Jane Willmott and Emily Coyte at Iping Common. Jane and I had found emerging Silver-studded Blues here on May 26th last year and we were hoping to see if any brave individuals had emerged to face the dreadful weather of 2012 yet. We headed to the small hollow where we had found the first 2011 butterfly and began searching in the wet grass. Eagle-eyed Emily eventually found one - a tiny, damp butterfly clinging to the grass. The first Silver-studded Blue of the season; a full two-weeks after the first of 2011. After taking a quick picture we left him to it. In the afternoon the heavens opened and there was a biblical deluge - I just hope the little fella was clinging on tightly. (Emily Coyte, Jane Willmott, Michael Blencowe)

Early this morning the world was alive with insects of all sorts of shapes and sizes, including Wasp beetles and Longhorn beetles on a bridle way at Woodmancote. Butterflies seen were, Speckled Woods 5, Brown Argus 1, Large Skipper 2, Red Admiral 2, Small Heath 1, Burnet Campions and Orange Tip caterpillars on garlic mustard which seem particularly numerous at the moment. Most notable was an amazing Crane-fly Ctenophora pectinicornis the first time I have ever seen one (well worth a look at this beast on the web) unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me. TQ235134. Near Henfield at Broadmere Common TQ2115 Brown Argus, Red Admiral and loads of damselflies at least 5 species and also Downy Emerald, Broad-bodied and Four-spotted chasers. Got a lucky shot of a large dragonfly (to be identified) which just before I took the shot was joined by a Speckled Wood just as a cloud came over. When the sun came out the Speckled Wood actually attempted to walk on the dragonfly's head just before it departed. I also couldn't resist a pic of an inch long horsefly I found on a bench, the biggest wrap-around compound eyes I have ever seen. You would think a horse was pretty easy to spot?
Other records: woods off Spithandle Lane, mating pair of Green-veined whites, Red Admirals 2, Silver Y 2, and two very worn Commas TQ1615. (Richard Roebuck)

News for Saturday 9 Jun: Meadow Brown and Large Skipper at Levin Down. (Ann Griffiths)

More news for Saturday 9 Jun: Late Wall Brown 1st brood at High and Over looking rather worn and sad!! (Bob Eade)


Saturday 9 June 2012

After the high winds iof the past few days I was worries that most of our butterlies would have been blown across the border into Kent but it didn't stop a crowd of 35 Sussex BC members joining me for a walk around Rowland Wood and Park Corner Heath today. It was a great chance to show people the work we have been doing with our volunteer work parties and contractors in our new reserve. The place really is looking better and better each time I visit. Before we even reached Park Corner Heath we had already seen Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and there were more to be seen flying on the reserve. This strong-flying butterfly was the only species seen battling the winds but no-one seemed disappointed as it was the species that they had came to see. In the afternoon I led another group of 20+ people from East Hoathly & District Preservation Society around their local reserve. Great to see so many people supporting the work we're doing on our reserves - thanks to all who came along today. (Michael Blencowe)

I saw my first Marbled White of the season on Bevendean Down this morning, also a Green Hairstreek and 2 Common Blues and in my nearby garden 2 Small Tortoiseshell an 1 Red Admiral. (Geoff Stevens)

Yesterday I returned to Kithurst Hill and found many of the Small Blues were weather beaten. However new ones emerged during the morning and made the trip worthwhile. I observed a Silver Y moth nectaring on Privet, and a Cinnabar moth flying. There were fresh Speckled Woods, also plenty of Small Heaths and some Common Blues. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)


Thursday 7 June 2012

With sunshine in such short supply it's hardly surprising that our long-suffering butterflies are reacting so quickly when the cloud finally clears. After yet another miserable day the sun appeared at 4.15pm this afternoon, and within a couple of minutes a male Speckled Wood was basking on my garden bench in Worthing (TQ144028). (Neil Hulme)


Wednesday 6 June 2012

On a very windy and dull afternoon on 2 June, I saw just two butterflies on Lewes Downs (TQ446088). One was a Common Blue and the other was my first Painted Lady of the season. (Rog Pendell)

Despite the cloud and patchy light rain this afternoon, I decided to park at High and Over and walk around Cradle Hill, The Comp and back via Frog Firle. I wasn't expecting to see much but ended up seeing several butterflies and moths including 2 Large Skippers, a Grizzled Skipper, a Dingy Skipper, several Small Heath, an old Adonis Blue and a Yellow Shell moth. (Chris Hooker)

Yesterday I took advantage of the dry morning to visit Warnham Nature Reserve to see the very attractive Longhorn Moth, Nemophora degeerella. I found several on the Umbellifers by the boardwalk. Their antennae are 3.5 times body length and it was difficult to see where they ended unless the light reflected in just the right way. I also saw a Red Admiral, a Common Blue and several Speckled Woods. Last Thursday I joined Mark Colvin at Mill Hill at 5:30am and we had a very fruitful time with roosting Adonis and Common Blues and Small Heaths on the grasses at the bottom of the hill. They started opening their wings at 7:45 and flew at 8am when it was quite warm. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)


Tuesday 5 June 2012

I have just started to discover the delights of daytrips on the train from Brighton out to Seaford to start exploring the walks to the north of the town. We set out on the 7:10am train to get a walk in before the forecast rain arrived. My partner was not as enthusiastic about this as me! But we had such a treat walking along the Comp and then the steep bank which Bob Eade refers to in his 3rd of June sighting as Greenway Bank, TQ489024. Such sheets of yellow horseshoe vetch and rock rose, the sun came out and despite a bit of a breeze we saw 4 Adonis, 2 Small Heath, a Grizzled Skipper and a couple of other blues I could'nt be certain off. I know that I am at the very bottom rung of butterflying, unlike many people in the Sussex group but I am getting a huge amount of pleasure from it. Back to Seaford via Alfriston and along the river where we seemed to be accompanied by yellow hammers the whole way. And got on the train just as the rain started. (Tessa Pawsey)

Our local Common Blues have waited until now to emerge, three males and a nice blue female on the wing yesterday the 4th, very late but most welcome.
Ten days ago I pleased to see 4 female Green Hairstreaks laying on Dyers Greenweed (Genista Tinctoria) in Harveys Lane. To add to the discussion on Holly Blue larval food plant choices, last year a female spent an hour going through egg-laying behaviour on Deutzia flower buds in our garden, though whether she actually laid any I am not sure, as I could not find any. (Graham Parris, Isfield)

Following trapped in North Portslade garden: Poplar Hawkmoth, Shark, Buff Ermine, White Ermine, Heart & Dart, Angle Shades, Shuttle-shaped Dart, Common Swift, Treble Lines, Rustic, Silver-ground Carpet. Micros include Lozotaenia forsterana, Garden Pebble, Bramble Shoot Moth (Epiblema Uddmanniana). (Darryl Perry)

On Monday afternoon I visited Kithurst Hill and found that Common Spotted Orchids are showing well. I noticed the little blue Common Milkwort for the first time. There were plenty of Small Blues plus a Small Heath and a Yellow Shell moth. On Tuesday morning I had a window of dry, warm weather so I did my weekly butterfly transect at Mill Hill. I saw the delicate white flowers and pink buds of Dropwort and some Treble-bar moths. Butterfly count: Adonis Blue 18, Common Blue 4, Dingy Skipper 1, Small Heath 16. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)


Monday 4 June 2012

My first ever Wood White. Botany Bay. This was the only butterfly we saw, but not complaining. (A very pleased Celia Curtis)

My mum keeps saying that the grand children and I, find all the caterpillars before her. Well today she beat us to it and spotted this little group of what I think are Emperor Moth caterpillars feeding on some meadow sweet in South Stoke. I found some similar one a couple of years back near by and thought having looked at the books that they were Queen of Spain but they soon changed their colour and proved to be Emperors. Sorry the pictures are not better. (Josse Davis)


Sunday 3 June 2012

The weather improved enough for a walk up The Comp this afternoon. With the bushes protecting the area from the wind and the sun beginning to shine I saw 27 Speckled Wood along the mile long footpath. Also seen was my first Painted Lady and Large Skipper of the year. Lots of Red Admiral also seen. On Greenway Bank Adonis and Common Blues, Green Hairstreak, Dingy Skipper, Brown Argus, Wall Brown and yet more Speckled Wood. (Bob Eade)

News for Monday 28 May: A couple of moth pics that may be of interest. A lovely Scorched Carpet and a male (right) and female Pale Tussock both at M.V trap in Henfield. (Richard Roebuck)


Saturday 2 June 2012

Had a couple of short walks this morning. First was around Park Corner Heath where I saw several Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries along with some Grizzled Skippers, Small Heaths, a Brimstone and a couple of Speckled Wood.
Then I headed over to Abbots Wood as the cloud thickened and found more Small Heaths and Speckled Woods, and a surprise late, faded and tatty Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Green Hairstreak above, taken at Cradle Hill 20 May). (Chris Hooker)

Today I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours with my father at our Park Corner Heath and Rowland Wood Reserve near Lewes. The main target was Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, which started to emerge last week. Initially we found it difficult to confirm the presence of more than 4 or 5 male SPBFs on the central part of Park Corner Heath, although they are difficult to count as they roam widely over the area. However, just as it was time to depart we discovered a group of 3 at the far, lower end of PCH, which had clearly just emerged that morning and were still a little unsteady on the wing. The dark markings exhibited that purplish gloss that only the freshest specimens show. Also on view at PCH was a pretty Cream-spot Tiger moth and several Grizzled Skippers, including a well-worn ab. intermedia. The best find was on the Rowland Wood Reserve. My father spotted a Grizzled Skipper which in flight had that characteristic pale look of a good 'ab.'. As it settled we were pleased to see that it was a nice example of a female ab. taras. Undoubtedly born and bred on the new reserve this gives real hope that the extended habitat will become home to significant numbers of this beautiful aberrant form. SPBFs are yet to emerge in this part of the wood but Small Heath numbers are clearly building well. (Neil and Eric Hulme)

A great 3 days off with 1 visit to Park Corner and 2 visits on the Downs around Lewes. At Park Corner I was lucky to find a newly emerged male Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary as well as several other species inc. lots of Small Heath. On the Downs near Caburn many Adonis Blues and 3 Scarce Forester Moths. Then near Offham I spotted a Green Hairstreak egg laying and after a bit of a search I managed to find an egg. Other good sights here included mating Brown Argus, a fresh Speckled Wood, mating Hairy Dragonflies and a couple of smart Burnet Companion. (Bob Eade)

Today I managed to sneak an hour or so at Frog Firle prior to England's friendly. It was a great decision to go as I enjoyed watching and photographing Small White, Large White, Green-Veined White, Small Heath, Grizzled Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Holly Blue, Adonis Blue, Large Skipper, Green Hairstreak, Common Blue as well as dragonflies and damselflies. (Nick Linazasoro)


Friday 1 June 2012

Last night's Butterfly Conservation / Harvey's wine tasting evening in Lewes was a huge success. The event was sold out and 65 thirsty people joined us at the Linklater Pavilion to sample a range of wines. Andy from Harveys gave us all an introductory talk on the wines that we were sampling as we perused the menu and knocked back plenty of vino. Michael Blencowe gave a presentation entitled 'Lepidopteral Legends of Lewes' paying tribute to Gilbert White's tortoise, Archie Wightman, the Flame Brocade, the Lewes Wave and local living legends John and Crispin Holloway. It was a very enjoyable evening and big thanks go to branch fundraiser Carole Mortimer for organising it all and to everyone who attended and helped us raise money for our conservation work in Sussex.
And thanks to Harveys too for their continued support of Sussex Butterfly Conservation. Please support Harveys over the bank holiday weekend by drinking as much of their fine produce as possible.

The Purple Hairstreak caterpillar I found on the 25th of May ended up in an empty small fish food pot, despite escaping and being recovered from the kitchen floor.
My original intention was to take a couple of macro photos and release it. However being busy I sort of didn't get round to it. For two days it munched away producing a fair amount of frass and then its behaviour suddenly changed.
It shrunk in size and became decidedly humped in shape similar to a Brown Hairstreak caterpillar and a little later was firmly fixed to an oak twig on the bark. Naively I thought it was dying.
It stayed here like this for 2 or 3 days. Bye the way the grip of these caterpillars is pretty impressive which is not surprising for its arboreal life style. Anyway curious I waited and on the 31st of May it had disappeared.
I checked all the twigs and leaves carefully and it wasn't to be seen. I then checked all the bits and pieces in the bottom of the container and found a tiny chrysalis.
Now it doesn't appear to produce a cremaster whilst pupating on a twig, Possibly I think it sort of just falls off to the ground, then again it would be safer to fall off as a caterpillar and then find a safe niche to pupate. If it attempted to crawl off the tree then surely this would be one heck of a walk exposing it to predators. However this is guess work as clearly this was an artificial situation. On another note Jeremy Thomas noted that he had searched for pupae on the ground up to 5m out from the trunk and did not find any. The bough where I found this caterpillar was easily this distance away from the trunk. This is quite tantalising stuff and raises more questions than answers. Now unfortunately I am away on holiday from the 21st June, so either I will be lucky and witness its emergence or I will have to recruit a baby sitter, so to speak, such as Dan to see what happens. Note the oak leaf and match are for background and scale comparison only for the Photos. (Richard Roebuck)

By this time last year I had recorded 18 species of butterfly in my Storrington garden. This year just 9 species and the overall numbers, rather woeful. A bit of joy today when I observed a female Orange-tip ovi-positing on Garlic Mustard, nectaring avidly on a Geranium and then 'posing' on an Ox-eye Daisy. Oh, what bliss! It was still there 5 hours later (clearly having a long siesta!). (Martin Kalaher)

News for Thursday 31 May: Not a lot of sun about yesterday and a bit on the windy side but during a walk from Friston Pond to Exceat via Friston Forest and Lullington Heath I saw the following:-
3 Red Admiral, 3 Small Copper, 8 Common Blue, 11 Small Heath, 2 Speckled Wood and, a nice surprise, 1 Painted Lady. (Stuart Ridley)

Recent news: Spotted this unusual Adonis Blue while leading a walk near Lewes last week. Looks like the aberrant form ab. caerulescens-lunulata to me. (Michael Blencowe)


Thursday 31 May 2012

Sussex Duke of Burgundy butterflies made an appearance on BBC South Today this evening. The clip can be viewed on the BBC IPlayer at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01j9zw6/South_Today_31_05_2012/ from 23.06 into the programme. (Neil Hulme)

News for Monday 28 May: This Small Blue (above) from next door to Asda supermarket in Brighton appears to be more blue than usual (Obviously a seagull fan!). (Steve and Maggie East)


Wednesday 30 May 2012

Just a quick update on Seth and Sami's Epic butterrfly walk from Lands End to John O'groats. Yesterday, they arrived in Bridgwater in Somerset! they have been on the road for nearly 3 weeks now taking in 3 counties so doing really well especially in the hot weather we have had! It's not too late to sponsor them and all money is going to butterfly conservation so if you havn't done so already please support them. There is a link at the top of this page where there is more details... Thank you (Nick Bond)

I was awoken at 6.30 by a Cuckoo as normal outside the house (no cuckoo clock jokes please). Instead of one, there are now three flying up and down the road outside making quite a racket. Call me old fashioned but these are supposed to be in the fields or somewhere where you can't see them. Not frolicking around the roof tops in Henfield.
Early evening walk on a private site at Woodmancote (TQ2414): Large Skipper 1, nectaring on a pink field vetch flower, thought these would be out soon. Grizzled Skipper 1 (very fresh), Dingy Skipper 2, Mother Shipton 2, Burnet Campion 4, Cinnabar, male and female Small Coppers. The female I was watching landed on a leaf crawled round the other side and then descended down the stem to ground level - she didn't actually lay any eggs, so not sure what she was doing. (Richard Roebuck)

Further improvements on the trapping front with the following trapped in my North Portslade garden:
First Hawkmoths of the year in the form of a Small Elephant Hawkmoth & Privet Hawkmoth plus Maiden's Blush, Pale Tussock, Chocolate Tip, Knot Grass, Rustic, Pale Mottled Willow, Garden Carpet, Heart & Dart, Treble Lines, Silver Y.
(Darryl Perry)

News for Tuesday 29 May: The constant good weather has put the butterfly haven in a good place. The wildflowers are just beginning to show themselves, especially the Grass Vetchling (Lathyrus nissolia) which is everywhere within the sward. I was pleasantly surprised yesterday when checking on the Holly Blue eggs mentioned May 25th, to find three eggs instead of the two reported, all on the one inflorescence. Indeed, 3 Holly Blues were recorded yesterday, with one female showing a great deal of interest in the Lotus. Other species seen were 5 Common Blues and 13 Small Blues which seem to be doing well now.

News for Monday 28 May: I would like to report a Green Hairstreak butterfly in my garden - Hastings TQ8210 - on Monday at 10.30hrs (Sharon Bigg)

And finally... Although well beyond the Sussex border and therefore unsuitable for a website such as this, our more adventurous readers may find the information (3 part report) contained in my UK Butterflies Diary at http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=4065&start=1000 useful, if ever planning a trip to Scotland to see the rare and beautiful Chequered Skipper. (Neil Hulme)


Tuesday 29 May 2012

Friston Forest. The slopes below the gallops near Butchers Hole CP are bright yellow with horseshoe vetch with I estimate over 100 Common Blue butterflies, mostly male but some harassed females. Also, quite a few Adonis Blues (identified 2 definitely). Also spotted 4 Small Blues, each 100-200 metres apart; several Small Heath; one Small Copper. I was disappointed by the lack of butterflies in the Forest until I came across an area with at least 50 Speckled Woods dancing about in groups. Later I saw a male and female Brimstone together; and 5 Large Whites throughout my 2 hour walk. (Susan Suleski)

Taking a walk down near the Wetlands trust, Arundel, we came across this beautiful moth, a Burnished Brass seen here on a nettle. We also saw Comma caterpillars and a Red Admiral laying this egg as well as Red Admiral caterpillars and chrysalis wrapped up in the nettles. Photos by Josse, Theo and Anya. (Josse Davis)

I spent this morning on Levin Down (SU885133) and recorded the following species: Common Blue 21
Grizzled Skipper 5
Brown Argus 1
Brimstone 3
Small Heath 19
Small White 1
Large White 3
Orange Tip 2
Green-veined White 1
Speckled Wood 3
(Roger Pendell)

Spent three hours exploring the grassland slopes at Butts Brow, just outside Eastbourne and in the small meadow below Combe Hill saw the following: Small Heath 10, Adonis Blue 13, Common Blue c30, Small Copper 2, Brimstone 1, Dingy Skipper 3, Unidentified Flying White 1. (Chris Skinner)

Initially a surprise this puzzle butterfly was snapped on 13 May 2012 on Mill Hill. Mystery for the readers. (Andy Horton)


Monday 28 May 2012

1 Pearl-bordered Fritillary at Milton Hyde TQ5636408637, just south of Arlington Road West away from the main site at Abbotts Wood. (Roy Wells)

After a run of poor traps, where the only notable species caught was an irate Robin, things picked up today, with Pebble Prominent, Campion and this magnificent Puss Moth, the first we have caught at our Worthing trap. (Mike & Karen Galtry)

Doing a transect count this morning I noticed a Small Heath which was much paler than the normal colouring. Twice it flew round with a conventional coloured butterfly. It landed twice and I was able to get a rather poor shot of the underside. Regretably I could not get an upperside photo. The sighting was from Hollingbury Wildpark, at the side of the set-aside field just north of Hollingdean. (Peter Whitcomb)

I visited Park Corner Heath and Rowland Wood again today to see how the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries were getting on and I'm glad to say that numbers seem to be building, I counted nine that I am fairly sure were different individuals and I saw a few more which I suspect were ones I had already counted. They were a little less active this morning too, occasionally stopping to nectar on bugle and bluebell flowers (not long enough for me to a decent photo though). Good numbers of other butterflies seen as well, Grizzled Skipper, Brimstone, Green Hairstreak, Speckled Wood and Small Heath.
Plenty of day flying moths too: hundreds of Brown Silver-line and Speckled Yellow, I particularly enjoyed watching these as they trundled along the rides in Rowland Wood, minding their own business, only to be set upon by irritable Speckled Woods. A Birch Mocha settled on the track just in front of me and I also saw a very flighty Cream-spot Tiger which refused to settle long enough to be photographed. Amongst the micros I spotted were good numbers of the spectacular Oecophorid, Common Tubic, Alabonia geoffrella and a few Bluebell Conch, Hysterophora maculosana. (Bob Foreman)

Recent news: On the 26th I visited Rowland Wood to see the Bog Beacon (thanks Michael). While there I saw lots of Small Heath and even more Speckled Yellow (including a mating pair). There were 3 or 4 Brimstone and 3 Holly Blue as well. I saw something out of the corner of my eye that may or may have been a SPBF but cannot confirm. Other sightings include Beautiful Demoiselle, teneral White-legged damselfly and Nightingale (heard not seen). A later (same day) visit to Old Lodge produced Brimstone.
On the 27th I visited Woods Mill and found a male Orange Tip still on the wing. There were also several Speckled Woods. Not much else of note that I can remember butterfly wise but was delighted to see lots of Beautiful Demoiselles. Also of note: a grass snake attacking an adult frog with teatime in mind, Mayflies on the wing and the sight of a Sparrowhawk bursting out of a hedge with chick in its talons closely followed by two furious Blue Tit parents in hot pursuit. (Sherie New)


Sunday 27 May 2012

It was a perfect day for butterfly recording on Sunday and 19 people joined us to record species in an area which is rather blank on our butterfly atlas map. Paul Foskett of Brinsbury College kindly allowed us to use a room as tactical planning HQ and (after an introduction from me) we allotted everyone tetrad (2km) squares and we all headed out into the surrounding countryside to find some butterflies. I must admit that I have never spent any time at all in this part of Sussex - but I was amazed at the great habitats and landscape which we found in our square around North Heath - it was one of the best circular walks I've been on in the county. At 3pm we all met up again at the pub to collate our records. We had achieved great coverage of the area and found some interesting records for Grizzled Skipper and Dingy Skipper. It wasn't all butterflies either - we also had records for Nightingale, Dragonflies, Ancient Woodland... and anything else. I was particularly proud of the Purple Hairstreak caterpillar which I had found - inspired by Mr Roebuck. A big thankyou to Marcus, Kerry, Jon, Ian, Caroline, Dave, Clare, Maddy, Phillippa, Pete, Row, Rachael, Jim, Chris, Mike, Barbara, Phil and a big thankyou to Penny Green for organising a really successful day - we'll do it again on August 19th (Michael Blencowe)

Popped up Kithurst Hill to see the newly emerging Small Blues but even at 8.45 it was very hot. Saw about 15.
Last year Michael issued some tetrads to explore where records were missing. I revisited one of these sites again today early morning to see if I could add to the species list from last summer. On the Downs at Rackham TQ051129 there were numerous Dingy Skippers and Small Heaths, the commonest species, Common Blues all males 8, Grizzled Skippers 6, Red Admiral, Orange-tip male, Large White, Burnet Companion and two Small Coppers. I witnessed for the first time a courtship flight for this species. Two individuals were flying about 3 feet off the ground remaining constantly at this height. From where I was standing they appeared to be zigzagging together as they travelled over the ground but at a fairly slow rate. This continued for about 4 minutes until unfortunately they landed separately. They could of course have been flying in horizontal tight circles. Nevertheless this behaviour was quite different and distinct compared from the vertical circles you seen in other species such as whites, Dingy Skippers, Speckled Woods.
On another note I visited Park Comer heath with a friend yesterday to see the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries. Whilst there we noticed a Holly Blue which was very interested in the flower buds of a small Alder Buckthorn tree, so much so it appeared to be laying eggs in the flower clusters as clearly it was positioning its abdomen in typical egg laying fashion. It was windy and very bright so I couldn't get a decent picture. But I have a an image if anyone wants this behaviour confirmed. (Richard Roebuck)

Today was a much more successful day in terms of butterfly and wildlife spotting than yesterday. Today the family ventured to Abbotts Wood for a family bbq and a spot of cricket and camp building with a nature walk to boot! Spotted today were lots of Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Large White as well as some interesting insects including dragonflies, feeding wood-peckers and a toad! A more enjoyable day in the sun :) (Nick Linazasoro & family)

Mill Hill: On a warm day, the Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, on Mill Hill was more extensive than four days previously, with thousands of fresh flowers but also a considerable number (thousands) of drooping and faded flowers. Eleven species of butterfly were noted in the middle of the day. On the lower slopes of Mill Hill I counted 128 Adonis Blues (with the first mating pair), my first of two Green Hairstreaks and my first Burnet Companion Moth of 2012. (Andy Horton, Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List)

Yesterday we returned from a glorious week in Pembrokeshire and today's task was to get my Mill Hill butterfly transect done and visit Kithurst Hill. Mill Hill gave me the first decent butterfly numbers of the year: Adonis Blue 85, Brimstone (male) 1, Common Blue 4, Dingy Skipper 7, Green Hairstreak 1, Green-veined White 1, Grizzled skipper 1, Orange-tip 1, Peacock 1, Small Heath 16. I saw quite a few Treble Bar moths and a Burnet Companion. At Kithurst Hill Small Blues were everywhere in the meadow. Also Dingy Skippers, Small Heaths, a Holly Blue, a Small White and a Duke of Burgundy. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Had a very pleasant walk around Park Corner Heath this morning. Saw good numbers of Small Heath and Brimstone as well as a single Holly Blue. The undoubted stars though were the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries of which there were at least 10 all looking very fresh. (Chris Hooker)

Two Wall butterflies and a Hummingbird Hawkmoth on Whitehawk Hill allotments today, and about five Large Whites!
I very much enjoyed the butterfly walk on Whitehawk Hill on sunday with ranger Paul Gorringe, shame that it was so windy but we still saw some intreped butterflies and I saw Bastard Toadflax in flower for the first time. (Tessa Pawsey)

Spring Skipper Event, Saturday 26 May: Vinehall Forest was at its glorious best when eleven of us gathered in Footland Wood car-park in preparation for the Spring Skipper Walk of 2012.
We made a great start when Martyn Parslow spotted a Common Blue butterfly in the heathy area adjacent to the car park. That was the first one recorded in Vinehall this year. It was good to see so many of the old friends of the Rother Woods Project who turned up for this event. This was fortunate too in that we had a lot of skipper spotting expertise on hand. So it wasnt long before we spotted our first Dingy Skipper.
Once we had seen our first Dingy Skipper the next half dozen followed quickly. We soon spotted a Grizzled Skipper too.
We also saw many other butterflies, including a Red Admiral, many male Orange-tips, male Brimstones and a Small Copper.
We were also extremely conscientious about naming the white butterflies unless we could get an accurate sighting. The close focus binoculars were invaluable for this task. So we positively identified several Green-veined Whites, a female Orange-tip, a female Brimstone (made somewhat easier as it was receiving considerable attention from a male Brimstone) and a Large White.
We also spotted many Speckled Yellow Moths which seem to be doing well in all woodlands this year.
(Jim Barrett, Rother Guardians Blog)

More news for Saturday 26 May: Had a nice stroll around Friston Forest but was very suprised with the lack of butterflies! Only spotted a few Peacocks, one male Orange Tip, several Speckled Wood, and the usual whites. Better luck next time. (Nick Linazasoro)

More news for Saturday 26 May: Saturday's Whitehawk Butterfly walk led by Paul Gorringe showed what a brilliant and under valued site this is. In addition to the list of butterflies given by Nigel Bowie there was at least one fresh male Adonis Blue, when it settled it would not open for a picture but was certainly an Adonis. see picture (above, left). (Geoff Stevens)

And some more news for Saturday 26 May: I did my weekly transect at Wildpark LNR on Saturday and recorded 6 Large White, 2 Small White, 2 Green-veined White, 1 Brown Argus, 1 Common Blue, 1 Speckled Wood & 1 Small Heath. However, the most exciting records I have to report on are those of the Dingy Skipper. On Saturday 12 May I reported the discovery of a Dingy Skipper at Wildpark LNR (TQ 327080), the first in four years. On this Saturday I also recorded a Dingy Skipper at the base of an east facing slope (TQ325 080) recently deforested by Brighton & Hove's city parks in an attempt to restore former chalk grassland.
In addition, local wildflower grower Mark Gapper made me aware of some exposed chalk that had been recently colonised by Horseshoe vetch (TQ330 074) just off of the Lewes Road, again on an east facing slope. I investigated the site hoping to find Adonis Blues but instead was equally delighted to discover one, perhaps two Dingy Skippers. This year the Dingy has been one of the commonest butterflies I have encountered. Perhaps it is in years like this when such species get an opportunity to expand their range. This has made me think that maybe we have become so fixated on managing chalk grassland by grazing that we have not really seen the true value of recently exposed chalk, which in this case is almost dominated by a monoculture of Horseshoe vetch (a species that the Dingy has been known to use as an alternative foodplant). For sometime now people have advocated "chalk scrapes" as being good for chalk grassland butterflies, perhaps because it produces conditions that support thermoregulation.
However, I don't think that we have truly understood that it my be the dynamic creation of areas of exposed chalk, within our landscape, that can offer a range of early successional habitats for butterfly species, that I would suggest may have evolved to exploit such ephemeral niches. The work of Thomas et al has formally suggested that many of these species don't move, which would have excluded this hypothesis but know we know this is not true. So I think it's possible that grazed grassland represents the successional climax habitat for our chalk grassland butterflies? The upper limit of their successional range, if you will, with bare chalk being the alternative end of this niche spectrum. I guess the only way to find out is to provide more exposed chalk, which is exactly what the butterfly haven scheme in Brighton & Hove aims to do... watch this space.
Finally, at the Butterfly haven I recorded 5 Small Blue and 2 Common Blue. (Dan Danahar)

News for Thursday 24 May: Seen in my garden on Crowborough, one Green Hairstreak on rhododendron and one Holly Blue on for-get-me-not. (Simon Quin)


Saturday 26 May 2012

Paul Gorringe, with Nigel Bowie and Peter Atkinson, led a group of 32 on a sunny, but windy, walk round the chalk grassland on Whitehawk Hill in east Brighton on 26 May. There was a profusion of Horseshoe Vetch, together with Kidney Vetch, Common Vetch, Sainfoin, some early Common Bird's Foot Trefoil and a good example of Bastard Toadflax. Butterflies seen included Common Blue, Small Blue, Holly Blue, Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper, Small Heath, Small Copper, Speckled Wood, Large White, Small White and a single Brimstone. Photographs, including two mating Dingy Skippers settled on a camera lense, can be seen on Flickr here. Other insects included a Burnet Companion, a Common Carder Bee, Large Red and Common Blue Damselflies and a possible Common Darter. (Nigel Bowie)

I had a nice surprise eating my breakfast in our sun lounge in Hove at 8.20am, as a Speckled Wood flew in to join me. I ushered it out to avoid the fate of the spiders' webs. It was the first one in our garden this year. Later in the day Val & I went to Abbot's Wood where we saw 20 or so Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, 30 or so Small Heaths, 3 or 4 Green Hairstreaks and a Green-veined White. (John Heys)

A walk around Rudgwick this afternoon produced 1 Grizzled Skipper and 2 Dingy Skippers at three different locations. The two Dingy Skippers were on my transect route (TQ082340 & TQ082344), whilst the Grizzled Skipper was in an adjacent field (TQ088342). (Robin Bassett)

On a late afternoon early evening visit to Springhead Hill the following were sighted, Small Blue 12, Small Heath 5, Green Hairstreak 3, Common Blue 2, Dingy Skipper 4, Grizzled Skipper 2, Orange Tip 2, Large White 1. (Paul Day)

It was nice to see the Small Blues out at last at Kithurst Hill. Last year I saw them on April 29th! Also seen: Brown Argus, Common Blue, Dingy Skipper, Duke of Burgundy, Holly Blue, Orange Tip, Small Heath and Speckled Wood. I was hoping for Green Hairstreak but they were elusive as ever. (John Williams)

Cissbury Ring: Holly Blue 6, Small Heath 10, Greenviened White 3, Common Blue 5, Adonis Blue 6, Small Copper 4, Dingy Skipper 3, Grizzled Skipper 4, Brimstone 2, Wall 3, Brown Argus 10, Peacock 1, Comma 1, Orange Tip 2, Speckled Wood 3.
What a great day, Pat and I are just finishing off a wee holls in Sussex touring the butterfly sites, the best were High and Over and Cissbury ring, the worst by a long way was Mailing Hill well over grazed only butterfly we found was 3 Small Heath. (Pat and Peter Gardner)

News for Friday 25 May: At the butterfly haven today: 4 Common Blues and 4 Small Blues, whilst outside, a single Speckled Wood. However, the most exciting discovery was two eggs laid by the Holly Blue on dogwood, as suspected yesterday (see both in the photo above). This image is the best I could manage but I am hoping that Richard Roebuck will take some photos with his large lens. If he does so, watch this space!
At the end of the day we traveled to Heyshott down. Thankfully, although we arrived late the sun was still caught by this west facing slope. We followed about 8 Dukes but because it was late (19.30hrs) most were flying high and appeared to be looking to roost in the surrounding trees. Perhaps this is a common behavior for the Dukes in the evening, just as I have observed with the High Brown Fritillary. I would be interested to hear from other enthusiasts who may have observed similar behavior. We also saw at least 5 Dingy Skipper and 5 Small Heaths. It has clearly been a good year for the Dingy Skipper. (Dan Danahar)


Friday 25 May 2012

Glorious sunshine and a stiff breeze for my transect at Rowland Wood and Park Corner Heath today. Not a great variety of butterflies out and about, but what there was made the walk a real pleasure. The main highlight was, of course, the half dozen or so Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries on the plateau at Park Corner Heath (well I am pretty certain they were all SPBF rather than PBF, they were little more than a blur most of the time). Interestingly, while I was there a gentleman, whose name I'm afraid I have forgotten (apologies...) showed me a video clip he had just taken of a female Dingy Skipper on the heath, that's very exciting, I wasn't aware that they were here (or at least not in recent times). I spent some time trying to track it down again but with no success, the breeze was getting quite strong by now and I would guess it had gone to ground, a return trip in the next day or so I think is in order to have another look. The other cause for satisfaction was the sight of good numbers of Small Heath in the rides that have only recently been created in Rowland Wood, possibly the first evidence of the successful creation of new habitat, hopefully lots more to follow. Other species seen were: Grizzled Skipper, Brimstone, Large White and Speckled Wood. (Bob Foreman)

A little while back I tracked down some Purple Hairstreak eggs. I had re-visited these and in late April noticed that one of the eggs had a neat hole in the top indicating hopefully that the caterpillar had emerged.
Periodically I have had a look for caterpillars especially now the weather has improved. Despite my searches with a magnifying glass I was unable to spot one. So I came up with an idea based on the beating tray principal.
I had an umbrella which bought at Goodwood about 3 years ago. So together with a decent stick set off. The trick was to tap a low slung oak branch sharply without damaging the tree. I did this several times catching all sorts of things in the umbrella. The black and white pattern worked a treat. So I dislodged various sawfly larvae, geometrid and noctuid caterpillars, Mirid bugs and some bizarre micro moth caterpillars that carried a case made of lichen just like a caddis fly larva. Anyway on my fourth attempt something brown and scaly resembling an oak bud moved. Eureka found one, I recon a late instar as it was a reasonable size I guess nearly a centimetre long. Anyway a few pics of my endeavours - luckily no one saw me, they would have thought I had gone mad. (Richard Roebuck)

At Levin Down this morning plenty of Common Blues, a few Grizzled and Dingy Skippers and Brimstones and a couple of Brown Argus. (Andrew House)

For various reasons I have not been very involved this year but I thought it was time to have a little look at Chantry Hill. In terms of area I probably checked no more than 20% of Chantry Hill, but in terms of the better bits rather more than 20%. Approximate numbers as follows: Small Heath 90, Dingy Skipper 60, Common Blue 60, Grizzled Skipper 20, Wall Brown 3, Brimstone 1, Small White 1, Green Hairstreak 1, Peacock 1.
True numbers for the site, rather closer to double the numbers mentioned. (Martin Kalaher)

Although still slow going on the moth trapping front, a slight sign of improvement in the form of the following trapped on the nights of 24th & 25th May in my North Portslade Garden:
Pale Prominent, Heart & Dart, Treble Lines, Shuttle-shaped Dart, Muslin Moth, Silver Y, Peppered Moth, V-Pug, Angle Shades, Green Carpet, Buff Ermine, Minor sp. (probably Tawny Marbled Minor). Micros include Diamond-back Moth, Light Brown Apple Moth & Codling Moth.
(Darryl Perry)


Thursday 24 May 2012

Second day after their emergence and we already have 5 Small Blues on site at the butterfly haven. In line with Neil's observation its the second day running I have seen the Holly Blue, this time showing a lot of interest in the dogwood in the haven (I must look for eggs today). Two Common Blues in the haven and a Speckled Wood in the Dorothy Stringer woodland concludes my observations. (Dan Danahar)

Following on from my Wall Brown count yesterday on my home patch I went today to another Wall Brown hot spot, Bo Peep Bostal. My circular walk here really produces good numbers of Wall, especially on the 1st brood. Today I counted 43 individuals including several females. Plenty of Dingy Skippers, 2 Brown Argus and a very fresh Speckled Wood also seen (photo above taken at The Comp). (Bob Eade)

Another hot and sunny day, with a high haze overhead:
The Chantry:10:30 - 11:30
Small White
4
Small Heath 7
Brown Argus 4
Green Hairstreak 4
Dingy Skipper 29
Grizzled Skipper
4
Common Blue 4
On the track in between the Chantry and Kithurst Meadow:
Small White 2
Small Heath 5
Grizzled Skipper 1
Holly Blue 1
Common Blue 2
Peacock 1
Wall Brown 2
Kithurst Meadow 11:50 - 12:05
Brimstone 1
Small White 2
Small Blue 5
Duke of Burgundy 2 (one a bit the worse for wear)
Green Hairstreak 1
Silver Y 1
Kithurst Hill Bank 12:05 - 12:20
Common Blue 1
Small White 1
Dingy Skipper 1
(Chris Skinner)


Wednesday 23 May 2012

A pleasant stroll around Frog Firle yielded several butterflies to day in the sun. Spied were Speckled Wood, Adonis Blue, Holly Blue, Large White, Small White, Green Hairstreak, Wall, Orange Tip, Comma, Peacock, Dingy Skipper, Small Heath and several dragonflies. All in all an enjoyable afternoon chilling out! Time for a beer now. (Nick Linazasoro & Drew Easton)

27 Duke of Burgundy at Heyshott Escarpment this afternoon, although many were undoubtedly sheltering from the sweltering heat! More at http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=4065&start=1000. (Neil Hulme)

TQ5602: Holly Blue (2) and Cinnabar moth (2) in my Wannock garden encouraged me to do my first check of 'my' tetrad for this year: lots of Small Heath, Grizzled Skipper (3), Large White (4), Small White (2) Orange Tip (1), Small Tortoiseshell (1) And 1 Green Hairstreak, the first time I have seen it in this tetrad! (Susan Suleski)

My father, Roy Symonds reports the following sightings from Stansted Forest (SU745115), Orange Tip (4) all males. Temperature was around 23C. Surprised by lack of other species present! (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)

The recent good weather resulted in a string of first sightings for different species at the butterfly haven today. These included the Common Blue (1), Holly Blue (2) and Small Blue (1). The Small Blue is 22 days later than last year (1st May). I also had the pleasure of watching a Small Tortoiseshell lay a batch of eggs on stinging nettles in the butterfly haven. (Dan Danahar)

Went for a walk after work to the nature reserve in Hollingbury Industrial Park. Found about 20 Small Blues all in pristine condition. Also several unidentified orange and brown moths on the wing. (Chris Hooker)

This hot weather is bringing things out! Kingston near Lewes (John Holloway's garden) there was 2 Dingy Skippers, Large White, Small White, 3 Orange Tip, 1 Small Copper, 1 Green Hairstreak, 4 Common Blue roosting on catchfly (must be a bit sticky for them), 2 Small Blue, 1 Brown Argus, 1 Speckled Wood and 1 Small Heath. (Crispin Holloway)

With the Wall Brown season now in full swing I did my 1st brood count today along The Comp/Rathfinney Valley/High and Over. The Wall Brown does seem to be having a pretty good 1st brood in this area and I was pleased to got 31 individuals throughout the walk. On top of this I also saw my 1st Brown Argus and Adonis Blue on Greenway Bank and a mating pair of Dingy Skipper on Cradle Hill.
Late afternoon I went back up The Comp to try to get some Wall Brown photos when they had slowed down a bit. The plan was to get them resting on the bushes once the sun had gone from the hot path. I was lucky to get one smart male sitting on foliage as well as others sitting on the path. (Bob Eade)

Damaged Adonis Blue on Mill Hill. Others had been seen earlier. (Andy Horton)

At least 4 Duke of Burgundy and 1 Green Hairstreak at West Dean, this morning. (Andrew House)


Tuesday 22 May 2012

Thought I was going to miss the Dukes this year due to issues out of my control. However, this morning set off for Heyshott early enough to get them waking up. Several seen along with the usual Dingy and Grizzled Skippers. Also a Treble Bar moth. Then headed for Botany Bay where the Wood White is doing very well. (Bob Eade)

After a hot and sweaty afternoon scrambling up and down the face of the South Downs counting Duke of Burgundy, it was an altogether more relaxed session at Cissbury Ring to finish off the day. At 7pm my brother Mark (on holiday from Antwerp) and I stood on the SW corner of the ramparts watching the butterflies come to roost. This is often the best time to assess numbers, as so many individuals remain unrecorded over the same area during the heat of the day. Our tally was Wall (3), Small Copper (12), Brown Argus (10), Dingy Skipper (5), Grizzled Skipper (3), Common Blue (6), Small Heath (12), Holly Blue (3), Brimstone (3), Large White (2) and Green-veined White (1). Once everything was tucked up in bed for the night we turned our cameras on the sunset. The changing evening light always adds even more character to this wonderful, atmospheric place. One effect of today's heat was a mass emergence of Holly Blue - everywhere I travelled throughout the day I was seeing them in good numbers. (Neil Hulme)

A walk around Cradle Hill and High and Over this evening after work produced the following: Small Tortoiseshell (1), Dingy Skipper (10+), Small Heath (10+), Orange Tip (1), Small White (10+), Large White (2), Green-veined White (2), Wall (1), Holly Blue (4), Red Admiral (3) and my first Painted Lady for 2 years. I also saw 2 Green Hairstreaks there on Sunday evening (20th May). (Chris Hooker)

The Comp 11:30 - 3:00 Hottest day of the year! Light breeze. Walked out along the Comp and back at the foot of the scarp slope:
Unidentified Flying Whites 4
Wall Brown 24, including a mating pair and two sparring males
Orange Tip 1
Speckled Wood 3
Small Heath 14, including a mating pair
Dingy Skipper 9
Common Blue 5
Peacock 1
Brown Argus 3
Small White 7
Green Hairstreak 1
Holly Blue 1
Butchershole 3:30 - 4:50. Still hot, but now becoming overcast. Quite a breeze over the Downs now. Amazing drifts of Horseshoe Vetch:
Small Heath 21
Dingy Skipper 30
Small Blue 2
Orange tip 1
Grizzled Skipper 2
Small Copper 3
Common Blue 4
Brimstone 1
Small White 1
Monday 21 May: Cissbury Ring 1:30 - 3:00 Windy but sunny. Some sun at last! A saunter around the ramparts revealed:
Small Heath 16
Dingy Skipper 20
Small Copper 18
Brimstone 4
Grizzled Skipper 8
Wall Brown 8
Red Admiral 1
Peacock 2
Brown Argus 3
Common Blue 3 (including one pair mating)
Speckled Wood 1
Unidentified Flying Whites 2
(Chris Skinner)

News for Monday 21 May: Having walked my transect at Knowlands Farm, Barcombe on Sunday and seen only an unidentified white and a Small Heath, I did it again yesterday and (with a revisit in the afternoon) counted eleven species including a first this year (Painted Lady) and a lifetime first for me (Grizzled Skipper). Here's the list: Dingy Skipper; Grizzled Skipper; Brimstone; Large White; Green-veined White; Orange Tip; Holly Blue; Painted Lady (a battered specimen); Peacock; Speckled Wood; Small Heath. (Nick Lear)


Monday 21 May 2012

After surveying a Duke of Burgundy site in the early afternoon I moved on to Springhead (Kithurst) Hill, hoping that a few Small Blue had emerged. Susie Milbank had the same good idea and when I arrived she had already seen several, together with a lovely fresh Duchess. Between us we counted 8 Small Blue (2 mating pairs), 3 Duke of Burgundy, 8 Dingy Skipper, 2 Small Heath, 2 Brimstone and single Holly Blue, Orange Tip, Green-veined White, Small White, Speckled Wood and Peacock. (Neil Hulme)

I was delighted to spot a Scarlet Tiger moth caterpillar in my small Brighton town centre garden this morning while sitting in the garden drinking my cup of tea and admiring the swifts. I was also delighted that I managed to identify it! I did see an adult moth in the garden last year. TQ321051. (Tessa Pawsey)

News for Sunday 20 May: Again, too cool (14.2C) for butterflies. Nevertheless, I made an afternoon trip to Mill Hill to check out the extent of the Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, which was not so extensive in previous years and nearly at its peak. Despite the cool conditions I did note a Holly Blue and a Red Admiral at the top of Chanctonbury Drive (SE of Mill Hill). On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, there were no sign of butterflies at first and eventually the first of 23+ Adonis Blues appeared and this included a fresh female, the first seen this year. Other butterflies seen on the lower slopes were a few Small Heath and just the one Dingy Skipper. (Andy Horton, www.glaucus.org.uk/MillHill2012.html)


Sunday 20 May 2012

The weather forecast was awful but the reality at 10.30 was not quite so bad. At least it wasn't raining! However seven supremely optimistic (possibly deluded) butterflies spotting heroes and heroines joined us for our morning walk. It all looked grim as we huddled in our winder coats under leaden skies and with a chilly north easterly keeping us all shivering. The special prize for the first Adonis Blue was swapped instead for a prize for any butterfly. Gloomy spirits were just starting to set in when the sky started to turn a lighter shade of grey and a piece of butterfly spotting magic by Ruth located a torpid Adonis Blue on the ground to claim the first prize. Second prize came when 8 year old (but nearly 9) Neesha (I hope my spelling is right!) found us a sleepy Dingy Skipper. Our spirits brightened, the skies brightened, the sun even appeared and we all had great views of Adonis Blues, Dingy Skippers, 2 Peacocks, 1 Green Hairstreak, 1 Small Copper and 1 Small Heath. Who would have believed it! Just goes to show... never let a dud weather forecast put you off!
Star performers... Ellie (best guide) and Neesha (best spotter).
(Chris Corrigan (worst guide and spotter... failed to be the first to find any of the named butterflies...) and Ellie Corrigan)

With the weather this morning not looking too good I strolled upto High and Over from home not expecting to see too much. On approaching the area I saw 5 Wall Brown including my first 2 females of the year, one of which was mating. At the bottom of the escarpment a smart Cinnabar Moth showed well. There was still a cool breeze blowing so apart from some Holly Blues I strolled back home. Later in the garden an Angle Shades appeared. (Bob Eade)


Saturday 19 May 2012

The first event in the Butterfly Conservation Sussex Branch 'Save Our Butterflies Week' calendar was run alongside the Murray Downland Trust Open Day at Heyshott Escarpment today. Of the three guided walks I've led this year (this one with Mike Edwards of the MDT) today's was the most enjoyable, despite having the bonnet of my car severely scratched and dented by a horse's teeth! As I introduced the event to the participants (51 over the morning and afternoon walks) we were treated to a fly-past by a squadron of Eurofighters (image courtesy of Roger Pendell). During the first walk we saw a total of 16 Duke of Burgundy, including a number of freshly emerged females, one of which was spotted being pursued by an amorous male by Susie Milbank. We were privy to the briefest of courtships as they settled down for an extended coupling of three hours plus! Two females were observed egg-laying and several males did what male Dukes do best... fight! Between the guided walks I surveyed otherwise unexplored areas of the site, eventually reaching a total of 31 for the species. Throughout the day other butterflies seen included Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper, Small Heath, Brown Argus, Orange Tip, Brimstone and Green-veined White. My thanks go to Mark Colvin for helping with logistics, and to all the representatives of the Murray Downland Trust, which does such a marvellous job in managing this fantastic reserve. It was great to see a lot of familiar faces, and quite a few new ones who I'm confident will wish to visit Heyshott again in the future. (Neil Hulme)

Once again Neil came up trumps having organised both the sunshine and an RAF flyby for the start of his beautiful morning walk at Heyshott which included numerous Dukes (I am sure someone was keeping count) including a coupled pair, Dingy Skipper, one Grizzled Skipper, an Orange Tip and a Brimstone. Once again huge thanks are due to Neil and the Murray Downland Trust Team. Keep up the good work. (Gary Faulkner)

In preparation for our BC walk tomorrow, Ellie and I checked out Mill Hill. Neil "lucky" Hulme probably used up the weekend sunshine supply for his walk at Heyshot today. How greedy!
Plenty of Adonis Blues out. Also Green Hairstreaks, 2 Brimstones, 2 Wall (on the all access trail at the top of the slope) and singles of Small White, Orange Tip, Small Copper, Small Heath and Holly Blue. Surprisingly no Grizzled Skippers But c10 Dingy Skippers. Can't promise good weather tomorrow (although it doesn't look quite so rainy!). If it is cloudy and miserable there will be a prize for the first person to find a roosting butterfly! But a small prize... so keep your expectations low! We will have fun come what may!! (Chris Corrigan)

About 30 Pearl-bordered Fritillaries seen at Abbotswood this afternoon, clearly the season is late as there were fresh looking males as well as females. Also saw Grizzled Skipper, Small Copper, Holly Blue, Orange Tip and Large White. (Andrew Burns)

Lots to see this afternoon in the sunshine at Mill Hill. Plenty of male Adonis Blues (>20) on the lower slopes, I also managed to spot two females. There were several Dingy Skippers around (~10), but Grizzled Skippers (2) were much harder to find. The Small Heath was also fairly abundant (~8). A single Peacock, Comma and Brimstone brought the total number of species spotted up to 7. (Paul Cox)

Last Sunday (13th May) I went to Old Lodge to look for Redstarts and while there saw 1 each of Speckled Yellow moth, Speckled Wood and Brimstone. Today at Mount Caburn (looking for orchids) I saw several Small Heath on the footpath between Glynde and the Mount and 3 Wall Brown on the ring at the top of the Mount where it faces south/south-east. (Sherie New)

News for Monday 7 May: (this one got lost in the post/ether somehow, ed.) I am a new member and would like to thank Chris and Tom who pointed me in the direction of my first Green Hairstreaks and Grizzled Skipper. Further to to their report from Mill Hill on Bank Holiday Monday and in addition, after they left I found a lethargic Adonis Blue (top, left). Finally belated thanks to Neil Hulme for his Rewell Wood Walks. I joined the first and can only echo the appreciation shown by other members for his efforts. (Gary Faulkner)


Thursday 17 May 2012

On my day off, I headed over to Mill Hill in the hope for some sun and butterflies; while it looked promising when I set off, the sun stayed away and so to the butterflies. I did, however, manage to see a few firsts for the year, 1 Wall on the lower southern slope, 1 Small Heath a little further along the lower path by the hedge, and ~5 Adonis Blues, most just lying on their sides on the floor! I guess a way to warm up?? There were also a few Dingy Skippers about but alas no Green Hairstreaks. Photos on my Flickr site (http://www.flickr.com/photos/48896022@N08/) and above. (Leigh Prevost)

News for Wednesday 16 May: With dry weather promised, we decided to head over the border into East Sussex to see what we could find at High and Over and Bo-Peep Bostal. Despite the forecast, there was sun but also a lot of cloud and it was always breezy which was quite strong at times and consequently very little was flying. However, we did find a Small Tortoiseshell, Small Copper and Small Heath on the banks under the white horse and also a Common Blue which was clinging on tightly to some grass. Over the road on Cradle Hill and The Comp we found 3 x Green Hairstreak, Grizzled Skippers, Dingy Skippers, Orange Tip, Small White, Speckled Wood, Peacock, and 2 x Wall which were flying and definitely not going to stop. Although disappointed the weather was not more friendly, we were very pleased with our total of 12 species for the day including the Blue and the Wall which were both firsts for us this season. (Pauline Batchelor)

More news for Wednesday 16 May: On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of being joined by Mark Colvin and Colin Knight at Heyshott. Cloudy skies and low temp's were keeping things down, but we eventually found a few Duke of Burgundies. They have yet to reach their peak here, so should be on the wing for another couple of weeks. Dingy and Grizzled Skippers were also present with Small Heaths. Then onto Mill Hill. Again cold and windy, plenty of Dingies were seen, with fewer Grizzled Skippers, Adonis Blues and single Common Blue and Small Copper. Many thanks to Neil Hulme for his advice at Heyshott. (Mark Bunch, Essex)


Wednesday 16 May 2012

Went to Mill Hill this morning to see on the wing Dingy Skippers, Grizzled Skippers, Small Heaths, Adonis Blue one of which was sat on Hound's-tongue flowers, 3 males one female, Peacocks 2, Small White 3 and three Walls one of which was a female as significantly bigger. I watched these for some time. They have been in the same place for years and the widening of the footpath by the cutting back of sloes will have benefitted them providing sheltered sunbathing opportunities. I Also noted apart from the patrolling by a male that he also periodically stopped to nectar on Ground Ivy flowers. I also saw my second Small Copper of the year. I then hot footed it to a private site I know in Henfield where there is a Small Copper colony. These had recently emerged and three were on the wing. Two were spiralling in the air about a foot off the ground and periodically settling together. I followed them round a bramble bush and temporarily lost sight of them. They had coupled and this was something I had been trying to see for a number of years. In fact it's the first time I have ever seen this event. Some say "it is possible to have loads of fun with Small Coppers?" - I have to say yes, especially hide and seek. (Richard Roebuck)

The sun came out briefly at Heyshott Down for the Dukes and Rewell Wood for the Pearls. What a delight! (Maggie and Steve East)


Tuesday 15 May 2012

In the small patches of sunshine and betweet the showers in John Holloway's garden in Kingston there were 3 Dingy Skippers (pictured, yes there are 3 in the photo, perhaps there was some other interaction going on, ovapositing was seen the previous week by Crispin Holloway). Also the first Small Blue of the year in the garden, Orange Tips, Small Whites and Large White. Looks like the weather is going to improve towards the end of the week. (Louise Holloway)


Monday 14 May 2012

As per Neil Humes posting on the sighting page, Seth and Sami Gibson are friends of mine, just an update really, they set off on Saturday from Lands End and completed the first 14 miles to Penzance, I will post regular updates on here so you can follow their progress. As you are probably aware, they are raising money for the Butterfly Conservation, so if you havn't done so already, please go to link above and make a donation. (Nick Bond)

It is a very good year at High and Over for Holly Blues with both male and females showing well. Often landing high on the bushes but occasionally being in reach to see the difference between them. Plenty of male Wall Brown also flying now with double figure numbers being seen regularly. A few male Orange-tip also seen. On Frog Firle the Green Hairstreaks now showing including a 'punctata' form with the streak covering both fore and hindwings. (Bob Eade)

News for Saturday 12 May: Made the most of the sunshine on Saturday and visited Abbots wood; armed with Mike Mullis' report we explored the Gate Wood area in search of butterflies and moths. A delightful couple of hours resulted in plenty of Green Longhorn Moths, 12 Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, 10 Small Heaths, several Large Whites, Green-veined Whites + Orange Tips and a stunning Peacock. (Peter Coyston & Anna Grist)


Sunday 13 May 2012

On a visit to Friston Forest today we saw numerous Dingy Skippers, Small Coppers, Small Heaths and Grizzled Skippers as well as one very tatty and one very new Peacock, Brimstone and two Small Blues.
Recent sightings from Newtimber Hill also include a Green Hairstreak (1st May) a Grizzley flying formation and a Mother Shipton moth (8th May). (Pauline Batchelor)

I visited Heyshott Escarpment yesterday to count the Duke of Burgundy emergence. I spotted Dukes soon after arriving and counted 18 Dukes, 12 Dingy Skippers, one Holly Blue and a female Brimstone. I then called in at Kithurst Hill where I met Neil Hulme and saw a Green Hairstreak, a Duke, a Dingy Skipper and a Burnett Companion moth. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

5 Duke of Burgundy at Springhead Hill today, including a mating pair spotted by Bob Palmer. More at base of page http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/phpBB/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=4065&start=680. (Neil Hulme)

Went to Kithurst Hill today and was pleased to see the Duke of Kithurst back for another year. While busy photographing his Grace, I spotted something blue out of the corner of my eye and was very pleasantly surprised to see a pair of Holly Blues in flagrante. Also seen: Green Hairstreak, Brimstone, Red Admiral, and unidentified whites. Later I made a brief stop at Botany Bay and reacquainted myself with the lovely delicate Wood White. (John Williams)

Given that Bob Eade has done such a good job at describing the life cycle of the Wall Brown over the last couple of months, I thought that I would go to High and Over to see this species for myself. On Arrival I stumbled across a my first Common Blue of the year. Then after scrambling up and down the hill I finally captured one picture of the Wall Brown, one only this is a very active butterfly and settled only for a short while. In total I saw seven individuals. I also recorded Dingy Skipper (1) and Small Heath (5). I then walked across the road to Cradle hill and met Nigel and Carole Kemp Who kindly walked me to some Green Hairstreaks (3) and a very nice Green-veined White. I also recorded a single Dingy Skipper. (Dan Danahar)

Thanks to Neil managed to see our first ever Wood Whites at Botany Bay today, at least double figures but had to wait till the sun came out before they started flying. The majority were seen along the stretch of track past the concrete bridge, but one was seen on the other side of the metal gate very close to the parking bay. Other butterflies seen included 1 male Orange Tip, a handful of Brimstones (both male and female), 3 Speckled Wood, 2 Holly Blue (including one 'mud-puddling'), and a single Comma. To cap it off heard our first Cuckoo of the year (and for many years), plus numerous Nightingales - they seemed to be everywhere. (Leigh Prevost)

At last the sun came out (13.0 C at 1:00 pm, with a Moderate Breeze (Force 4) and my first Common Lizard Lacerta vivipara, of the year was spotted next to a discarded plastic bag on the steps leading down to the lower slopes of Mill Hill.
As it warmed up the butterflies came out in the appreciable numbers (over a hundred) for the first time this year. At least twenty male Adonis Blues were extremely lively, but most numerous were the Dingy Skippers with an estimate exceeding sixty in the transect acre on Mill Hill. The first Common Blue Butterflies made an appearance together with my first Small Coppers with four seen, occasional Small Heaths, at least two Grizzled Skippers, a fleeting glimpse of a Wall Brown and a single Comma Butterfly. Altogether I spotted eleven species of butterfly just after midday, and sixteen different species in the last three days. (Andy Horton, http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Butterfly-list2012.html)

News for Saturday 12 May: I saw Dingy Skipper, Large White, Small Heath, Adonis Blue and a Green Hairstreak on a brief visit to Mill Hill at about 4pm. The Adonis were quite wary and I didn't get a picture but this Green Hairstreak posed nicely, unusually (in my limited experience) at ground level. (John Williams)

More news for Saturday 12 May: My usual transect at Wildpark LNR yielded Speckled Wood (1) Small Copper (1) Green Hairstreak (1) Orange-tip (1) Green-veined White (1) Brimstone (1) and amazingly Dingy Skipper (1). This is my fourth year doing this particular transect and it was only in my first year that I saw one female Dingy skipper on site. Since this time brighton & Hove City Parks have undertaken some effective if not controversial habitat management and I am delighted to see the return of this species. Further good news was that it was a female.
In the afternoon I took my wife and son to a wood nr. Plaistow to show them the elegant courtship of the Wood White that I had observed at this very site just last year. Sadly the vetch along the verges of the ride was nonexistent, in comparison to last year and so we only saw four Wood Whites. We also saw single and courting Brimstones (4), as well as about the Small Heath (5). (Dan Danahar)


Saturday 12 May 2012

Butterfly watching and cricket, what bliss... but the arachnophobes amongst us really should look away now... (ed)

Its been a bad year for cricket watching & for butterfly spotting in Hove, but at the County ground in central Hove there was play at last today and, better still, butterflies  a Holly Blue flying high in front of us at the top of the stand, a Speckled Wood on the far eastern side of the ground and a (Small?) White crossing the pitch. This was our first Hove Holly Blue and we saw our second as we crossed the Wilbury Villas railway bridge on the way back to the car. Lancashire had un-sportingly declared on 144 for 8 so that Sussex could not get a third bowling bonus point. (John Heys)

Went early to Heyshott Down and at 9.26 the first Dingy Skipper was on the wing quickly followed by a Grizzled Skipper, Interestingly the Dukes were not on the wing until over an hour later when I was joined by Andrew Burns and some more enthusiasts. Conditions were good for taking pictures and probably saw about 6 or more Dukes, most of which were in good condition. The was an odd male Brimstone, Orange-tip, Green-veined White, worn Peacock but not really that much on the wing, still feels pretty early with a chill in the wind.
From here went to Botany Bay and saw 2 Holly Blues, Green-veined White, Orange-tips and about 8 Wood Whites, one of which was collecting minerals from wet mud, Bugle was by far the preferred nectar source. But the other highlight had to be the Crab spider I caught red handed with a small species of wasp. Fantastic.
From here popped up to Kithurst Hill, and saw one Duke of Burgundy on the lower slope in the corner, male Brimstone 2, Green-veined White 2, Orange-tips, males and females, Dingy Skippers a Small Heath and Silver Y moth. Also saw one glider and two buzzards sharing the same thermal spiralling upwards in a tight circle, at one point I saw the reflection of the glider on the underside of one of the birds wings. The buzzards pulled up faster and higher than the glider. It must have been an amazing sight for the pilot literally soaring with the buzzards. (Richard Roebuck)

A late-morning visit to Kithurst Hill produced 2 male Duke of Burgundy, 1 Orange Tip, 3 Brimstones (2 males) and 1 Green-veined White. (Paul Cox)

About 20 minutes after arriving at Rowland Wood yesterday afternoon a large cloud obscured the sun and it wasn't until we were leaving that the sunshine returned which was to say the least, a little irritating. In the sunshine we saw Speckled Woods, Brimstones and Green-veined Whites. Once the sun had gone all we saw were lots of Adela reaumurella, a Green Carpet and a Drinker caterpillar.
Jo is responsible for the most exciting spot of the day though, a large grass snake, I guess it was a female as it was at least a metre long, amongst the bracken and old coppice stools in the north west of the wood, it remained stationary long enough to get a photo through the undergrowth but then rapidly departed. (Bob Foreman)

On a walk round Bevendean Down this morning all I saw were 3 Orange Tip, 1 Speckled Wood, 1 Small Heath and 1 freshly emerged Common Blue. on returning to my nearby garden there was a Small White being sucked dry by a crab spider on some honesty. (Geoff Stevens)

My annual Sussex Duke of Burgundy survey is now well underway. Today I started off at a private site near North Marden where I found 7 freshly emerged specimens. Other butterflies included Grizzled Skipper (6), Orange Tip (6), Brimstone (5), Green-veined White (2), Dingy Skipper (1) and Peacock (1). Although less than spectacular, it was the sighting of a tiny and quite dowdy day-flying moth which interested me most. A strip of dark, overgrown coppice that we opened up for the benefit of His Grace a couple of years back now provides excellent habitat for various other species, including the Drab Looper, whose larvae feed on wood spurge. I was quite surprised to see 5 specimens of this quite rare and localised UKBAP Priority Species. This included the rather unusual observation of two mating pairs, both achieved by following male moths which were clearly homing in on scent trails. The act appears to be a rather brief affair for the Drab Looper, with both couplings lasting less than 10 minutes. I then moved on to visit a woodland glade near Arundel where butterflies seen included Duke of Burgundy (9), Comma (3), Grizzled Skipper (2), Green-veined White (2), Dingy Skipper (1), Holly Blue (1), Orange Tip (1), Brimstone (1). The highlight here was a busy Duchess, who after laying a generous batch of 6 eggs spent a while nectaring on wood spurge. (Neil Hulme)

My father, Roy Symonds reports the following sightings today:
Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve (SU824098) 15C: Brimstone (5M), Large White (1) Small White (2), Green-veined White (1), Orange Tip (1M), Small Tortoiseshell (1), Holly Blue (2), Small Heath (2), Dingy Skipper (4) and Grizzled Skipper (1).
Stansted Forest (SU745115) 15C: Brimstone (3), Green-veined White (1) and Orange Tip (2M). (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)

I visited Old Lodge nature reserve in the Ashdown Forest for the first time yesterday morning. This beautiful Sussex Wildlife Trust managed site yielded ten Common Heath moths, and a report of a Wall which I saw fly off, but was too far away to identify myself. The Common Heaths looked and behaved like Dingy Skippers from a distance as they rose from and roosted on the bracken and heather. Later I met Paul Day and Neil Hulme at a local site and we watched a Duke of Burgundy laying six eggs in a cluster on one leaf. I also saw two Grizzled Skippers. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)


Friday 11 May 2012

This morning there were signs of good weather so I headed to Mill Hill to do my butterfly transect. The Adonis Blue appeared for the first time this year. I also saw a Green Hairstreak, Peacocks, Small Whites and Small Coppers mating, Dingy Skippers all over the bottom of the hill, a male Brimstone and Small Heaths. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Weather slightly improved, we saw our first Adonis Blues of the year at Mill Hill. (Steve and Maggie East)

Walk around Litlington & Lullington Heath: 2 Wall Brown at TQ 528 020; Small Copper at TQ 528 003; Holly Blue at TQ 524 017. (Caroline Clarke)

Given some half decent weather I popped out for an hour this afternoon and managed 8 Pearl-bordered Fritillary, 5 Orange Tip (2m), Grizzled Skipper, Large White, Peacock as well as various other bits and bobs including a rather sizeable Slow Worm and the almost inevitable Mike Mullis! (Chris Ball)

Today there was a marked increase in the number of spring butterflies on the wing, with good emergences of some species. I started off at a site near Arundel where there were at least 7 freshly emerged Duke of Burgundy, including a female ab. gracilens. Also seen were Pearl-bordered Fritillary (1), Holly Blue (1), Green-veined White (1) and Peacock (1). Later in the day at Heyshott Escarpment things were really hotting up, despite a strong, cool wind. I counted 16 Dingy Skippers which were certainly not around in such numbers when Mark Colvin checked the site earlier in the day, plus another 7 pristine Duke of Burgundy. Additional sightings included Grizzled Skipper (7), Orange Tip (1) and Brimstone (1). While there I spoke to Colin Knight who had just seen the first Adonis Blues of the year at Mill Hill. As I was leaving Heyshott I noticed a female Dingy Skipper which I examined through my close-focusing binoculars. The tip of her abdomen suggested she was still intact, so I decided to track her movements and within a couple of minutes she was accosted by a male, providing a good opportunity for me to photograph a pairing. (Neil Hulme)

Having not seen one butterfly for a few weeks, saw a pristine Large White, followed by a Small White immediately thereafter in The Steine Gardens, Worthing.(Leigh Prevost)

Despite a breeze still blowing at High and Over the Wall Browns have had a bit of a mass emergence with double figure males being seen along with several Holly Blues. An Orange-tip, Green-veined White, Speckled Wood, Dingy Skipper and Small Heath also seen. The Wall pupa is also showing signs of hatching very soon. (Bob Eade)

Kithurst Hill:
2 male Duke of Burgundy
Orange-tip - 3
Brimstone - 2
Houghton Forest:
Pearl-bordered Fritillary - up to 8 (some looking tatty) in no mood to be photographed!
Orange-tip - 6
Green-veined White - 2
Brimstone - 3
Grizzled Skipper - 1
Holly Blue - 1
Peacock - 4
Small Copper - 1
(David Plummer)


Tuesday 8 May 2012

By Charlton cross roads: Grid Ref 887132: 1 male Orange-tip. Levin Down: grid ref TQ136886: numerous Small Heaths  too many to count but I saw at least 10 males.
Monday 7 April: In the meadow at Marline Valley: Grid ref TQ779118: 2 male Orange-tips. (Nigel Symington)

At last! Wood White in Sussex (one only) wood near Plaistow. (Margaret Hibbard)

I took advantage of the window of good weather yesterday by visiting Botany Bay. A pristine Holly Blue fluttered across my path. It landed on fresh horse dung and spent a long time sucking up the goodness therein! I counted twelve Wood Whites including a mating pair with up to two other males trying to disturb their activity. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

A couple of hours in warm sunshine at Botany Bay produced 11 lovely Wood White, 2 Orange Tip, 2 Green-veined White and a Brimstone. On the way back to the car I found another specimen of 'moth of the moment' Adela reaumurella. (Neil Hulme)

Within minutes of the sun coming out this afternoon an Orange-tip and a Green-veined White (above) appeared in my garden in Lindfield - first butterflies I've seen in days! (Bob Foreman)

News for Monday 7 May: Walked from Clayton Windmills along the South Downs dropping down to Rottingdean via Castle Hill Nature Reserve. Despite a wet and windy start we were blessed with sunshine on reaching the reserve where we saw one Wall Brown, one Orange-tip and around 5 Dingy Skippers on the banks at the Southern edge of the reserve. Only managed to photograph the Dingy Skipper (above). (Miles Attenborough)

More news for Monday 7 May: One male Orange-tip at Southease - TQ 423 052. (Caroline Clarke)


Monday 7 May 2012

A rare break in the weather allowed me to visit Springhead Hill with my parents and Mia Iris late in the afternoon. The welcome sunshine brought with it a male Orange Tip, 2 Green-veined White, a handsome Green Hairstreak and a freshly-emerged Pyrausta aurata moth. (Neil Hulme)

Eureka! The sun appeared! A quick late afternoon dash to Mill Hill provided the first butterflies of any kind this Bank Holiday! In an hour or so we saw c20 Dingy Skippers, 5-10 Grizzled Skippers, 1 Peacock, 3 Green Hairstreaks and 2 lovely fresh Wall butterflies. Small Copper and Small Heath also seen (but not by us).
Pity about the weather forecast...
(Chris and Tom Corrigan)


Saturday 5 May 2012

Abbott's Wood: Having been frustrated all week by the weather, I was keen to get outside and learn and/or see something, despite the poor conditions. To this end I travelled towards Hailsham to meet with Mike Mullis for his "Abbot's Wood Amble". Of course, I have been to Abbot's Wood before, specifically to look for the Pearl-bordered Fritillary but I have never been successful. This was an opportunity to get first hand advice about the best sites to visit within the wood.
Let me say from the outset that given the damp and cold conditions I did not expect to see any butterflies and neither did we but I was hopeful that the knowledge I would acquire would be helpful with future visits.
About nine BC members turned up and from the start Mike was nothing but a generous fount of knowledge. Describing the history of the project, whilst walking from the original introduction site to each of the locations that the butterfly has colonised, gave a clear indication of the type of ongoing dynamic management that's required to keep meta populations of this insect viable, within the woodland. Mike explained that he was progressively becoming a victim of his own success, given that the spread of the butterfly was making it increasingly difficult for him to monitor them in the time available. Having said this it was clear that the monitoring was a key part of the project. An aspect which has given this introduction the legitimacy that the hard work of Mike and Stuart Sutton (Forestry Commission) deserve. If you did not have a chance to be with us on Saturday but want to know more, Mike's excellent 2011 Species Champion Report, in the Sussex Butterfly Report, supplies considerable detail about the work undertaken at Abbot's Wood and is well worth reading.
Of course it was not all about butterflies and the group as a whole did an excellent job of pointing out which bird song belonged to which species of bird. It was a delight to hear so many Nightingales and Blackcaps, as well as the more common species like Chiffchaff, Song Thrush, Blackbirds, and Robins. Mike also took us to a site with a fantastic vista over-looking the entire forest, all the way to the South Downs (see photo). Thanks go to Mike and the other members of the group for a wonderful morning at Abbot's Wood.

Rewell Wood: Next my journey took me from East Sussex to West Sussex and another visit to Rewell woods for Neil Hulmes "The Pearls of Rewell Wood (part 2)". Here I was fairly confident that Neil would be able to produce the goods, having visited the site twice previously this year. As suspected, Neil had put the hours in and had already located five resting individuals, the day before. It was quite remarkable that these butterflies had not moved from their perches in the 22 hours since Neil had found them. However, it took only a minimal increase in solar illumination, through the clouds, to encourage them to open their wings and attempt basking.
In addition to Neil's splendid talk, Dan Hoare also contributed to the discussion, giving a detailed explanation of the objectives for the management of this species. The Sweet Chestnut coppice of Rewell Wood looks quite different to the Birch/Hornbeam clearings produced by the Mulcher at Abbott's Wood but of course structurally they are very similar and therefore fulfill similar functional ecological roles.
Dan explained that earlier efforts to manage for the Pearl-bordered Fritillary had made the mistake of repeatedly coppicing the same sites. The year after the first coppice, as traditional coppicing theory predicts, more light gets to the woodland floor and increases ground temperature and thus encourages luxuriant growth of the ground flora. Of particular importance being the violets, the foodplant of the caterpillar and Bugle, a favored nectar source for the adults. However, if attempts are made to re-coppice the same site after optimum conditions for the butterfly are past (3 to 4 years) the grasses start to get the competitive edge over the more diverse flora associated with the first coppice cut. So conditions for the butterfly become progressively less favorable with time. To avoid this problem the interconnectivity of meta-populations becomes key to the successful management of this species. Allowing one population to go locally extinct, as the coppice goes beyond the best conditions, only for the species to have jumped ship long before this happens because wandering females locate and oviposit in the newly coppiced sites.
So, woodlands that are managed by compartments and use rides to remove the timber provide optimum conditions for the Pearl-bordered Fritillary. This is because the newly coppiced sites were the goals of searching females and the rides formed a clear conduit through which they could move throughout the woods and when necessary breed.
Its clear to me that the Pearl-bordered Fritillary is a species that demonstrates the need for landscape scale conservation, as contemporary conservationists like Sir John Lawton have advocated.
Neil and Dan had about twenty people with them on this field trip, all keen to get their fix. It was a great day and it was fabulous to talk to so many enthusiasts. Thanks go to all concerned. (Dan Danahar)

I thought a postponement or cancellation of Saturday's Abbots Wood butterfly walk would have been forgiven, given the weather forecast but NO!! Eight optimistic Abbots Wood amblers (including BC's Dan Danahar) joined me on an unlikely search for Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, Green Hairstreaks and Grizzled Skippers. Well, we didn't find a solitary butterfly but not that surprising given a cold NE wind, grey leaden skies and a temperature of barely 7 or 8C. However, we did find quite a few Green Longhorn moths which I hadn't even noticed before. And so we squelched our way through the Abbots Wood mud to look at five of the six key sites where Pearl-bordered Fritillaries had been recorded both last year and partially this year to date. We also looked at the different types of management cunningly employed to encourage the butterflies. Much of the latter involved Sites 1 and 2 where the heavy-duty mulcher had been used in 2001/2005 and 2011 (Site 1), as well as in early 2009 and 2011 (Site 2), to create warm, open clearings. Undoubted stars of the day though were the substantial numbers of Abbots Wood nightingales which were all in good voice  we must have heard almost half of the 25+ population... and got fleeting views of one or two singing along with vocal Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers. My thanks to everyone who braved the elements and saw Abbots Wood in a slightly different light (i.e. a muddy shade of grey). At least it didn't rain! (Mike Mullis)

Butterflies, Boars and Beckley Wood: Seven hardy souls ventured out into the wilds of East Sussex for the first Sussex BC event of the year in Rother. It was cold, it was wet and there was not a Butterfly to be seen anywhere.
However we were determined to have our money's worth. So our butterfly walk turned into an impromptu 'Practical Conservation' field trip. We walked the rides, we discussed the merits of the conservation work done in Beckley, we listened to birdsong (I can now add Blackcap to my meagre repertoire), we identified some plants and trees, we found the most beautiful black slug (Limax cinereoniger) and we saw a day-flying moth (Adela reaummurella).
Good company trumps good weather. (Jim Barrett)

We beat the weather again on my second guided walk around Rewell Wood. I was always confident that anyone turning up would get excellent views of Pearl-bordered Fritillary, having marked the position of 5 roosting butterflies the day before. Twenty people came along on a predictably cool and cloudy day, but all went away with smiles on their faces. Dr Dan Hoare (BC SE Regional Officer) joined us and did a great job of describing some of the more detailed autecology and habitat requirements of the species. At times the cloud thinned just sufficiently to allow a detectable (just!) improvement in temperature, which caused several of the PBFs to open their wings for the benefit of their admirers. Several attendees managed to find additional butterflies themselves, and the final tally rose to 10. Thanks to all that attended and to Mark Colvin for the mugshot. (Neil Hulme)


Friday 4 May 2012

The cloudy sky yesterday provided good light for photography, even if the butterflies stayed down. I enjoyed photographing the Green Longhorn moths at my local Duke of Burgundy site, with a bonus of a Small Purple & Gold moth and a Common Carpet moth. There were also plenty of interesting flies on the Wood Spurge which I am having difficulty identifying. At just after midday the sun broke through briefly so I patrolled the Duke area and was fortunate that one landed right in front of me, making me a very happy lad. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

STOP PRESS...

This afternoon (4th May) under leaden skies and with the temperature struggling to reach 10 degs, I visited Rewell Wood. I wanted to find some roosting Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, so that my second guided walk would produce the goods for anyone that would brave the elements tomorrow afternoon, particularly those travelling any distance. It was a bit like looking for the proverbial 'needle in a haystack', but patient searching eventually paid off, and I've marked the position of five individuals. I just hope it isn't bucketing down. (Neil Hulme)

A walk this morning resulted in my first Small Heath and Wall Brown of the year at Newmarket Bottom near Woodingdean as well as 2 very nice Dingy Skippers. The weather was pretty cold but the area where the butterflies were was in a sheltered spot which was just warm enough for these brave butterflies to get active. 2 Whinchats and a Spotted Flycatcher was also seen. (Bob Eade)


Tuesday 1 May 2012

News for Monday 30 April: Belated news of a Common Blue in my Mother in law's garden in Overhill Drive, Patcham on 30th April. (Darryl Perry)

Today I made a couple of visits to woodland glades at Houghton Forest and Rewell Wood, later meeting Tom Dunbar and Alan 'Win' Wingrove on one of their regular visits to Sussex. Collectively we bagged an impressive tally of spring butterflies, most notably 2 very early Brown Argus! (above, left) Other species included Duke of Burgundy (4), Pearl-bordered Fritillary (2), Grizzled Skipper (3), Green Hairstreak (1), Holly Blue (2), Orange Tip (1), Green-veined White (2), Large White (2), Brimstone (6), Speckled Wood (2), Comma (3) and Peacock (3). One slightly worn male Duke was greedily nectaring on wood spurge, something which is seldom observed. I also found some larvae of the rare and very localised Spotted White Plume moth Pterophorus galactodactyla (above, right), which can easily be spotted via the characteristic feeding damage it makes on the leaves of burdock (large, white-rimmed, rounded holes). (Neil Hulme)

Abbotts Wood:
Pearl-bordered Fritillary 10+
Orange Tip 5
Brimstone 1
Large White 1
Grizzled Skipper 3
Newtimber Hill, Lower part of downland area just above cleared woodland strip most productive with:
Dingy Skipper 6
Grizzled Skipper 3
Peacock 1
(David Plummer)

Two Orange Tips (both males), a Green-veined White, a Peacock and a Small Tortoiseshell were seen on an early evening stroll around the lanes at Barnham, West Sussex (SU972037). One of the Orange Tips gave an excellent demostration of the art of camouflage (see photo above). (Paul Cox)

In garden at Kingston, Lewes. All Below sightings in garden at BN7 3JY on 1 May:
2 Dingy Skippers
1 Brimstone
1 Large White
2+ Small White
Orange Tip several (m & f)
1 Green Hairstreak
2 Small Copper
2 Holly Blue
1 Common Blue (m)
Bright sun throughout 17 degrees. Good to have multiples again, a nice mix. (John Holloway)

News for Monday 30 April: We live at Highcroft Farmhouse, Gay Street, Pulborough (TQ078198). The plot is five acres which includes a one acre wild flower meadow that we created last year. The grass and wild flower seed sown, and the surrounding hedge plants, were especially selected to attract butterflies.
On 30 April I saw my first Small Copper of the season in the meadow. (Chris Page)

The photos above were taken by Paul Stevens at Houghton Forest on 30 April (see report below)


Earlier Sightings

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