Butterfly Conservation - saving butterflies, moths and their habitats
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Tuesday 30 June 2015

In the morning I visited Chantry Hill and spent several hours mountaineering, in order to assess the Dark Green Fritillary (DGF) population. The DGF is only just starting here and probably 95% of the butterflies I saw had emerged today. Numbers built by the hour and it wasnt long before squadrons of male butterflies were passing me, half a dozen at a time, as they descended the slopes, relentlessly searching tufts of coarser grass and low scrub for virgin females. Of the 56 I counted only one was a female, which posed nicely for me during a break from egg laying on the abundant Hairy Violets. The work rate of the male butterflies is quite incredible  in warm weather they seldom break from their frenetic flight until later in the day, to take on nectar. The DGF is quite possibly our strongest species. I had other motives for being in the area. I was determined to win a DGF badge to accessorise my rucksack, despite Dr Dan's outrageous ruling. I very nearly beat the Red Tape as I pulled into the car park, as a DGF came very close to entering through the open window. I'm confident that none have been recorded inside a Toyota MR2 Roadster within the last 100 years. However, my Master Plan delivered the goods. I headed for an area of private downland which I know has not been surveyed at this time of year, unashamedly using my granted access in order to beat Dans OUTRAGEOUS ruling. I found 3 DGF here, and photographed a pristine male. Some might call this cheating  I call it "winning a badge". C'mon Dan, cough up! By mid afternoon I was on the Knepp Castle Estate Wildland www.knepp.co.uk At 15:49 I saw my first Purple Emperor of the year. This heat wave is likely to trigger a Big Bang event, so numbers are likely to build very quickly now. I finished the day at the Fairmile Bottom LNR, where recent changes in the management by WSCC are beginning to turn back the clock to a time when this was considered a premier venue. Amongst the large number of Marbled White and DGF collecting to roost in the coarser grasses and light scrub was a newly hatched Small Tortoiseshell. (Neil Hulme)

At least 2 Gatekeepers at High and Over this morning. (Bob Eade)

We saw 50+ Silver-studded Blues in the heat on Stedham and Iping Commons today, with mainly males on the former and females the latter. Also Large Skippers, Meadow Browns, one Marbled White and one very small Brown Argus. (Arthur & Anne Norton)

Mary and I had a look at Kithurst Hill today, mainly to see if there were any Dark Green Fritillaries (as I did the see the odd one there last year). We drew a blank but there were a fair few Marbled Whites, Large Skippers and Small Skippers - and other expected species. I had a very faded Small Blue at Chantry Hill yesterday and today, likewise, a single specimen, also very faded. (Martin and Mary Kalaher, Storrington)


Monday 29 June 2015

Ashpark Wood, near Plaistow. 2 White Admiral, 2 Silver-washed Fritillary. (Margaret Hibbard)

Yesterday at Houghton Forest I found a Snout and two new moths, a Beautiful Golden and Hoary Bell. Today in the same area I saw a Silver-washed Fritillary on a mission. Lovely to see this great butterfly sailing effortlessly along the ride. I spotted a Red-necked Footman. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com/)

Maggie and I saw our first summer butterflies - White Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillary - today in Southwater Woods plus someone was keeping an eye on us!! (Steve and Maggie East)

I saw my first White Admiral of the season in Southwater Woods (TQ136255) this afternoon. It settled briefly on the path and then flew up a tree where I got a quick record shot before it disappeared (apologies for the poor quality). (Andy Wilson)

We looked for butterflies in the Benfield Valley area of Hove this morning. By the path to the east of the short golf course, south of the A27 bypass, we saw 2 Small Tortoiseshells, 1 Large Skipper, 1 Speckled Wood and , near the footbridge over the bypass, 2 Marbled Whites. In the Benfield Valley nature reserve we saw half a dozen Large Skipper, at least 1 Essex Skipper and 1 Small Skipper, 2 Whites, (probably both Small), half a dozen Common Blue, 9 or 10 Marbled Whites, and the same number of Ringlets, 15 or so Meadow Browns, 10 to 15 Small Heaths and a Humming-bird Hawk-moth. (John & Val Heys)

Saw a fresh Purple Hairstreak flying about half way up a large oak tree this morning at 8.45 at Knepp Castle Estate. (Richard Roebuck)

Lovely stroll with my father in Warnham Nature Reserve this afternoon, lots to see including; Large and Small Skipper, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Brimstone, Speckled Wood and Comma. (Patrick Moore)

A brief visit to Rowland Wood, today produced good numbers of Small Skippers and White-legged Damselflies in the rushy area + Ringlets and Small Tortoiseshells elsewhere. (John Luck)

There were two, probably three male Dark Green Fritillaries at Chantry Hill today. There were plenty of dog-fights between two of them. Otherwise, Meadow Brown (40-50), Small Heath (30), Ringlets (10) (quite a nice little colony on one sheltered bank), Marbled White (9), Large Skipper (8), Brimstone (4m), Common Blue (6m), Brown Argus (2), Small Tortoiseshell (2), Large White (1), Small White (1), Speckled Wood (1), Painted Lady (1), Red Admiral (1) and last but not least a single very faded female Small Blue (on Kidney Vetch). I spotted the Kidney Vetch (which I didn't know was there) and had a careful look and sure enough the 'blue' put in an appearance. (Martin Kalaher, Storrington)

On checking my moth trap this morning in the hedgerow and trees next to our drive at Gay Street, Near Pulborough, (TQ078198), I found my first Hawkmoth, a Poplar Hawk-moth. What a wonderfully shaped moth! (Chris Page)


Sunday 28 June 2015

I was trying unsuccessfully to find some summer Fritillaries or Admirals in local woods with my dad on Sunday morning when he spotted a Purple Hairstreak on some coppiced Hazel. We spotted 3 more low down, all trying their best to avoid my camera. (TQ341173) (Mark Cadey)

After some early warm sunshine a blanket of grey cloud soon invaded my part of Sussex today, but it remained mild  perfect conditions to go hunting Dark Green Fritillary<. I headed for Fairmile Bottom LNR near Arundel, where recent changes in management by WSCC have brought about some spectacular results, including a dazzling array of orchids. Whenever the cloud thinned and the temperature edged up, the male DGFs would take to the air, constantly examining tufts of grass and low scrub in their search for virgin females. Even light rain didnt deter them, but when the temperature dropped a degree or two they would eventually take a rest, either in the grass or on low brambles. When the rain became heavier for a while I took time out to photograph the beautiful Bee Orchids. There are so many orchids here (mainly Common Spotted and Pyramidal) that many were being used as perches by the numerous Marbled Whites. However, I wasn't to be distracted, and after 3 hours I found what I was looking for  a newly hatched Dark Green Fritillary sitting motionless and atypically easy to approach. I then moved on for a brief visit to a Duke of Burgundy site near Storrington, in order to assess the quantity of larval feeding damage. I got lucky again, as the first leaf I turned revealed a tiny Duke caterpillar, unhatched eggs and empty shells! (Neil Hulme)

East of Birling Gap Car Park - Grid Ref: TV 56163 95957. 5 Dark Green Fritillaries seen (one outside the Birling Gap caf). On Saturday 27 June, Deep in the dark of Coldean Woods, Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere a full grown Comma caterpillar on an Elm sapling. On 25 June my son Indiana, spotted a Dark Green Fritillary, at Castle Hill NNR
Another video in the "Butterflies of the Biosphere" series, only this time its more about the Biosphere rather than the butterflies:
youtube.com/watch?v=oeSz_TwKPvI&spfreload=10

If you like big butterflies you'll like this short video on the Dark Green Fritillary:
youtube.com/watch?v=HZ-XibrzhRA
(Dan and Indiana Danahar)

On Friday in the back garden in Hove, we had a Heart and Dart moth and a Silver Y (I assume it is silver even though it looked rather golden) but still no butterflies. We went to Box Hill today as in gloomy weather the orchids can make up for the butterflies. The sun duly disappeared as we arrived, only for us to be surprised by the number of butterfly types flying (11) despite this. At least 3 were even flying in light rain. Its a shame its in Surrey as we saw Dark Green Fritillaries in 3 different places on our walk! (John & Val Heys)


Saturday 27 June 2015

I lead a BC walk yesterday at Iping and Stedham Commons. Nine enthusiastic participants joined me and we saw many Silver-studded Blues, male and female, at the expected spots in both commons. Some SSBs were quite old and tatty and some were fresh specimens. The following were also seen: Common Heaths, Elbow-stripe Grass-veneer, Inlaid Grass-veneer, Sharp-angled Peacock, a Beautiful Demoiselle, a female Southern Hawker, Oblong-leaved Sundews. I spotted a female Black-striped Longhorm Beetle on a Bramble flower and in the blink of an eye a male pounced on her. (Colin Knight bit.ly/1RI80h9)

Today I had eight species of butterflies in my Storrington garden with Marbled White taking pride of place. Also Meadow Brown (8), Large Skipper (1m & 1f), Red Admiral (1), Peacock (1), Large White (1), Small Tortoiseshell (2), Common Blue (1m). Three-four days ago there was a Small Copper and today I saw my first Small Skipper (1m), which was busily nectaring on Betony. So 10 species within a few days and still only June. I have previously mentioned that butterfly numbers seem to be well down compared to the past few years, although there has been a good variety. Checking my garden list for this year it currently stands at 21 species, which in fact is higher than any previous total for the end of June. So good variety but few in numbers. Maybe that is about to change with the warm weather predicted for next week. Also a single Orange-tip caterpillar on Dame's Violet and a Glow Worm on the 26th. Martin Kalaher, Storrington)

On a beautiful sunny day although quite breezy, we had two single Dark Green Fritillaries today: 1 East of Birling Gap Car Park - Grid Ref: TV 55844 96012, 1 Eastern side of Plantation Wood, Beachy Head: Grid Ref: TV 56267 95768, Also we had several Marbled Whites, Common Blues, and a single Small Blue. (Chris and Juliet Moore)


Friday 26 June 2015

On Thursday I joined Mark Colvin at Houghton Forest to check for early White Admirals or Silver-washed Fritillaries. Instead Mark spotted a Rhinoceros Beetle and a Drinker larva and I found a Common Wave and a Comma larva. On Friday morning Sue found a Silver Y inside the kitchen window and I found a Treble Brown Spot on the outside of the back door. I returned to the Houghton Forest area and found Five-spot Burnets, Satin Grass-veneers, Silver Y, a Brown Plume and a Straw Dot. The Comma larva is now pupating. (Colin Knight bit.ly/1KhccUr)

Lovely afternoon in the forest, plenty of butterflies including; Ringlet, Small Skipper, Large Skipper, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White, Brimstone, Speckled Wood and Meadow Brown. (Patrick Moore)

Four Marbled Whites at High Beeches Garden today. (Sarah Bray)

A look at Cissbury Ring this morning produced plenty of Meadow Browns and Small Heaths with a few Common Blues. There were also two Dark Green Fritillaries, one near the flint mines at TQ13640785 and one in the Northern ditch at TQ14110830; unfortunately neither wanted to settle to have their pictures taken in the blustery conditions. At Stedham Common, a Silver-studded Blue at SU85772193 was more co-operative. (Bart Ives)

News for Tuesday 23 June:

My first sighting of the year of at least 2 White-letter Hairstreaks flying around the tops of the twin elms in Preston Park, Brighton on Tuesday. (Jake Gearty)

2 Dark Green Fritillaries at Fairmile Bottom near Arundel on Tuesday 23rd June SU988095. (Sarah Patton)


Thursday 25 June 2015

On Thursday 25 June I saw my first Large Skipper at Woodbourne Meadow (32180830) then at Hollingbury Hill Fort I counted 1 Large Skipper, 7 Common Blue, one of which was interested in an unopened Greater Knapweed flower head, 11 Meadow Brown and 2 Small Tortoiseshell. Moving onto the Dew Pond I saw 2 Red Admirals, these individuals would fly, land and have their wings open to bask, then at the exact moment I would try to take a photo they would snap their wings shut, this happened every time! Leaving I came to 39 Acres, here I saw the last Small Tortoiseshell of the day, seen at (TQ32320813).
On the 24 June I spent four hours at Hollingbury Park looking for signs of an emergence of White-letter Hairstreak, none were seen but whilst there I saw 1 Red Admiral, 5 individual Meadow Browns and a mating pair, 11 Speckled Woods, 1 Small White and 1 Small Tortoiseshell. Furthermore 2 Holly Blue, one of which was observed to be taking an interest in a bare, dry pathway, presumably trying to extract beneficial minerals. Nearby at Woodbourne Meadow I saw a single Small Tortoiseshell and another up my road at (TQ31570844). (Jamie Burston)

Dark Green Fritillaries at Fairmile Bottom today. One of at least six fresh males at the reserve earlier today. Also, Marbled White in good numbers too. (Paul Fosterjohn)

The photograph above shows two mating plume moths in the hedge surrounding our wild-flower meadow near Pulborough, West Sussex (TQ0719) this morning.
My 'Britain's Day Flying Moths' book only shows the White Plume and the Brown Plume. Whereas they are definitely not White Plumes, the markings don't appear right for Brown Plumes. I have found other Plume species on the Internet but none that seem to match the pair in the photo. (Chris Page)
I would suggest Platyptilia pallidactyla (or Gillmeria pallidactyla as it now seems to be known). ed

Visited Cissbury Ring today. Just two Dark Green Fritillaries seen. (Simon Quin)

Marbled Whites are starting to emerge at Worms Wood (SU969010). About six fresh-looking males were observed on an early evening walk. (Paul Cox)

Another day another small moth at our house in Hove. Is it Morophaga choragella, called the large clothes moth in one of my books despite being associated with bracket funghi and dead wood rather than clothes? (It's a Codling Moth (Cydia pomonella). ed.) Again no butterflies in our garden but in our daughter's miniscule garden in central Worthing, a Red Admiral. (John & Val Heys)


Wednesday 24 June 2015

A Silver-Washed Fritillary flying around some very tall thistles above my head at Blackbrook Wood, Ditchling Common today (TQ341173) (Mark Cadey)

On a visit to Park Corner Heath/Rowland Wood today we saw 1 Dark Green Fritillary, 2 Ringlets, 1 Comma, 2 Brimstones, and numerous Speckled Woods, Meadow Browns and Large Skippers. (Pauline Batchelor)

I managed to gain a few hours on Wolstonbury Hill today whilst heading home from less important matters! The following were to be seen; Holly Blue, Small Blue and Common Blue, Speckled Wood, Large Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell, Marbled White, Meadow Brown and Small Heath. (Patrick Moore)

On Wednesday my Mill Hill transect gave me Marbled White 12, Meadow Brown 10, Small Heath 15, Adonis Blue 2, Brimstone, Common Blue 2, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell 7, an unidentified White, Small Purple and Gold 2, Cinnabar 2. Later at Southwater Woods I saw many Meadow Browns and Speckled Woods and several moths: Nettle-taps, a Common Sweep pupal case, a Coleophora species micro moth plus Hawthorn and Birch Shieldbugs. (Colin Knight bit.ly/1IApUNR)

Our garden in Hove has seen no butterflies over the last 5 days, not even whites. We were outside most of today and at least we saw a few small moths. I did get close enough to one for a picture & I think it may be a Garden Grass-veneer (Chrysoteuchia culmella) which has lost quite a lot of the gold sheen from the end of its wings. Whilst the elm in Wish Park at the back of the garden (regenerated after the great storm) looks fine, the large 90 year old elm in Saxon Road at the north end of the park has a red dot painted on it and ample signs of Dutch elm disease, so must be for the chainsaw any day now. Any White-letter Hairstreaks need to get their skates on and emerge. On a more cheerful note we saw a Large Blue and about half a dozen un-photogenic Black Hairstreaks on our June holidays, which I think leaves Mountain Ringlet and Northern Brown Argus as good excuses for future holidays. (John & Val Heys)

Seen today in Glynde TQ 454 094 2 Painted Ladies, 2 Meadow Brown and 4 Small Tortoiseshells. (Jan Knowlson)


Tuesday 23 June 2015

I returned to the Whiteways meadow on Tuesday and found a tiny (2mm) oak leaf miner called a Spotted Black Pigmy (Ectoedemia subbimaculella). Other Lepidoptera seen: Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Marbled White, Small Heath, Common Blue, Dark Strawberry Tortrix, Garden Grass-veneer, Straw Dot. The Peacock larvae have grown a lot since Saturday and are no longer in tight groups. I also saw a pair of Chafers (Omaloplia ruricola). (Colin Knight bit.ly/1K9Fapo)

2 Silver-studded Blues were seen at Hollies and a 3rd below Smugglers Car Park this afternoon, Ashdown Forest. (Alastair Gray)

2 Dark Green Fritillaries seen today at TQ453 054 Beddingham, East Sussex same place as last year. (Jan Knowlson)

St Leonards Forest, Horsham. Myriads of Meadow Brown! Also Speckled Wood, Small Tortoiseshell, Dingy Skipper, Large Skipper, Common Blue, Brimstone and a Small White. Also saw a Common Lizard. (Patrick Moore)

News for Saturday 20 June:

On Saturday I visited Whiteways meadow near Arundel and found a Fairy-ring Longhorn Beetle, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock larvae, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Marbled White, Common Yellow Conch and Garden Grass-veneer. (Colin Knight bit.ly/1Byb0L0)


Sunday 21 June 2015

My father, Roy Symonds reports the following sightings on 21st June. Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve (SU8209) 18C. Brimstone 1M 1F, Meadow Brown 18, Small Heath 8, Speckled Wood 6, Red Admiral 2 and Small Tortoiseshell 2.
Stoke Clump, West Stoke (SU831094) 20C. Brimstone 1M 1F, Meadow Brown 4, Red Admiral 2 and Small Tortoiseshell 2.
Inhams Lane, West Stoke (SU835089) 20C. Small White 1, Meadow Brown 2, Speckled Wood 3, Small Tortoiseshell 3, Red Admiral 3 and Painted Lady 1. (Richard Symonds)

At Windover Hill at least six stunningly orange Dark Green Fritillaries and a Small Elephant Hawk-moth found in the grass. Also some Small Blues, Marbled Whites, Small Tortoiseshells, an unidentified Forester Moth and 2 Painted Ladies seen. (TQ538027). (Mark Cadey)

A wonderful day on Castle Hill today. Sun coming in and out behind the clouds. Started by seeing a Large Skipper just by the car park, then Small Tortoiseshells along the path. Lower down the hill, a Cinnabar moth posed well, while a number of grass stems held the chrysalises of Six-spot Burnet moths. Meadow Browns flew among the grass, while both Small and Common Blues were seen along the path at the bottom of Newmarket Bottom. This path was alive with Dark Green Fritillaries, which were nectaring on clover and on the Greater Knapweed which is just coming into bloom. Also saw the larva of an unidentified moth (any ideas?) which was crawling over the bloom of a Common Fragrant Orchid. (Nigel Symington)

Just at Castle Hill and lots of beautiful Dark Green Fritillaries today. Location 50 50 50N, 0 9 40W, time 2:45pm, light breezy, sunny. Photo taken on iPhone 3 so not brilliant but sending from the site. Visiting Sussex, Lewes from London, especially to see the Butterflies. (Patrick Bonfield)

We were at Castle Hill today and thought you would be interested to hear that we were fortunate to see 15 Dark Green Fritillary. I have attached a photo from the path at Falmer Bottom in the reserve, sorry not to be able to catch a better shot of one but it was great to see them. Grid reference: TQ373068 (Sarah Stevens)

At Saddlescombe on Friday evening the Blues (Small, Common and Adonis) were starting to look a bit worn, also seen Large Skippers and Brown Argus. A Silver Y seen on Malling Down on Saturday, along with plenty of Meadow Browns, some Small Tortoiseshells and a few more worn looking blues. On Sunday it was a pleasure to watch the Dark Green Fritillaries skipping over the banks at Castle Hill, probably upwards of 10 seen. Also at Castle Hill, Small Tortoiseshells, many Meadow Browns, a Red Admiral, lots of Large Skippers including this female, some more elderly Common and Adonis Blues and my first Ringlet of the season (sadly no photo of it). Small Heaths were in abundance everywhere! Also at Castle Hill, this interesting encounter between I think a Burnet moth larva and a Hemiptera species. Can anyone shed any light? (Jennie Fellows)


Saturday 20 June 2015

Two Ringlets near Pangdean Lane, Burgess Hill today. (Mark Cadey)

At High and Over today my first Small Skipper of the year, a fine male. Last night at the back of Woodingdean 2 Dark Green Fritillaries along with a Forester Moth at the base of Castle Hill NNR. Unfortunately I couldn't confirm which Forester it was. (Bob Eade)

Catching up...

Friday 19th June: I helped a Small Magpie (not the bird!) out of the greenhouse in my Hollingbury back garden (see photo). In the evening I went to Hollingbury Hill Fort and saw two Common Blues roosting, watching them up to 9pm, here is a video (HD option available) of one of them - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVk8snkWEq4. Additionally it was wonderful to see 20+ Swifts flying against a dramatic sunset and with a Kestrel hunting over the golf course.
On the 18th June 2015 I saw 1 Red Admiral at Hollingbury Golf Course. I paid a visit to the Dew pond nearby to look for Purple Hairstreak pupae near ants nests, none were found. Up on Hollingbury Hill Fort there was a Cinnabar moth with florescent pink coloured hind wings. It was also a joy to see the resident Green Woodpecker.
On the 17th June I went to Hollingbury Industrial Estate Reserve and saw 3 Small Blue, all showing wear, also 6 Common Blue. Furthermore, one extremely yellow female Small White flew through the back garden, as of it's vibrancy it looked more like a summer brood individual.
On the 16th June I went with my mum and dad to Lewes Railway Land Wildlife Trust and saw 1 Small White, 1 Large White and 1 Cinnabar moth with the addition of a Heron flying overhead. Then later in the evening at Hollingbury Hill Fort I sat and watched 3 Common Blue at roost just before 7pm.
On the 15th June I saw 1 Common Blue flying around residential roadside grassland in Hollingbury at (TQ31560820). (Jamie Burston)


Friday 19 June 2015

Several very active Dark Green Fritillaries seen on downland near Arundel earlier today. (Mark Colvin)

I joined Mark Colvin for a Dark Green Fritillary search this afternoon and we spotted two, one of which settled obligingly. I also managed to grab a Marbled White during one of its brief stops, plus a Meadow Brown and a Straw Dot. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

A lovely day on the Downs today, with orchids and rock roses in full bloom. Saw Common Blues, Small Heath, Large Skipper and my first Painted Lady of the year. (Nigel Symington)

St Leonards Forest, Horsham. (I usually walk between 5 and 6 miles either on a circular route or a there and back route) The sightings are spread throughout the walk.

Plenty of Small Tortoiseshell and Meadow Brown as well as Peacock, Red Admiral, Common Blue, Holly Blue, Painted Lady, Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper,Brimstone, Speckled Wood and Large Skipper. Also an Emperor Moth caterpillar approx. 2cm long. (Patrick Moore)


Thursday 18 June 2015

On the 21st April I found a cluster of Emperor Moth eggs on a grass stem near High and Over. Today for some reason I thought I would have a quick look for larvae and just 3ft away from where the eggs were I came across an Emperor Moth larva that had just moulted. There it was with its former skin next to it!! Amazing. (Bob Eade)

We found a new way of spotting butterflies today whilst on tandem paragliding flights which gave wonderful views of the countryside and wildlife. Whilst stopping for a mid morning break we were joined by 3 Small Blues which settled on my hand and bags and stayed for a number of minutes. This very friendly trio was found in valley of Beddingham Hill at TQ455064. (Tom and Isy Parker)

On Wednesday at Heyshott down with Mark Colvin and saw Brimstone, Large Skippers, Meadow Browns, Dark Strawberry Tortrix, Garden Grass Veneer, Hook-streak Grass-veneer, Meadow Greys, Red Piercer, Cocksfoot Moth. Later at Burton Mill Pond I saw a Common Sweep pupal case, Common Nettle-tap and a Ringed China-Mark. On Thursday my Mill Hill transect yielded Adonis Blue 14, Grizzled Skipper, Large Skipper, Marbled White, Meadow Brown 4, Painted Lady 3, Red Admiral, Small Heath 22, Small Tortoiseshell 2, Cinnabar, Straw-barred Pearl and an unidentified green larva. Its a second bad year in succession for the Adonis Blue, the worse since I started recording in 2011. The second brood should be better. Small Heath are having another good year, they have been steady since 2011. The Grizzled Skipper is very late, this is week 12 of the transect year and the latest I have previously recorded one is week 9. (Colin Knight bit.ly/1d5cKzA)


On the subject of giant eggs...

Irony and coincidence = rule ok: Dougla's Neves Brimstone egg photo is great, hopefully in due course I would like to see a Brown Hairstreak egg at this resolution. By coincidence I happen to have an egg on a slightly different scale. So here's a chicken egg for comparison (plus helpers). The Ostrich egg is 24 times the size and weighs 2KG (but how many times bigger than the Brimstone egg? ed.). Those who have seen David Attenborough's big birds may relate to this. Unfortunately I can't sit on this for six weeks. And as Douglas detailed the equipment for his pic, what I need for the biggest egg in the world is a cheap camera, a drill, a 3mm bit, a piece of tubing and a large bowl. Hopefully the end result will be a rather large omelette. (Richard Roebuck)


News from 6 June:

Comment: I nearly fell off my perch when I saw the image of a male Adonis Blue (arguably our most spectacularly beautiful species) coupled with a female Small Heath (arguably our least spectacularly beautiful species), taken by Theresa Lux. Inter-species pairings are unusual, but do occur with some regularity. Offenders that I am aware of include Meadow Brown and Small Tortoiseshell (the worst culprits), Peacock, Ringlet, Gatekeeper, Marbled White, Silver-washed Fritillary and Brown Argus. But these two? Disgusting! (Neil Hulme)

Found a very confused Adonis on Friston Gallops on Saturday 6th June. (Theresa Lux)


Tuesday 16 June 2015

I found this Brimstone egg on Buckthorn close to Battle. The image was taken using a Nikon D800 with 180mm lens coupled to a 5-times microscope lens and processed with stacking software. (Douglas Neve) WOW! ed.

The valerian continues to attract butterflies in our overgrown front garden in Bevendean including a handsome Red Admiral. The pretty little Small Purple and Gold micro moth was in our scruffy back garden. On a short walk over to Cardboard Hill Bevendean Down There I saw my first Marbled White of the season and a couple of Large Skippers. (Geoff Stevens)

My father, Roy Symonds spent the afternoon at Iping and Stedham Commons searching for Silver-studded Blues.
At Stedham Common (SU857219), temperature 17C, the following were recorded: Silver-studded Blue 1M, Meadow Brown 2 and Painted Lady 1.
More success at Iping Common (SU850221), temperature 20C, where the following were recorded: Silver-studded Blue 28M 5F. Several mating pairs were noted. (Richard Symonds)

Three Small Blues today at the Liz Williams Butterfly Haven, all in one quarter metre square! (Dan Danahar)

Here we go! Such beautiful butterflies... Castle Hill Nature Reserve today, I don't have a grid reference I'm afraid but happy to pinpoint where with a little help. (Jennie Fellows)
Jennie fellows is the first to get a DGF pin... 1 down 19 to go. (Dan Danahar)

St Leonards Forest, Horsham. Large Skippers have appeared, also Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Meadow Brown, Common Blue, Holly Blue, Red Admiral, Painted Lady and Large White. (Patrick Moore)

The past few weeks have seen a bit of a lull Butterfly wise, as is normal, but summer has now arrived with lots of newly emerged Meadow Browns seen in grass meadows early this morning. Late this afternoon I saw a rather worn Small Tortoiseshell, slightly odd I thought until I soon found a pristine courting couple. The worn one must have been out for a few days already anyway, updated my BC Garden survey sheet accordingly. In addition I had a slightly different visitor in the garden today, a fab Long-horn beetle which I think is Agapanthia villosoviridescens, try saying that after four pints of Old Peculiar. I am convinced that this was due to my nurturing of lots of Hogweed plants as apparently this species larvae develop in the hollow stems. Over the past few weeks I have had loads of Lackey moth caterpillars (which are rather art nouveau, I think) and also the odd Drinker moth caterpillar. My pic is head on, what a beast!. Actually when garden ants investigated it, it sort of kicked them away nonchalantly and why not. (Richard Roebuck)


Monday 15 June 2015

There was a Painted Lady feeding on the valerian in our Bevendean garden (TQ336064) early this afternoon and then a very fresh Dark Green Fritillary chased it off I was too slow to get a picture. This is the first time I have seen a Dark Green Fritillary in our garden but we get them a few hundred yards away on Bevendean Down most summers. (Geoff Stevens)

Today we walked to Wigginholt Church from Pulborough Brooks car park, a good insect walk. I found Bright Bell, Dark Strawberry Tortrix, Yellow-barred Longhorn and the tiny (7mm) longhorn White-barred Gold. By the restaurant garden I found 2 Vapourer moth larvae. (Colin Knight bit.ly/1J0Cqfb)

Painted Lady on Stinking Mayweed, Oving, West Sussex, one of at least seven present. (Bart Ives)


Sunday 14 June 2015

A single Marbled White at Southerham, Lewes this morning along with some fresh Meadow Browns. Then at Friston in the afternoon Large Skippers were almost as numerous as the Small Heaths. Seemed to be one perched on the brambles every 2 or 3 meters whilst walking around the edge of the Gallops. Meadow Browns starting to emerge here too and at least 6 Painted Ladies seen. At both sites I found a single Forester Moth (possibly Scarce Forester - to be confirmed). (Mark Cadey)

I would like to report a sighting of a Humming-bird Hawk-moth in my garden in West Hove on Sunday 14th June. TQ 27565 05306. It was feeding on Red Valerian but unfortunately I did not get a photograph. Wonderful creature. (Richard Dugdale)

A nice surprise this morning on my first visit to the High and Over area since returning from soggy Scotland was a single Marbled White. It now really feels like summer has returned at last!! Reports of my Scotland trip with Nigel Kemp can be found on my blog @ Bobs Butterfly Blog. (Bob Eade)

Yesterday afternoon I saw 11 species of moths at Fairmile Bottom: Bright Bell, Cinerous Pearl, Common Yellow Conch, Dark Strawberry Tortrix, Five-Spot Burnet, Hook-streak Grass-veneer, Little Longhorn, Red Piercer, Satin Grass-veneer, Thistle Bell, Yellow Shell. Also a Large Skipper, a Meadow Brown & a Small Heath. (Colin Knight bit.ly/1dFRq4c)

Anchor Bottom was resplendent with male and female Adonis Blues everywhere on the northern flanks amongst the myriad orchids, including seventeen Bee Orchids. (Lindsay Morris)

Recent news:

Saturday 13 June 2015: A solitary first Marbled White of the year in John Holloway's garden in Kingston near Lewes, together with 1 Small Blue, 2 male Common Blue, 1 male Adonis, 1 Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood, 1 Large Skipper, 2 Humming-bird Hawk-moths and one rather worn Painted Lady. Six-spot Burnet caterpillars are starting to climb up the grass stems to pupate.
If you want to get some good macro photos using your phone then you could try getting one of these clip on lenses for just 4.95! Fits most models of phone http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/121548421450?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT.
See the result I got with the photo of the Common Blue!
News for Friday 12 June one Small Skipper (Kingston near Lewes TQ39150862) also 1 Small Blue, 2 male Common Blue, 2 male Adonis, 1 Meadow Brown, 2 Large Skipper. (Crispin Holloway)

My father, Roy Symonds reports from 10th June, after some searching, seeing a total of 6 male and one female Silver-studded Blues at Iping Common (SU850221) where the temperature was 15C. (Ricahrd Symonds)

Very few butterflies in our garden at present, but a few days ago at Balls Cross I saw a Small Copper which I haven't seen for several years and a Grizzled Skipper which I haven't seen for even longer. (Bob Lomas)

Not so recent news:

Just noted from your 2014 Report that youd like sightings of Wall Browns away from the Downs. Saw one near New Inn Farm, Henfield on 11th May (Grid ref TQ190151) (Val Bentley)


Saturday 13 June 2015

Today I saw a single Small White and Red Admiral at Paradise Park, Newhaven (TQ448022). It was also great to see three Speckled Woods in my Hollingbury back garden. Yesterday (12th June) I saw a single Holly Blue whilst out in my neighborhood (TQ31520835), other then this I saw a single Holly Blue sometime last month at (TQ448022). (Jamie Burston)


Friday 12 June 2015

St Leonards Forest, Horsham. Circular walk, very humid, then rain followed by sunshine. Small and Large White, Brimstone, Holly Blue, Green Hairstreak, Painted Lady, Speckled Wood and Meadow Brown. Also a stunning Common White Wave moth which sat on a leaf in the rain, and plump Broad-bodied Chaser dragonfly. (Patrick Moore)

A freshly-emerged male Large Skipper in my flower meadow today. (Martin Kalaher, Storrington)

On a walk round the Wild Park this afternoon with Dan Danahar and Rich Howorth, we saw Common Blues, Adonis Blues and a rather tatty Brown Argus. also several Burnet moth caterpillars climbing the grass stems in preparation for pupating. And while I was waiting for Dan outside his house, I saw 6 Common Blues in the unmown grass area in the front. (Nigel Symington)

On Tuesday at Kithurst Meadow I saw Common Blues, Brimstone, Small Blues, a Meadow Brown, Burnet Companions, Dark Strawberry Tortrix, Grass Rivulets and a Cnephasia tortrix. Today I did my Mill Hill transect: Adonis Blue 9, Brimstone, Common Blue 2, Meadow Brown, Painted Lady, Small Heath 10, Small Tortoiseshell, Silver Y, Cinnabar 2, Burnet Companion, Common Yellow Conch, Straw-barred Pearl. Plus a black adder. (Colin Knight bit.ly/1f7c2mZ)

They seem to be back here almost to the year. This time there are two Scarlet Tigers. They seem to be mating at this very moment on a plant I don't recognise. (Alex, Brighton)


Thursday 11 June 2015

To add to the recent reports of Humming-bird Hawk-moths there was one in Storrington yesterday in a slightly curious location. I was walking along a heavily-shaded twitten close to my home when in a small patch of sunshine there it was in all its glory providing very close views. I was a bit puzzled as to what had attracted its attention as there didn't seem to be any suitable plants in the vicinity but I couldn't stop as my two-year old grandson was racing ahead!
Today was a gardening day and I probably spent 10 hours doing bits and pieces. I had a very good variety of butterflies but absolute numbers were very low. A Small Tortoiseshell on the Dame's Violet started things off nicely. This was followed by a male Common Blue in the flower meadow and then the loveliest sighting of the day a freshly-emerged Red Admiral in the nettle patch. It could barely fly when I first spotted it but then it dried out and flew over the laurel hedge and out of sight. Following on there was a single Green-veined White, a Small White, a Large White, a Meadow Brown and a Speckled Wood. The numbers of Common Blue gradually increased during the day and by late evening there were at least two males and three females. If my local experience is anything to go by Common Blue is doing well this year with a minimum of three males and 10 different females in my flower meadow over the past 10 days or so. I am intrigued by just how varied the females are, some of which have so little brown on the upper wings that they could easily be confused for males. Otherwise there have been 3-4 Painted Ladies and a very faded female Holly Blue. I haven't seen a Holly Blue in the garden for 7-10 days. You may re-call that I speculated that Holly Blue would have a good year based on my garden record of at least 6 males and one female a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, following on from that record we had several dreadful days of rain and wind, so quite how they fared I do not know? in the garden in the past week. (Martin Kalaher, Storrington)

While weeding in my Brighton garden TQ321051 disturbed a Ruby Tiger moth. (Tessa Pawsey)

Highdown on, at long last, a proper summer's day, eleven butterfly species included three Large Skippers and what I imagine will be my last Orange Tip of the year. (Lindsay Morris)


Wednesday 10 June 2015

I walked over to Castle Hill Nature reserve with my partner and walked round the valley. It was very windy but quite a few Adonis (including female egg laying on horseshoe vetch ) and Common Blues and Small Blues. Also Burnet Companion moths, Wall Browns, Small Tortoiseshells and a Red Admiral and what I thought was a Forester (or possibly Scarce Forester) moth, and a Mother Shipton. Lots of Small Heaths. Lots of flowers but again lots of areas where the course grass is squashing out the chalk grassland plants. (Tessa Pawsey)

Almost white pristine Clouded Yellow, in flight could be mistaken for Small White but at rest wings closed unmistakeable Clouded Yellow. The first I've seen in 20 years recording this transect. (Steven Robinson. Loder Valley Reserve Wakehurst Place)

Having seen egg laying on the purging buckthorn in our garden in Bevendean in the last few weeks there are now Brimstone caterpillars of various sizes so hope some will survive. (Geoff Stevens)

Humming-bird Hawk-moth nectaring on Sweet Rocket flowers in our garden in Frant this afternoon. (Alan Loweth)

A Large Skipper at Lancing Ring helped fill the "June Gap", and a female Broad Bodied Chaser was majestic basking by the dew pond. Nothing new at Steep Down except Yellow Shell and Common Heath. (Lindsay Morris)


Tuesday 9 June 2015

Tottington Wood pair of well-named Beautiful Demoiselle and a Green-veined White. Beeding Hill area, 15 Adonis in two well separated concentrations, fresh Small Tortoiseshells, Brown Argus, Dingy Skippers, Green Carpet. Common Rock Roses - badly named as they were fabulous. Fragrant Orchids just flowering in Anchor Bottom. More sun please, less cool breeze. (Lindsay Morris)

I thought you may be interested to hear that I have today spotted a Humming-bird Hawk-moth visiting some flowers in my garden today in Alciston, East Sussex. (Victoria Walton)

Recent news:

The weekend revealed numerous Adonis Blues at both Saddlescombe and Castle Hill, some very friendly Small Blues, the first Large Skipper of the season and some elderly Green Hairstreaks. Also seen, Common Blues, Dingy and Grizzled Skippers, Painted Ladies, Red Admirals, Walls, Small Heaths and the first Meadow Brown. (Jennie Fellows)

On Saturday I joined Mark Colvin at Kithurst Meadow where my eagle-eyed companion spotted a freshly emerged Privet Hawk-moth drying out. Another was found nearby. Cinerous Pearl moths darted about, a Small Blue nectared on Bird's-foot Trefoil and a hare watched us from the adjacent meadow. A Red Admiral and a Holy Blue roosted in the hedgerow and a Hairy Dragonfly was hunting. On Sunday at Burton Mill Pond I found four damselfly species: Azure, Blue-tailed, Common Blue and Large Red, plus a Broad-bodied Chaser. Also a Brown Silver-line moth and a Silver Y. Afterwards I called in at Lords Piece and found plenty of tiny Plain Fanner micro-moths and a Scarce Chaser. Field Crickets were vociferous. (Colin Knight bit.ly/1S1DOQ7)


Monday 8 June 2015

Adonis numbers have increased on Steep Down, about a dozen males and one female seen. Also there were many Common Blues, half a dozen Wall and a Small Blue, with 2 Mother Shiptons giving all the Evil Eye. Earlier a Humming-bird Hawk-moth was shooting around MacIntyre's Field. (Lindsay Morris)

Six Meadow Brown on the wing on the southern end of Thorney Island this afternoon. (Barry and Margaret Collins)

I visited Mill Hill this morning which was alive with Butterflies, Common Blue, Adonis Blue, Green Hairstreak, Large White, Peacock, Small Heath as well as other "spotters" whom it was great to talk to.
I then walked; Truleigh Hill, Edburton Hill, Southwick Hill and returned via Thundersbarrow Hill. Also saw my first ever Wall at Truleigh Hill, as well as Painted Lady, Brimstone, Red Admiral, Small White, Speckled Wood, Brown Argus, Small Tortoiseshell and a Small Blue. This is the most species I have seen in one day. (Patrick Moore)


Sunday 7 June 2015

A very fresh looking Clouded Yellow in Tilgate Park, Crawley at lunch time today. Also a Speckled Wood, Brimstone and 3 Common Blues. (Vince Massimo)

We did a five and half hour hike around Westdean Woods and other parts of the estate and recorded the following butterflies: Speckled Wood 14, Painted Lady 6, Holly Blue 1, Large White 1, Comma 2, Peacock 4, Red Admiral 3, Small Heath 2, Orange Tip 1M, Brimstone 8M 1F.72 Greater Butterfly Orchids,c100 Common Spotted Orchids, 48 Fly Orchids and 2 Bee Orchids. (Barry and Margaret Collins)

Walked Kithurst Hill, South Downs Way, Lee Farm, Rackham Banks circular. Small and Large White, Brimstone, Holly, Common and Small Blue, Brown Argus, Speckled Wood, Green Hairstreak, Painted Lady, Dingy Skipper, Red Admiral and a Peacock.
A real pleasure to meet other "Lepidoptera-spotters" at Kithurst Hill. (Patrick Moore)

I didn't come across any Silver-studded Blues today at Stedham but there was at least one Painted Lady and a couple of Speckled Woods about. (Bart Ives)

On the lower slopes of Mill Hill, Adonis Blues dominated and exceeded all the other butterfly species in numbers. As usual the bright blue males were most easily seen and out of a total once acre transect count of 44, 39 were males with only five females seen. Other butterflies present were 13 Small Heaths, at least six Brimstones (including three males sparring together), one probable Grizzled Skipper, two male Common Blues, a probable Yellow Shell moth and lastly a faded Painted Lady. I ventured up to the breeze swept top plateau where I spotted a male Common Blue Butterfly, and disturbed two or three Wall Browns. Around the hedge north of the bridge to Mill Hill, I spotted a probable Holly Blue. Large Whites were seen in Shoreham. On the southern steps I spotted a distinctive caterpillar on Great Mullein leaves. Predictably, I identified it as the unmistakable larvae of the Mullein moth. (Andy Horton)


Saturday 6 June 2015

The astonishing Adonis Blue...

www.youtube.com/watch?v=83K2C33xGpg

A walk around Abbots Wood on a sunny but blustery Saturday, produced 2 rather worn Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, 8 Speckled Woods, 1 Green Hairstreak and 1 Red Admiral. Add to this a few Broad-bodied Chasers and about 6 singing Nightingales. Not bad for a mid-morning walk, thanks to Mike Mullis for emailing me a map of the wood otherwise I would never have found the PBFs. (Howard Wood)

From Mount Caburn yesterday: Adonis Blue, Common Blue and Small Heath.
From Cuckfield yesterday Cockchafer c****s on my hand; good luck? (Peter Lovett www.sussexrambler.blogspot.com)

Not that many butterflies in numbers, and only 9 species, in the breezy conditions between North Lancing and Steep Down, but included were 3 Adonis (not including myself) at Steep Down and a Humming-bird Hawk-moth in my garden. (Lindsay Morris)


Friday 5 June 2015

Today whilst standing in my Hollingbury front garden I saw a fast moving butterfly, the tell tale colour of a Painted Lady.
Thursday 4 June 2015: In the morning I made a visit to Hollingbury Hill Fort and saw 5 male Common Blues, 1 female Common Blue and 2 Small Coppers. Close by I saw three Large Whites, one of which was seen feeding on Ground Ivy. In the afternoon I went to the dew pond of Wild Park, Brighton. Nothing was seen there but on the way back I counted 6 Red Admirals, two sets of pairs chasing each other were seen, but all observed basking in the afternoon sunshine on trees, these grow in the verge edge of Hollingbury Golf Course, seen around (TQ323080). I was beginning to get concerned as I had only previously seen one this year. Seeing that many in close proximity was a joy to see after a gap of absence. The photo of the Red Admiral in flight perfectly demonstrates how effective the wing pattern is when in motion, such a great illusion and distraction for predators, such as birds. (Jamie Burston)

St Leonards Forest, Speckled Wood, Common Blue, Brimstone, Dingy Skipper, Small White and a Burnet Companion moth that tried to look and behaved like a Skipper! Also a butterfly that flew at great pace down the track I was following and dissappeared into the tree tops. It appeared again and landed but charged off once I approached. Hopefully it will calm down for a photo on my next walk! (Patrick Moore)


Thursday 4 June 2015

Painted Lady, Brimstone and Brown Silver-line seen on a short visit today to Park Corner Heath. (David Long)

Adonis Blue numbers are increasing at Mill Hill. Thursday's transect: Adonis Blue 21, Brimstone, Common Blue 3, Green Hairstreak 2, Peacock, Small Heath 3, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White, Speckled Wood, Cinnabar , Hook-streak Grass-veneer , Burnet Companion . At the car park a Kestrel caught a lizard and ate it on a fence post. Afterwards I visited Woods Mill NR and saw a Turtle Dove, many Common Blue Damselflies, plus Large Red Damselflies, Beautiful Demoiselles and a Drinker larva. Hazel Leaf-roller Weevils were mating and a fresh Snout lay on a nettle leaf. (Colin Knight bit.ly/1FA7FHt)


Tuesday 2 June 2015

I joined Mark Colvin today at Stedham Common for a Silver-studded Blue hunt. We found one, first flying then obligingly resting when the clouds came over. We saw many moths including Speckled Yellows, Common Heaths, Scalloped Hook-Tip, Yellow-barred Longhorn and a Sharp-angled Peacock and inspected the sundews. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)


Monday 1 June 2015

St. Leonards Forest, Horsham. Common Blue and Small White, as well as plenty of Speckled Yellow moths. Given the blustery conditions, with limited sunny spells then light rain, this all came as a bonus. Regards, Patrick Moore)

Recent news:

While performing a butterfly survey over the Knepp Wildland project on Saturday 30 May, I watched more Painted Ladies flying north in a determined manner, these probably being the forerunners of something larger on the way. While photographing a particularly nice Common Spotted Orchid, I noticed a Cricket-bat Orb Weaver sitting on the flower-spike. An attractive arachnid, rather than a random sequence of words, this little beauty appears to represent the first record for this part of Sussex, which is better known from the northern heathlands. On Monday 1 June I surveyed a beautiful stretch of farmed downland near Lancing. Traditional, rotational grazing of the slopes and associated leys over many decades has resulted in some of the best chalk grassland turf Ive ever seen. The Common Blue was truly common and I found a sizeable, unmapped colony of Small Blue. The Wall was also seen in good numbers, despite the dodgy weather. (Neil Hulme)

At Rewell Wood on Sunday evening I found 4 moths: Cream Wave, Dark Strawberry Tortrix, Red Piecer and White-pinion Spotted. Wild strawberry was fruiting. At Iping Common I saw 8 Moths: Common Bright, Common Sweep larva, Grey Gorse Pierecer, Marbled White Spot, Yellow-barred Longhorn, Speckled Yellow, Green Longhorn and Fleabane Smudge. There were also 8 bugs and 4 sawflies: (Colin Knight bit.ly/1dIXqdj)


Saturday 30 May 2015

On Saturday 30 May 2015 I went to Steyning with family, on a circular walk around Steyning Rifle Range I counted 3 Small White, 1 Speckled Wood, 1 Brown Argus and 2 male Common Blue. In the afternoon I went to Wild Park to search for Purple Hairstreak Pupae, around the master Oak tree at the dew pond. Upon searching I noticed activity in the tree, a Blue Tit caught my attention as is was passing from branch to branch. Knowing they predate Hairstreak eggs I kept close attention on this individual. I took a quick series of photos when I noticed something in it's mouth. My worst thoughts were realised upon reviewing my photos. It appears to be a mature Purple Hairstreak larva. The Blue Tit held the Larva in it's feet against a branch, before picking it up with it's beak and flying off. Additionally the single Purple Hairstreak egg mentioned near the start of the year sadly failed to emerge. Hopefully some adults will emerge in June. More photos at: flickr.com/photos/greenhlover/ (Jamie Burston)

St Leonards' Forest, Horsham. Grizzled Skipper, Dingy Skipper, ommon Blue, Holly Blue and Speckled Wood. Also a very friendly Cinnabar and Speckled Yellow moths.
Slightly further afield: Hannover area of Germany an Elephant Hawk-moth and Small White. (Patrick Moore)

Rather a windy afternoon which probably kept a lot down, but saw one Common Blue, one Speckled Wood, numerous Small Heath and Speckled Yellow. Also a juvenile firecrest which posed for me. (Nigel Symington)


Thursday 28 May 2015

On Thursday I did my weekly Mill Hill transect with the following results: Adonis Blue 15, Brimstone 1, Common Blue 1, Green Hairstreak 1, Grizzled Skipper, Peacock 1, Red Admiral 1, Small Heath 3, Wall 1, Cinnabar 1, Violet Cosmet 1, Common Yellow Conch 1. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

I surveyed Friston Gallops above Butchershole today. The most abundant species by far was Small Heath (hundreds), followed by Dingy Skipper (30+). I also saw Common Blue (4), Small Copper (2), Small Blue (1), Wall Brown (4) and a single male Large Skipper, my first of the year. No Adonis Blue were seen, although there were some 2nd-generation individuals here last August. (Andy Wilson)


Wednesday 27 May 2015

On Wednesday, I was surprised to find a Meadow Brown larva, on the steps, in my Hollingbury back garden. It was found curled up, presumably playing dead. After finding it I relocated the Larva into a clump of grass nearby. Within a few minutes it became active and was on the move. I've yet to find the individual again, whilst it feeds at night. (Jamie Burston)

Just after breakfast, in our back garden in Hove, one Pyrausta aurata moth (definitely not purpuralis), which I think is called the mint moth. We've had them in the garden in previous years and although we don't have any mint or marjoram, we do have wild thyme, so maybe that's the attraction. Around midday, a couple of Holly Blues appeared and soon after them a Speckled Wood which particularly liked resting on a compacted mass of elm seeds just in the sunlight (see picture). (John & Val Heys)

At Heyshott escarpment I found plenty of moths: Cocksfoot Moth, Small Purple-barred, Small Barred Longhorn, Marsh Grey, Violet Cosmet, Hook-streak Grass-veneers, Burnet Companion, Little Longhorn, Red Piercer. Afterwards I visited Iping Common and was pleased to find a nationally rare red and black Click beetle, Ampedus sanguinolentus, plenty of Grey Gorse Piercer and Common Heath moths, a Common Sweep case, and a rare Light Streak. (Colin Knight bit.ly/1FkpdY7)

Springwatch interest in Ashington.
In the past few days I noticed a lot of trampolining in the Blue Tit nest box as the fully feathered chicks were all exercising their wing muscles. At around 8:00 a.m. this morning heads started appearing at the entrance hole. Not long after No 1 chick catapulted out on its maiden flight, quickly followed by No 2 and No 3. No 4 created a slight traffic jam by sitting on the perch, but then gave way to No 5 and No 6. By 8:12 No 7, by far the smallest, jumped out of the nest box. I know it's instinct and all that, but it was fascinating to watch and they all made it to the safety of the trees and their calling parents, despite some erratic flying at times and of course "they are not numbers they are free birds". Marvellous, I hope I catch the Wrens fledging as they look like Bumblebees. (Richard Roebuck)


Tuesday 26 May 2015

On Tuesday during a visit to Arundel WWT I spotted unidentified larvae, a Thistle Bell, a Yellow-spot Tortrix and a Common Sweep. The latter (Psyche casta) is a case bearing moth (also called a bagworm) and the wingless female lives her entire life in a case (bit.ly/1G2br1Z). On Monday's Houghton Forest report I omitted a Painted Lady seen briefly. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Dan Danahar and Dave Harris explore the habitat of the Small Blue butterfly on the eastern border of the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere:
youtube.com/watch?v=mdflhfCAcbs&spfreload=10.

Returning from a walk round Windover Hill and Lullington Heath to find my copy of the Sussex Butterfly Report had arrived in the post prompts me to send in the days sightings. 1 Wall and 1 Dingy Skipper on the hill TQ536035, 3 Wall and 3 Dingy Skippers on the heath TQ551018 and another Dingy Skipper at TQ544018. Lots of Brimstones, mainly males, and a Comma which landed on my partners white hat. Lots of broad-bodied chaser activity over Winchester Pond. Also saw a cuckoo from the train at Southease on the journey home. So lucky to live near such wonderful places. (Tessa Pawsey)

Small Blues at Dorothy Stringer Haven. (Maggie and Steve East)

Today I visited Abbots Wood with family and saw 3 Green-veined Whites nectaring on Bugle, 5 Large Whites, 2 Small Whites, 4 Brimstones (all female) this species seems to be having a great year. Additionally a few firsts for me this year, these being 1 Grizzled Skipper, 1 Green Hairstreak and 1 Pearl-bordered Fritillary (TQ56950827). It's great to see new clearings being created on rotation. Yesterday (25 May) I went for a family walk through and past Warningore Wood near Lewes, seeing a single Painted Lady at (TQ38411448). (Jamie Burston)

It seems to me that my garden butterfly count has been way down on what I would normally expect at this time of the year (13 species but few in number). This afternoon there was a glimmer of better things to come with two newly emerged female Common Blues in my flower meadow (to join the male that was already there). The male became quite manic, flying around the meadow like a thing possessed. The mood seemed to be catching for the solitary Brown Argus also upped its game and zoomed around merrily. The highlight though was an egg-laying Green Hairstreak which visited in quick succession Wild Carrot, Birds-foot Trefoil and then Greater Knapweed. I'm not sure it laid eggs on the Wild Carrot but it certainly did on the other two. Otherwise there were one or two Holly Blues, Small White and a female Orange-tip (my first female this year). (Martin Kalaher, Storrington)

Monday 25 May 2015

A return visit to Heyshott Escarpment in predominantly dull conditions still revealed more than 50 Duke of Burgundy, with many freshly emerged females sitting around in the scrub. Common Blue numbers are now building rapidly and many were seen making their maiden flights. Throughout the day it was also apparent that a large emergence of Small Heath was underway (Nightmare on Blencowe Street). During the duller periods I took the opportunity to photograph some of Heyshotts beautiful orchids, including more than a dozen Fly and similar numbers of Greater Butterfly and White Helleborine. Heyshott Escarpment never disappoints. (Neil Hulme)

On Monday morning I met Mark Colvin at Heyshott Down. We saw roosting Dingy Skippers, and when the sun came out Common Blues appeared. Small Tortoiseshell larvae were taking advantage of the nettle beds. Moths seen: Hook-streak Grass-veneers and Dark Strawberry Tortrix. Later at Houghton Forest I saw an Orange Tip, Brimstones, Dingy Skippers, a Silver Y, Cream Waves, Cocksfoot Moths and a Green Long-horn. A Two-banded Longhorn Beetle and a Carrion beetle (Thanatophilus rugosus) were other notable sightings. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Went onto Mount Caburn yesterday to look for orchids. Not many there, but I found two Common Blues pairing in a patch of crosswort at the bottom of the hill. (Nigel Symington)


Saturday 23 May 2015

The majority of Duke of Burgundy males have now emerged on most sites and many are beginning to look a bit tatty, but fresh females are still emerging in good numbers. Two mating pairs were found on low scrub at Springhead Hill today, and several females were busy laying eggs. Green Hairstreaks are also having a good season here, but the Small Blue numbers remain quite low following the 2012 population crash. This site is performing very well this season and many people are visiting to enjoy the butterflies and superb views. Please do try your best to stick to the well-worn paths and avoid treading on the larger, lusher cowslips, which may have eggs on. (Neil Hulme)

Walked Cocking to Petersfield in sunshine today, mainly along the South Downs Way. Plenty of Butterflies to see as well as a Stoat. In order of appearance; Green-veined White, Grizzled Skipper, Common Blue, Green Hairstreak, Large White, Peacock, Red Admiral, Brimstone, Holly Blue, Dingy Skipper, Small White, Speckled Wood and Orange Tip... Phew. (Patrick Moore)

This morning I met Mark Colvin at Mill Hill at 5:30am to photograph roosting Adonis Blues. Mark quickly found a couple of females and a male. I found two Lackey moth larvae on bramble and a Common Emerald larva which looked like a small stick attached to a bramble leaf. Tiny Cocksfoot Moths (4mm long) flitted around and a Cinnabar moth appeared. (Colin Knight bit.ly/1HC5juK)

A Broad-bodied chaser has set up a territory in my Rhubarb patch and joins several other Damselflies and a Four-spotted Chaser seen in the garden over the past week. Up on the Downs today I had the good fortune to spot a couple of courting Slow-worms which are of course, armless (boom-boom! ed.). So the male grabs the female with his mouth. Not to be outdone she also did the same to him. Their fascinating wrestling match carried on for quite a while until we finally left them to it.
I went for a walk in the water-meadows at Coldwatham TQ024158. This is a great bit of habitat and along the footpath from brook lane I counted 10 Common Blues and 5 Small Coppers, and a very smart two foot female Grass Snake who refused to pose for a photo. This place must be dragonfly heaven. It was really picturesque with loads of Yellow Flag Iris in flower. (Richard Roebuck)

My Father, Roy Symonds reports the following sightings from Harting Downs (SU8018) where the temperature was 17C, walking as far as the foot of Beacon Hill. Brimstone (1M), Small White (1), Orange Tip (1M) and Brimstone Moth (2). Later from Stansted Forest, Rowlands Castle (SU745115) Brimstone (1M), Small White (2), Green-veined White (2) and Orange Tip (1M). (Richard Symonds)


Friday 22 May 2015

Dan and Michael go Orange Tip hunting in Lewes:
A serious look for the Orange Tip in the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere.

The ever-vigilant Vince Massimo e-mailed to point out the fact that the photograph of Peacock caterpillars at Mill Hill taken by Nigel Symington the other day are actually Emperor Moth caterpillars - thanks Vince. ed.

2 Wall seen at the Pevensey Levels site TQ660060 plus one Green-veined White and one Orange Tip. (Roy Wells)

A pleasant walk in Rowland Wood this morning produced a scattering of Small Heath, a rather tatty Painted Lady, a very fresh Grizzled Skipper, one each of Pyrausta aurata and Pyrausta purpuralis, two Brimstone and a Speckled Wood. Vert Wood is a late Site, I would expect Common Blues, Small Copper, and Dingy Skipper to emerge soon. (Graham Parris)

Despite having a female Broad-bodied chaser and Four-spot chaser in the garden today I am happy to report that a superb pristine female Puss Moth emerged today from a chrysalis. This is following my posting of Thursday 10th July 2014 when she first started pupating. I am quite sure that numerous people have been watching for news of this. This is nearly 10 months, so thanks for hanging in there?? This adds to several other interesting encounters recently. Notably I chucked out my third huge queen Hornet from the house in the past week. All have been covered in dust which confirms they have actually over wintered inside the house. The first was unceremoniously chucked out but the second I took slightly more interest in. Firstly I discovered her sat on my chest while I was washing up, why I don't know, but I nearly jumped out of my skin. I provided a water sugar meal to set her on her way from a teaspoon which she gobbled the lot and after several circles flew away in to the distance. The third was also chucked out today. She was 4 cm long and a fearsome creature, a bit like my last wife.
On another note Bob Eade is always the herald of the first generation Walls. In the true spirit of perhaps our only possible true alpine species(?), I always head to a high chalk pit area, even sometimes the spoil heaps of Wolstonbury Hill. The steeper the gradient the better and this is where you get a truly challenging photo as they are a bit skitty and they give you the run around up or down. So here's a pic of a Wall and the location I took the pic. The erroneous pic is another vagrant of Kithurst Hill I could not resist - Crab-spider sat on a Dandelion. (Richard Roebuck)


Thursday 21 May 2015

Thursday morning was transect day at Mill Hill: Adonis Blue 12, Brimstone 1, Brown Argus 1, Common Blue 2, Dingy Skipper 8, Green Hairstreak 1, Green-veined White 1, Peacock 2. A highlight was a pair of mating Adonis Blues. Early evening at Fairmile Bottom I found a new moth, a beautiful Common White Wave with a yellow mite attached. Other moths found: Dark Strawberry Tortrix, Green Carpet, Meadow Grey, Red Piercer, Speckled Yellow, Thistle Bell and an unidentified Plume. (Colin Knight bit.ly/1IPVVGR)


Wednesday 20 May 2015

A male Common Blue emerged in my garden flower meadow two days ago although this photo was taken today, seen nectaring on Birdsfoot Trefoil. The Brown Argus emerged this morning and was first seen nectaring on Buttercup. (Martin Kalaher, Storrington)

Bluebell Bed and Breakfast. I was pleased to see this Common Blue roosting on a Bluebell this evening in St. Leonards' Forest at around 7.45 PM. It must have been well asleep as I was able to take pictures both sides. A real treat. (Patrick Moore)


Tuesday 19 May 2015

Southwater Country Park in between the showers. Small White and Common Blue. (Patrick Moore)


A brisk walk along the downs from Southease to Bishopstone where the tops were too windy for anything other than a Painted Lady. However the steep sunny little bank on the Green Way north of Seaford golf course (TQ 490026) was sheltered from the wind and with the horseshoe vetch and Helianthemum starting to flower was good for both sandwiches and butterflies. Several Dingy Skippers, a worn Green Hairstreak, a couple of bright male Adonis Blue and a small and crisply minted Brown Argus and a couple of Orange-tips. Unfortunately my delight was tinged with concern as since my last visit a couple of years ago there seems to be lots of tor grass growing amongst the vetch and rock rose and more scrub too. (Tessa Pawsey)

Sunday 17 May 2015

On the larger, earlier sites the Pearl-bordered Fritillary is now in the later stages of its flight season and a thorough search of Rewell Wood produced 25 individuals spread over a wide area, with females now out-numbering males. I also saw several Grizzled Skipper, 5 Small Copper, a mating pair of Speckled Yellow moths and a Drab Looper. I then moved on to perform a detailed survey of Heyshott Escarpment, which took a total of 3.5 hours to cover. My tally of 86 Duke of Burgundy is a little lower than 2011 and 2014 daily maxima, but they might not be at peak yet and some are certainly still emerging here. I was also pleased to find 5 Pearl-bordered Fritillary, including 2 females. We need some decent weather within the next 7-10 days, so that these rarer spring species can really make hay. (Neil Hulme)

After a quick phone call to Dave in an attempt to point him towards some Sussex PBFs...
With the information you gave us and a bit of luck we managed to walk pretty much straight to a clearing where there were numerous Pearl-bordered Fritillaries and also the Kent Butterfly Group! It must have been our lucky day.
In the afternoon we went to Heyshott Escarpment where we saw a number of species including Duke of Burgundy, a first for two of us. So a wonderful day for us Essex folk with great weather and a total of 15 species!
Red Admiral
Peacock
Large White
Dingy Skipper
Grizzled Skipper
Common Blue
Brimstone
Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Duke of Burgundy
Orange Tip
Green Hairstreak
Green-veined White
Painted Lady
Brown Argus
Small Copper (Kent Group)
Speckled Yellow moth
Mother Shipton moth
(Dave Cornwell)

Yesterday I visited Park Corner Heath reserve to look for Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, whilst there I noted a record in the log book of a Clouded Yellow and was amazed to find one feeding on bluebells. Also several Brimstones, Peacock, Speckled Wood, Large White. (Jeremy Burgess)

A fab weekend chasing butterflies! Saw my first Pearl-bordered Fritillaries at Abbot's Wood on Saturday, also seen Brimstone, Green-veined Whites, a Peacock and my first Small Copper of the year. On Sunday a trip to Heyshott Escarpment gave me my first encounters with Dingy Skipper, Duke of Burgundy and Neil Hulme! Many thanks to him for the impromptu guided tour and butterfly talk! (Jennie Fellows)

A Kestrel soared over Mill Hill just after midday. It was seen hovering and then twice the bird of prey descended on the lower slopes but both times emerged without any visible prey. Weak sunshine on a breezy afternoon brought out frequent butterflies including the bright blue of my first male Adonis Blue of the year. It was the first of about a half a dozen and there were a few male Common Blues also seen for the first time of the year. These Common Blues sparred with the first of the year Brown Argus which were very distinctive perched on the taller herbs including Horseshoe Vetch. Both strong-flying Brimstone butterflies and ground flitting Dingy Skippers were frequently seen, occasional Green Hairstreaks, two Peacock butterflies with one each of a Grizzled Skipper and Wall Brown. Large moths were represented by my first Silver Y and an elusive and bright coloured Cinnabar moth.
Carpets of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa, were abundant but this dominant flower had not yet peaked as there were plenty of buds. The first Hawkbits were seen and there were still a few Dog Violets in flower.
At the top of Chanctonbury Drive (SE of Mill Hill Nature Reserve) two Speckled Woods, two Holly Blues and a Large White butterfly appeared. (Andy Horton www.glaucus.org.uk)

My father, Roy Symonds reports the following sightings on 16th May from Stansted Forest (SU745115). Brimstone (2M), Small White (3), Green-veined White (4), Orange Tip (11M 5F) and Peacock (1). (Richard Symonds)

I visited Kithurst hill on Saturday and it was alive with Butterflies and insects, I had a look at the recently cleared chalk scallops. At the most western end I suddenly noticed an insect flying around me at Knee height. It looked as though it had spider silk attached to it having been snared. For some reason it seemed determined in its endeavour and I decided to step to one side. Unbelievably what unfolded was astonishing. I soon realised it was a Solitary Bee carrying either a stick or an old grass stem. What!!!! I then I noticed a small pile of sticks (please note this is all about scale), The bee then sort of threaded the stick into the small pile and flew off. Intrigued I continued watching and blow me if it didn't return carrying another stick and another and another. I almost burst out laughing when it turned up carrying a stick 4-5 inches long!!! and had a major issue trying to manipulate it into the small pile. Apart from me watching what was going on there was also a large male Sarcophaga carnaria (flesh fly) who had a territory in the same place. So on numerous occasions it would launch and impact on the stick-carrying Bee, but undaunted the bee carried on. I realised that a number of other things were going on. A second solitary bee would raid the pile and carry bits off to yet another nearby stack. Secondly the bee seemed to follow a predictable flight path. Thinking no one would ever believe me, I laid on the ground for over an hour and took loads of pics. Now I am trying to photo a 1cm bee flying carrying a stick at quite a fast rate of flight? Physics suggest certain bees can't fly - this one does with a significant payload. Ants seem a bit feeble in comparison. Fortunately I bumped into Mark Colvin and excitedly told him what I had seen, he knows things (too true. ed)- he suspected Osmia pilicornis as apparently it lays its eggs in snail shells? This would stack up as a conjecture and may perhaps suggest you can't burrow in solid chalk and if your babies are in a snail how do you protect them? The obvious thing would be to hide it under a pile of sticks. The Blencowes confirmed its Osmia bicolour. However I would call it the "Witches Broom bee" as it sort of hits the nail on the head. Anyway it does lay its eggs in empty snail shells on chewed up leaves and pollen then covers them with sticks. But the bottom line is judging from the proliferation of Dukes et al I saw today, that the hard work put in to the management to extend this gem of a habitat is certainly paying dividends not only to butterflies. (Richard Roebuck)

Patrick Moore's mystery caterpillar from Cissbury (mentioned below) is a Drinker.

Some extra pictures from the Mill Hill BC event on Sunday - just to prove the wall really did exist! Lovely Adonis blue and cinnabar moth too! Photos courtesy of Colin Gibbs - thanks Colin! (Chris Corrigan)

17 people turned out to hunt for the Mill Hill May "Big 5" (Adonis Blue, Green Hairstreak, Wall and Dingy and Grizzled Skipper) on Sunday. Previous year Mill Hill May BC events seem to have coincided with unseasonal wintery type days! This looked to be heading the same way as we gathered at the top of the hill in a seriously nippy wind and jackets went on and hoods went up. It looked like the big 5 was in fact a big overpromise! However, as we got to the bottom of the slope the sun broke through and Ellie spotted the first butterfly - a lovely Green Hairstreak which perched obligingly for everyone to see and photograph. We saw 12 species including all the big 5, although not everyone managed to see the Wall. I was one of the unlucky ones and although I was supposed to have been the leader in fact I wasn't first onto any of them. Luckily we had some sharp eyed under 16's in Ellie, Rosie and James who spared my blushes.
I was also delighted to hear the nightingale on the site and a cuckoo calling away in the valley below.
We didn't do a count but the full list was Adonis Blue (10s), Common Blue (1), Green Hairstreak (10?), Small Heath (1-2), Dingy Skipper (low 10s), Grizzled Skipper (C5 - 10), Brimstone (1 - patrolling backwards and forwards), Small White (1), Peacock (1 - 2), Wall (2), Comma (1), Red Admiral (1). There could also have been Small Tortoiseshell caterpillars which I didnt see so it may have been 13 species. These are my guesses at numbers based on what I saw! Ellie, Rosie and James probably saw loads more!
Above are a couple of photos courtesy of Nigel Symington - some Peacock caterpillars and a female Adonis Blue which he patiently photographed as it emerged with crumpled wings and crawled to nectar on flowers for the first time.
Thanks to everyone for coming along and contributing to a great butterfly hunting team effort. If anyone has any other photos please send them to the sightings page! (Chris Corrigan)

Common Blue and an unusually pale Duke of Burgundy at Heyshott on Sunday Morning. (Steve and Maggie East)

A quick hour at a West Sussex Wood, produced six Pearl-bordered Fritillaries. First this year at this site. (Steve Morgan)

More evidence it could be a good Migrant year, Hummingbird Hawk-moth in the garden this afternoon, two Silver Y in rough ground nearby a week ago. (Graham Parris, Isfield)

Walked Chanctonbury Hill and Cissbury Hill area today, there were plenty of butterflies to see. I am particularly pleased with the Brown Argus photo. Male Common Blues were not interested in this specimen and there was no hint of blue on the top wings. Lots of Red Admirals again, I was also surprised to see a Speckled Wood within Chanctonbury Ring. I also saw a rather lovely Green Carpet moth as well as a large caterpillar, 3-4 cm in length that I'm afraid I can't identify. (Patrick Moore)

Saturday 16 May 2015

Twenty-six people joined me on today's walk up to the Graffham Down reserves in West Sussex. After scaling the heights of Mount Graffham we enjoyed a great walk through the reserves. It's always a pleasure to walk around this lovely, hidden corner of Sussex and today we were blessed with blue skies and sunshine. Butterflies were rather thin on the ground though and although we managed to rack up a nice list including Grizzled Skipper and Dingy Skipper most of them just put in a one-off appearance. The only butterfly which was notable in numbers was the Brimstone - there must have been 20 patrolling the reserves. There were plenty of other distractions though including our target moth - the rare Drab Looper and Red Kites, Two-coloured Mason Bees, a singing Tree Pipit and an impressive Queen Hornet. Today we were joined by a group from Antwerp who had contacted me a few weeks ago and joined us. The group undertake butterfly conservation work back in their native Belgium and, with the help of a Belgian laminated i.d. guide, taught me how to pronounce some of today's butterflies in their language. They were particularly excited to see a Grizzled Skipper which is apparently only found in four sites back in Belgium. Thanks to everyone who came along today (Dank aan iedereen die vandaag langs kwam). (Michael Blencowe)

A lovely walk on Graffham Down today led by Michael Blencowe where I was able to photograph a Treble-bar moth (Aplocera plagiata plagiata). As we reached the Western end of the reserve, Francis and Roger and I broke away and walked the couple of fields over the top to come down the Heyshott escarpment. It didn't disappoint. Almost as soon as we stepped into the escarpment we saw a Green Hairstreak, followed by Dingy and Grizzled Skippers. Duke of Burgundy put on a good show, but the best was reserved for later. We saw a rather smaller and more perfect Duke which we assumed was a female, which turned out to be correct as it laid an egg for us on a cowslip leaf. We turned round to see a pair of Dingy Skippers in cop on a leaf behind us. Bright flashes of orange signalled the Small Heath, which were showing in good numbers.
Arrived home from Heyshott today to see a Holly Blue in our garden in Fletching (Nigel Symington)

Walking in Stump Bottom behind Denton near Newhaven TQ464038 saw Painted Ladies, a male Wall Brown and a Small Blue and a Small Copper. (Tessa Pawsey)

This Saturday afternoon in our Bevendean garden I spent about 20 minutes watching a female Brimstone egg laying on the purging buckthorn (thanks Graham) and occasionally nectaring on the nearby small periwinkle. (Geoff Stevens)

Three hours on Heyshott Down produced the following. 16 Duke of Burgundies, 2 Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, 2 Common Blues, 4 Green Hairstreaks, Grizzled Skippers, Dingy Skippers, Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green-veined Whites, Orange-tip, Small Heath. (Steve Morgan)

My first Small Copper of the year and I managed to snatch a photo of a Small Heath. I also got really close to a Peacock. Also Large, Small and Green-veined White. Brimstone, Dingy and Grizzled Skipper, Speckled Wood, Holly Blue and Green Hairstreak. (Patrick Moore)

On Friday I met Mark Colvin at Heyshott Down and saw two roosting Dingy Skippers, Green Long-horns, Small Tortoiseshell larvae and a female Emperor Moth pupa on the ground without a cocoon. I have also recently seen the larvae of Common Nettle-tap (Arundel), Snout (Arundel), Cyclamen Tortrix (Kithurst meadow). (Colin Knight http://bit.ly/1e7DpwQ)

Wall Brown x 4 noted on Southern slopes of Mount Caburn nr Lewes 13th May. TQ444087,unapproachable for shots! (Dave Browne)


Friday 15 May 2015

I was leading a walk up to Malling Down today with the aim of showing people the Adonis blues which should be flying in good numbers by now. I was rather anxious as there has been no reports of Adonis Blue on the website so far for this year (owing to the reprehensible slackness of yours truly rather than any lack of reporting... ed.) and today's grey clouds didn't exactly fill my heart with hope. Turns out I shouldn't have worried. The old Blencowe luck worked its charm and, as we sat on Malling Down, we were treated to the sight of the first Adonis blue's emerging from the turf and opening their wings in the thin sunlight. It's been a topsy-turvy year for me so far - I've seen Adonis blue but still haven't seen Holly Blue or Common Blue. (Michael Blencowe)

Following on from the report of 7th January above, the last of five overwintering Red Admiral caterpillars under observation hatched today, 15th May. This originated from eggs laid on 2nd December, so about five and a half months from egg to butterfly. (Dave Harris, Newhaven)


Wednesday 13 May 2015

4 Wood White, males seen in a Sussex wood near Plaistow. (Margaret Hibbard)

Kithurst meadow provided a Dark Strawberry Tortrix, Burnet Companion and Silver-ground Carpet moths and Mark Colvin found a Glow-worm larva. At Mill Hill I found Adonis Blue, Dingy Skipper, Green Hairstreak, Peacock, Wall, Grizzled Skipper, Brimstone, Cinnabar, Hook-streak Grass-veneer, Lesser Treble-bar and a large black adder. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

On Tuesday I assisted a local production company in making a documentary which will include some stunning footage of South Downs wildlife, including butterflies. I wont be giving too much away by saying that the Duke of Burgundy and Pearl-bordered Fritillary have both been issued with Equity Cards. A morning trip to Heyshott Escarpment produced more Duke of Burgundy than I could shake my stick at. The Pearl-bordered Fritillary is now on the wing here, first spotted by Garry Philpott on Monday. Katrina Watson helped out by tracking down some lovely Green Hairstreaks. Orchids are a little late this year, but we still managed to find a stunning Fly in perfect condition. On Wednesday I started off at Springhead (Kithurst) Hill meadow. The chalk grassland restoration area in the deep hollows near the car park (South Downs National Park Authority, BC Sussex and WSCC) is looking superb, as are the meadow and banks. This small but ecologically rich site is easily accessible and undoubtedly one of the jewels in the crown of our national park. However, the increasing number of visitors does come at a cost, so it is important to try to minimise our impact when visiting. Please try to keep to the already-worn paths across the meadow, particularly at the western end, where the male Duke of Burgundy butterflies congregate (they are unusually numerous this year). It is best to sit down and enjoy the action, rather than stand in groups in the middle of the lek. For the future health of this colony it is important that the fastest and fittest Dukes see the newly emerged Duchesses first. I then moved on to monitor Duke of Burgundy numbers on strictly private land, ending up with a tally of 81. Things are looking so much better for this species in Sussex than they did ten years ago. I finished the day by visiting Rewell Wood, specifically to focus on the Grizzled Skipper. This is one of my favourite species and I gain most pleasure from seeing it in woodland/coppice habitat. My evening count of 9 was the best Ive ever achieved here. Spring may have been late in arriving, but things are shaping up quite nicely for another memorable butterfly year. (Neil Hulme)

While it was sunny, Mill Hill gave me 24 Dingy Skippers, 4 Small Heath, 3 Wall, 3 Common Blue, a Clouded Yellow (possibly 2), Brimstones, but unlike others present I couldn't find Grizzled Skipper or Green Hairstreak. Ah, the ones that get away... Nightingale was a lovely backdrop of sound too. (Lindsay Morris)

I returned to St Leonard's Forest today to attempt to confirm some of my sightings yesterday, without success. However I did see Large and Small White, plenty of Brimstone egg laying, Painted Lady, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood, Holly Blue, Dingy Skipper, Orange Tip, Green-veined White and a Small Heath (alas no photograph). (Patrick Moore)

I decided to check out Harting Down today but before doing so had a quick look around the garden and was delighted to see a Green Hairstreak, which I attempted to photograph. Several species of butterfly enjoy the warmth of shrub border next to the driveway but unfortunately for me they are often quite high up and out of range. Whilst waiting patiently for an opportunity to photograph the Hairstreak a female Holly Blue landed quite close. I have recorded a garden Green Hairstreak four out of the past six years. It is not a given. The other day I posted six Holly Blue in the garden none of which were female, so this female makes a minimum of seven Holly blues for the garden in the past week. Harting Down proved to be a bit disappointing but I did have my first male Common Blue, which was very welcome. (Martin Kalaher, Storrington)

News for Saturday 9 May:

Many thanks to Mike Mullis for accommodating a visitor from Essex branch and for running a very successful trip, much enhanced post the rain. Thanks also to Neil for sharing his expertise and good to meet all. Well worth the 4 hour round trip! (Harry Faull)

And finally...

Painted Ladies: In response to the sudden increase in sightings, and comments made about Painted Ladies: these are definitely incoming migrants and we can expect more in coming weeks. Numbers are currently high and building in Spain and we will not be repelling this particular Armada. We may be about to see a good Painted Lady season. For the record, this species will occasionally migrate here in mid winter, and has even been recorded as arriving on New Years Day (2013). (Neil Hulme)


Tuesday 12 May 2015

I joined Mark Colvin today on a site on the Springhead Estate and we were delighted to record the following 16 species: Duke of Burgundy, Small Blue, Painted Lady, Small Copper, Brown Argus, Holly Blue, Green Hairstreak, Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper, Orange Tip, Large White, Brimstone, Green-veined White, Speckled Wood, Peacock, Red Admiral. In addition we saw Silver Y, Burnet Companion and Red-fringed Conch. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

An overcast morning at Mill Hill but I still recorded two Grizzled Skipper, one Dingy Skipper and one Common Blue. However, the highlights were undoubtedly the very vocal (but visually elusive) nightingale, a similarly elusive cetti's warbler, raven, buzzard and a kestrel - the latter hovering only metres above me. (Leigh Prevost)

Subject to confirmation, the sighting of a Dingy Skipper on nettles near the RSPB Broadwater Warren car park at lunchtime today is the first record of this species on the reserve since it was opened in 2007. A Small Copper also put in an appearance nearby.
Large numbers of Brimstones are present across the reserve. For example, on one of our UKBMS transects yesterday 59 Brimstones were recorded. (Alan Loweth)

Painted Lady in my garden in Birdham today. (Paul Stent)

Saw this Painted Lady this morning near Rye. Looks newly emerged to me  far too early to be one of this year's migrants. (Stuart Cooper)

Wall Brown numbers have started to build up on Frog Firle. Today I had a mating pair with another male also trying to get into the act. (Bob Eade)

I had a look around Chantry Hill today and had approximately 40-45 Dingy Skippers, 20 Green Hairstreak, 8 Grizzled Skippers and a delightful Brown Argus in pristine condition, most probably freshly emerged. (Martin Kalaher, Storrington)

St Leonard's Forest, Horsham. Small White, Large White, Brimstone, Green-veined White, Peacock, lots of very fresh looking Painted Ladies, Small Tortoiseshell, Orange Tip, Speckled Wood, Grizzled Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Holly Blue and a Small Blue. This flew straight at me then settled on a bramble leaf but flew off before my camera had focused. Its outer wings were very light blue but inner were really dull and dark all over.
I also possibly saw a Wood White which flew past me in a way that I have not seen before, its wings fluttered then remained open, its flight seemingly weak. Its body was not dark grey or black but light grey. It disappeared into a Beech tree without settling for a photo. Also saw a Speckled Yellow moth. (Patrick Moore)
Without photographs both Small Blue and Wood White would be difficult to accept as records. Although occasionally recorded off The Downs, in Sussex the Small Blue is almost exclusively restricted to the chalk. Wood Whites again, are very restricted in their range, usually being found only in the woodlands of northwest Sussex. However, if you can get photos these would both be very good records. ed.

When you meet Neil Hulme leaving Heyshott as you arrive, you do suspect you may be too late. We did have an excuse. Wed been travelling back from a holiday in Wiltshire where wed just visited Cotley Hill near Warminster and seen 8 different butterfly types including some very fine Marsh Fritillaries. Nevertheless we persevered despite increasing cloud cover and saw a single Grizzled Skipper. As we were about to turn back, Val spotted something else and it was a Duke of Burgundy which at least had the good grace to let us take a few pictures. (John & Val Heys)


Monday 11 May 2015

I went to Abbot's Wood searching for Pearl Bordered Fritillaries, and instead came away with a female Orange Tip, a Green-veined White, Speckled Yellow and Green Long-horn moths and an unidentified beige moth! (it's a Peacock Moth . ed.) Also saw Brimstones, Peacock, Speckled Wood. A fab afternoon and thanks to Neil Hulme for corresponding with me so I can find PBFs next time I go! (Jennie Fellows)

I'm a birder rather than butterflies, but out on the Medmerry reserve (Bracklesham Bay RSPB) I saw what I am sure we're at least 2 separate Painted Ladies, this morning.
As I'm not an expert, and don't carry a camera, just wondered if anyone has reported same in the area? (Greg Tamlyn)
There does appear to be a large number of Painted Ladies around at the moment as recent postings demonstrate. ed.

A pleasant surprise during my lunch break today was a chance encounter with a Painted Lady in Littlehampton. (Paul Foster-John)

On a run from the Alfriston Road to the top of Greenway Bank there were 10, yes 10 Painted Ladies this morning. This is a distance of about 2 miles. (Matt Eade)


Sunday 10 May 2015

Thanks to all who attended the Fritillaries for the Future meetings at Rewell Wood, and many thanks to the Norfolk Estate for hosting the walks and training events over the last two weekends. A total of 27 frit-fans came to the morning and afternoon sessions, and everyone got up-close-and-personal with the Pearl-bordered Fritillary. Small Copper and Grizzled Skipper appeared in supporting roles. More about the project here. (Neil Hulme)

Another virtuoso performance from Maestro Hulme today. Not only did we find Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, one was persuaded to sit motionless on a leaf while 20 eager photographers took it in turns to take shots of it. And a fascinating introduction to the theory and practice of coppicing, with a demonstration as to how to measure the success of the operation in terms of the diversity of plant life to be found in the coppiced area. Really enjoyable and a most interesting walk. (Nigel Symington)

My father Roy Symonds, Reports the following sightings from Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve (SU824098) where the temperature was 15 C. Brimstone 7M, Small White 4, Green-veined White 1, Painted Lady 1, and Grizzled Skipper 1.
Later from Inhams Lane, West Stoke (SU835089) 16C. Brimstone 3M 1F, Small White 2, Green-veined White 3, Orange Tip 5M, Speckled Wood 1, Peacock 2, Red Admiral 1 and Painted Lady 1. (Richard Symonds)

I was washing up and then I saw immediately outside my kitchen window a Holly Blue and so I rushed outside a took a few shots of it. This then gave me the inspiration to go on a butterfly hunt to High & Over...
...having seen a Holly Blue in my front garden, I ventured out to High & Over and spotted, Speckled Woods, Walls, Peacocks, a Comma, several Dingy Skippers, Large White, Brimstone, Orange Tip and Small White. Alas no green hairstreaks :( (Nick Linazasoro)

News for Thursday 7 May:

The poor weather continues but today was a bit better and I managed to see seven species of Butterfly in my Storrington garden. The highlight was what appeared to be a freshly emerged Small Copper in the flower meadow. Both Common Sorrel and Sheep's Sorrel flourish in the sandy soil of the flower meadow and we do have a small local colony of Small Copper, so it was only a question of time before recording a fresh emergence. Otherwise, Holly Blue (3+), Large White (2), Brimstone (1m), Orange-tip (2m), Speckled Wood (2) and Peacock (1). Mary and I went for a walk in Parham in the afternoon and had a Small Heath (1) in pristine condition. As with the Small Copper it was also reluctant to fly and was probably freshly emerged. Martin Kalaher, Storrington)


Saturday 9 May 2015

Thanks to Mike Mullis for leading an excellent walk at Abbot's Wood. The initially poor weather gave way to warm sunshine by mid afternoon, and the Pearl-bordered Fritillaries came out to play. We saw a conservative minimum of 30 PBF and did particularly well around the original release site area, where two mating pairs were found, one of which included a stunning ab. pittionii female. Other species included Grizzled Skipper (5), Small Copper (2), Green-veined White (1) and Red Admiral (1). For me, the highlight was watching a female PBF egg-laying, and we found one of her eggs attached to a dried grass stem. Plenty of Nightingale song to serenade us, and Mike even laid on ice creams from his van! (Neil Hulme)

Excellent walk at Abbot's Wood today thanks Mike Mullis. The weather started poor with rain, but improved during the today. With saw a Pearl-bordered Fritillary laying eggs and many others flying around. (Gary Norman)

A great walk in Abbot's Wood today, led by Mike Mullis. In spite of a rather grey start, we found some Pearl-bordered fritillaries in the first area we visited, some of them still with rain drops clinging to the fur on their body. Then it turned out that the weatherman had under promised and over delivered on the rain for the morning, so we sheltered in the wood for a while and looked for White Admiral larvae. Then on to the next area, where we found some 15 or more fritillaries and were lucky enough to see one laying an egg. It was duly photographed! Also Speckled Yellow moths all over the area. Then on to Milton Hide, where we found Grizzled Skippers. Thanks Mike for leading a lovely walk. (Nigel Symington)

Beetle id...

In reply to Peter Farrant regarding the small beetle, my conclusion is that it's a Green Leaf Weevil (Phyllobius maculicornis), this species uses more plants such as broadleaf trees compared to the Nettle Weevil (Phyllobius pomaceus) which is more commonly found on Nettles. (Jamie Burston)


Friday 8 May 2015

On a rather windy day today I went up the Downs near Storrington. 3 Green Hairstreak flying from a patch of bramble at the bottom of the hill, and perching rather uncooperatively in the middle of the bush, so difficult to photograph. 2 male Orange-tip flying around, 1 Brimstone at the top of the hill and 1 Dingy Skipper came and landed near my feet, so I declare the greens the winners. (Nigel Symington)

Speckled Wood in the scrub over the fence, north end of platform 5, Three Bridges Station! Painted Lady, South Downs Way, Clayton Hill. (Patrick Moore)


Thursday 7 May 2015

My Mill Hill transect this morning showed Brimstone 3, Common Blue 2, Dingy Skipper 13, Green Hairstreak 3, Green-veined White 2, Grizzled Skipper 2, Peacock 1, Small Heath 1. Later I saw plenty more Dingies and Green Hairsteaks nectaring on horseshoe vetch. Moths seen: Pyrausta nigrata, P. purpuralis and Violet Cosmets on daisies. Later at Kithurst Meadow I saw a Dingy Skipper, Peacocks, Green-veined Whites, Red-fringed Conches, Common Carpet Moth. Kithurst meadow also produced a Downland Bell (Rhopobota stagnana), a rare Sussex micro-moth last recorded at this site in 1992. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

I had a great day out today - thanks to your "sightings page". Your wonderful work is acknowledged at sussexrambler.blogspot.co.uk. (Peter Lovett)

Recent news:

On Monday 4th May 2015 I went to the dew pond at Wild Park and Hollingbury Hill Fort, on my walk I saw 3 Large White, 1 Green-veined White, 1 Brimstone, 1 male Orange-tip (TQ324080), 1 Peacock and the highlight, my first Wall Brown, seen at the stone shelter by Hollingbury Hill Fort. (Jamie Burston)

I also enjoyed Neil's 'Fritillaries for the Future' tour on Saturday. In addition to Pearls I saw a Lesser Treble-bar, Green Longhorns and two days later an Orange-tip and Brimstones. Colin Knight bit.ly/1IcPhdE)

At Arundel WWT recently I found a Cosmet moth (Mompha species), a Mottled Umber larva on Salix and a spectacular piebald Comfrey Ermel moth. (Colin Knight bit.ly/1H0mOHx)


Tuesday 5 May 2015

Found three Pearl-bordered Fritillary, in the sloping bluebell field today. Two males and one female. (Terry and Helen Wood)


Monday 4 May 2015

Today I joined Dan Danahar and we went looking for Green Hairstreaks on the Devil's Dyke. In view of a deteriorating weather forecast, we decided on an early start and left the car park at the top at 9.00 am. We walked to the lower, more sheltered area at the bottom but had seen no butterflies by the time we got there. A quick call to Neil Hulme told us that they would probably be on the wing from around 10.30 onwards as the day warmed up. Indeed at 10.20, the first butterfly was seen, a Dingy Skipper, followed by several more of the same. Large Whites and Brimstones, both male and female, appeared in some numbers flying round the bushes. Then at 10.40 we saw the first Green Hairstreak, nectaring on the flowers of a Wayfaring-tree (Viburnum lantana). I decided to wait to see if others appeared in the same spot, and was able to watch a Dark-edged Bee-fly (Bombylius major) ovipositing in the disturbed soil of an ants' nest. As midday approached we walked along the bushes at the bottom of the Dyke, and were rewarded with Hairstreaks aplenty. At one point we had no fewer than 5 in view at one time, and we counted over 10 for the whole day, one of which Dan was able to persuade to climb onto his thumb for a close up view. However, at lunchtime the clouds rolled in, the temperature dropped, and we saw the Hairstreaks flying off and dropping into the grass, where they were impossible to locate. Lewington and Thomas say that 'a typical population produces no more than five to ten males at the peak of the flight period', so we came away content that we had had a very successful day, and Dan had been able to shoot some good footage for the 'Butterflies of the Biosphere' site (here. (Nigel Symington)

The butterfly enthusiast and the Duke of Burgundy were both plentiful on the slopes of Heyshott Escarpment today. The weather was only periodically good enough to induce much aerial activity, but a large hatch was clearly underway. I encountered one Duke struggling its way out of a carpet of moss, and plenty of others were very unsteady on their still-damp wings. A thorough search of all the pits just failed to reach a count of 40, but it's early days yet and I suspect there will be a bumper crop by next weekend. A mating pair was found by Richard Roebuck, and the Cadeys found an egg-laying female, which appeared to at least attempt oviposition on dogwood (we lost track of which leaf to check  doh!). Other species were few and far between, with low numbers of Dingy and Grizzled Skipper, and a single Green Hairstreak. An early visit in warm sunshine is highly recommended. (Neil Hulme)

At this time of year I always try for a special day of visiting Rewell Wood to see the Pearl-bordered Fritillaries and then Heyshott for the Duke of Burgundy As the weather forecast looked good I set off early and in the area I visited the Pearl-bordered Fritillaries were already on the wing at 8.30, sunbathing on tracks and occasionally nectaring on bluebells. I went to another favourite spot and camped out next to a patch of bugle. This paid off as all the local PBF started visiting to nectar. At one point there were three on flowers in front of me and it was just great watching all these delightful pristine individuals flying around including courting behaviour with several pairs. As temperatures rose it was time to leave for Heyshott Down. On arrival at the slopes, I saw immediately saw to two Dukes following each other about a foot off the ground. They settled and while I fumbled with my camera, I eventually realised they had paired - a result and a first for me despite many visits here. It was a great day with many newly emerged Dukes on the wing. The other highlight was a female adder in the undergrowth and of course great to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. Heyshott is a stunning place and all credit to the Murray Downland Trust, Neil Hulme and all the volunteers who manage and make this such a special site. (Richard Roebuck)

The sunnier morning seduced us into visiting Mill Hill and of course it was cloudy by then. We did find one Grizzled Skipper. I've always had problems getting pictures of them but the cloud helped for once. Here it is on grass and on soil  very well camouflaged on the soil. Another butterfly spotter with two much superior cameras joined us, so you might get better pictures of it from him! Our consolation prize for the lack of butterflies was the nightingale in the bushes at the north end. (John & Val Heys)

I managed a productive couple of hours on the regular Pearl-bordered Fritillary transect at Abbots before the sun (inevitably) disappeared just after lunch. PBF numbers are slowly on the up but the overall count is still relatively low... but I've yet to manage to cover the whole wood this year before it clouds over. Green-veined White, Brimstone, Green Hairstreak, Grizzled Skipper, Peacock and of course Pearl-bordered Fritillaries were all seen yesterday. Also several day-flying moths including Speckled Yellow, Green Carpet, Brown Silver-line, Silver-Y and micros Adela reaumurella, Nematopogon schwarziellus (or possibly N.swammerdamella - just as unpronounceable as each other) and another as yet unidentified micro. Birdsong courtesy of Nightingales, Blackcaps, Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs and a single Garden Warbler. (Mike Mullis)

10.25am to 1.35pm. Saw 6x Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, including two females, one in egg laying mode. also 1x Painted Lady feeding from bluebell flowers. heard 7x Nightingales. saw this small beetle, can anyone out there identify it, I've looked it up in my insect book but can't find it. (Peter Farrant)

I found this caterpillar in Clarence Square, Brighton, there were quite a few all around 2.5 cm long - it's a Brown-tail , ed.. (Patrick Moore)

More from Saturday 2 May:

Thanks to all who came along for both the morning and afternoon Fritillaries for the Future events at Rewell Wood. After taking a couple of seasons off from leading walks, it was great to be back. After making sure we would succeed, by marking the position of 2 roosting Pearl-bordered Fritillary the evening before, and then explaining why they were likely to have hunkered down in this area of the coppice coup, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was standing next to another 2! They opened their wings in response to a little warmth and eventually took to the air. We also did a session on habitat assessment and butterfly recording, and I'm pleased to say we already have some willing volunteers to help monitor the species over the next few years. However, there are plenty of other sites where help will be most welcome. After tracking and marking the position of another Pearl, just in time for the arrival of the afternoon group, I was particularly pleased to show this to our youngest participant, Joseph, bringing his tally of species to either 27 or 28. You can't connect with nature any closer than having a Pearl-bordered Fritillary resting on your finger! A great day all round, and lots of smiling faces, including mine. I will be running another day of Fritillaries for the Future events here next Sunday 10 May. As the afternoon walk (young people's event) has not received any bookings yet, it will now be open to all. (Neil Hulme)


Saturday 2 May 2015

Excellent field craft and stunning butterflies were on display at Rewell Wood courtesy of Neil Hulme. A great trip with great company. (Paul Fosterjohn)

He just never lets you down... multiple rabbits out of multiple hats. A great morning with Neil Hulme at Rewel wood on Saturday morning. (Dan Danahar)

Thanks to Neil Hulme at Rewell Wood today for giving us some really good views of Pearl-bordered Fritillary. (Mark Cadey)

With the omniscient Neil Hulme and likeminded friends at Rewell Wood. What a fabulous morning despite the cold conditions. Neil found four Pearl-bordered Fritillaries for us to admire and photograph. Many thanks Neil for your expertise. (Steven Morgan)

Pearl-bordered Fritillary taken at Rewell Wood today on the BC sussex walk. (Bart Ives)


Friday 1 May 2015

With dull (but now dry) weather forecast for the Fritillaries for the Future walks at Rewell Wood tomorrow (see Events listing for details), I thought I might get my retaliation in early. I dropped in late afternoon and found a couple of beautiful Pearl-bordered Fritillaries at roost. The weather can't beat us now. Sleeping Pearls  a photographer's dream! (Neil Hulme)

Today (1st May) I saw a single Small White right in the centre of Brighton (TQ313043), goes to show that they can turn up anywhere. Additionally on the 30th April I saw 2 Speckled Woods and 1 Large White in my Hollingbury back garden and my Dad saw a single Small White in the front garden.(Jamie & Jeff Burston)


Earlier Sightings

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