Butterfly Conservation - saving butterflies, moths and their habitats
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Send Sussex butterfly & moth sightings (TEXT ONLY PLEASE - NO PICTURES) to This page is updated as often as possible, usually daily. Red sightings are first of the year; purple are moths. These sightings are largely unverified at the time of publishing - unusual sightings, together with the sender's email address, will be forwarded to the County Recorder. If you do not wish to be contacted further about your records please add the words 'NO CONTACT' after your email.

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New Year's Eve 2010

I had a quick hunt for Brown Hairstreak eggs in South Meadow, Blunts Wood & Paiges Meadow LNR (ref TQ318245) this afternoon and have found two eggs so far. (Barbara Woods)

Having had no joy in TQ0210 and SU9818 [searching for Brown Hairstreak eggs] over the past two days I had some success today with 3 tetrads 'in the west'. Records at SU972145 (Glatting lane, Sutton), SU967164 (southern edge of Fountain Copse) and SU955165 (Beechwood Lane). Spent quite a long time in SU9216 but didn't come up with anything. (Martin Kalaher)

News from a little while ago: I'm a committee member from Yorkshire. My brother, Nick Blackett who lives and works in Lewes, has just sent me a photo of a Herald (above) in the snow for confirmation. I am forwarding it to you for your records. (Taken at TQ420100, Railway Land, Lewes on 1 December 2010.) Happy new Year from Yorkshire... (Chris Frost)

Tuesday 28 December 2010

Santa bought me a great present this year - a new handlens with 20X magnification - ideal when searching for Brown Hairstreak eggs (see pic above) Returning back to Sussex today I decided to put it to good use and stopped off in the (still snowy) Plaistow / Loxwood area. Despite the fog finding Brown Hairstreak eggs in this part of the county is a doddle. Just look on your OS map and find a footpath running east-west. When you get there look on the Blackthorn on the south side of the nearest hedge. In this way we managed to find eggs in 10 new tetrads. There's been a lot of pictures of exotic species on the sightings page over the past few weeks - so I took a snap of a typical English countryside scene to remind us of home (above, right) (Michael Blencowe & Clare Jeffers)

Boxing Day 2010

To work off a few of those extra calories consumed yesterday I checked the area to the south/south west of my garden and now have 104 Brown Hairstreak eggs (including 24 in my garden). 70%+ on suckers and 90%+ facing SE or South. Off to the west soon. (Martin Kalaher)

Christmas Eve 2010

Thank you for your continuing support and especially those that have helped us with recording, at Branch events and work parties, and by contributing to our website and newsletters. With best wishes from the BC Sussex committee. Please note that my computer is currently very ill and unfortunately I can't respond to incoming emails until this is resolved. Thanks to all that have sent festive messages. (Neil Hulme)

Encounters with the Geranium Bronze Cacyreus marshalli, in the Greek island of Corfu (Kérkyra)
Recent commentaries by Neil Hulme and Bob Foreman about their encounters with European species has inspired me to report on my recent encounters with the Geranium Bronze Cacyreus marshalli, in the Greek island of Corfu (Kérkyra). Over recent years the bays of Paleokastritsa have become the Danahar family's favored retreat for our summer vacations. Our first trip was in August 2007 and since then we have returned on a further two occasions: July/August 2008 and July/August 2010. However, it was only on this last visit that I came across the Geranium Bronze. Interestingly, in the second and revised edition (2009) of his book "the Butterflies of Greece" Lazaros N. Pamperis comments on this species as being first recorded in Corfu during 2009.

Unfortunately, the Corfiots have a habit of calling their capital by the same name as their island (Corfu-English and Kérkyra-Greek). So if the records quoted by Pamperis refer to the capital it would appear that in the course of one year the Geranium Bronze has travelled from Corfu town to Paleokastritsa, a distance of a little under 20 km as the crow flies, unless it was independently introduced into Paleokastritsa.
Pamperis records the butterfly as being seen at sea level on Pelargonium and Geranium plants. In Paleokastritsa, I saw this species only ovipositing on Pelargoniums. The ova themselves where quite simple to locate because like so many lycaenids they are white and therefore conspicuous. On one morning I decided to spend a couple of hours undertaking a survey of the eggs. During this time I found about 20 eggs and about 90% where found on pink flowered plants and only 10% were found on red flowered Pelargoniums. Although none of this work was a scientifically conducted study, I got the distinct impression that the species was not at all abundant beyond 100m above sea level.

Of course Pelargoniums are widely distributed as garden plants throughout Europe, having their origins in South Africa and the Geranium Bronze is considered a threat to their cultivation. Furthermore, it is widely recognised that one of the greatest threats to indigenous biodiversity is the introduction of alien species and so there is an understandable concern related to the spread of this butterfly throughout the Mediterranean, which incidentally also has its origins in South Africa.
Most resorts in the Mediterranean use Pelargoniums and so the spread of this species through the rest of Greece, from where it is currently absent, is surely only a matter of time.
In Paleokastritsa, Pelargoniums were planted widely and so it was quite easy to log a photographic record of this species, throughout it's life-cycle. I have previously seen this species abundantly in Spain and Italy. Of course in Sussex this species was recorded by our very own Crispin Holloway, in his back garden during the summer of 1997. So keep you eyes open it might turn up somewhere near to you in 2011. (Dr Dan Danahar)

Spent 3 weeks in February back packing around Thailand. When I wasn't diving, spent most of my time looking for butterflies in the rain forest apparently 12,000 species of 40 families have been found in Thailand. Identifying them is a bit tricky but I have had a stab anyway. Each butterfly I saw was an adventure in itself. Here's just a few. Visited Khao Sok national park, The first one is a female Archduke (Lexias pardalis) (top left) feeding on a dried up seed pod. Its about 6 inches across. The second was pursued through a patch of dark rain forest its upper wings were a deep purple, I managed one lucky shot of this large superbly camouflaged butterfly (Thauria spp.) (top right) before it vanished. Third pic (centre left) was found in a dry stream bed in Khao Lak this large orange butterfly Cruiser (Vindula erota) male patrolled up and down all morning occasionally stopping to collect minerals. It was the dry season and unnerving as huge palm fronds came crashing down around me. The fourth pic (centre right) caught me by suprise as I thought it was some falling leaves as they fell into a bush next to me these are (Euthalia spp.) possibly The Baron. Lastly several species of butterflies collecting minerals by a stream possibly including Glassy Tigers, Jezebels, Grass Yellows, Lemon Emigrant and some Whites, a beautiful site in Khao Sok National Park. (Richard Roebuck)

Last but by no means least... Some photos from my trip to Bulgaria in June 2010. Niobe Fritillary (top left), Cardinal (top right), Marbled Fritillary (2nd row left), Spotted Fritillary, egg laying, (2nd row right), Queen of Spain Fritillary (3rd row left), Marbled White (3rd row right), Apollo (bottom left), Balkan Copper (bottom right). (Andrew Burns)

Wednesday 22 December 2010

I will resume the tetrad search shortly, when the country roads are a little less hazardous. Meanwhile, I have tramped over the local fields south of Storrington village covering an area approximately 1000 metres west to east and 500 metres north to south. I thought the membership might be interested in my provisional findings. Thus far, 58 Brown Hairstreak eggs found. Just 2 eggs on west facing hedgerows, 6 on north facing, and the remainder either south or east (or a combination of the two). Clearly, most BH eggs are 'sun-exposed' but it does seem that early morning sun is what is most important. Many of the locations will lose direct sunshine from mid afternoon onwards but that seems to be far less critical. (Observing a Brown Hairstreak caterpillar munching away on Blackthorn in early May of this year, I could see why there is a need for direct sunshine - for early May isn't exactly very warm). As for the position of the eggs, 80 % + on suckers with the remainder on 'mature suckers' (away from the hedge) or the main hedgrow, itself. It is a little ironic bearing in mind my previous comments regarding the harsh treatment suffered by the flail, that many of the local hedgerows could do with a severe trim! Ancient Blackthorn that is never trimmed is pretty hopeless for Brown Hairstreak. Hopefully tetrad hunting tomorrow. (Martin Kalaher)

I watched the Butterfly Obsession today on iPlayer and it's brilliant, Neil does a quite plausible impression of Butch Cassidy on his bike, just what I needed after my return from the frozen North. I'd like wish every one a very Merry Christmas, I can't send a card, so here's a pic of our Christmas tree, my pet 5 foot Crassula ovata (jade tree) which is also coming into flower. 20 years ago it was on my windowsill, things sort of got out of hand a bit. (Richard Roebuck)

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Well, the winter gloominess is really beginning to lift now, looking at this page I could almost forget about the weather outside (which is, of course, frightful). These are great - please keep them coming, oh and by the way, these latest ones are "clickable" - I've been experimenting and this seems to work quite nicely. If you have any problems with it not working properly please let me know, thanks and a very mery Christamas. ed.

Here are three from the Loire Valley, France in August - Swallowtail (top left) and Great Banded Grayling (top right) & one for the 'mothers' - The Passenger (bottom). (Tony Wilson)

These photographs, taken in June 2010, are just a small sample of butterfly species that are to be found in The Cevennes, France, an area that I would recommend to any butterfly enthusiast. They are Scarce Swallowtail (top left), Spanish Festoon (top right), Black-veined White (bottom left) and Pearly Heath (bottom right). (Nigel Kemp, Heathfield)

Sunday 19 December 2010

In the depth of winter, we all need a butterfly top-up and so here is a mystery Grayling-like butterfly I snapped in Crete in August. I hope that you all enjoy it and that someone can identify it. Also really enjoyed the BBC 2 butterfly programme on Friday. Let's hope that they make some more! Merry Christmas everyone. (Nick Linazasoro)

Saturday 18 December 2010

Inspired by Neil's lovely Blues from The Canaries and Colin's Maldivean Small Cupid, I thought that during this week's run up to Christmas, I would attempt to brighten things up a little by posting some photos that contributors to this site might have taken on their travels this year, after all, there's not likely to be too many photos of anything else being sent in.
So, if you've got any photos you'd like to show send them to the usual address (sighting@sussex-butterflies.org.uk) and I'll put them here.
I'm setting the ball rolling with these I took whilst on holiday in Brittany in August: Top row: Sooty Copper, Lycaena tityrus, male (left) and female (right). Bottom row: Map, Araschnia levana (left) and Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth (right). All taken in the garden of our gîte. (Bob Foreman)

Friday 17 December 2010

Despite the cold weather, I found my second female Winter Moth this year had climbed the wall outside my kitchen door attracted by the outside light. I took this photo (above), which unfortunately hasn't come out very well (Tony Wilson)

Wednesday 15 December 2010

After a fruitless search [for Brown Hairstreak eggs] yesterday of the area between Chantry Post and the northern aspect of Angmering Park, today brought plenty of rewards with a further 5 tetrads. I checked the area between Storrington and Thakeham and had records for two new tetrads. The first was at Greenhurst farm (TQ10451595) and the second north of Hareswith pond (09351625). Then off to Pulborough/Stopham where there were records at Park Farm (TQ04201890 and TQ03951890). The eggs were in the same field but either side of the tetrad line! To make life a little easier for myself I tend to choose a footpath which crosses adjacent tetrads. It worked well on this occasion. Finally, I went back to the Coldwaltham area and found an egg on a youngish hedge (6-8 years approx) at Horncroft farm (TQ00651719). (Martin Kalaher)

Sunday 12 December 2010

I was joined in Rowland Wood on Saturday by a hard-working crew who, fuelled by mince pies, butter sandwiches and painkillers went to work taking down birch and sycamore to open up a new ride in the woodland. Working with bowsaws and enthusiasm we made short work of creating a wide ride. I had also been joined in the wood earlier in the week by the Brighton Conservation Volunteers and the BTCV who have also helped open up the woodland - the whole feel of the woodland is slowly changing - more light in getting through and it just looks a whole lot healthier. Plenty more to do though! A big thankyou to the Sunday Work Party; Dave, Roy, Bart, Keith & Wendy (who supplied the marvellous mince pies), Ree, Mike, Colin, Neil, Peter, John, Roger, Andrew and David - and especially Vince who drove all the way from Surrey to join us (and who took the right-hand photo above - Michael took the one on the left). The next work party will be on January 9th (Michael Blencowe)

News for Saturday 11 December: We carried out a search for Brown Hairstreak eggs on blackthorn at Ebernoe Common. In total we found 5 eggs of Brown Hairstreak - but no sign of Blue-bordered Carpet (SU9727 & SU9827) (Alf Simpson)

Saturday 11 December 2010

"I guarantee you won't see any butterflies" - it's hardly the way to inspire a crowd who have turned up on one of Sussex BC's field trips - but despite remaining true to my word December 11th 2010 turned out to be one of the most productive butterfly trips of the season. Quite a crowd joined Neil and I at Steyning Rifle Range to take part in the craze that's sweeping the nation - Brown Hairstreak Egg Hunting. Bryony Webb gave the group a bit of background on the great conservation work being undertake by the Steyning Downland Scheme (http://www.steyningdownland.org/) and Neil and I gave some tips on finding the eggs. Then it was staright into the Hairstreak action! Within seconds the group (magnifying glasses in hand) were finding the eggs of one of Britain's most elusive butterflies on the Bullace and Blackthorn - we counted over 50 at this site. We also found good examples of Blue-bordered Carpet eggs too. Dave and Penny Green set up a microscope linked to a laptop so the group could view these intricate eggs up close. And then we all dispersed into West Sussex to see what we can find. Anna Grist and Susan Suleski located more eggs on a visit to Pulborough Brooks. Susie Milbank found 11 eggs at Southwater Woods. High on the Downs Martin Kalahar was successful while searching Blackthorn south of Rackham Hill (see below). Peter Atkinson searched his home tetrad near High Salvington for over an hour - and then found one egg back at the start of his route. Dave and Penny Green found eggs in two squares near Wiston. Neil Hulme sped up the A24 and around Cissbury Ring and found eggs in 7 tetrads. I jumped into Richard Roebuck's landrover along with Clare Jeffers, Barbara Woods and Ryan Mitchell and we headed out to West Chiltington and recorded Brown Hairstreak eggs in 6 tetrads. (We made a detour to see the White-tailed Eagle at Amberley, while others watched the bird I spent too long telling a birdwatcher how to find Brown Hairstreak eggs and by the time I got 'round to looking at the eagle it had flown off). We then headed off to the north of Pulborough and, in the fading December light, found the eggs in two more tetrads. What a day! A big thankyou to all who came along and sent in their records. We now have an amazing 109 tetrad squares where we have found Brown Hairstreaks (adults & eggs) in Sussex - wonderful stuff! (Michael Blencowe)

It was very enjoyable meeting up with other enthusiasts at Steyning. After leaving Steyning I decided to check a couple of tetrads on the Storrington Downs. Parked up at Springhead and checked the immediate area but had no luck. Went along the bridal path that heads SW and found a clump of young Blackthorn within 50-60 yards of the Southdown Way. Took me a while but eventually found a Brown Hairstreak egg on a very short sucker. Had a look at the OS map and realised that this square had already been 'ticked' (I gather an adult was seen at Springhead this year). Anyway, good to know that they do breed up on the Downs. (TQ069124) There was a fair amount of Blackthorn along this bridal path but no further sightings. Then into TQ0410 and again after a lot of searching found a BH egg and then two more together a couple of yards away (TQ058116). I spent 2 hours+ at the Burgh on Thursday without any luck so I was pleased to find some eggs in this tetrad today. Off to West Dean tomorrow. Hopefully a positive report to follow. (Martin Kalaher)

The last moth (other than Winter Moths) at my outside light was a Scarce Umber on 23 Nov so I was surprised to see a few at my windows this evening and a walk around the house at 10.00pm produced 6 December Moths, Satellite, Sprawler, 2 Scarce Umbers and 12 Winter Moths! (Tony Wilson)

Unable to resist the the positively tropical temperatures these past couple of nights I have had the moth trap running in my Lindfield garden (first time since 5 November - the minimum temperature that night was 13°C!). Friday night was a little unspectacular: 1 Scarce Umber and 5 Winter Moths but last night, despite the early morning frost, the trap was teeming with life: 7 December Moths (above, left), 1 Satellite, 4 Winter Moths and 2 Mottled Umbers (above, right). (Bob Foreman)

Friday 10 December 2010

Looking forward to the Brown Hairstreak meeting at Steyning tomorrow (details above). We're meeting at 10:30 and will dive into the blackthorn to find some of those prized eggs. If you're new to the sport we will ensure that you get some first class training from the experts. We're hoping to set up a microscope in the field so we can all admire these intricate eggs up close. The event will last for about two hours and then I'm hoping we can encourage so folk to stick around to help us survey some squares adjacent to Steyning. I've printed out maps and teams can head out to nearby tetrads to search the blackthorn - we'll all meet up again in a local pub later to discuss what we have discovered. So far in 2010 we have notched up an amazing 85 2km squares in Sussex which contain this elusive butterfly - can we get to 100 by Saturday night? Look forward to seeing you there! (Michael Blencowe)

Rowland Wood Work Party - This Sunday: We'll be holding the final work party of the year at Rowland Wood this Sunday. There's some ride widening work that needs to be done and we will be opening a corridor to let some light in to the reserve and provide important habitat for the butterflies that live there. There's plenty of tasks to suit everyone so come and join us for your last bit of exercise before Christmas. Mince Pies will be provided but please bring gloves and packed lunch if required. I'll be on the reserve early at 8am - but join us at anytime between then and 2pm for as long as is convenient for you. We'd certainly appreciate your help. I'll unlock the gate, please park in Rowland Wood - we're working along the woodchip track. (Michael Blencowe, sussexgrayling@aol.com 01323 423711)

A single Brown Hairstreak egg (and a pair of Blue-bordered Carpet moth eggs) beside the A280 between Titnore and Angmering (TQ088053). A fruitless search of ideal and abundant blackthorn beside the A27 near Tangmere (SU895067) suggests to me that the species may 'disappear' somewhere along the coastal strip between Arundel and this point. A return eastwards to Cissbury Ring lower slopes (Findon Valley) was far more rewarding, with 17 Brown Hairstreak eggs (including an empty shell from the previous season) being found in about 20 minutes, together with another pair of Blue-bordered Carpet eggs - all at TQ133075. (Neil Hulme)

I went for my usual walk around the Steyning Rifle Range this morning &, in preparation for tomorrows Egg Hunt, decided to 'get my eye in' by having a quick look for some eggs. Outside the official Hairstreak Reserve I managed to find five Brown Hairstreak eggs relatively easily in spite of a lot of the suckers having been grazed by the cattle (or possibly deer). Also present were a lot of hibernating Ladybirds! It will be interesting to see what tomorrow's count will be. (Pete Varkala)

Thursday 09 December 2010

A few Winter Moths at my outside lights in Edburton recently, despite the cold, including my first ever flightless female this morning. (Tony Wilson)

Re. Martin's observations: I concur with Martin's summary regarding finding Brown Hairstreak eggs. They do appear to be widespread and indeed thin on the ground. Today I looked at what I thought was an ideal habitat at Wineham. Lots of sloes and suckers, but it took me at least an hour of careful searching to find one egg. Slightly later I stopped the car by a footpath at Kent Street hopped over a stile but couldn't really see any obvious sloes in the hedges except for two suckers 5 feet out from a hedge the first sucker had one egg on it. It took me about two minutes to find this from leaving the car. It happens like that. The other thing is that to find 3 or more eggs is exceptional in a good spot. I used to think that I needed to find more than one egg just to convince myself. This isn't the case as they are widely spread and lets face it, finding one 1mm egg amongst loads of twigs is actually quite an achievement, even at my age with my eyesight. So its really worth giving it ago. Tetrad info sent to Michael. (Richard Roebuck)

Wednesday 08 December 2010

Another two tetrads today and we now have a broad band right across TQ01! I checked out Houghton Lane between Bury and Houghton and found a nice stretch of Blackthorn hedgerow on the road just north of the sewage works. Had a very good look at 100 metres of good quality Blackthorn (roadside not fieldside, which had been cut to pieces) and found nothing, but popped down a track just a few feet off the road and had a single Brown Hairstreak egg on a small sucker. Headed off to the Watersfield area but didn't find anything very suitable and with time running out made my way to Amberley Wildbrooks. Bumped into two farmers both of whom were very helpful and supportive. Found some very nice suckers to the south of the converted barn on the Wey South path. These were in a ditch and by a garden hedge which also had some good quality Blackthorn. Nothing! Not to be outdone I waded into the ditch and checked very carefully every sucker (approx 50 in all) and at last had just a single Brown Hairstreak egg. Conclusion: go for the suckers!! The more I look for these eggs the more I appreciate that Brown Hairstreak is very widespread but in some places very thin on the ground. What it does mean though is that the females are more than prepared to wander over a large area and with more sympathetic management of our hedgerows they would do very well indeed. TQ01351285 and TQ03101535 (Martin Kalaher)

Tuesday 07 December 2010

I checked out the Coldwaltham Brooks area this afternoon and discovered that Blackthorn is not very common there. The ratio of Hawthorn to Blackthorn must be at least 50/1. After a couple of hours tramping around I spotted a newish hedge just north of Greatham bridge, at TQ031164. This hedge as yet to be pruned and I would guess the plants are approx 8 years old. I found two Brown Hairstreak eggs. There may have been more but the hedge was difficult to access. Other than my Storrington garden hedge all the eggs I have found so far have been on suckers and generally no more than 4 feet up. These eggs were approx 6 feet up. They were young healthy plants with lots of new growth at the top. (Martin Kalaher)

Monday 06 December 2010

Brown Hairstreak eggs in 3 more tetrads, between Amberley village and Rackham. The sites were only 1.3 km from end to end but straddled 3 tetrads.
On a different note I saw a Small Tortoiseshell in mint condition, yesterday evening just after 8.00pm! In future years it will be on a 'question of sport' for the venue was the international centre at Telford and the event the UK snooker championships! O'sullivan was playing Bingham when a Small Tortoiseshell landed on the green beize and stopped play! It happened more than once and at one point Ronnie offered to go off for a cuppa whilst someone found a net! (Martin Kalaher)

Holiday News! : Having just returned from the sunny Canary Islands, I'm most impressed to find that a small and very hardy group of enthusiasts have been braving the icy conditions to survey Brown Hairstreak eggs! I'll be even more impressed if anyone finds them significantly East of Burgess Hill. We're hoping to see a good group at Steyning on Saturday, and after an hour or so here, anyone will have the expertise required to push back the known limits of the species' range. While on holiday on Fuerteventura I managed to extend the butterfly season, with Hannah and I seeing Monarch, Long-tailed Blue, Lang's Short-tailed Blue, African Grass Blue, Geranium Bronze, Painted Lady and Red Admiral. In the evenings we occasionally saw Striped and Hummingbird Hawkmoths around the hotel garden borders. I know that at least a couple of our members are heading towards this part of the world for a Christmas break, so here's a guide to what to look out for. All of these species are typically found around hotel gardens, so it's possible to enjoy our favourite hobby while reclining on a sunlounger, with a sangria in one hand and a pair of binoculars in the other! More details at http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/phpBB/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=4065&start=240. (Neil Hulme)

Clockwise from top left (above): Long-tailed Blue, Lang's Short-tailed Blue, African Grass Blue and Geranium Bronze (Neil Hulme)

Sunday 05 December 2010

I found a Brown Hairstreak egg at Cootham, ref TQ07351445. Once I had found one egg I didn't hang around as there are lots more tetrads to check and there are so few daylight hours. Walked across Parham Park but in the time available drew a blank (but I didn't really find a suitable hedgerow). The Cootham location is only 700 metres from my home, so I presume it is part of my 'local colony'. (Martin Kalaher)

Fear and Loathing in West Sussex: After being snowed in for 4 days I was starting to develop cabin fever - so when a 12 degree rise in temperature and heavy rain washed away the snow I rushed back out into the countryside for some hairstreak therapy. Despite the rain and slush I was able to find Brown Hairstreak eggs in three new tetrads near Dragon's Green on Saturday. On Sunday I teamed up with master hairstreak hunter Richard Roebuck and we embarked on a steak slice fuelled road-trip along the backlanes of West Sussex - stopping off in every tetrad to check suitable blackthorns. We had a 90% hit rate - locating Hairstreak eggs in an impressive 17 tetrads. Eggs were found in a variety of locations in a loop from West Grinstead to West Chiltington. A site south of Horsham was hairstreak heaven with 17 eggs found on the suckers of a perfect blackthorn hedge. We also found Blue-bordered Carpet eggs at 2 sites. A rather odd sighting was a caterpillar crawling across the snow. With Brown Hairstreak recorded in 78 tetrads so far in 2010 we are starting to gain more understanding of a species which appears to have a widespread distribution across a large area of West Sussex. (photos above) (Michael Blencowe & Richard Roebuck)

Tuesday 30 November 2010

Recent news: I spent Saturday 27th hunting for Brown Hairstreak eggs in places I had not visited before. An interesting range of habitats. The first along the river Adur where I found 8 eggs in sheltered areas. One egg had a clear hole in it so possibly an older egg. The second an ideal location where a footpath runs alongside a tree line, which has been fenced. The sloes either self seed or have suckered out in the open, which is good for sunshine but with protection from the trees behind. see pic (top, left), three eggs found here. Second pic (top, right) is a footpath through arable fields this hedge has not been cut for some time so there were good long shoots and also suckers at the base. The brambles opposite provide a nectaring site. Three eggs found here. Thirdly just to break all the rules a very sparse hedge next to a road in the middle of arable fields with the odd small sloe (bottom, left), this seems pretty exposed to me, but surprisingly found two eggs together which made me smile (bottom, right). Apart from the eggs I found on my travels, came across, a 12th century church, a Monastery and an 11th century Church at west Grinstead where the poet Percy Shelly's parents are buried and also the author Hilaire Belloc. So also a bit educational this outing. Today a total of 16 eggs in four new tetrads today for the atlas. Like the orange tip egg hunting its sort of therapeutic. (Richard Roebuck)

When hunting for Brown Hairstreak eggs I also see over wintering ladybirds and the dreaded Harlequin beetles on sloe stems. I was also quite pleased to find, on one sloe sucker in several groups, 57 quite small ladybirds (possibly Propylea-14-punctata). The temperature was a chilly at 1 degree Celsius. All the beetles were more or less on the southern side of the stems (photo above). (Richard Roebuck)

Monday 29 November 2010

As the temperature plummets what better way to spend the days than taking part in the noble English pastime of Brown Hairstreak egg-hunting. Just returned from spending a frosty weekend in the beautiful north-west corner of Sussex. To keep warm we hiked around on a tour of the blackthorn hedges of the area searching for Brown Hairstreak eggs. We didn't find anything around Milland and our searching east of Petworth drew a blank - but when we hit Lurgashall it was like a whole new world - Hairstreak heaven! - we found those tiny eggs in every 2km tetrad we searched (SU9226, SU9426, SU9424, SU9224 & SU9228). Like Martin Kalahar noted, the problem we initially found was trying to locate a blackthorn hedge that hadn't been massacred by the flail. The butterfly lays its eggs on the new growth blackthorn - which is the bit that gets the chop a few months after - so at some sites a large percentage (or possibly all?) must be lost each year. Thanks to all who have been out hunting over the past weeks - this extra effort means that we now have over 50 tetrads where Brown Hairstreak (adult or egg) have been recorded in 2010 - a great start to the atlas for a very elusive butterfly species (I've only ever seen 1 adult!). Don't forget to read our hairstreak-hunting guide (link above) and give it a try yourself. If you'd like to help by searching in new squares contact me and I'll send you some blank tetrads. (Michael Blencowe & Clare Jeffers)

Towards the end of a nice wintery walk around Woods Mill yesterday we had a good look through an area of new Blackthorn growth in one of the meadows for Brown Hairstreak eggs, as Penny had seen adult butterflies in a different part of the reserve in previous summers. We found a couple of eggs within a few minutes of searching and they were both roughly a meter off the ground. Today Penny popped back and searched a mature Blackthorn shaw in an adjacent meadow along which adults have been seen before, but no eggs could be found, echoing other peoples observations. (Dave and Pen Green)

I checked out the top end of Arundel Park and after a couple of hours eventually found a hedge that looked promising. I was about to give up when I spotted one and then two Brown Hairstreak eggs (TQ007111). I re-checked all the hedge and was unable to find any more eggs. There were still plenty of leaves present and that didn't help with the search. (Martin Kalaher)

Sunday 28 November 2010

I counted 17 Brown Hairstreak eggs in my Storrington garden yesterday (TQ082140) (including 7 eggs within 8 inches of each other on a 4 foot sucker). I carefully checked a 60-70 metre length of mature Blackthorn hedgerow in the meadow adjacent to my garden and drew a blank. I have permission to prune this hedgerow and within a year or so it should be a 'productive' hedge.
Today I checked another area to the east of Storrington (TQ095136) and found one egg within 5 minutes or so of searching. Then I wandered around an adjacent field which provided our sloes for 'sloe gin' this autumn and was rather shocked to see how it looked after having had a severe cut. What I thought was going to be a very productive hedgerow produced nothing. I went back to the original spot and found another two BH eggs.
It got me thinking a little about hedgerow management but also the questions posed by Richard Roebuck on November 20th. Why the eggs are laid on young growth? Having observed several BH caterpillars in my garden this summer, I offer the following thoughts. Incidentally, I can vouch for the fact that they feed during the daylight hours (even if they do predominantly feed at night). Young Blackthorn leaves are very soft and the caterpillars munch through them very easily. The leaves on mature branches are much more 'leathery'. The BH caterpillars are beautifully camouflaged within the pale green leaves of new growth, but not so with the leaves of older growth. Soft muncheable leaves plus excellent camouflage! Low down on suckers at the base of the hedge probably provides some protection from birds, which generally move through the top of a hedgerow. As it happens my garden eggs are on both suckers and mature Blackthorn, but all on young growth and all below 5 feet.
I will be checking some other areas. More to follow. (Martin Kalaher)

On Thursday 25 November in the garden at Kingston (TQ391085) was one Red Admiral flying around under apple trees and basking briefly on a wall nearby. Time about 1.00pm, max temp for the day was 3.7°C, hazy sun.
Any more sightings for the remainder of the year? (John Holloway)

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Driving home last night on country lanes at about 11.30 saw a few moths on the wing, eventually I stopped and caught two using the car headlights. It was a full moon clear skies and about 5 degrees celsius, and these were identified as the Scarce Umber (above). (Richard Roebuck)

Monday 22 November 2010

Yes, I'm sure ed is right in that the egg is a Comma. It is unquestionably the egg of a nymphalid butterfly. It has the right number of ribs, and it resembles my own photo of a comma species at http://facweb.furman.edu/~snyderjohn/tatum/120-124.htm. You have to ask what nymphalid butterfly would lay an egg, singly, on a shrub rather than on a herb, and the choices are limited. But is not blackthorn an unusual foodplant for a Comma? (Jeremy Tatum)

Sunday 21 November 2010

After reading the great Brown Hairstreak egg ID guide on this site, Pen and I thought we would try our hand at finding these eggs. After checking with Michael and Claire where some squares without records were, we headed out to north-west Sussex in search of Blackthorn. In all we found four Brown Hairstreak eggs during the day at three separate sites, and had a thoroughly enjoyable time as the hunt acted as a catalyst for us exploring areas we wouldnt have otherwise visited. One of the eggs we found was covered in green algae, but more interestingly another of the eggs was laid next to another, unidentified egg (above). Any thoughts on what species of moth this relates to would be gratefully received. (Dave and Pen Green)

...Comma possibly? (ed.)

Red Admiral at 1.30pm flying around apple trees, below which are many fallen apples on which it was probably feeding. Kingston near Lewes (TQ391085). (Crispin Holloway)

Spent 5 hrs looking for Brown Hairstreak eggs eggs today. Section of Downslink south of Partridge Green, found 5 eggs across TQ1918 and TQ1917. Most on short sloes at the base of a sloe hedge, one of which was 4 inches from the tip of last years growth on an old lichen covered sloe. This section of of downs link is quite neglected, with brambles and other flower patches so probably good for other Butterfly spp. as well... Just next to where I parked on the Bines Rd one egg on a single 3 foot high sloe next to a gate TQ189184, just into another 1km grid square. Also visited Partridge Green Park there used to be a large sloe hedge to one side but unfortunately this has been cut down. Instead there are hundreds of sloe suckers covering an area about 100 feet by 20 feet, beyond the children's play area. Rather like the Rifle Range reserve. Here I found 8 Brown Hairstreak eggs in just a few minutes and two more along the hedgerow next to the car park TQ194191. This could be a really important site, hope the council don't clear this. Went north from here following a footpath along a large sloe hedge and found 2 eggs, TQ197196 and then onwards to the next two adjoining fields. In both fields found two eggs at the base of long sloe hedges TQ197198 and TQ198200. There are disused fields near here with lots of overgrown sloe hedges but its private land. Took a left along footpath to Littleworth and on the way back to car found one egg at the base of a hedge on the main road TQ192197. Clearly Partridge Green is good for sloes and Brown Hairstreaks. Last visit was to some waste ground at the back of Henfield Business Park found two eggs on suckers at the base of a sloe hedge TQ221144.
Lastly a magnifying glass is a must to be sure of the i.d. The Brown Hairstreak also gets a view of a nice Salvador Dali type Pic. (above) I called this one "Vanilla Eyescream Dream." (Richard Roebuck)

And finally... My Maldivean Blue now has a proper name: Small Cupid (Chilades parrhasius). It is found in East Arabia, South & Central India, Sri Lanka, Assam, and now The Maldives. In Central India it frequents dry deciduous forests, scrub and savannah.
(Colin Knight)

Saturday 20 November 2010

Recently bogged down with work and short days have precluded my search for Brown Hairstreak eggs apart from a single egg I found near Wivelsfield Green which needs further investigation to convince me this is a sighting, however today I set off along the Downs Link to add more to the jigsaw of a Brown Hairstreak corridor south of Henfield. I searched a load of blackthorns with zero results and then found nearby, a new tree plantation on the borders of which were sloe suckers etc, perfect I thought. After 20 minutes, nothing apart from two Blue-bordered Carpet eggs, as per recommended picture. Returned to downs link, further on there was a bridge to allow cattle etc to pass underneath,pic attached. Not a classic site perhaps. At first there appeared to be young short sloes at the sides of the bridge Searched for a good while and found absolutely nothing. Suddenly realised these were the tops of 5 m sloes that had grown from the underpass below. I was a bit disheartened, but carried on south towards Steyning. About 20 yds later, on young sloe shoots found an egg and then three more. Result. And also two more Blue-bordered Carpet eggs. TQ2014. This indicates the problems our butterflies face in isolated reservoirs in our landscape while at least the Brown Hairstreak has a natural Blackthorn Corridor down the Downslink, On another note I have also noted that mature sloes have a fauna of themselves especially lichens which could mean they have loads of potential predators such as mites. In addition, after time, sloes also seem to get covered in slimy green algae which would make sticking an egg a bit hazardous. Are these possible reasons why Brown Hairstreak seem to prefer young shoots where these hazards are minimized, or are the eggs predated more quickly any way on older bushes? I have after all seen Brown Hairstreak attempting to lay eggs on mature bushes. Its possibly a complex situation. Any comments welcome? The hunt goes on. (Richard Roebuck)

Friday 19 November 2010

Not quite a Sussex sighting but more than welcome nonetheless, an interesting identification challenge too - suggestions to sighting@sussex-butterflies.org.uk please. (ed)

I am about to leave Bandos Resort in The Maldives after photographing Butterfly fish among many other marine species. I took a short cut round the back of my villa one day and saw some small flying critters. They looked grey with some blue in the sun and I thought they were moths. I followed one and when it landed on a grass stem I realised it was a Blue butterfly. I saw three in one sighting so it seems there is a good breeding colony on this small island. I think most were males, 1.5 cms and some smaller ones I think were females, 1cm, judging by their behaviour and size. The underwing pattern is exquisite, I never saw the upperwing. What a delight to find this beautiful butterfly where I have never noticed it before. I assume is an import with the plants, probably from Sri Lanka or Singapore where most goods come from. If anyone by chance knows this butterfly please let me know. Meanwhile I am calling it a Maldivean Blue... (Colin Knight, www.seapic.com)

A Red Admiral was flying around inside Shoots Garden centre near Washington today (Tony Wilson)

With the sun shining this morning 2 more Red Admirals were seen. 1 on The Alfriston Road and 1 near High and Over. (Bob Eade)

On the cleared scrub area of Mill Hill (north of the path) a Peacock Butterfly basked on the dewy large leaves of a Great Mullein plant. (Andy Horton, http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Butterfly-list2010.html)

Wednesday 17 November 2010

News for Tuesday 16 November: Two Red Admirals nectaring on ivy yesterday at Longmere Point,Thorney Island. (Barry Collins)

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Not to be outdone by Vancouver there were 2 Red Admirals around the house today. Also on a walk over the back a Peacock basking in the sun on Greenway Bank. (Bob Eade)

I saw a Comma this morning pottering about in woodland on the side of Whitehawk Hill in east Brighton. (Nigel Bowie)

Today I sighted a male Brimstone butterfly feeding on ivy blossom in Cuckfield, West Sussex. (Tim Newnham)

A Red Admiral seen today in Whitelot Way, Southwick. (Darryl Perry)

Monday 15 November 2010

Today, a pristine Red Admiral flew into the grounds at Ocklynge School, Old Town (TV 5896) and settled on the brickwork in the morning sunshine - brightened up my playground duty no end! Pleased to say several of the children noticed and were interested. (Anna Grist)

News for Wednesday 10 November: The same day that Bob Eade captured a quite tidy example of a Red Admiral, a decidedly more battered and faded specimen was enjoying the brief sunshine and calm before the storm at the Seaford Exchange Project garden at the Crouch Gardens.
This is the third year running a Red Admiral has taken up residence in this vicinity, yet I have yet to find a decent patch of nettles around there. (Bob Brown)

Sunday 14 November 2010

Mr Blencowe was definitely on to something at the AGM this year...
We received this e-mail from Jeremy Tatum of the Victoria Natural History Society (VNHS Invertebrate Alert):
"I think we really must be copying! No sooner do you post a ridiculously late (Nov 10) Red Admiral than we come up with a ridiculously late (Nov 8) Painted Lady!
Today we'll be posting a pic of the fall's first Winter Moth. I look forward to yours!"

Saturday 13 November 2010

Returning back from the BC Surrey AGM we popped into Slinfold and wandered along the Downs Link in fading light finding a Brown Hairstreak egg on Blackthorn at TQ1131. The Downs Link seems to be the Hairstreak Highway across West Sussex with sightings of Brown Hairstreak eggs from Shoreham up to the Surrey border (Michael Blencowe)

Wednesday 10 November 2010

A Red Admiral (above) in the garden today was almost certainly the subject for my final butterfly photography this year. In warm sunshine the butterfly basked for long periods on the fence. (Bob Eade)

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Below, typical hairstreak hedgerow at Brinsbury Campus. (Neil Hulme)

This morning I visited the Chichester College Brinsbury Campus, to talk to a group of students about the conservation of butterflies, and particularly the Brown Hairstreak. One of the students (Lee) had spotted a female hairstreak on the campus in the summer, and he and his colleagues had already found a few eggs. After a classroom session we headed out to the far reaches of the estate, and after a slow start we hit a more productive stretch of blackthorn-rich hedge, finding a dozen Brown Hairstreak eggs in all (TQ060230 and TQ058231). Lee also told me he'd found an egg near his Washington home, so I headed there on the way back to Worthing, in the hope of filling in another Atlas tetrad. I immediately bumped into Lee again - and we soon located his egg! (TQ120119) I later walked up the lane towards Chanctonbury (where Brown Hairstreak eggs have been recorded in the past), finding another two (TQ122120). (Neil Hulme)

News for Friday 5 November 2010: Thanks to Brian Blaber, Steve Alberry, Simon Mockford, Martin Kalaher, Paul Day, Colin Knight and Roger Martin (SDJC and BC Sussex) for another day's hard graft on the Norfolk Estate. The habitat is now looking superb (above). We'll be moving on to other sites in West Sussex soon, so keep an eye on this page for future work party announcements. (Neil Hulme)

Monday 8 November 2010

In less than ideal conditions for butterflying found a single Brown Hairstreak egg on a young sapling at the base of a 100yd Sloe hedge. The hedge is regularly machine cut to about 4 foot so may not be an ideal habitat. TQ196155
After the near hurricane and deluge this morning I saw a Red Admiral fluttering against a window opposite. It was 10°C, pretty tenacious characters I think. Why on earth am I looking at butterflies in November? (Richard Roebuck)

Sunday 7 November 2010

A Red Admiral nectaring on an erysimum before resting on a sunlit viburnum leaf in my Seaford garden. (Stuart Ridley)

On one of my regular dog walks around Henfield counted three Brown Hairstreak eggs on a sloe hedgerow along the Downslink, all of my searches earlier failed but I have succeeded now the leaves have dropped, TQ2016. Later this evening along the River Adur, along a hedgerow found one egg on an individual sloe away from a hedgerow. In addition most surprisingly along the banks of the river Adur on a completely remote young sloe plant about three feet high found three eggs. This plant was on a grassy river bank at least 100 yds from any other sloe bushes. This seemed very remote, so perhaps the females will travel quite a distance to locate a young sloe plants for egg laying. TQ1916. As a suggested tip most of my searches on mature sloe hedges have completely failed to deliver sightings of eggs. The key is young shoots at the base of or close too sloe bushes. (Richard Roebuck)

I gave a talk last wednesday to the Benfield Wildlife and Conservation group (link below) an active group who manage a lovely species-rich Local Nature Reserve to the north of Hove. I encouraged group member Sally Milne to follow our guide to finding Brown Hairstreak eggs on the blackthorn on their reserve. She visited the reserve today with her dog on one hand and a magnifying glass in the other and was delighted to find eggs of the Brown Hairstreak - a great record which confirms that this species can be found very close to the coastal strip. We received a record from the centre of Brighton earlier in the year so it is worth checking your local blackthorn anywhere in this area. As a bonus she found some Blue-bordered Carpet eggs too. (Michael Blencowe)

Saturday 6 November 2010

A Red Admiral basking in sun this afternoon on a teasel plant in my Keymer garden. (Malcolm Le Grys)

In my garden at Henfield whilst watching Bumble bees busy on a winter flowering Clematis I spotted a Comma nectaring on Ivy flowers this afternoon. (Richard Roebuck)

Recent news: During my visit back to Sussex this last week I had a bright male Brimstone fly across the road at Hartfield at 1.23pm with about 14°C of air temperature. Thought you'd like to know. Sorry for delay, but only got back to the computer in Cornwall today. (TQ476354) (Andy Carey, www.andrewcareyphotography.co.uk)

Friday 5 November 2010

On a dog walk this morning found three Brown Hairstreak eggs on a small, relativley isolated patch of young Blackthorn. This was at the foot of a Hazel hedge at the edge of a grass field, north facing, at Henfield. I have never seen a Brown Hairstreak butterfly in this location. TQ204158. (Richard Roebuck)

Thursday 4 November 2010

News for Wednesday 3 November: A rather tired looking Speckled Wood in the garden in Seaford. Also still a few Red Admirals being seen including 2 together on Seaford Head Golf Course on Monday 1st. (Bob Eade)

Wednesday 3 November 2010

One Small Copper still on the wing this morning at Thorney Island.(Barry Collins)

Fairly standard stuff at my outside lights recently - December Moth, Feathered Thorns, Yellow-line Quaker but I nearly missed this Gem (above) hidden on my back door on 31 Oct (Tony Wilson)

Monday 1 November 2010

Still one Small Copper on the wing today at Thorney Island, plus 2 Red Admirals, 1 Peacock. (Barry and Margaret Collins)

Earlier Sightings

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