Butterfly Conservation - saving butterflies, moths and their habitats
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saving butterflies, moths and their habitats
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Wednesday 31 October 2012

Silver Y fluttering around our East Dean garden (TV562984) in the lunchtime sunshine. (David Jode)

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Between 11:25 & 12:10 this morning I visited my transect site, an 11 acre plot of land at West Kingston adjacent to the sea. The sun was shining, there was hardly a breath of westerly wind & the temperature was 12°C. As a buzzard circled overhead harassed by the local herring gulls, I saw 1 Red Admiral, 1 Peacock, 2 Speckled Woods & a Small White. Nothing unusual I know but it did my heart good. Good old Sussex by the sea. (Roger Martin)

Around Noon today two Red Admiral flew over our East Dean garden (TV562984). (David Jode)

Monday 29 October 2012

At 09:30 this morning with the temperature just over 10°C, I disturbed a Red Admiral that had been trying to warm itself on a south facing wall of my house in Lindfield. The sun shone briefly later in the day and I caught a brief glimpse of another (or possibly the same) Red Admiral speeding across the garden. (Bob Foreman)

Sunday 28 October 2012

Recent news: On the mild days recently I have seen Red Admirals on the wing in several places, forgetting how late we are in the year. Some I have seen flying at gutter level perhaps looking for shelter. I also had a report from my father recently in Holymoorside, Derbyshire. In conversation with a local builder he had seen 4 Red Admirals fly into a part built building through the openings where windows were yet to be fitted.
At Wivelsfield Green on Saturday, despite the cold temps of circa 8 degrees and strong winds I saw one Red Admiral flying and two sunbathing on nettles.
On a different note, on the 16th I was attending my stepson's football match which after dark was flood lit. There were lots of reddish brown coloured noctuids attracted to the flood lights. Then a bat appeared flying along the rows of lights. I thought the moths would be an easy meal, not so. I have seen slow speed film footage of noctuids evading bats where they appear to close their wings and drop at the last moment. These moths didn't drop, they accelerated at high speed vertically downwards to the ground, with the bat briefly in pursuit. I never saw the bat catch any of the moths it chased. Clever stuff. (Richard Roebuck)

Saturday 27 October 2012

Whilst in queuing traffic on the A259 by the Golden Galleon waiting for the Beachy Head Marathon competitors to cross we saw:
A Comma at TV512994
A Red Admiral at TV517994
(Cassie and David Jode)

Friday 26 October 2012

This morning I joined BC Sussex members Nigel Symington, Mark Colvin and Paul Day and the South Downs National Park 'Friday Club' volunteers to continue habitat management work on the Norfolk Estate. We cleared a sizeable area of hazel scrub which will be planted with a couple of hundred primrose plugs next year. Meanwhile, a contractor used heavy machinery to dig out numerous old tree stumps, to allow for easier 'cut & collect' mowing of the developing grassland area nearby. Thanks to all involved on behalf of the Duke of Burgundy. (Neil Hulme)

News for Thursday 25 October: A Small White was seen sheltering from the wind in long grass at Widewater Lagoon, Shoreham Beach. (Stuart Ridley)

News for Wednesday 24 October: Slightly belatedly but I had a Speckled Wood nectaring on ivy in Edburton on 24 Oct. (Tony Wilson)

Thursday 25 October 2012

Despite the rather murky weather, at midday we saw a Red Admiral flying north-west across our path as we drove along the A259 at Southwick. Interestingly, up in Yorkshire on holiday last week, there were no Red Admirals even though we had a couple of warm, sunny days, but we did a Small Tortoiseshell in Richmond and 3 more, plus a couple of Silver Y moths, at Castle Howard. The Richmond Small Tortoiseshell was partially aberrant - properly orange on one side but mostly buff on the other. (John and Val Heys)

Wednesday 24 October 2012

On Wednesday I attended the weekly work party at Heyshott Escarpment, where a dozen Murray Downland Trust and BC Sussex volunteers continued to create new butterfly habitat from the old village rubbish tip at the base of the reserve. As you can see from the image, this once heavily scrubbed area has been opened up and now connects with the lowermost grassy pit. This transformation has been achieved in just four Wednesdays. To the left of the frame is a metal gate, ready for the imminent fencing which will allow this compartment to be grazed in future. With shelter from the elements on all sides this deep depression will create a warm and wind-free playground for Duke of Burgundy, Dingy and Grizzled Skipper, Green Hairstreak and Brown Argus. In the evening I returned to Heyshott village hall for the Murray Downland Trust AGM, along with several other Branch members. Dr Dan Hoare gave an excellent talk on the BC national 'Dukes on the Edge' project and, quite rightly, paid tribute to the efforts of MDT and BC Sussex volunteers, whose hard work has seen a tiny population of Dukes grow into one of the largest colonies in the UK. (Neil Hulme)

Finally we saw the sun again today and with it, a Small White in Newhaven! (Chris Hooker)

Around 1pm today two Red Admiral flew high over our East Dean garden (TV562984). (David Jode)

Monday 22 October 2012

Hummingbird Hawk-moth feeding on buddleia in the middle of Storrington at 17.15 this evening. (Pete Hughes and Alice Parfitt)

Friday 19 October 2012

In 1998 the Lynchmere Society purchased Lynchmere (Linchmere), Stanley and part of Marley Commons near Haslemere, close to the Sussex/Surrey border. Only remnants of the all-too-rare lowland heath remained here, but 15 years of restoration, much of it performed by volunteers, has reclaimed significant areas of valuable habitat from the invading scrub and unwanted conifer plantation. On Friday I met new LS Chair Judy Rous, Lou Searight and our own Margaret Hibbard to look at the commons, to assess the habitat for Silver-studded Blue. The last butterfly surveys (2001, 2002) recorded half a dozen here and Judy recalled seeing the odd one or two in 1996. Having walked the area there are several pockets of habitat that might still support SSB. However, before I can provide detailed suggestions on how focused habitat management should proceed with this species in mind, it will be necessary to find out where any remaining populations might be hiding. I will therefore arrange a survey day for next July, later going on to nearby Marley Common, much of which is owned by The National Trust, where two Silver-studs were seen in 2011. All those within striking distance of this under-recorded area will be most welcome and details will appear on the website in the early summer. I didn't come away with any photos from my visit, as it never stopped raining, but I am hopeful that some important pins can be put in the map next year. The Lynchmere Society has done a great job here and it would be very satisfying to see their efforts rewarded in this way. Judy, who lives right in the middle of the heath, had a Purple Emperor visit her greenhouse a few years back, so a day out on these commons might provide more than one surprise! (Neil Hulme)

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Today I joined the Wednesday regulars at Heyshott Escarpment, including half a dozen Murray Downland Trust volunteers and Sussex Branch members Mark Colvin and Colin Knight. My bones and muscles are still complaining now after a particularly hard work out, but as always I came away feeling a great sense of achievement, and weighing a few pounds lighter. Transformation of the old village rubbish tip is advancing at an impressive pace, as heavy scrub and secondary woodland make way for a return to chalk grassland. This part of the reserve will look very different by springtime. After a few sharp showers the sunshine won through and, as always, the views were magnificent. (Neil Hulme)

Monday 15 October 2012

In our East Dean garden today (TV562984); 1 Hummingbird Hawk-moth nectaring on Lavender and 1 Red Admiral. (David Jode)

News for Sunday 14 October: At NT Crowlink this afternoon I saw 51 Red Admiral and 1 Comma nectaring on Ivy on the path between Crowlink Hamlet (TV544974) and the dew pond at Gap Bottom (TV538972). No other species seen! As previously reported the last count I did there was 72 Red Admiral on 22 September. Also, one Large White in our East Dean garden today (TV562984). (David Jode)

Sunday 14 October 2012

It wasa frosty start to the day but the volunteers that joined me at our reserve at Park Corner Heath soon warmed up once the coppicing started. The task today was to continue our annual coppice cycle on the reserve, a task that will benefit butterflies in the coming years and also be important for creating suitable habitat for other species, such as nightingales and dormice, in the future. After an hour or so of bowsaw action the sun came shining through - and we were down to our t-shirts! A few butterflies appeared too. After a spot of lunch we took a walk around Rowland Wood to look at the reserve. The contractors are still finishing off their work here and it looks amazing - but messy at the moment! It's going to be great watching this new reserve develop over the coming years. Thanks to all the volunteers who came along today; Clare, Bob E., Bob F., Dave, Richard, Keith, Roger, Nigel, Carole, Sherie, Mike, Jim and new volunteers Georgia, Phoebe, Tasha and Eleanor. We'll be back working in the wood on the second Sunday of November (Michael Blencowe)

Today at Birling Gap 14 x Red Admirals & 1 x Large White. Onto Horseshoe Plantation and found 1 x Speckled Wood, 2 x Meadow Brown, 6 x Red Admiral, 1 x Painted Lady, 1 x Small Copper, 1 x Brown Argus, 4 x Small White & 1 x Large White (sadly no Clouded Yellows!). At Beachy Head Were 11 x Red Admirals, 1 x Large White, 1 x Small White & 2 x Silver Y moths. (David Gower)

We decided to check various sites at Thorney Island today and recorded the following butterflies. Six Speckled Wood, 26 Red Admiral, 4 Peacock, 3 Comma, 5 Small White and 11 pristine third brood Small Copper. (Barry and Margaret Collins)

On the afternoon of Thursday 20th September 2012 I went to the dentist in central Brighton and as I walked out I noticed that my shoelace was untied. So I bent down to tie it up and whilst my hands worked my eyes randomly strayed onto some metal railings. Here they focused effortlessly onto an irregularity and I became aware that I was looking at something of significance, before I had time to decide what it was. Then it registered, I was looking at a Nymphalid caterpillar, in fact that of a Red Admiral. It was obvious that this was a fully grown larva and that it was probably on it's walkabout, trying to find a suitable place to pupate. I looked around but couldn't see any Stinging Nettles. However, I did see some Pellitory-of-the-wall, Parietaria judaica and given these are closely related plants I picked up the caterpillar, along with some of the Pellitory and carried them in my hands as I walked on. The larva immediately started to feed on the Pellitory, thus confirming my hunch.
Once home I cut some Stinging Nettles and placed them into a small vase, where I deposited the caterpillar. Over the next few days it ate a little of this foodplant but by 28th September it had constructed a hibernaculum, by pulling the leaves at the top of the stem together, to form a silk strengthened tent. Suspended neatly in the centre of this tent I could just make out the caterpillar, held up by its anal claspers to the roof of the structure. I kept watch daily and within a couple of days it had shed its final skin, revealing the chrysalis beneath. The next day I cut the hibernaculum back exposing the pupa in all its aurelian glory. It was an incredibly beautiful object, flecked in places with gold. By the 11th October some signs of coloured wing patterns could be seen clearly beneath the chitin shell of the chrysalis. The next day (12th) it looked like emergence was imminent but in fact the butterfly did not emerge until the afternoon of Saturday 13th September, 13 days after pupation had taken place. I actually missed the emergence but the insect was still in place next to its pupal shell when I returned home last night. The butterfly was a little under sized but seemed perfectly formed in every other way. This morning (Sunday 14th October) I picked up the vase and placed it in the sun. Within a couple of minutes the butterfly flashed its display of red and black and shortly afterwards I enticed it onto my fingers, which allowed me to release the butterfly directly into the garden.
This was a fascinating adventure and it was fabulous to get the opportunity to photograph so many different stages in the development of the Red Admiral. It was equally thrilling to watch the fully developed adult fly off into the blue sky of a mild autumn day. (Dan Danahar)

News for Saturday 13 October: At Southover Grange Gardens in Lewes 1 x Red Admiral. At Railway Land Nature Reserve, Lewes 1 x Red Admiral & 1 x Comma. (David Gower)

Saturday 13 October 2012

My first (and quite probably last!) Painted Lady of the year, enjoying the sun in Church Norton churchyard this morning. (Andrew House)

Wednesday 10 October 2012

On Wednesday four members of Sussex BC (Nigel Symington, Mark Colvin, Neil Hulme and myself) joined Murray Downland Trust volunteers at Heyshott Escarpment for the second work party of the winter season. It was a glorious day with blue skies which made for a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Greg, a Heyshott volunteer, had started his bonfire by the time we arrived and we got stuck into the vines, hawthorn and other trees and soon supplied the hungry fire with plenty of fuel. It was very satisfying at the end of the morning to see the amount of space that had been cleared and imagine the Duke of Burgundies that could be colonising this new habitat in a couple of years. New volunteers are always welcome - please see above. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

On Wednesday the Eastbourne RSPB Group held their monthly walk in the Cuckmere Valley on the south side of the A259. Although it was the best day of the week, so far, the only butterflies seen were a handful of Whites and Red Admirals. Plus at TV5297 a single Small Copper. (David Jode)

Sunday 7 October 2012

I spent some time at High and Over again on Saturday hoping for more 3rd brood Wall Brown. Unfortunately none were seen, however some more Brown Argus and Adonis Blues were seen including a female still in pretty good nick. (Bob Eade)

Mary and I took another walk across the downs, this time Kithurst Hill to Barpham Hill and then on to Lee Farm and back to the car park. The sun was mostly behind cloud and therefore conditions not ideal but even so there were 18 Red Admiral, 12 Comma, 10 Small White and 1 Peacock. It's quite a while since I have seen a Peacock! At home (in Storrington) 3 Red Admiral, 4 Comma and 1 Large White. Interestingly, I am not seeing any Large White on my walks but when then sun shines there are always one or two in the garden. Also of interest, even though we have plenty of Ivy in our garden I haven't seen any butterflies on the Ivy, spurning its nectar in favour of the Michaelmas Daisies. Today, and for the first time this autumn the butterflies were evenly spread between the two. (Martin and Mary Kalaher)

Early this morning the car was covered in ice and an early walk consisted of wearing a heavy coat, hat etc. In the forest I went too, it was freezing and surely the butterflies must have had their day. However the sky was clear so I thought I needed to go somewhere warm. Shoreham beach fitted the bill again. I went to Shoreham Lagoon first and spotted a beautiful Stonechat, numerous common lizards, Egrets and loads of Sticklebacks but no butterflies (too cold I think). I went back to Shoreham Beach shingle reserve. On arrival I spotted some Michaelmas daises in a garden which was inundated with butterflies, 7 Large Whites a Red Admiral and a Comma. On the beach I noticed that a lot of the Large White egg batches I had previously seen on Sea Kale, had indeed hatched and at what first appeared as a dirty smudge on the Sea Kale leaves turned out to be lots of absolutely tiny first instar caterpillars which had devoured their egg shells. I also found one late instar caterpillar, pretty familiar to most people and although a throw away comment about them waiting for the Large White caterpillars, on a previous report, an EW Lizard sat in a patch of Kale! There were still numbers of Large Whites on the wing, one mating pair and a few Small Whites. I also saw three pristine Small Coppers, one female and two males, plenty of Silver Ys and at one point the air was full of dung beetles whose name escapes me (the small brown ones that feed on rabbit droppings). Anyway it was nice and warm and stark contrast to the morning. I started watching the numerous Red Admirals, a couple I saw flew straight off the beach over the sea. I watched one heading out across the beach, which was then followed unbelievably by a male Brimstone. I may have previously given the impression that you can't run on shingle. However, this time I ran as fast as I could after the male Brimstone. At my heroic speed you actually do make progress. Part way I stopped and snapped off one pic just for the record (I know it's a poor picture, but the brimstone is in the bottom right hand corner), I then carried on running straight down to the beach straight into a flock of juvenile Herring gulls at the edge of the shore. Well it was pandemonium, gulls squawking and male Brimstone straight in to the middle of them. Damm lost sight of it. I stayed put, looking up and down the beach for 10 minutes but swear blind it went straight out to sea and didn't return. I will never know where it went. Anyway I stayed roughly where the strand line was for some time watching about 15 Red Admirals fly past, one every 5 mins or so, about 10 feet above the pebbles. Oddly most were flying west towards Worthing, and not south like I suspected. I thought about this for a while as there appeared to be a pattern, and of course, I believe they were actually flying South Westerly. (Richard Roebuck)

News for Thursday 4 October: On the fourth day of the month the rain had stopped and it was worthwhile taking the camera out. There were still frequent butterflies of five species blown about in the breeze with the leaves, mostly Large Whites frequently seen on the outskirts of town and well over a dozen Red Admirals visited the Ivy on the Pixie Path to Mill Hill. These Red Admirals seemed to have moved up the path from the rather faded Ivy in the Butterfly Copse. At least one Comma Butterfly flew out of the Ivy. It was relatively cool (> 15.7 C) and a the blustery wind (Force 5 gusting to Force 6) from the WSW nearly blew me off the exposed lower slopes of Mill Hill. Conditions were such that I would not have been surprised if no butterflies appeared and this appeared to be the case until I saw my first flutter of a Small Heath Butterfly in the Tor Grass, followed immediately by a Treble-bar Moth and shortly afterwards a pristine Comma Butterfly simultaneously with the first of two Meadow Brown Butterflies. (Andy Horton, Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List)

Saturday 6 October 2012

I was at Henfield skate park today at 1.20 p.m. when I noticed a Large White flying up the hedgerow behind. Then a smaller brown butterfly flying fairly slowly from a distance, so I thought it was a late Speckled Wood, as I was busy chatting... When it landed I realised it was a female Brown Hairstreak although fairly worn. She then did a small loop of the skate park and settled in an Oak tree. It was very odd how slowly she flew, not at all like a Hairstreak, maybe the air temperature was pretty low, or perhaps she was reaching the end of her time and her energy reserves were low. Then I saw a Red Admiral flying due south over the football pitch and a Comma high up in a an Ash tree. I was then persuaded to go to the Skate park in Small Dole. Here I saw one Small Tortoiseshell on Michaelmas daisies, another Large White and two Red Admirals flying, about 12 feet up, due south, with the prevailing wind. They flew the length of the football pitch and disappeared. Southerly migration perhaps? (Richard Roebuck )

On Saturday I joined my parents for a walk along the Downs Link disused railway line north of Henfield. Every patch of ivy hosted a few butterflies and we probably saw a total of 20 Red Admiral and 10 Comma. Even at this late stage in the season we also found a couple of freshly emerged Speckled Wood and a third brood Green-veined White. (Neil Hulme)

Intrigued by the large number of Red Admiral seen two days ago near the Burgh, Mary and I took another walk in and around that area of downland. The total count was 28 Red Admiral and 18 Comma (the most I have ever seen in one day). The Ivy that held 15 Red Admiral two days ago had just one today but another footpath approximately 1 km long was very productive with 20 Red Admiral and a dozen Comma. There were fewer Small White (approx 15). The books tell me that Comma is not a migrant but these numbers found near the coast might suggest otherwise? I would like to report a Brown Hairstreak but just missed out. A small brown butterfly was fluttering very close to the hedge and then appeared to go into the hedge and didn't come out. It went into Blackthorn! We waited 3-4 minutes but didn't have the patience to wait longer. At home the Michaelmas Daisy was largely in shade but there were 2 Red Admiral (7 yesterday), 1 Comma (4 yesterday) and a Large White (2 yesterday). (Martin and Mary Kalaher, Storrington)

Red Admiral migration, Brighton, 6 Oct 2012. I spent about 3 hours on the Brighton seafront yesterday and during that time saw 9 Red Admirals come inland off the sea. Interestingly, the French side looked to be under heavy cloud/fog. We were mostly in warm sunshine. The only butterfly I saw clearly looked quite bright and fresh. I have been seeing a fair few fresh Red Admirals on my daily walks and assumed they were Sussex born - now I wonder. Also quite a few fresh Comma around. (Susan Suleski)

Finally a sunny day when I don't have to work! So I took the opportunity to find my first October butterflies. I started outside my house in Hailsham Country Park and found 4 Speckled Wood, a Comma, 3 Large White and 2 Red Admirals. I then wandered around Arlington Reservoir and came across another Speckled Wood, a Red Admiral, 2 Commas, 6 Small White, 3 Common Blues and 3 Small Coppers. A great day! (Chris Hooker)

Finally... Bob Eade contacted me to point out that the dragonfly in Nick L.'s conservatory is, in fact, a Migrant Hawker and not a Common Hawker - my mistake, also he noticed that Nick's Comma is an "o-album" aberrant, with the usual comma on the underside being a closed loop, I've posted another image of the same butterfly which makes the aberration much more obvious, ed.

Friday 5 October 2012

3rd brood female Wall Brown at High and Over today was the star of a surprisingly good couple of hours of butterfly watching with 11 species seen in the immediate area including 3 Adonis Blue, 3 Brown Argus, 4 Small Copper, 1 Peacock, 4 Commas and numerous Red Admirals. (Bob Eade)

Thursday 4 October 2012

A male Clouded Yellow, the first I've seen this season, flew across the road in front of me as I was driving slowly along the A283 south of Upper Beeding yesterday morning (TQ197096); Thursday, 4th October. I decided to avoid a newsworthy incident by not braking sharply and frustratingly carried on driving! I did check out the area later but to no avail. (Mark Colvin)

My father, Roy Symonds reports the following sightings from Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve (SU824098) on 4th October: Small White (2), Common Blue (1 male very worn) and Red Admiral (2). (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)

7 species seen on a walk along The Comp and Greenway Bank with several Small Coppers and 10 Speckled Wood seen as well as 2 Brown Argus, 3 Commas and good numbers of Red Admiral and both Large and Small White. All the Coppers were fresh with most being near the bottom of Greenway. (Bob Eade)

As September draws to a close it heralds the start of the annual conservation work party season. Today, I joined Sussex BC member Colin Knight, and several representatives of the Murray Downland Trust, for the first of our weekly habitat management sessions at Heyshott Escarpment; these will run until the end of March next year. As this was the first get together this season, I was extremely pleased we started on the relatively flat and easy terrain of the lower reserve; as the upper slopes were very slippery due to the recent heavy rain. One of the key aims of this ongoing project is to create and maintain habitat corridors at this nationally important site for the rare Duke of Burgundy. The gorgeous female above was photographed at Heyshott on 22nd May 2012; a beautifully warm and sunny day - do we need a better reason to turn up every Wednesday?, I don't think so. I thoroughly recommend attendance at a work party and suggest that anyone with a little spare time on a Wednesday should try to get involved; they are extremely rewarding. A reasonable level of fitness is required as the slopes at Heyshott are steep in places. Contact Neil Hulme on 07778 306816 or Mark Colvin on 07818 405859 for further details. (Mark Colvin)

On the 18th of September I noticed a small caterpillar on a rose in the garden. I wasn't sure what it was at the time but kept my eye on it. Apart from eating the rose leaves it always returns to the same spot looking just like a green rose stem. This morning its now about 2½ inches long and the sun makes it a little more obvious. I am pretty sure it's a Peppered Moth caterpillar. (Richard Roebuck)

Butterfly numbers have crashed here recently. Today in a stiff breeze just 2 Red Admiral on buddleia "Beijing" and 3 Comma on buddleia "Sungold" and Erisymum. All were in pristine condition, perhaps new emergences. (Jonathan Ruff)

A Brown Hairstreak this morning at Pulborough Brooks RSPB reserve, on the track to Netley's Hide, very obligingly within a matter of feet of the sign telling me where to look!! (Andrew House)

Mary and I went for a nice downland walk from Kithurst hill to the Burgh, south to Peppering Farm and then back via Burpham High Barn. We recorded a total of 38 Red Admiral, 25 Small White and 5 Comma. !5 Red Admiral were nectaring on Ivy 60-70 yards to the north of Burpham High Barn. I think there is a very good chance they were 'feeding up' just before heading south and across the Channel. Interestingly, a few minutes before, we had 20 odd Swallows on a telegraph wire, no doubt also with ideas of crossing the water. I decided to check all the Ivy on the way back and there was just the odd one or two Red Admiral (and also just 4 in our Storrington garden). By no means conclusive that these Red Admiral were now on a southerly migration but I think that was likely. (Also 17 Common Buzzards on a single sweep of the bins as viewed just south of Peppering High Barn). (Martin and Mary Kalaher)

Recent news: Tuesday October 2nd seen on a circular walk from Birling Gap, via Horseshoe Plantation and Belle Tout, a Speckled Wood at (TV562957) plus half a dozen Large White.
Seen in our East Dean garden (TV562984) on Wednesday October 3rd between the downpours a Red Admiral and a Large White. (David Jode)

News for Saturday 15 September: Today I ventured for a wander to High & Over and there enjoyed Red Admiral, Large White, Common Blue, Meadow Brown and various dragonflies.
I arrived home and chilled out in my conservatory with a beer and amazingly the wildlife had come to me as above my head was a large dragonfly just chilling out waiting to be photographed. (Nick Linazasoro)

News for Sunday 9 September: This morning I ventured to the Golden Galleon at Cuckmere Haven and walked to the sea. I saw Small Heath, Large White, Small Tortoiseshell, Common Blue, Small Copper and lovely dragonflies.
In the afternoon my wife and myself visited the private residence in West Dean that was open for the weekend as part of the national "Heritage Open Days" and we saw a lovely Comma. (Nick & Sharon Linazasoro)

News for Saturday 8 September: Today I visited the lovely village of West Dean and the Friston Forest and spotted Common Blues, Brimstones, Small Coppers, Meadow Brown and Large Whites. (Nick Linazasoro)

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Like others BC members I have been searching in vain for a Clouded Yellow to photograph. To mitigate butterfly withdrawal symptoms I have made two visits recently to Earnley Butterflies near Chichester: www.earnleybutterfliesandgardens.co.uk. I find these visits very therapeutic and there are often freshly emerged species that I haven't seen before. Resulting research has uncovered fascinating details about their biology such as the mimicry exhibited by the African Swallowtail: http://colinknight.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/caligo-memnon-owl.html They advised that their current butterfly exhibit closes early November. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Monday 1 October 2012

Despite this mornings steady rain the Hummingbird Hawk-moth was flying in the garden where I work near Shoreham by Sea. It spent a long time in the heavy drizzle feeding on some wall germander (a plant that bumblebees also like a lot) and later in the afternoon when the wet had stopped it was around the buddlia which I have been attentively dead-heading to keep the flowers coming for as long as possible. (Tessa Pawsey)

Sunday 30 September 2012

Recent news: We have fitted in 3 walks recently. On the first (Thursday, 27 Sept) we went west along Wellington Road (Portslade) above the harbour to the lock gates in Southwick & then back along the beach to Western Esplanade, Hove. We must have seen 30 or so Whites, maybe more Small than Large but hard to tell as a lot were quite distant. The most we saw at the same time was half a dozen (mixture of Large & Small) down the slope near the border with West Sussex. We also saw a few shadows of darker butterflies, a hint of an orange one and one definite Red Admiral. I was interested in the recent postings about whites & sea kale - I did wonder whether whites might like it so kept my eyes open for any signs of interest, but by then it was cooler & windier so there were no adults around and I didn't inspect any leaves closely. On Saturday we walked west from New Church Road, Hove to Station Road, Portslade, then north and east & eventually along Old Shoreham Road, where we popped briefly into the south site of Hove Cemetery hoping to see something a bit exciting like a Small Copper, but only spotted a single White. We doubled back home via the railway underpass at Aldrington. On our walk, Whites, Large & Small were around everywhere in ones and twos, so maybe we saw 15 or so. There was the occasional Red Admiral too - until we found one particularly popular buddleia in St Helier's Avenue with 6 Red Admirals and a very fine Painted Lady - our first of this season. Finally today, having seen a White and a Red Admiral in our garden, we walked part of the Downs Link footpath near the old cement works at Shoreham in gloomy, cool and breezy weather - even so we saw one Red Admiral. (John and Val Heys)

News for Saturday 29 September: A third Saturday in a row when the sun was shining and there was a fair amount of blue in the sky. On this afternoon I met up with Neil Neil Orange Peel (NNOP) and found the Large White in its "natural" habitat, the Vegetated Shingle Beach of Shoreham. Somehow it makes a whole lot of difference to see them in some kind of authentic conditions, I've felt the same about Small Whites on top of Beachy Head at the right time of year. As Richard Roebuck had described on Sat 22nd, there were certainly plenty to be seen and I was half hoping we might see that illusive Clouded Yellow but it was not to be so. Whilst photographing an obliging couple on some Sea Kale, OP and I discussed the Red Admirals and for every one he saw traveling south I saw one traveling north. Go figure? (Dan Danahar)

Saturday 29 September 2012

Last weekend I lamented the fact that the 2012 butterfly season was coming to an end - and what a difference a week makes! Despite sunshine and warmth the majority of species had all but disappeared when I visited several sites on Saturday, with the exception of Red Admiral, Comma and Large White. At Steyning (I couldn't resist a last look!) I failed to see Brown Hairstreak for the first time since August and only a couple of Speckled Wood and Meadow Brown were present, apart from the aforementioned. On Mill Hill it was a similar story, with only two almost unrecognisable Adonis Blue, a Common Blue and a few Meadow Brown on the wing. However, I did see a couple of fresh Small Copper out egg laying. These are the only third brood specimens I have seen this year and the species looks unlikely to produce its normally strong autumn crop. With the season still running two weeks late through September we are now unlikely to see a significant third brood of Wall this year. The situation is in marked contrast to recent years, when a flying start in the warm spring period enabled many species to squeeze in extra broods at the back end. While on Mill Hill I received a call from Dr Dan, who had found a mating pair of Large White sitting on sea kale at Shoreham Beach. When I joined him there were about a dozen of these immigrant butterflies flitting over the shingle. Despite the rapid wind down there is still likely to be some interesting activity through October and early November. At some point we are likely to see a spectacular exodus of Red Admiral in a southerly direction - eyes peeled and please report any such movement to the website. Given the huge numbers present in the UK at the moment it would be even more interesting if we don't! (Neil Hulme)

Here is a photo of a lovely Large White on cosmos in my garden in Burgess Hill. (Pearl Carter)

At 7.00 a.m. I was pondering where to go today. A hunt for fungi was high on the agenda and then a Hobby flew over the garden with the characteristic sickle shaped wings. A bit late perhaps especially as it was flying due North. No clouds and the promise of sunshine. Later the magnificent seven Red Admirals were still on next door's Ivy flowers. Decision made, plenty of time for fungi, I was off to the beach again at Shoreham. Now as you will have seen Vince has pretty much cornered the market regards Large Whites and Sea Kale with his excellent research. However I noted that now the Large Whites have declined somewhat there were lots of batches of eggs that could readily be seen. Furthermore I also noted that Small Whites were also busy egg laying on sea Kale and I also found some quite small hairy moth caterpillars. So there you have it no difference between a cabbage and Sea Kale. There were plenty of Silver Y's in the hot sunny condition and also Bumblebees. On another note a boarded footpath has been installed part way down the beach, made of recycled Plastic. This is excellent as its gives very good access. Mind you the Health and Safety sign which suggested going further was entirely at you own risk was a bit much. I hadn't realised a pebble beach was such a dangerous place to be although I don't recommend running on it especially if you have a half-eaten quality Baguette etc. etc. Dare you set foot on something natural which has been there for a millennia. No, not if man in a suit has put in a walkway in to help you get there. (Clarkson effect). Anyway my search for a Clouded Yellow failed miserably. However I saw one faded Small Copper and one Red Admiral which was flying like the clappers perpendicular to the beach i.e. about to head out to Sea, curious. Now the really interesting bit, I spotted a few Lizards on nearby walls which were not only substantially bigger than the Common Lizard, they were also varied in colour. So I studied these instead, I had a suspicion and checked on the web when I got home. It was a colony of European Wall Lizards, common in France but allegedly these have been introduced to the UK but also have turned up in British Columbia. Aliens maybe, super cool definitely. Apparently the major predators are snakes - so consequently they are thriving at Shoreham, however they are quite tricky to approach. Perhaps they are waiting for the Large White caterpillars to hatch? (Richard Roebuck)

Emsworth: Large White 1, Small White 5, Red Admiral 9, Comma 4, Small Copper 7, Small Tortoiseshell 1, Common Blue 1. Beautiful day, it seamed they all came out to greet the sun [or us ha ha] its a good straight and no hills. (Pat and Peter Gardner)

Another garden record on the 29th with 14 Red Admiral on the Michaelmas Daisies. Also 4 Comma, 2 Large White and 4 Small White. (Martin Kalaher, Storrington)

Friday 28 September 2012

Today I attended the first of many work parties planned for this autumn and winter. Helping to improve habitat for the butterflies which have given us so much pleasure throughout the season seems like a fair deal to me, and has the added benefits of keeping fit and healthy. Today I joined Simon Mockford and Steve Allberry of the South Downs National Park Authority and BC Sussex member Colin Knight - thanks to all. We began this year's rotational cut of scrub along a ride side in Rewell Wood. Each section is allowed to grow for two or three summers, which keeps the habitat in ideal condition for some of our rarer species, but also allows easy upkeep as most of it can still be tackled with a brush-cutter. Following a meeting with the always helpful Norfolk Estate earlier in the week, we now have plans to open up new areas of the wood this winter. Let's hope we get better weather next May, so the butterflies can make the most of it. Whether joining Michael, Bob and the PCH/Rowland regulars (starting soon), the Wednesday morning Heyshott team (from Weds 3 Oct onwards), or the ad hoc work parties which will be advertised on this page, please try to get involved if you can - it's a great way to fend off the oncoming winter blues. (Neil Hulme)

News for Thursday 27 September: The whizz of a Hummingbird Hawk-moth round the flowers on a bush of myrtle in the garden where I work north east of Shoreham by Sea TQ196063, though maybe they weren't to it's liking because it didn't stay long despite all the salvias there to please it. (Tessa Pawsey)

Wednesday 26 September 2012

There was heavy rain today in Henfield, however at about 4.00 pm the sun came out and shortly afterwards there were 7 Red Admirals on next door's Ivy flowers. Later I went for a walk which happened to be suitcase square TQ1816 (square D) Bines Green. I clocked up 18 more Red Admirals, 2 Commas, Small White and a pristine Small Tortoiseshell Along the nettle covered river embankment I put up 5 Red Admirals which seemed slightly odd at this time of day especially as the others I had seen were on the ivy flowers. However one Red Admiral was quite low down with its wings at sort of half-mast. Looking closer I realised these were still soft and slightly buckled as it was clearly newly emerged and still in the process of expanding its wings. So clearly what was actually going on was that a number of Red Admirals were emerging late afternoon in the short burst of sunshine. So even now the numbers of Red Admirals are still building across Sussex, judging by recent reports, these numbers must be enormous. Curiously the big butterfly count indicated that the Red Admiral fell back sharply with numbers down by 72%. I suppose it's a moment in time and the wet weather had an impact on timings etc. but clearly for this species in Sussex "some say", Red Admirals have never had it so good. Allegedly. (Richard Roebuck)

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Seen in our East Dean garden (TV562984) around 1pm on Tuesday during a sunny period between the downpours: 1 Small Copper, 1 Small White, and about half a dozen Large White. (David Jode)

I was very interested to read Sunday's (23 September) report from Richard Roebuck. It would appear that the wasp on the Comma caterpillar is a type of Pteromalus wasp which is waiting for the larva to pupate. It will then inject its eggs into the pupa while it is still soft. The most well known of these wasps is Pteromalus puparum which is metallic green as shown in your photo, but my research so far shows that it mainly tends to attack the Whites. However, there are so many species of this type of parasitic wasp that it is not possible to speculate any further beyond this being a Pteromalus species. Also, in answer to your question about Large Whites and their association with Sea Kale, see http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/phpBB/viewtopic.php?f=37&t=6245. (Vince Massimo)

Monday 24 September 2012

News for Saturday 22 September: A short stroll in the area of 'The Burgh' (nr N Stoke) on the 22nd revealed Green-veined White, Small White (10), Red Admiral (8), Comma (2), Speckled Wood (1), Small Tortoiseshell (1) and Small Heath (1). At home in Storrington there were still butterflies nectaring on the Michaelmas Daisies; Comma (5), Red Admiral (1), Small White (3) and Large White (1). (Martin Kalaher)

More news for Saturday 22 September: Another lovely Saturday, with bright blue skies and a temperature of 16 degrees celsius. Despite my desperate desire to go looking for Clouded Yellows (the only Sussex species I haven't seen this year) I only really had time to do my two transects. At Wild Park LNR I recorded seven species: Large White 3, Small White 9, Common Blue 2, Red Admiral 3, Comma 1, Speckled Wood 2 and Meadow Brown 9. At the Butterfly Haven I recorded just 3 species: Small White 1, Small Copper 3 and Common Blue 3.
Perhaps common lists for this time of year but interestingly I noticed that one of the Small Coppers from the Butterfly Haven showed an aberrant wing pattern more ab. caeruleo-punctata than ab. coeruleo-fasciata, a pattern that shows a blue spotting on the hind wing (top, left). Fascinatingly, this is not the first time that this aberration has been seen on the Butterfly Haven; a clearer patterned individual was also seen four years ago on 10 Sept 2008 (top, right) suggesting that the genes for this condition are persistent within the gene pool of this population.
In the process of looking at other photographs that I have taken of the Small Copper, I discovered two that had both been taken in the September of 2008, both from Wild Park. However, in this case the patterning was considerably different between these two individuals, with one showing a deeper chocolate ground colouration and large dark spots on the forewings (bottom,left) whilst the other had a far paler brown ground colour and spots which in some cases must be just a tenth of the size of the former (bottom, right).
Denis Owen once told me that the Small Copper is the only species of butterfly that has a truly natural global distribution. Considering the variation seen here in north Brighton, one can only speculate as to how varied this species can get in other parts of the globe. (Dan Danahar)

Sunday 23 September 2012

News for Thursday 20 September: Thorney Island: SU7601. Clouded Yellow, Common Blue 6, Small Copper 3, Red Admiral, Green-veined White, Large White. (Francis Kelly)

Saturday 22 September 2012

A brilliant warm clear day, but no sign of the brown hairstreak, somebody had seen it earlier, did not spoil our day. Comma 17, Red Admiral 5, Speckled Wood 5, Small White 3, Small Copper 1. (Pat and Peter Gardner)

I walked around Henfield and looked at hundreds of Ivy flower heads and could I find a Holly Blue caterpillar. On the Downs Link lots of Red Admirals, a single Meadow Brown, two Speckled Woods and a Comma caterpillar about to turn into a chrysalis but appearing to be attacked by a small wasp (near to last set of prolegs), also an interesting sight of three Commas on the ground together collecting minerals and dew. I later carried out a short walk at Shoreham on the Down Link just below the cement works and the Shoreham Fly-over TQ2007. I went to look at the Buddleias which actually have largely gone over now. However I noticed a few Commas feeding on Ivy flowers and decided to count these rather than the numerous Red Admirals. To my surprise I counted 23 which is pretty much a record for me anywhere. So Commas seem to be doing really well this year. Also saw numerous Red Admirals, Small Whites and Large Whites, one Green-veined White a Small Tortoiseshell and two Speckled Woods. There were also lots of Dragonflies of varying colours and sizes and the largest one was a beautiful emerald green and brown. Also saw one Grey Dagger caterpillar and lots of saw fly larvae on small Sallows and a Raven flying high overhead towards the cement works quarry. Whilst at Shoreham I thought I would pop down to the Shingle beech nature reserve (just above the old Fort, TQ2204) I go here once a year in late summer as it's a different habitat and there's a variety of interesting architecture in the beach front properties and gardens. There were some Small Whites and lots Large Whites which were pretty approachable. I then disturbed a Clouded Yellow (DAN !!!!!!!), which flew up and over me although great to see I couldn't give chase as firstly I am rubbish at running on shingle and secondly I was half way through a Brie, bacon, cranberry and salad Baguette, which I have to say was delicious and wasn't worth dropping. Anyway to make up for the loss I had the great fortune to also find 5 mating pairs of Large Whites, a right result and then three Small Coppers, more Red Admirals and several Silver Y. Now back to the Large Whites. I could quite easily follow these across the shingle as firstly they were slower flying whilst in tandem and secondly I had eaten the baguette. After a few photos I started checking out the Sea Kale, I wondered whether large white Caterpillars feed on this bounty. I couldn't find any caterpillars but by sheer luck found a batch of large white eggs on a Sea Kale leaf. I will have pop back in a week or so to see if the caterpillars genuinely survive on this - unless anyone already knows. Great afternoon at this time of year. (Richard Roebuck)

With the Indian Summer finally coming to an end I was determined to make the most of today and paid probably my last visit to Steyning Rifle Range this year, at least until the habitat management work commences. I've lost count of the number of visitors who have seen their first ever Brown Hairstreak here, and two more went away happy today, having travelled from Herts and London. Although the predicted weather is likely to slow things down from now onwards, the number of Brown Hairstreak females has yet to drop from peak. 7 different females, all recognisable on the basis of wear & tear, were seen out egg laying between 12.25 pm and 2.15 pm, bringing my 2012 Steyning tally to 52. The weather has been pretty good throughout the laying season and I expect a bumper crop of Brownies here next season. Red Admiral was the most common species with about 50 on site. Their numbers still appear to be on the increase, with no sign of a southwards migration yet. Along with the Chalkhill Blue this is the big 'winner' of 2012. Some patches of flowering ivy were heavily laden with these beauties, along with a reasonable number of Comma. Amongst the other butterflies present were a couple of fresh Large White. The season isn't quite over yet, but sadly the end is nigh. (Neil Hulme)

A cracking Clouded Yellow along the North Wall at Pagham Harbour - the first I've seen in several years. Also a smart Comma present. (Andrew House)

An interesting week!
Sunday 16th September - 2 Small Tortoiseshell at Plan de l'Aiguille 2317 metres up in the French Alps. A Painted lady and a Humming-bird hawkmoth at Chamonix which is at 1035 metres.
Monday 17th September - A female Long-tailed Blue in the town centre at Aix-les-Bains.
Wednesday 19th September - A Humming-bird Hawk-moth in our East Dean garden (TV562984) at 7pm nectaring on valerian.
Thursday 20th September - A Painted Lady in our East Dean garden (TV562984). 3 Small Copper north of the A259 on the east bank of the tidal Cuckmere River (TV5199).
Saturday 22nd September - Doing my Crowlink Transect this morning I saw 72 Red Admiral nectaring on Ivy on the path between Crowlink Hamlet (TV544974) and the dew pond at Gap Bottom (TV538972). (David Jode)

Thursday 20 September 2012

Just a few unusual sightings that have been reported to me in the past week - all from credible witnesses! - Wood White at Plaistow (17th September), mating pair of Orange-tips in a Shoreham garden (20th September), a Marbled White at Stedham Common (13th September) and a Large Tortoiseshell nectaring alongside ten Red Admirals on Sedum in Crowborough (18th September) (Michael Blencowe)

This morning I got the step ladder out to check on the progress of the Holly Blue larvae on the garden hedge. A final instar caterpillar had turned 'Hannibal Lecter' and was busy feasting on one of his much smaller relatives. A thorough search revealed a second larva with cannibalistic tendencies. Although I've never seen reference to this behaviour in Holly Blue it would appear to be far from uncommon. In the afternoon I took a long walk around Rewell Wood, planning habitat management work for the coming winter. Speckled Wood was the only species of butterfly I saw and most were faded and tatty, so it was a nice young female Common Darter that had me reaching for the camera. (Neil Hulme)

Many thanks to John Luck who, despite being on holiday in warmer climes, spotted that my 'Common Darter' is in fact the much rarer and far more exciting Red-veined Darter. (Neil Hulme)

Large White, Small Copper, Red Admiral, Comma, Speckled Wood and Meadow Brown sighted up at High Salvington, Worthing. (Chloe Langton)

News for Wednesday 19 September 2012: On Thursday I met Brian Henham for yet another visit to Steyning Rifle Range. The flowering ivy beside the track past the bowling greens was alive with bees, hoverflies and a good selection of butterflies, including numerous Red Admiral, Comma and a very fresh Painted Lady. Despite periodically cloudy conditions we still managed a tally of 6 female Brown Hairstreak, 2 of which remained high in a master ash along with a male. I've posted one of Brian's hairstreak images, together with one of mine showing a Comma with particularly pretty turquoise and blue underside markings. (Neil Hulme)

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Following recent reports of the Red Admirals and Commas at Maynards PYO Fruit Farm, Ticehurst, I paid a visit on Tuesday and was amazed by the numbers of both species flying around the plum orchard. On the way home I stopped at Mill Hill to do my weekly butterfly transect. The results show a considerable decline since last week's count (in brackets): Adonis Blue 21 (82), Comma 1, Meadow Brown 55 (134), Small Copper 1, Small Heath 3 (10), Small White 1 (10). Last week's count also included Brimstone 1, Holly Blue 2, Large White 4, Painted Lady 1, Red Admiral 2, Small Tortoiseshell 3, Speckled Wood 2. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

I noticed the first ground frost this morning to dispel any doubts that Autumn has arrived. In the centre of Henfield there is Ivy in flower on the rear car park wall. I counted about 32 Red Admirals (males and females) and 5 Commas all in excellent condition. It was a great to see such a beautiful sight especially when the sun went behind a cloud and they all paused from feeding and opened their wings. It was quite hot in the sun but the air temperature was only about 11°C at 10.30 a.m. I watched for a while and noted that the Red Admirals only flicked there wings when another insect such as a hover fly came too close. The only insect that did make them move was a large hornet. Alas once again not a single Wasp to be seen. (Richard Roebuck)

Monday 17 September 2012

News for Sunday 16 September: I was delighted to spot 12 Buff-tip caterpillars on the end of a Grey willow branch near Bramber, West Sussex. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Recent news: A beautifully bright and warm day on Saturday and I found myself remembering a conversation I had with Neil Hulme during the spring of 2011. As we were watching some pristine Dingy Skippers, he said "if only we could stop time now and keep all of this perfection". Of course we couldn't and as I recorded the butterflies on my transect at Wild Park LNR this Saturday, the sad faded glory of insects around me helped reinforce this concept of the ephemeral. Now as I watch the waning of this year's natural spectacle I find that I am already looking forward to the sight of the first butterflies next spring. The species I recorded at Wild Park included: Large White 11, Small White 16, Small Copper 3, Brown Argus 1, Common Blue 5, Chalkhill Blue 1, Red Admiral 4, Comma 1, Speckled Wood 1, Meadow Brown 17 And Small Heath 7.
During a later visit to the Liz Williams Butterfly Haven I recorded Small Copper 1, Common Blue 4 and Comma 1.
On a Sunday morning walk through Falmer, East Sussex (TQ354 082) I passed a single micro-climatic haven, where it was sheltered from the wind and was thus warm. Here the sky was thick with Red Admirals, all attacked by Ivy flowers. A little later I found a crippled individual which had failed to emerge fully from its chrysalis. Unfortunately, I only had my phone camera to take a picture of it. (Dan Danahar)

Sunday 16 September 2012

Today was a 'family day', but I still managed to root around in the garden hedge for 15 minutes. I soon found some more Holly Blue larvae, but rather than the usual camouflaged green uniform, this one was wearing something a little more flamboyant. It stood out clearly, particularly as it was between meals and moving on to a fresh flower bud. She (or he!) is certainly a good-looker. (Neil Hulme)

News for Thursday 13 September: Whilst doing a preliminary visit for winter bird surveys in 1-km square TQ2221 near Cowfold on Thursday (13th), I didn't see many birds at all and in fact saw more butterflies than birds. My counts were: Small Tortoiseshell 1, Small White 2, Small Heath 2, Meadow Brown 3, Comma 7, Red Admiral 3, Speckled Wood 2 and Brown Hairstreak 1. The Brown Hairstreak was the nicest surprise, and was sunning itself on a wild rose bush in a hedgerow.
If you butterfly people like to get out for a walk on a winter day and can recognise redwings and fieldfares, then please consider taking part in the BTO Winter Thrushes Survey. All you need to do is count winter thrushes whilst you are out walking, and note some details about activities, food types and habitat. Find all the information you need on the BTO website at http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/winter-thrushes or please contact me at hcrabtree@gmail.com. Thank you! (Helen Crabtree)

Saturday 15 September 2012

Despite the considerable distance I couldn't resist visiting Maynards PYO Fruit Orchards at Windmill Hill Farm in Ticehurst, following the report of 1000+ Red Admiral by Tony Lloyd and Malcolm Phillips. Their count is undoubtedly good and the swarm of Admirals and Commas on decaying plums is nothing short of spectacular. More at base page http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=4065&start=1000. (Neil Hulme)

I walked up to Steyning Rifle range for the first time this year, from the bowling green, and on the way couldn't help noticing a large number of Red Admirals on the Ivy flowers I reckon there must have been 50 or so and some Commas. In addition there were large numbers of different species of hover flies and some bees creating a fabulous hum. Ironically there wasn't a single wasp to be seen. I got to the reserve about 10.45 and no sooner had I arrived when a female Brown Hairstreak flew round in an arc and then settled straight in front of me and two other enthusiasts visiting from Maidstone. Shortly after by some feet of magic Neil appeared. Anyway we all staked out the reserve and although everyone was very patient only one other Brown Hairstreak was briefly seen. Nevertheless Neil filled in the time with his expert knowledge on all lepidoptorial matters. Excellent. I then thought I would I have a last look at Wolstonbury Hill, as expected the numbers of Butterflies have fallen dramatically but fortunately I was pleased to see two Adonis Blues. Other species seen Common Blues, (12) Meadow Browns plentiful but much reduced, Brown Argus 4 very worn, Two female Chalkhills ( on last legs), Commas 5, Small Tortoiseshells (2), Large White, Small White Red Admirals, about another 20 on the way up on Ivy again, Speckled Woods 3. Ivy is the plant of the moment and worth checking out especially with all these smart looking Red Admirals around at the moment. (Richard Roebuck)

Mary and I walked from our Storrington home to Chantry Hill and then on to Kithurst Hill and looped round via Clay Lane back to Storrington. In the garden there were Red Admiral (7), Comma (4), Large White (5), Small White (6) (including a mating pair). On the path towards Chantry Hill we saw our first-ever Brown Hairstreak female in our locality (outside of our garden, where they sometimes nectar on Hemp Agrimony). It moved deep into a low-down sucker, and no doubt laid an egg. On the subject of Brown Hairstreak I recorded 103 eggs in my local study area last year; (110 eggs in 2010). With the 'contrived' improvement of the local hedgerows (700 metres worth) I am hoping for more this year; we shall see. At Chantry Hill (in the bit that we checked) there were Meadow Brown (65), Red Admiral (5), Small Heath (2), Speckled Wood (2), Common Blue (2), Brown Argus (2), Small Tortoiseshell (1). At Kithurst Hill, not a lot - a few Red Admiral, Comma and Speckled Wood. Nothing to do with butterflies, but Red Kite over our house yesterday and Grass Snake in our pond today (not a bad couple of days!). (Martin and Mary Kalaher)

Friday 14 September 2012

It's been a funny old year but the fine September weather has provided something of a final flourish with record numbers of Red Admiral and Comma seen in my Storrington garden. The Michaelmas Daisies are drawing them in and yesterday there were Red Admiral (8), Comma (6), a mating pair of Large White and two others (4), Small White (5), Meadow Brown (1) and Small Copper (1). (Martin Kalaher)

Recently found my first ever Comma chrysalis on the mid rib of a nettle leaf. Also on the Downs Link an Elephant Hawk-moth caterpillar feeding on greater willow herb showing its defensive posture. However last night I noticed a medium sized pale moth in the garden in dim light, hovering. Curious, I had a closer look and then realised she was egg laying on the old flower heads of Golden rod. These were laid singly on separate blooms. I raced upstairs to get my camera. When I got beck she had moved to an adjacent bush to rest and I blindly took a pic in to the darkness. I think it's an Angle Shades, which are normally seen resting with their wings closed, but I was lucky to catch them open on this occasion. (Richard Roebuck)

Thursday 13 September 2012

Met Tony Lloyd at Windmill Hill Farm, Ticehurst, E.Sx to count the Red Admirals. In excess of 1000 were conted along with 23 Commas. Also 50+ Red Admirals at Cedar Farm Hurst Green, TN19 7QY. (Malcolm Phillips)

This morning I started off at Cissbury Ring, where butterfly numbers are dwindling and everything is beginning to look rather faded and tired. Hopefully there should be another brood of Small Coppers to come, but today's tally on the SW corner of the ramparts included Adonis Blue (3), Chalkhill Blue (2), Common Blue (2), Brown Argus (1), Small Copper (2), Meadow Brown (15), Small Heath (3), Speckled Wood (1), Red Admiral (4), Large White (1) and Small White (1). At Steyning Rifle Range the female Brown Hairstreaks were slow to start again, but from 12.30 pm onwards they left me in doubt that their season is still going strong. 7 different females were seen, although the 3 in mint condition refused to come within range of the camera. I suspect that these individuals are yet to start egg laying, having only recently been fertilised. Those that did spend time at low level were all fairly worn, but even those that have seen better days are still beautiful. (Neil Hulme)

Like others I have just seen my first Clouded Yellow of the year, in Deep Dean this afternoon (TQ 542 029), flying fast up the valley. (John Kerby)

News for Tuesday 11 September 2012: On an overcast breezy day, butterflies were common on Mill Hill. Meadow Brown Butterflies were the most prevalent with an estimated 150+ in the transect acre. Adonis Blues were also common with over a hundred seen. The males were very tatty and all were damaged to some extent. The females fared better with 20% of them in fine condtion and most of them crawling in amongst the leaves of Horseshoe Vetch, Hippocrepis comosa. Four other species of butterfly including Common Blues were seen on my downs trip in the middle of the day before it suddenly became cooler. Aerial insect predators were around with a Common Darter and a Southern Hawker dragonfly and my first Hornet Robber Fly of the year over Mill Hill. (Andy Horton, Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List)

Wednesday 12 September 2012

On Monday 0830hrs at Windmill Hill Farm, Ticehurst, TN5 7HT, whilst walking my dog I noted more than 200 Red Admirals feeding and sunning themselves on rotting plums in an orchard of some 5 acres. This morning 12 September a closer count revealed in excess of 500. I positively counted 430 in 4 alleys each with 3 rows of Brighton Belle plums that have been left as they have sub standard discolouration on the skins and are regrettably unsaleable, there are probably well in excess of this number and hopefully I will get help to organise a more accurate count tomorrow before leaving for France on Friday on holiday. This orchard is directly behind my house and the landowner runs a pick your own business. (Tony Lloyd)

An article on this subject, entitled "Admiral Armada" is on the Butterfly Conservation national website here.

In response to Derek Lee's posting. In the spring wasps were relatively plentiful. However in my Pest Control occupation, this year was probably the worst in living memory for calls to deal with wasps nests. Compared with 2011 we estimate there has been a 98% reduction in request over the season. Although nests may have started it is likely that the heavy rains prevented feeding (due to the absence of other prey insects, low temperatures etc.) and the development of new workers. It is also likely that those nests which started in the ground or were built in more open situations such as bushes were effectively drowned out with the persistent water logging at the crucial time of development of new workers. To a lesser extent, It may also be possible that due to the rain some nests may have been overlooked as both activity was down and people spent less time outside especially during the summer holidays. However things do go in cycles and I am sure wasps will bounce back in future seasons as they have done many times before. (Richard Roebuck)

Tuesday 11 September 2012

News for Monday 10 September 2012: This afternoon, while tidying up the back garden, I decided to have a quick look for Holly Blue larvae on the ivy. Bearing in mind that the butteflies are regular and very welcome visitors, I was sure that plenty of eggs must have been carefully deposited on the developing flower buds. It wasn't long before I found the tell-tale boreholes and dead flower stalks. In about 15 minutes I located 2 well advanced caterpillars and a tiny first instar. I was pleased with the images I managed to get, one-handed while balancing on a step-ladder!
In response to Paul Day's posting, I think his Speckled Wood is a dark specimen, but falling within the limits of natural variation. Ab. saturatior has a much more extreme reduction in the cream spotting. (Neil Hulme)

Is it just a local thing or has anyone else noticed a distinct lack of wasps this year? Our garden here in Bracklesham is completely wasp-less, even around the wine ropes which I've been leaving out for the Red Admirals to enjoy. (Derek Lee)

Monday 10 September 2012

Recent news: On the 7th and 8th there were the following species (with maximim numbers in brackets) feeding on Michaelmas Daisy in my Storrington garden; Red Admiral (6), Small Tortoiseshell (3), Large White (4), Small White (4), Meadow Brown (3), Brimstone (3), Comma (1) and last but not least Common Blue (1). Also Speckled Wood (1) but not nectaring. I have had 3 Brimstone (but probably many more than that) feeding on Perennial Sweet Pea for the past week. If you want to attract this butterfly in late summer/early autumn then do try planting some Sweet Pea! (Martin Kalaher)

News for Friday 7 September: My father, Roy Symonds reports the following sightings from 7th September at Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve (SU824098) where the temperature was 20C: Brimstone (2M 4F), Small White (11), Green-veined White (2), Large White (1), Common Blue (2), Meadow Brown (26), Speckled Wood (2), Small Heath (1), Red Admiral (3) and Comma (1). (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)

Sunday 9 September 2012

Clouded Yellow at Beacon Hill LNR, Rottingdean this morning (Amanda Connolly)

News for Saturday 8 September: As Libby and I walked our chocolate labradors through Stanmer park, under near perfect weather conditions for butterflies, I watched the odd Speckled Wood and Red Admiral fly between the trees. Then we came to an intersection where three paths joined, so that there was a triangular piece of woodland in between them (TQ 337088). As I looked up at the blue sky between two Ash canopies I thought "this is just the type of place I would expect to see Purple Hairstreaks", when two, one chasing the other, flew in between the two canopies. I have no doubt that this is what they were but I saw them for no more that a second, and then they were gone! (Dan Danahar)

Saturday 8 September 2012

I visited Kingley Vale where the Red Admirals and Brimstones were out in force, 8 Red Admirals seen on one stretch of Hemp- agrimony out of a total of 16, also 8 Brimstone, 4 Comma, 3 Common Blue, 2 Small Copper, 3 Small Heath, 1 Brown Argus, 5 Small White, 3 Large White, and 12 Speckled Wood, with the highlight being an aberrant Speckled Wood which I think maybe ab. saturatior. But maybe someone else can take a look and see what they think? (Paul Day)

Friday 7 September 2012

Today saw a large emergence of Comma and I counted 17 fresh specimens on the Knepp Castle Estate during my visit. Together with the good numbers ofRed Admiral and a few Small Tortoiseshell they should make for a colourful autumn. More at http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=4065&start=1000 (Neil Hulme)

I counted a whopping 17 Red Admirals and 1 Comma nectaring on the buddleia bordering Waitrose car park in Lewes today - TQ418 103. There seemed to be a butterfly on virtually every flower head. (Caroline Clarke)

News for Thursday 6 September: Our first Clouded Yellow of the year seen at 4pm on Thursday alongside the A259 at TV5398.
Besides that this week on the downland we have seen a Convolvulus Hawk-moth, and moving in from the coast good numbers of Red Admiral, Whites, and Silver Y suggesting some movement from the Continent. (Cassie & David Jode)

Whilst working at my desk I noticed Red Admirals and Commas on the buddleia outside. I then noticed a female Small White flying around the top of an adjacent bush. What struck me was how small it was. I took a shot whilst it was sat on a normal sized Convolvulus flower (i.e. not one of those giant flower heads). I then ran up the road to look for another Small White and found one. This was normal sized and confirmed to me that it wasn't an optical illusion and the small one was indeed about half normal size. It was also a lot weaker in flight and struggled against the breeze. This season sure is throwing up some odd things. (Richard Roebuck)

It's amazing what you come across sometimes! I found this little chap, a Sycamore caterpillar, waiting to get squished on a garage forcourt in Hailsham today so I rescued him. (Nick Linazasoro)

Thursday 6 September 2012

Bob Foreman's report from Grange Farm: here
(photos below)

News for Tuesday 4 September: Sighting in my garden, on the buddleia mainly, 3 Small Whites, 2 Small Tortoiseshell, 4 Red Admirals. Storrington (grid ref TQ08081404) Audrey Kemp)

Wednesday 5 September 2012

The aberrant Small Tortoiseshell posted on 4th September has been confirmed as an ab. lutea (ground colour pale whitish buff, rather than the light ochre-yellow of ab. pallida) by aberrant expert Rupert Barrington.

This morning I returned to Steyning Rifle Range after a few days break from Brown Hairstreak hunting. The first female appeared at 11.11 am and was followed by a further 6 until things went quiet shortly after 1 pm. I'm pleased to say that visitors from both East Sussex and Kent saw their first Brown Hairstreaks in style, getting excellent images to take home with them. I later had a look around Steyning Round Hill where more fresh Red Admirals were seen, along with good numbers of Common Darter (red males and dusky females). (Neil Hulme)

We spent a very nice afternoon at Steyning Rifle Range, the very moment we arrived I was shown a female Brown Hairstreak and managed to grab a few shots before she flew off. Others were spotted but sadly they remained high up in the trees. I didn't mind because this was my first sighting of a BH. (James Arnott)

I've been doing a bit of wine-roping in the garden and last night had some success with 2 Dark Sword-grass, Red Underwing, Heart and Dart, and 6 Angle Shades.
During the day the ropes have also attracted up to 6 Red Admirals. (Derek Lee)

I haven't posted too many reports this year for one reason or the other; however, I had a few hours spare today so I headed up to Chantry Hill (thanks for the directions Colin) in the hope of seeing some Brown Argus a species that I've only seen on one previous occasion. After getting my bearings I eventually found a good spot where there were hundreds of butterflies, albeit they were nearly all Meadow Browns! However, in amongst these I soon spotted my first Brown Argus, followed by another and then another. I soon lost count. Most were pretty battered but there were one or two seemingly quite fresh specimens as well. The only other butterfly species I saw today were a handful of Common Blues, including one fantastic looking female that was predominately blue on the upperwings, and one Small Tortoiseshell (my first for 2012). A good hour or so spent on a glorious (Indian) summers day. Oh and a family (presumably) of 3 Spotted Flycatchers. (Leigh Prevost)

Although there must be plenty of Red Admirals emerging over here, I think there may be a fair number coming in from abroad. Between the county cricket ground and the sea front in Hove this afternoon I must have seen 10 or 15 - virtually all were heading quite purposefully north or north-west - and the 2 or 3 which I spotted while I was on the promenade all seemed to have come from the beach. There's a few whites around too, but the urban Holly Blues are no longer to be seen. It's disappointing that there are so few species around in the town  the buddleias are still in flower and apart from the odd Red Admiral theres nothing on them at all. (John A Heys)

A ramble around the humps and hollows of Malling Down in the morning revealed Small Copper 1, Sliver Y 4, Lots of Meadow Browns, Red Admiral c10, Small Tortoiseshell 1, Small Heath c20, Large White 3, Small White 1, but alas no Silver Spotted-skippers. (Chris Skinner)

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Amazing sighting of Small Tortoiseshell ab. lutea in Emsworth. It was a brilliant creamy-white which the photo (above) doesn't do it justice (taken with an elderly camera phone). Seen on the Sussex side of the Hants/Sussex border. The butterfly ground colour was a uniform buff-white with otherwise normal markings. Any others seen? It was a spectacular event for Southbourne! (Ann and Alan Wingrove)

The photograph has been seen by both Colin Pratt and Neil Hulme and there is a suggestion that the butterfly in question might be ab. pallida, the opinion of an even higher authority (some sort of minor deity I can only presume) is now being sought. However, whether palida or lutea it will, apparently, be a first for Sussex. ed.

This afternoon I headed to a different area of Rewell Wood in the hope of finding a bumper crop of Red Admiral. I didn't get far before I found a low buddleia covered in butterflies. It was several hours before I moved on as I was treated to a selection including Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Comma, all in mint condition. I cannot remember the last time I saw all these species on one bush and I was transported back to my childhood, when this was a more common sight. They were jostling for position with several Brimstone, Small White and a large number of Silver Y moths . Elsewhere in the wood I saw Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown and Holly Blue. (Neil Hulme)

My first time using this website but such a lot of stuff couldn't afford to not report it. Up on Sheepcote I managed to see 10+ Adonis Blues, 1 Painted Lady, 1 Comma, 1 Small Tort, 1 Wall, 5 Small Blues, 200+ Meadow Browns, and most surprisingly at least 100 Red Admirals, all looking lovely so maybe newly hatched? Also 4 Silver Y moths feeding on a flower in my neighbours garden! (Jake Gearty)

Another unusual visitor to the garden buddleia was this small day flying Brimstone Moth. Plus 5 Red Admiral, 2 Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Large White, Meadow Brown, Brimstone, and numerous Small White. Numbers of most species are on the up, although the Gatekeeper have almost disappeared. (Jonathan Ruff)

Michaelmas Daisies and perennial Sweet Pea continue to draw in the butterflies in my Storrington garden with 2 Red Admiral, 1 Peacock, 1 Small White, 1 Large White, 4 Meadow Brown, 2 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Speckled Wood and at least 2 Brimstone (both male and female) all seen yesterday with similar numbers today. (Martin Kalaher)

This morning I made the most of good weather to do my Mill Hill butterfly transect with the following result: Adonis Blue 106, Brown Argus 1, Common Blue 1, Meadow Brown 186, Red Admiral 3, Small Heath 11, Small Tortoiseshell 4, Small White 7, Speckled Wood 2, Wall 1. The Small Tortoiseshells were on 2 buddleias. Afterwards I checked the west bank of the Arun and found a Comma and Holly Blue. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Monday 3 September 2012

This morning I returned to Rewell Wood with my father, primarily to revisit the Violet Helleborine as its flower spike reaches peak. When I enlarged my original images it confirmed my suspicion that the numerous tiny flies which had been enticed to the flowers, presumably to provide pollination services, were the Fruit Fly Drosophila melanogaster. I was aware that the Cuckoo Wasp Vespula austriaca is a known pollinator of Violet Helleborine but could not find any reference to an association between Drosophila and British orchids, although it is well documented that male Fruit Flies are attracted to orchids of the genus Bulbophyllum in the Middle and Far East, for the purposes of pollination. A telephone call to UK orchid expert David Lang confirmed that this has not been observed in our native orchids before. Drosophila were again in attendance today. The buddleia close to the entrance to the wood hosted a nice selection of butterflies, despite the lack of strong sunshine. Red Admiral numbers continue to build and we saw at least 12 fresh specimens. Other butterflies included Speckled Wood (8), Small Tortoiseshell (1), Small White (2), Large White (1) and a late Silver-washed Fritillary. (Neil Hulme)

When the sun came out in the early afternoon, the lower slopes of Mill Hill were alive with butterflies. Adonis Blues were present in unprecedented numbers with the count of 205 in the transect acre though to be an underestimate because of cloudy conditions at first. This count equates to an estimate of 800+ on Mill Hill. At one point on my return journey, a spot just above the path it was diffficult to avoid treading on the brown female Adonis Blues amongst the Horseshoe Vetch leaves. Meadow Brown Butterflies were also common with over 150 in the transect acre. Nine species of butterfly and three species of large moth were noted in the humid sunshine. (Andy Horton, Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List)

Today Bob Foreman very kindly gave Rob Walker (head of Brighton & Hove City Parks) David Larkin and Neil Doyle (Brighton & Hove countryside rangers) a very informative tour of Rowland woods, which is in the middle of extensive management. The Brighton & Hove guests came for inspiration with regard to woodland management and Bob supplied it in abundance. As we walked around it struck me that all the people who have given up time to improve this reserve had every right to feel very proud of their joint achievement. The reserve is now looking great and the future looks very promising. We spotted 5 Speckled Woods on our journey around the woods today and an unexpected grass snake. (Dan Danahar)

News for Sunday 2 September 2012: On the subject of Red Admirals, on Sunday I found a late instar caterpillar, unusually not in its protective tent of nettle leaves, together with several batches of early instar Small Tortoiseshells. Species previously reported in TQ1816 Bines Green suitcase square. (Richard Roebuck)

Dan Danahar's second Loose Bottom update from Friday 31 August: here
(photos below)

Saturday 1 September 2012 ...is it really September already?

I put the moth trap on for the first time in a while and at about 11.00 p.m. Saturday evening noticed a huge moth in the trap.
The Old Lady moth may be a bit drab, but it makes up for it in size - about the same size as a Red Admiral. The first time I have seen one in the moth trap. Once a year I see one in the kitchen or the garage.
On a second note now, I took a closer look at a plume moth hanging from the ceiling which I had seen earlier in the day, caught in some spider silk. Since its wings were partially open, I presumed that it was dead. Nevertheless, whilst stood on a chair, I wondered if I could get a pic of the "plume hairs", see attached. Incidentally it sprang to life when I attempted to remove it from the silk and eventually it made it to freedom.
(Richard Roebuck)

News for Friday 31 August 2012: Yesterday I started off at Steyning Round Hill, seeing 3 female Brown Hairstreaks in and around a chalk pit about 1 Km from the Rifle Range. By the time I reached the Rifle Range hairstreak activity had finished for the day, with 3 more females having been seen earlier by others. Brian Henham then joined me for a trip to Rewell Wood, where a friend from Arundel found some nice Violet Helleborines last week. The best stems were in perfect condition and attended by numerous pollinating flies. On a buddleia near the entrance to the woods we found 3 mint condition Red Admirals and a Peacock. I'm optimistic that the Red Admiral will appear in good numbers over the next few weeks. (Neil Hulme)

Earlier Sightings

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