2016 Sightings in Sussex
Mewsbrook Park Rustington.Red Admiral taking lunchtime sun on last day of the year.
Happy New Year to everyone. (John Ward)
You too John. (Ed jnr)
Saturday 31 December
Friday 30 December
2 Red Admirals on a walk round the old airstrip, Ashdown Forest yesterday on a gorgeous winter day. (Chris and Helen Corrigan)
Crawley Down - A glorious winter day was capped by a single Red Admiral in the garden for most of the early afternoon, feeding on winter honeysuckle in between periods of sunbathing on a house wall. It seemed to be in good condition, looking quite fresh in fact. Happy new year to all. (Jonathan Ruff)
A Red Admiral basking in the sunshine at 12.30 at a local site in Crawley. By the time I got back with my camera it had gone. The temperature was 9C in almost calm conditions. (Vince Massimo)
Driving through the Burgess Hill industrial estate, a butterfly flew across in front of me. I pulled over and it had settled, albeit briefly, on the factory wall, so I grabbed the camera and managed a half decent photo of this Small Tortoiseshell before it headed off. (David Cook)
Thursday 29 December
My hawk-eyed son-in-law spotted a Red Admiral as we came back with the goodies for lunch. As it was about minus 5 degrees last night that is a pretty good effort! (martin kalaher)
Tuesday 27 December
Back in January, after seeing a Red Admiral in Ashdown Forest I set myself a target of seeing at least one butterfly in each month of 2016. All went well until December when I was beginning to think I was going to fail at the last hurdle. However, today, Boxing Day a Red Admiral was seen flying near High and Over as well as a Bumble Bee on the Gorse. (Bob Eade http://bobsbutterflies.blogspot.co.uk)
Boxing Day Bonus
A walk in St Leonards Forest today produced a single Red Admiral. It appears to be the same one I saw in mid December and in the same area. (Patrick Moore)
Monday 26 December
Red Admiral in garden of 109 Willingdon Road, Eastbourne, BN21 1TX (Paul Howard)
Sunday 25 December
An unexpected Peacock seen at Michelgrove Park then another on Rackham Hill in the sunshine today. Happy Christmas. (Patrick Moore)
Thursday 22 December
My sightings of Brown Hairstreak in Burgess Hill at the end of last year and again this year along the circular walk on the south side of town and witnessing egg laying at one location, lead me to take a much closer look at the blackthorn hedges in and around the Batchelors Farm area. As this is my local dog walk, I could inspect sections at a time and over the passed few weeks have identified numerous groups of up to a dozen eggs at each. On a return visit, I was more than a little perturbed to find that the 'farmer' had started flailing and had completely destroyed one area. I got home and made some enquiries and it turns out that 2 areas of particular interest are managed by 2 different councils (Burgess Hill Town & Mid Sussex District). Neither, it turns out, new of this nationally scarce butterfly or that the actions of their park keepers was putting the butterfly at risk. I'm glad to report that, after providing them with grid references and species details, they appear to be on board as far any further cutting is concerned (at least for the time being). (David Cook)
Wednesday 21 December
Helping daughter to move into new house and Red Admiral flew into face. Location SU 925 005 (John Knight)
Sunday 18 December
I completed a careful survey of 125 metres of Blackthorn hedgerow. 50 metres of my garden hedge, 40 eggs; 65 metres of excellent Blackthorn hedgerow in the field to the east of our property, 10 eggs; 10 metres of 'old' Blackthorn in the field to the south of our garden, 3 eggs.
So roughly one egg per 2.5 metres. The 'excellent' hedge ought to have more but I think is too exposed to the Storrington winds. The old hedge needs my attention (I will have a chat with the manager of the field). The bit of hedge that is most productive is the outside of my garden hedge to the east of the garden. Conclusion (as previously posted) Brown Hairstreak do like sunny aspects but they like even more, 'protected, sheltered' spots.
Changes at Park Corner Heath: This week I made the first of several planned visits to perform management work on Park Corner Heath, armed with either a brushcutter or chainsaw. As many of you will be aware, a more active programme of bracken management has already begun (Bob and his mower, or Michael if he can wrestle it off Bob) and further cutting is underway. However, I will also be doing other things which some might find worrying, without an explanation.
Most visitors will be aware that PCH supports a good population of Brimstone (both breeding and overwintering adults) and that the caterpillar feeds on buckthorns. Regulars tend to notice less than occasional visitors, but in recent years the amount and maturity of plants has increased significantly, without a commensurate increase in Brimstone numbers. This is because many of the plants are in unsuitable positions for egg-laying, and buckthorn becomes increasingly less appealing to the females beyond four or five years age. They will enthusiastically lay eggs on the smallest of fresh shoots. In order to open up some areas specifically for my Fritillaries for the Future project, I will be cutting a significant number of buckthorns to ground level - in effect starting a buckthorn coppice cycle. This will ultimately benefit the Brimstone, and other species such as Grizzled Skipper, as more open habitat is created. I will also be felling a sizeable Turkey Oak - Oaks are good, Turkey Oaks are not (think Spanish Bluebell). I hope this allays any worries some might have, on seeing some quite marked changes in the vegetation structure.
I have just found a Red Admiral inside the building where I work which is on the outskirts of North Bersted, Bognor Regis. It is a converted cowshed in some farm buildings but is heated so I have taken it outside where it is now hanging upside down under a wooden table. It seems to have become more lively since being outside so I am hoping it will find somewhere suitable to hibernate. Sorry no pics as I left my phone at home today. (Penny Kirk)
While having lunch break with some of the Ashdown Forest Conservstion Volunteers during a busy morning cutting down a number of sapling birch trees at Chelwood Vachery on Thursday, a Red Admiral flew overhead possibly disturbed by our activities. (Stuart Ridley)
Friday 16 December
Whilst walking across the fields at Chesworth Farm this morning to check on the sheep in glorious sunshine a Red Admiral flew past me. Whilst not in the prime of it's life it still had enough energy left to not want to hang around and was obviously determined to get somewhere. (Judith Alford)
Walking under the canopy leading to Sainsbury's at Benfield Valley Hove, I'd just noticed a dark leaf being blown upwards when Val pointed out that it was a butterfly. It was rather unsettled but Val got a good enough topside view to be able to identify it as a Red Admiral. This was at about 12.20 pm, when it was sunny, if a bit breezy, with an air temperature of about 12 centigrade. We walked on north up the nature area to Hangleton Lane and back seeing no more butterflies, although we did get close to a little flock of about 10 long-tailed tits. (John & Val Heys)
This sighting is particularly special, thanks to the support of Brighton & Hove City Council Rangers Neil Doyle and Chantelle Hoppe, along with volunteers at the beginning of the year, habitat management was applied for Brown Hairstreak at a site in Patcham, old Blackthorn/Bullace was cut down to produce favoured young shoots for egg laying females. Today whilst sunny I thought I would head over to the site to survey all the new growth for Brown Hairstreak eggs, if any were found on the new growth it would prove that our work had successfully benefited the species, unfortunately I didn't find any eggs, that was until the very last clump of growth I needed to check, just under 3 feet from the ground I clearly saw two Brown Hairstreak eggs laid together, see photo. Fingers crossed the slight discolouration around the micropyle of these two eggs isn't that of bad news. To have some confirmation that the work you've instigated has had a positive effect, definitely brings a feeling of pride. I'm hoping to plant Blackthorn at the site, which came as part of a Woodland Trust pack. (Jamie Burston)
Whilst doing my Winter Bird Survey on private land at Foxhunt Green, Waldron. A Red Admiral flew along field edge hedge between the the trees of the enclosed Monastery Garden.
As the sun was shining this afternoon I set out for a walk in St Leonards Forest and visited the area where Red Admirals seem to have made a home. Most pleasingly there were two, mainly basking on tree trunks then visiting damp patches on the path. (Patrick Moore)
A brief and unexpected visit at midday by a Red Admiral to my Keymer garden, flying low around my patio in the sun and alighting briefly on the conservatory, before flying off. (Malcolm Le Grys)
Both were Red Admirals- first flying near small pond and second at 5M height through forest- sunny and mild at about 13'C - sorry no pics (John mc shane)
Wednesday 14 December
One Brimstone seen flying in the garden of the Jack and Jill Inn’ at Clayton, Sussex. Postcode is Brighton Rd, Clayton BN6 9PD (Duncan Priddle)
Tuesday 13 December
I managed to get out for a quick walk in St Leonards Forest today mainly to see if Fridays Red Admirals were still around. One was, and very lively it was as well. It sat on the path then headed into the outer branches of a Pine. (Patrick Moore)
Sunday 11 December
My family Summer holiday was spent on the Greek island of Crete during the early part of July. Butterflies were not an intentional attraction but I couldn't help being distracted by the shear number of Painted Lady in and around the hotel complex and this led to the dubious privilege of taking part in the recent BBC4 migration documentary, as photo opportunities were plentiful. Here are some pics of other species seen whilst there: Bath White, Scarce Swallowtail, Continental Swallowtail, Mediterranean Skipper, and what I've subsequently learnt is a first for Crete, False Marbled Skipper.
Many thanks to everybody who came to the Oaken Wood Conservation work party earlier in the week.
I think it was a very successful day and I hope you all enjoyed it.
Please see my two tweets on the subject – and also Martin Warren’s very nice reply to the second.
Thanks Bill, everyone at the Sussex branch appreciates the great work you are doing.
By the way, if you live near Oaken Wood the next work party is on Thursday January 5th and they would love to see someone from the Sussex branch come along. (Ed jnr)
Saturday 10 December
Just as I was poised to share some summer sightings from my travels, a walk in St Leonards Forest produced several Red Admirals charging around in the warmth. (Patrick Moore)
Friday 09 December
Maybe someone can help with this butterfly, which Val & I saw on coastal cliffs near Tossa de Mar, Spain (a bit north of Barcelona) on 17 May 2016. It was actually quite small, but very photogenic until it opened its wings when the glare from the white was too much for our camera. I've tentatively put it down in my book as a (western) dappled white rather than a Bath white. We also took some very good pictures of a Swalllowtail, but you get a lot more of them than this! (John & Val Heys)
Thursday 08 December
To add to Ed Jr's photos of butterflies from abroad, here is a Weavers Fritillary I took whilst on holiday in Provence last September. (Graeme Rolf)
Wednesday 07 December
Peacock waking up inside house (Michael Hawkins)
A Peacock passed through our front garden in East Dean (TV562984) around midday, in full sunshine, briefly pausing on a window pane.(Carole Jode)
Tuesday 06 December
Big and brash - where else ?
An ambition was to see the big five . Number one was the Monarch in the continent of America . By chance this September the chance arose . Had several tantalising sightings in Washington however whilst cycling in Central Park , New York finally came upon this iconic butterfly. Huge and I would say charismatic gliding around in true splendour, Grid Ref : Central Park, New York.
The one I saw in central Washington even pursued a low flying sparrow with ease . Also saw one in Manhattan , New York flying 6 floors up along a sky scraper ,perhaps a surreal back drop for a butterfly The second huge butterfly seen was in Washington DC , an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail ,5 inches across . After two days hanging around in the garden trees it finally came down to imbibe after the automatic sprinklers had been on .
As for the other Big four - yet to be discovered- the journey continues .
(Richard Roebuck )
In late June I visited the northern Lake District on a stag/walking weekend. One friend organises the accommodation, another the transport and I plan the walking.
Now, northern Lakes in June to me means Mountain Ringlet. I did a lot of reading and planned a walk from the top of Honister Pass to Great Gable via the flanks of Grey Knotts, an area where they are found.
The weather was dull and once on the fells heading towards the Drum House rather chilly. Not looking good for Mountain Ringlet spotting. Looking towards Gable we could see that most of the mountain was in cloud, so a conflab resulted in a change of plan and a diversion to Hay Stacks.
It was on the path below Grey Knotts that a small dark insect darted quite low between me and my companions. I followed it both by eye and then on foot to a clump of Mat-grass. I could see nothing in the grass when suddenly a butterfly shot off to another clump. Mountain Ringlet? I pursued.
My friends possibly thought I’d gone mad.
I parted the stalks and there low down and motionless was a brown butterfly, quite tatty and warn but definitely a Mountain Ringlet, my first. It climbed onto my hand and I took as many photos as I could, hoping at least some would be in focus and half descent.
After a short while it took off, low and at speed to another clump chased by two further much darker individuals that must have been quite close to me.
Later whilst ascending Hay Stacks, I started to wonder if indeed it had all happened. So whilst my friends watched a chap hiking down with a fridge on his back for Help for Heroes I checked my photos. Yes they were real and Yes it was a Mountain Ringlet. Luck or great planning, I wonder.
The butterfly season is well and truly over now. A couple of people have sent me in sightings from outside Sussex, so perhaps it is a good time to ask for you to post any interesting sightings from places beyond the county border.
To get the ball rolling, here is a Robber fly I photographed in central Greece during the summer. We were wandering through a canyon when I spotted this brownish non-descript butterfly dancing along at head height without a care in the world. Suddenly this creature darted out of a bush at a tremendous pace and snatched the butterfly from the air. I was close enough to see where it landed and snapped it with my phone. We saw many butterflies in Greece but it is the Robber fly which I remember most clearly. I also have to thank Richard Roebuck for identifying the beast for me when I got back.
Monday 05 December
On the last day of Autumn the heavy frost was still very evident late in the day at Old Lodge, Ashdown Forest. Despite the freezing conditions the sun had warmed one brave Red Admiral just enough to encourage it to take flight. (Bob Eade http://bobsbutterflies.blogspot.co.uk)