Saturday 18 May
A couple of fresh Wall Brown's at Malling Down LNR,the Ringmer side. (Dave Browne)
At last Grizzled Skipper are emerging in small areas within St Leonards Forest, Horsham. There were also Small Copper, Small Heath, Peacock, Speckled Wood and Brimstone. I was pleased to see a Green Hairstreak the first I've seen in the area for 2 seasons. Also Orange Tip and a single Common Blue. As yet no Dingy Skipper. (Patrick Moore)
Poor organisational skills on my part led to me missing the majority of the Mailing Down magnificent walk. However lucky for me the weather improved in the afternoon with Adonis Blues stealing the show. Also seen in good numbers were Small Heath, Brown Argus, Brimstones and Common Blues. A smaller number of Dingy Skippers, Red Admirals, Green Hairstreaks and Small Whites. Single numbers of Orange Tip, Wall Brown and Speckled Wood. Plus 3 Grizzled Skippers and a Small Blue that were eventually run to ground not far from the gate leading from the allotments to the Snout. Plus plenty of moths including the cinebars... (Martin Buck)
Good numbers of Small Blues on the big nettle beds at Bible and Caburn Bottoms.TQ437098 and TQ439096 respectively. (Dave Browne)
This evening Mill Hill was alive with butterflies with 3 or 4 everywhere you looked. I saw Adonis Blues, Common Blues, Dingy Skippers, Grizzled Skippers, Small Heaths and one Red Admiral and one Speckled Wood. (Katrina Watson)
A walk on Castle Hill this afternoon started well as I saw many Small Heath, some Small Coppers, Brown Argus and Wall Browns as I walked down the slope. The path along the bottom by the wheat field was alive with butterflies - Small Blue, Adonis Blue, Common Blue and many more Wall. A couple of Peacock also flying by. (Nigel Symington)
Early this morning a walk in Knepp produced Nightingale , Cuckoo and Turtle Dove all calling a the same time
I spent a good three 1/2 Hrs searching the whole of the Washington Chalk Pits site . Dingy Skippers were numerous 30+seen . Grizzled Skipper 5
Green Hairstreak 4, Male Brimstone 4 , Small Blue males all fresh 5 right hand bowl a the top , Brown Argus numerous 15+ seen , Cinnabars emerging and good numbers seen
and one female egg laying at the base of Ragwort Plant on leaf underside , Common Blue - one fantastic new male .Small Copper one , Peacock one
Green Veined white 2 . Numerous Pyrausta aurata and other Pyrausta spp I did not see any Dukes!
One Harvard T6 , literally at the same altitude as me , one large bee swarm with me in the middle of it as it traversed up and over the Downs in the direction of Worthing .
The sight of this and the sound was fantastic .
For those of you unfamiliar with World War Two aircraft, the 'Harvard T6' is a single engined trainer built by North American Aviation and supplied to the RAF. There is a small private airstrip below Chanctonbury which harbours such things.(Ed jnr)
Another good (but not huge) count of Duke of Burgundy (82) on the Downs near Storrington today, but I didn't have time to visit all of the known colonies, and never made it to Kithurst Hill. A larger count was precluded by long periods of cool cloudy weather, so I'm still yet to fully assess the emergence this year. Male butterflies are still hatching, so I think we're still a day or two before peak season. (Neil Hulme)
Did the transect at Anchor bottom around mid day. There was about three or four degrees temperature difference between the top of the hill and the bottom, where I found a few butterflies. Small Heath (4), Common Blue (3), Adonis Blue (3). I couldn't pass Mill Hill without popping in. Here the Dingy Skippers are still strong, with one or two fresh Grizzled Skippers. The Adonis Blues are beginning to come into their own and were the most prevalent species. There were also a number of Brown Argus. Later I checked out the lay-by on the A27 east of the Southwick tunnel. Walking from on end to the other in sunless windy conditions I counted 16 Small Blues. (Jonathan Crawford)
This morning I had the luxury of the Kithurst Hill flower meadow all to myself - surprising as we are at the peak of the Duke season. The weather was a bit overcast so the butterfly action was a bit slow but patience paid off and I was rewarded with a Small Copper basking on a grass stem, a beautiful Duchess catching some rays on a hazel leaf, and a mating pair of Dukes. (John Williams)
A few days ago in Abbot's Wood, I came across a mating pair of Speckled Yellow moths (Pseudopanthera macularia) the female of which was being predated upon by a species of Jumping Spider (Evarcha falcata). (Nigel Kemp http://eastsussexwanderer.blogspot.co.uk)
It was fantastic to be on the Downs at Deep Dean last night and share the experience with so many other enthusiasts. It was also a pleasure to meet and put a face to names of people who are involved in Butterfly Conservation. Thankyou both Jonathan and Michael for giving up your time and organising this important event.
I took a few photos both with a camera and a mobile phone with mixed results. Here are a few. (Patrick Moore)
Grayling Caterpillar Hunt 17/05/2019
On the 17th May 2008 Michael Blencowe lead a crack team of lepidopterists up to Deep Dene in search of Grayling caterpillars in an event billed as "Night of the Living Grayling". Eleven years later to the day, 15 people, including Michael, once again climbed up to Deep Dene in the dark to search for what is certainly the rarest butterfly caterpillar in Sussex.
Unlike 2008 conditions were good: there was no wind and the low cloud cover kept the cold at bay. We knew from the 2008 records that we would not see the nocturnal Grayling caterpillar until after 9:45 so around that time we spread out across the hill and began our careful search.
At 10:02, much to everyone's relief the shout went out "found one" from Andrea Gibbs. The location was marked and recorded. The second Grayling caterpillar was found thirteen minutes later, five minutes later a third. Over the course of two hours in a search that covered much of the hillside we found and recorded the locations of seventeen Grayling caterpillars. They seemed to be quite well dispersed across the south facing slope, with most found in thick clumps of grass. However towards the top of the slope Gary Norman found several in much thinner grass.
We also found a number of Marbled White larvae both in green and brown form, as well as a single roosting Common Blue.
On Sunday morning I will be returning to Deep Dene with the botanist Kate Ryland to study the locations where we found caterpillars. This is a key part of our attempt to try to understand why the Grayling, once widespread on the downs, is now confined to this single valley.
I would like to say thank you to all those who took part last night. Their enthusiasm was phenomenal. Some people appeared to be genuinely disappointed when we ended the event sometime after midnight. I would also like to offer a special thanks to young James Gibbs. When you lose you car keys somewhere on an enormous hillside in the middle of the night, you have no expectation of finding them again. But James did.