Sunday 16 June

Where do I start—at the beginning, I hear you say! When I volunteered to have a BC Sussex walk for Black Hairstreak on Ditchling Common I had no idea what to expect. Especially as I’d never down one before. Jamie Burston also volunteered to lend a hand and it was just as well he did. The bookings came flooding in and the Saturday sessions were filling up fast mainly due to the forecast weather being better. Some of the attendees travelled from far and wide, with guests from Cardiff, Yorkshire, Cumbria and Buckinghamshire. The pressure was on to deliver! It has to be said the weather was far from perfect, with a mix across the 2 days of bright and breezy to down right cold, very wet and very windy, the odds of fulfilling our hopes and giving our guests their first close ups was going to be very challenging. I’m pleased to report that ALL 65 + visitors left with big smiles, having achieved their goals. A Herculean effort supported as ever by Neil Hulme, enabled us to locate and track butterflies and escort our guests to exactly the right spot without delay during the most testing weather conditions (including pouring rain). The one Black Hairstreak picture I have included, is of the newly emerged female (next to her pupa case) that decided to enter the world at 10:00am in pouring rain and ensured our Sunday guests got their close encounter.
With a double fly past of the Red Arrows on Saturday and a Spitfire fly past on the Sunday to ‘serenade’ our guests, added to the excitement. A big thank you to all our guests and to Jamie and Neil for making it a weekend I shall never forget. (David Cook)

Today (16 June) saw another two highly successful guided walks at Ditchling Common, despite poor weather in the morning. Over the four sessions this weekend, Jamie Burston and David Cook managed to show more than 60 attendees the Black Hairstreak, with everyone holding a camera going away with photographs. A total of 15 hairstreaks were seen low down on the Bracken today, with much more activity above the Blackthorn thickets. A chrysalis discovered by Ben Greenaway finally hatched, allowing a few people the rare opportunity to photograph a (female) Black Hairstreak next to its vacated pupal case. A great weekend was had by all. (Neil Hulme)

I set out for Blean Woods this morning but decided to turn back in torrential rain when I'd got as far as Crawley. I headed for Ditchling Common instead and my decision was vindicated when I spotted a lovely fresh male Black Hairstreak on a Fern. Then Dave Cook lead me to Neil Hulme who was photographing a freshly emerged female, right next to the empty pupa! (John Williams)

Our first Humming-bird Hawk-moth of 2019 seen in our East Dean garden (TV562984) at 2pm today nectaring on Purple Sage in overcast conditions - 17c (Carole & David Jode)

Humming-bird Hawk-moth seen feeding on pansies in sheltered rear garden. (James Beals)

Visited Ipping Common early morning to day and found about 10 males in one localised spot, hunkering down in The Ling due to persistent winds . Passing clouds changed the light conditions within minutes with interesting effects on the male Silver Studded Blues - they were stunning.
On an area that had been cleared, I noticed from a distance what looked like red shredded ,plastic, baler twine. aagghhh!
On closure inspection i realised it was Dodder I think Cuscuta epithymum - Its a vine parasitic on Ling and straight out of war of the worlds - weird . Worth looking out for . Also saw several smart Stonechats and Yellow Hammers . It started to rain so went to Amberham and Heyshott Commons . Near the car park next to the paths there are lots of Alder Buckthorn.
Eventually found various instars of Brimstone Caterpillars, one showing a defensive posture and all have silk on the leaves to hold onto. (Richard Roebuck)

Congratulations to Jamie Burston and David Cook for their excellent guided walks to see the Black Hairstreaks of Ditchling Common yesterday (15 June), despite challenging weather conditions in the afternoon. The morning event was a 'walk in the park' and the large crowd (25+) was treated to numerous close-up views of the target species. Everyone managed to get photographs of a male hairstreak in perfect condition, within just minutes of arriving in Hairstreak Alley. Other highlights included an early Ringlet and a fabulous display of Common Spotted Orchids.
The weather collapsed for the afternoon event, but fortunately we had marked the position of a male Black Hairstreak sheltering from the drizzle, so everyone managed to see the butterfly at point blank range. (Neil Hulme)