Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Early Return for White-letter Hairstreaks.

This year the season seems to be at least two weeks early and many of the summer species are on the wing sooner than expected. The White-letter Hairstreak is no exception as normally they would not be seen until July.
At Newport the colony of White-letter Hairstreaks were counted in almost double figures and it is pleasing to know that this is the third year in succession that they have been recorded here.The photo below shows the disease resistant elm ( the smaller tree on the right) where these butterflies have made their home.Unlike many sites where it is normal to gaze up at the Hairstreaks from ground level the adjoining foot bridge gives an excellent vantage point.


Saturday, 17 June 2017

Butterflies Out in the Hot & Sunny Weather

A walk in Bouldnor Forest near Yarmouth yesterday produced four first sightings of the year The hot and sunny weather continues and the butterflies certainly responded with plenty of butterflies on show.Apart from several species already seen this season, new sightings were White Admiral,Marbled White,Large Skipper,and Ringlet.
Other sightings included Silver-washed Fritillary,numerous Meadow Brown and Common Blue,and a Grizzled Skipper.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

First Silver-washed Fritillary.

A wander along the wooded rides of Firestone Copse,at Wootton today resulted in my first high summer butterfly.A male Silver-washed Fritillary glided past me and landed at a nearby mud-hole where he proceeded to take the waters.Unfortunately there was no sign as yet, of that other majestic woodland butterfly the White Admiral.

Monday, 22 May 2017

A Splash of Colour.

With settled and warm weather a definite prospect for the next few days the season is well under way.Today the pyracantha bush in the garden looked magnificent as a deluge of flowers began to open.This attracted my first Painted Lady of the year,a very pristine individual.Despite my attention it returned several times to take advantage of the blooms and that glimpse of orange and red  on the underside plus the gold and blue of the underside rings was an enjoyable treat.
Yesterday while on the cliffs and landslip of our southwest coast I came across a Small Copper sporting several blue iridescent pear shaped spots on the hind wings.This is the aberration caeruleopunctata,not an uncommon form but it can vary from having one or two faint spots through to five clearly defined pear-shaped marking on each hind wing.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Glanvilles Showing Well.

At this time of year the cliffs on the Isle of Wight are carpeted in Thrift and these drifts of bright pink attract insects, in particular the butterflies.The number of Glanville Fritillaries are now on the increase and today I saw many on the landslip.The peak of their season has yet to arrive and hopefully there will be many more on the wing during the next few weeks.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

First Adonis Blue & Glanville Count Rises.

With Adonis Blue already reported from several mainland locations,I decided to try my luck today on Bonchurch Down.The numbers of Adonis have decreased in recent years due to less than ideal land management on the Down and the fall in the rabbit population.The Adonis require short downland grass to be successful and the lack of grazers such as the rabbit has allowed the grass to grow long.A check of the male Common Blue butterflies encountered today led to my first record of the year of a Adonis Blue.These two species are very similar,but close inspection will leave no doubt if it is an Adonis. The spectacular and striking sky blue of the male Adonis is unmistakeable.
Not too far away is the premier site for the Glanville Fritillary and since the first appearance of this special butterfly four days ago numbers have steadily increased.Todays count amounted to eight pristine fritillaries all resplendent with their orange and brown chequered wings and a white border.The underside has a pattern of cream and orange bands with black marks.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Glanville Fritillary Takes to the Air.

Following yesterdays report of the first Glanville Fritillary on the wing in 2017 I made the trip to the south of the Isle of Wight in the hope of seeing this special butterfly.The Island has the only natural habitat for this butterfly in the UK, so it is always an unique event when the Glanville makes its first appearance.
After some searching the one individual was spotted busily feeding on a variety of the many plants that are flowering at this site.The sighting was all too brief as it flew off up the slope and was not seen again. Still,we can look forward to seeing more Glanvilles in the next few days as they emerge on the cliff tops along the Island's south-west coast.
Other species were in the main absent,although it was encouraging to see at least six Common Blue feeding  on the abundant Red Valerian. 

Friday, 28 April 2017

Dingy Skipper and Wall Brown Make an Appearance.

Continued dry weather and a slight rise in temperatures together with some sunshine has led to an increase in butterfly activity.Yesterday in the West Wight I had my first sight of a Dingy Skipper this year together with a pair of battling Wall Brown butterflies that circled above me and flew off.It was good to see several Small Coppers too.They have not enjoyed the last few years as their numbers have been reported as low and in decline.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Cold Wind Slows Down the Butterflies.

Temperatures have plummeted in the last day or so but at Whiteways the butterflies have kept active.The unique position of the site has allowed the butterflies to make the most of the warm sunshine and  the effect of the cold northerly wind is kept to a minimum.The Grizzled Skipper was prominent with at least two seen,along with four Small Blue and six Green Hairstreak.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Small Blue Out in Numbers.

A visit to Whiteways this afternoon  rewarded me with at least four Small Blues frantically flying around between bouts of sunbathing on any blade of  grass.This is the earliest sighting for Small Blue here since 2012 when they emerged on the extremely silly early date of 30th March.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Finding a Place to Roost.

It has been a cloudy day and during a very brief brighter spell this afternoon a male Orange Tip floated into our garden on the lookout it seems, for a spot to roost.He finally landed on an emerging daisy,Anthemis punctata cupaniana at the edge of a flower border where he soon settled down for the rest of the day. 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Small Copper Another First of the Season.

Butterfly sightings and activity have slowed down over the last week or so, probably due to the cool weather.However the sun is still shining and in sheltered spots in can feel pleasant.At Whiteways Quarry today a Small Copper made an appearance,my first sight of this species in 2017,along with that elusive Grizzled Skipper.In addition there are up to three Green Hairstreaks busily flying around defending their territories.
Meanwhile the Berberis in my garden is still attracting the butterflies with a Holly Blue feeding on some of the remaining blooms.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Busy Orange Tips.

The first Orange Tip,a male, flew around my garden today.Most years I do not see this species in my garden until May, so much earlier than expected.Activity of this species has been evident since the first week in April when at Ventnor I came across a female taking great interest in the Honesty plants.She was soon joined by a male who fluttered feverishly around her.Her response,in this instance,was a rejection of his advances in typical Orange Tip fashion.Females who have already mated and want to shoo away a male will  flatten their wings and raise their abdomen.This is followed by an opening of the genital valve to release anti-aphrodisiac hormones to discourage the male.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Cooler Temperatures Slow Down the Spring Butterflies.

Although the weather has been dry and mainly sunny since the unseasonably warm temperatures of last weekend,a nagging cold wind has seemed to postpone the emergence of new spring butterflies here along the coast.This is so at Whiteways Quarry where no new species have been seen on the wing.However today the two Green Hairstreaks at the site were enjoying the Bluebells and the elusive Grizzled Skipper still puts in an occasional appearance.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

First Small Heath.

The weather today had cooled due to a brisk wind and butterflies already recorded  at Whiteways Quarry were not to be seen.However a new species did make an appearance here,a single Small Heath,the first of 2017.This is the earliest date for a sighting of this species since I began recording in 2010.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

First Grizzled Skipper.

As anticipated the first Grizzled Skipper made an appearance at Whiteways Quarry today and the Green Hairstreaks seem to have doubled their number to two.With the mainly dry weather forecast to continue for the rest of the week we can look forward to six  further species emerging at this site.