Monday, 18 May 2020

Back on the Landslip & Back to Nature.

The month of May is of course the time for the Glanville Fritillary here on the Isle of Wight.Now that restrictions have been relaxed, a short car ride to  Afton Down Chalkpit and a walk down to the National Trust clifftop at Compton Chine provided access to the landslip.Descending the  impressive wooden steps onto the landslip I was treated to a view along the coast towards Compton Bay.
Today the Glanville Fritillary was in evidence on the clifftop and below, although due to the brisk onshore wind they were very active and jittery.Nevertheless,find a sheltered spot  and many butterflies could be approached as they rested in the sunshine or nectared on the flowering thift. Among the other species on show were Common Blue,Dingy Skipper,Small Heath,Small Blue and Brown Argus.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Out and About At Last.

Following seven weeks of lockdown it was great to get out and enjoy nature.Today's first visit of the year to Bouldnor Forest at Yarmouth was rewarded with a Glanville Fritillary nectaring on bird's-foot trefoil. Other species encountered along the forest rides were Wall Brown,Green Hairstreak,Grizzled Skipper,Small Heath,and Speckled Wood.All were recorded as my first of the season.

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Garden Orange Tips.

Butterfly sightings in the garden have been disappointing so far, with only several Small White and a passing Holly Blue.However, I have a impressive honesty plant in flower at the moment and I was hoping that this would attract the Orange Tip.So at the weekend I was pleased to see a male flying around the garden.Unfortunately he was in a hurry and with other things on his mind he quickly passed on.Two more visits of male Orange Tip's that day had the same result, so I feared that my flowering plant would not be a success.
I did not need to worry as today a female Orange Tip took great interest in the flowers and laid eggs among the blooms.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

A Small White on the Rocks.

It looks as though the 2020 season will be confined to garden sightings due of course, to the Coronavirus pandemic.The recent weather has been disappointing with a cold north-easterly wind, although it has remained dry with some sunshine.However much warmer conditions are promised for the forthcoming weekend and next week so I am hopeful that the butterflies will be out and about.
The last few days have produced just one Peacock and one Comma in my back garden but today in the front garden I saw my first Small White of the year.Although no big deal, it was good to see a new emergent as it flitted around over our garden stones looking for some warmth in the overcast conditions.

Monday, 16 March 2020

Weather Perks Up & Butterflies Respond.

Today we enjoyed  the first true spring day of the year with plenty of warm sunshine, and the butterflies certainly responded. A first Brimstone, and two duelling Comma's appeared in my garden this morning.A lunchtime visit to Walter's Copse at Newtown produced four Peacock,seven Comma,and three flyby Brimstone.

Primrose rides at Walter's Copse

Friday, 6 March 2020

Sunshine and Light Winds Encourage the Glanvilles

The 2020 season started with a Peacock butterfly seen in my garden on the 8th February,flying energetically while braving a strong wind.In fact here on the Isle of Wight we have endured persistant blustery winds for months although temperatures have on the whole been mild.
It was therefore a relief today when the winds abated and the sun shone.Not surprisingly the temperature was probably not into double digits but all this was enough for the Glanville Fritillary larvae, or caterpillars, to appear from their communal webs and move around  in the sunshine while staying close to or on their webs.Each individual is no more than one centimetre in length and now into their 5th instar.

Monday, 4 November 2019

Top Highlight of 2019.

Without doubt the highlight of the 2019 season was the sight of the Brown Hairstreak at Shipton Bellinger in August,although the all but brief encounter with a female Long-tailed Blue in my garden on the 23rd August was a treat.
Several visits to Shipton over the last three years have proved fruitless in my attempt to see the rare and elusive Brown Hairstreak.However this year I was rewarded with multiple sightings as described in my post of the 21st August 2019.
Shipton Bellinger is regarded as the best location to see  'Brownies' in Hampshire.The village stands in the middle of a large area where this hairstreak can be seen, as round about there is suitable habitat of Blackthorn and Ash.My sightings in the summer were along a hedgerow renowned for producing views of the Brown Hairstreak.It is a hedgerow of Blackthorn with plenty of brambles and backed by trees(seen in the photo below).Here behind the hedgerow runs the county boundary with Wiltshire.
Depending on conditions,August is probably the best time to see this butterfly with males normally the first to appear early in the month and followed soon after by the females.Egg-laying then commences in the second half of August and continues until at least mid-September.



Tuesday, 15 October 2019

October on Meganisi.

An opportunity to visit the Greek Island of Meganisi again this year could not be resisted, so last week I was able to stroll around the lanes close to the village of Spartochori in search of any late summer butterflies.Of course most species have finished their season but a few were to be found.Apart from the late summer regulars of Painted Lady,Clouded Yellow,Red Admiral,and Meadow Brown,the large flowering rosemary plants in the garden of our holiday villa were attracting Lang's Short-tailed Blue and Common Blue. Perhaps the highlight was the sight of several Sage Skipper's nectaring on the many flowering wild thyme dotted along the roadside.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Viewpoint Blues.

Parking my car at the National Trust viewpoint car park at the foot of Afton Down a couple of days ago, I was pleased to see that a selection of butterflies are still on show at this small,sheltered,southerly facing site. Three of our summer 'blues' were present,most strikingly a splendid male Adonis, together with several Chalk-hill Blues and a Common Blue.All three species regularly rose to spar with each other as they encroached on another's patch. 

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Brownies On Display at Shipton.

The Brown Hairstreak has been somewhat of an enigma to me over the last three years.Several visits to a renowned area for the species have resulted in no sightings but yesterday's trip gave me success at last.The hedgerows around the village of Shipton Bellinger on the Hampshire-Wiltshire border are perfect habitat for the Brown Hairstreak. They require a copious amount of Blackthorn as it is their larval food plant and the male butterflies spend a lot of time at the top of Ash trees feeding on the honeydew.
The first sighting of the day was a female 'brownie' fluttering low down along the edge of  blackthorn rich hedgerow.She would occasionally stop to enjoy the warmth of the sun and then get back to laying her eggs on the young blackthorn shoots,just a few inches from the ground. It was while observing her that a male was noticed ardently feeding  on blackberry fruits.The sightings of the day were not over as later another female was recorded,also looking for suitable egg laying spots.