Wednesday 23 November 2016

Favourite Find of 2016.

The 2016  butterfly season in the UK has been disappointing with sightings down on recent years.The results of The Big Butterfly Count can be viewed here.I have found this trend too on my forays around the Isle of Wight this year.A noticeable lack of butterfly numbers in the common species that I would expect to see doing well as our summer  had good spells of warm,even hot weather.
I was pleased to see that the Newport town centre White-letter Hairstreaks were back on the elm tree where they were discovered in 2015.Along our southern seaside cliffs the Glanville Fritillaries seem to have had a good season too.
During my two visits to the Greek Islands in 2016 I had the treat of  seeing several Lang's Short-tailed Blues and that import from South Africa,the Geranium Bronze which has now spread all along the Mediterranean coast from Spain to Greece.An unexpected sighting was a colony of Lulworth Skippers among the wild flowers of an olive grove on Greek Island of Lefkada.A rare butterfly in the UK,only seen on the coastal cliff tops of Dorset.
However my favourite find was during May when a trip was made across the Solent to the New Forest in Hampshire to see the beautiful Pearl-bordered Fritillary.Now alas,gone from the Island since 2011 due to a lack of sustainable habitat at its last location in Parkhurst Forest.The particular New Forest inclosure visited on that day was named New Copse and despite the rather cloudy weather there were good numbers of these fritillaries on the wing.The habitat here is well managed  for the needs of the Pearl-bordered.


Wednesday 2 November 2016

Circus Maximus.

The site of  ancient Rome's chariot racing stadium,Circus Maximus is in the centre of the city between the Palatine and Aventine Hills.It measured over 2000 feet in length and just under 400 feet in width and today is a public park.During a short stay in the city last weekend,I was pleased to see at least eight species of butterfly here as I strolled along the grassy banks of the Circus that in the days of the Roman Empire could accommodate well over 100,000 spectators.Quite a selection of wild plants grow here and they still attract butterflies at this time of year,especially in the warm sunshine that we enjoyed on our visit.
Whites were numerous,such as Bath,Large and Small White,together with several Clouded Yellow that all flew along the slopes searching out the small flowers, while Common Blue,Small Copper,Small Heath,Mallow Skipper,and Geranium Bronze seemed to find their own spot amongst the grass and plants.

The grassy slopes of the Circus Maximus