Despite the sunshine on my journey to Broughton Down in Hampshire yesterday,the heavens opened as soon as I stepped onto this area of chalk grassland.This chalk ridge with fringing woodland is maintained by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and is one of the few places in England for the Silver-spotted Skipper.Happily the rain cleared although for the duration of my visit only the occasional sunny spell gave any chance of seeing this rare butterfly.I had to be satisfied with only three sightings,two just brief and one prolonged as a male sat in the grass hoping that the sun would stay out for a while.Sadly I was not treated to an underside view of the silver spots which gives the species its name.
Wednesday 2 August 2017
Wednesday 19 July 2017
Yesterday on a day trip to see the special damselflies of Crockford Stream in the New Forest I walked an area of heathland which was close by.I expected to see good numbers of Silver-studded Blue here, but numbers were low and all were faded and worn.Perhaps this is a result of early emergence as has occurred with many species this year. However, I did find a Blue in very reasonable condition near to the stream.
Tuesday 11 July 2017
Yesterday as I observed the elm that has been home to White-letter Hairstreaks for the last three seasons I was fortunate to see a female wandering along a branch in search of buds on which to lay her eggs.This carried on for some time as she fluttered onto other branches in pursuit of more buds.
Monday 10 July 2017
There were plenty of Chalk-hill Blues on the bridleway leading to West High Down today.Not surprisingly all are males but it will not be long before both males and females are on our chalk downland in their hundreds.Apart from the Adonis Blue perhaps, this must be one of our most colourful blues.
Saturday 8 July 2017
It seems to be an excellent season for the Silver-washed Fritillary. Good numbers are to be seen in our woodlands and if lucky the odd female Valezina form could turn up.It is estimated that one in seven females have this attractive appearance.
Tuesday 27 June 2017
There were a prolific number of butterflies at Walters Copse today.The most impressive were the Silver-washed Fritillaries and the White Admirals.These and many other species were busily feeding on the bramble flowers that seem to be abundant in the copse this year.Although male and female Silver-washed were on show I was not lucky enough to see the female Valezina. In the south of England it is estimated that up to 15% of the females are of this beautiful form.
Monday 26 June 2017
With the season generally over two weeks early this year I made a first visit to West High Down in the hope of seeing a Chalk-hill Blue.I have not yet recorded this blue earlier than in the month of July and I was optimistic of a June sighting.Alas no Chalk-hill Blue today and with an unsettled and rainy forecast for the rest of the week I think that it will be July again for this last remaining blue of the season.
Nevertheless another butterfly of our downland is on the wing now,the Dark Green Fritillary. These large fritillaries spent most of their time flying at high speed across our downs,only briefly stopping it seems, for a quick top up on the Giant Thistle flowers that are scattered about.In fact at the moment there seems to be very few Giant Thistle flowers in bloom so getting any sort of view of this butterfly is limited.
Friday 23 June 2017
After a prolonged spell of hot and sunny weather, yesterday began fresher,windy,and cloudy.These conditions lasted all day so the prospect of seeing any butterflies in my local wood seemed to be limited.Thankfully the temperature was up at around 20C so activity was moderate despite the lack of sunshine.Marbled White numbers have increased dramatically since last week as too Meadow Brown and Ringlet.I was very pleased to see several White Admiral and also a first sight this season of Small Skipper.
Tuesday 20 June 2017
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
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
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
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
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
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.