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.

Monday 10 April 2017

First Green Hairstreak.

With the very warm temperatures of the last few days I would have expected the first  new spring butterflies to appear sooner at Whiteways Quarry(Afton Down Chalkpit).However it was not until today that a Green Hairstreak was seen and I expect that it will now be closely followed  by this unique sites other gems.


Sunday 9 April 2017

Getting Ready.

The Glanville Fritillary caterpillars will soon be ready to disperse and pupate.Their flying season could be just three weeks away.Many of the larva that I saw yesterday are in the sixth instar and these larger larvae can be seen merrily munching on plantain leaves.However some caterpillars have not reached that final stage and are still seeking the safety of their webs.Some webs also show signs of their development with discarded  moult skins.

Web with discarded larval skins

Thursday 6 April 2017

Speckled Woods & Peacocks On Show.

It was a lovely sunny spring afternoon although the butterflies did not seem to be much in evidence during my walk in Walters Copse at Newtown.Still,at least six Speckled Wood had claimed several sun dappled  spots in the wood and I had a glimpse of a Small/Green-veined White as it flew along a ride as I entered the Copse.
The Peacock seems to be very abundant this year and they are a regular sight here.Male Peacock butterflies set up their territories on the ground often in a sunny location at the end of a woodland ride and I came across one such spot in the copse today.The male(pictured below on the left of the photo) had attracted a female and he was gently opening and closing his wings in a courtship ritual while edging as close as possible to her.An example of this behaviour can been seen HERE The display abruptly ended when she flew off into the high branches of a nearby tree swiftly followed by the male.In contrast to the prevalence of the Peacock,the Red Admiral is a rare sight at the moment so I was glad to have a single sighting.Another all too brief sighting was a Holly Blue flying busily along a sunny track.

Monday 3 April 2017

New Spring Butterflies.

Spring has now arrived and several newly emerged species are to be seen on the wing.It is always a treat to see the first Orange Tip and at Wheelers Bay today a male was busily feeding on the flowers of the many Honesty plants that grow in any sheltered sunny spot.Another new species here was a male Holly Blue which occasionally stopped its brakeneck flight to nectar on any blooms.
Back at home a female Large White visited my garden to feed on the abundant flowers of our Berberis.This shrub is always a magnet for the bumblebees and also it seems, for this hungry White.