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.  



Wednesday 7 August 2019

On Mottistone Down.

Today's visit to Mottistone Down in search of downland butterflies was somewhat marred by a very brisk wind.Still,the sun was shining and at this time of the year temperatures are pleasant.Luckily there are sunny sheltered spots where butterflies seem to congregate and a good number of Chalk-hill Blue,Common Blue,Brown Argus,Gatekeeper,Meadow Brown,and Wall Brown were seen.Inevitably several Painted Lady were also in evidence. However, in order to see one particular butterfly species I had to search the part of the Down known as the Common. This is the exposed open area of the Down consisiting of bracken and heather.Here the Grayling prefers to stay and is normally found on any bare patches of ground of chalk or old heather. 
Mottistone Down looks out over the Isle of Wights' south-west coast.The Down is a Site of Scientific Interest covering 78 acres and most of the area is owned by the National Trust.It is biologically important due to its chalk and neutral grasslands.

Saturday 3 August 2019

Painted Lady Invasion Pays Dividends.

I could not ignore the well publicised influx of Painted Ladies to our shores since May.Now at the start of August, many newly emerged offspring are gracing our gardens and countryside with at least one sighting of this beautiful butterfly every time one is out and about.With the buddleia in full bloom it is a magnet for Painted Ladies as well as other summer species.The plant in our garden has attracted at least four Painted Ladies at any one time since yesterday, along with Red Admiral,Comma,and Peacock.

Saturday 13 July 2019

A Good Time for the Skippers.

The summer species are now at their most prolific and the Small Skipper is no exception.The first image below shows a female  while the other photos are of a male.Arguably the best way to tell the Small from the Essex Skipper are the tips of the antennae,rounded and all black for the latter while they are more pointed and mainly brown in the Small Skipper.

Tuesday 2 July 2019

Along Flowery Woodland Rides.

Yesterday in Bouldnor Forest there were times when the rides seemed to come alive with butterflies.Especially so when walking through a mass of wild flowers as summer butterflies flitted all around.Abundant was the Silver-washed Fritillary nectaring on bramble flower, so to White Admiral.In the long grass the Small Skipper is now numerous and Marbled White numbers are increasing rapidly.One or two Gatekeepers are also to be seen with legions of Meadow Brown and Ringlet.
In the forest are Dark-green Fritillary which seem to particularly common this year.Find a giant thistle and it will not be long before this butterfly stops by.