Butterfly Diary - field notes by Adrian Hoskins
my earliest sightings of each brood are highlighted in bold type
Sightings policy - details of certain sites where visitor pressure or trampling may pose a threat to butterflies or alienate landowners are excluded from these pages.
Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jly | Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec

Wednesday 29th August

I returned today from an 18 day trip to Peru, where I visited the cloudforests of the Manu Biosphere Reserve, and the rainforests along the Rio Alto Madre de Dios. a Trip report will be posted on the website shortly, complete with a full species list and photographs of some of the more dramatic or interesting species.....

Friday 10th August

At Stansted Forest this morning, in warm sunny conditions, I saw 3 Small Whites, 2 freshly emerged Green-veined Whites, 1 fresh Small Copper, 3 Common Blues, 1 female Holly Blue, 1 Red Admiral, 2 Peacocks, 2 Commas, 4 very worn Silver-washed Fritillaries, 18 Speckled Woods, 7 Meadow Browns, and 23 very faded Gatekeepers. I also received news that yesterday, at Noar Hill, a pair of mating Duke of Burgundy were observed.

Sunday 5th August

At Noar Hill today I saw 2nd brood specimens of 2 species that are normally single brooded. First to appear was a Dingy Skipper. A few minutes later I saw a freshly emerged male Duke of Burgundy which perched for several minutes on a burnet saxifrage flower-head. Despite the appearance of these second brood insects, butterflies were generally very scarce, hardly surprising after the cool and very wet summer which resulted in very low survival rates of larvae and pupae of all species.
I would estimate that butterfly populations at Noar Hill have this year been reduced to less than 10 percent of normal levels - just 3 Brown Argus, 4 Common Blues, 1 Purple Hairstreak seen flying around the top of an oak, 4 Peacocks, 1 Red Admiral, 2 very worn Silver-washed Fritillaries, 1 Comma, 1 Small Heath, about 50 Gatekeepers ( mostly females ), 80 Meadow Browns ( including a mating pair ), 4 very faded Small Skippers, 1 confirmed Essex Skipper, 5 Brimstones, 4 Small Whites, 1 Large White, 1 Green-veined White, and a single female Brown Hairstreak seen ovipositing on a shady blackthorn bush.

Saturday 4th August

Another warm sunny day ! This morning, while walking my dog in Stansted Forest, I saw 1 Peacock,
1 Red Admiral, 1 Silver-washed Fritillary, about 60 Gatekeepers, 40+ Meadow Browns, and 8 freshly emerged Speckled Woods. Later, I visited Stockbridge Down, where I saw at least 40 Brimstones, nectaring mainly at wild basil and knapweed flowers. Chalkhill Blues were still in good numbers, an estimated 500, plus about 200 Meadow Browns, 160 Gatekeepers, 2 Small Heaths, 2 Small Coppers, 3 Common Blues, 2 Peacocks, 4 Large Whites, 6 Small Whites, a handful of Small / Essex Skippers, and very battered singletons of Large Skipper, Dark Green Fritillary, and Silver-washed Fritillary - the latter seen nectaring at rosebay willowherb, a most unusual nectar source. Back home at Havant there was a Comma and a Holly Blue in the garden, making a total of 19 species for the day.

Friday 3rd August

At Broughton Down this morning there were about 30 Silver-spotted Skippers ( all males ) flying in the warm sunshine. Other species included about 15 Chalkhill Blues, 15 Brown Argus, 2 Peacocks, 8 Brimstones and large numbers of the Pyralid moth Microstega hyalinalis. In the afternoon I visited Noar Hill, where butterfly numbers were extremely low despite the warm sunshine - just 3 Peacocks, 8 Brimstones, 12 worn Small Whites, 1 Comma, 1 Silver-washed Fritillary, 1 Holly Blue, 12 Common Blues, 2 Brown Argus, 1 Speckled Wood, 1 Small Heath, about 40 Meadow Browns, 15 Gatekeepers, and about a dozen very worn Small Skippers.

Sunday 29th July

A disappointing morning in cloudy conditions at Broughton Down failed to produce any sightings of Silver-spotted Skippers, in fact all butterflies were very scarce - just 15 Meadow Browns, 1 Small Heath, 12 Gatekeepers, 5 Brimstones, 1 Small White, 2 Red Admirals, 12 Chalkhill Blues, 4 Brown Argus, 1 Holly Blue, and a couple of Small Skippers. Stockbridge Down was more productive in the afternoon, with about 30 Meadow Browns, 40 Gatekeepers, 1 Small Heath, 5 Peacocks, 2 Commas, 4 Red Admirals, 3 Dark Green Fritillaries, 1 Silver-washed Fritillary, 6 Small Coppers, 1 Common Blue, a minimum of 400 Chalkhill Blues, 2 Essex Skippers and 4 Small Skippers.

Saturday 28th July

A warm but breezy day. At Ballard Down this morning I saw 7 Lulworth Skippers ( all males ), 4 Small Skippers, 8 Dingy Skippers, 3 Clouded Yellows, 3 Large Whites, 2 Small Whites, 1 Small Copper, 12 Brown Argus, 4 Common Blues, about 30 male Adonis Blues, 2 Holly Blues, 11 Red Admirals, 18 fresh Peacocks, 2 Commas, 5 very worn Dark Green Fritillaries, 14 Speckled Woods, 2 Wall Browns, 8 Marbled Whites, 120+ Gatekeepers, 80+ Meadow Browns, and a Grayling. In the afternoon, in generally cloudy conditions at Wareham Heath, I saw 8 Gatekeepers, 2 Meadow Browns, 1 Peacock, 2 Holly Blues, and 7 Graylings.

Sunday 22nd July

Although I saw a total of 26 butterfly species at the 3 chalk grassland sites I visited today, numbers were very low. In the morning, in cloudy and damp conditions at Broughton Down, I saw 14 Small Skippers, 2 Essex Skippers, 2 Silver-spotted Skippers, 1 Large Skipper, 8 Large Whites, 2 Small Whites, 15 Chalkhill Blues, 1 fresh Holly Blue, 2 Red Admirals, 1 Painted Lady, 4 Peacocks, 2 Dark Green Fritillaries, 12 Gatekeepers, 20 Meadow Browns, 1 Small Heath, 1 Ringlet and 2 Scarlet Tiger moths.
A brief visit to Dean Hill in sunny conditions at midday produced 6 Small Skippers, 1 Essex Skipper, 1 Large Skipper, 1 Brimstone, 1 Large White, 2 Small Whites, 12 Dark Green Fritillaries, 20 Marbled Whites, 30 Gatekeepers and 25 Meadow Browns.
Finally, at Ballard Down I searched in vain for Lulworth Skippers, but succeeded in finding 6 second brood Dingy Skippers, 6 Small Skippers, 1 Large Skipper,  4 Small Whites, 1 Small Copper, 7 Brown Argus, 2 Common Blues, 2 Chalkhill Blues, a single fresh male Adonis Blue, 6 Red Admirals, 9 fresh Peacocks, 15 Commas, 4 Speckled Woods, 5 or 6 Wall Browns, 10 Marbled Whites, 22 Gatekeepers and 15 Meadow Browns.

Saturday 21st July

Here in Britain we are experiencing the wettest summer on record. Wave after wave of rainstorms sweep in from the Atlantic, causing widespread flooding. It is hardly surprising then that butterfly populations are at a very low level - even normally abundant species such as the Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper are scarce, while those like the Grayling, which prefer dry, arid and sunny conditions, are virtually absent. Weather forecasters tell us that things should improve in August, in time for Silver-spotted Skippers, Lulworth Skippers, Adonis Blues, Wall Browns and Brown Hairstreaks, but at the moment all I am seeing are occasional specimens of Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Speckled Wood, Small White, Small Heath, and Comma during brief spells of brighter weather.

Saturday 14th July

This morning at Stockbridge Down I saw several hundred pristine Chalkhill Blues. Many were basking on low herbage, while others were nectaring on the flowers of thyme, wild basil and self heal. Other species seen included 10 Small Skippers, 14 Essex Skippers, 12 Large Skippers, 4 freshly emerged Brimstones, 2 Large Whites, 4 Small Whites, an extremely small Green-veined White ( the size of a Chalkhill Blue ), 12 Small Coppers, 1 Silver-washed Fritillary, 4 Dark Green Fritillaries, 4 Commas, 5 Red Admirals, 3 fresh Peacocks, about 150 Marbled Whites, 40+ Gatekeepers, 200+ Meadow Browns, 4 Small Heaths, and about 100 Ringlets. In the afternoon I paid a brief visit to Crab Wood, where I saw 3 White Admirals, about 30 Silver-washed Fritillaries, 2 Specked Woods and 20 Meadow Browns.


Sunday 8th July

At Farlington Marshes this afternoon, I saw 10 Essex Skippers, 3 Small Skippers, 2 freshly emerged Peacocks, 11 Red Admirals, 2 Commas, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, 80 Meadow Browns. 50 Gatekeepers, 2 Large Whites and 3 Small Whites.



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