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

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.

Saturday 7th July

Butterflies across Britain have been decimated by the recent wet and blustery weather, and most of the survivors are looking very weather beaten. At Straits Inclosure today, in warm, sunny and fairly calm conditions I saw 3 Purple Emperor's, 14 Purple Hairstreaks, about 30 White Admirals including an ovipositing female, a Comma, 3 Red Admirals, about 35 Silver-washed Fritillaries, 30 Large Skippers, 15 Small Skippers, 40 Ringlets and 50 Meadow Browns.


Wednesday 4th July

This morning at Bentley Wood, despite cool overcast weather and frequent showers, I saw about 60 Silver-washed Fritillaries ( mostly weather-beaten males ), 1 Dark Green Fritillary, 4 White Admirals, 4 Red Admirals, 1 Comma, 1 Purple Emperor, about 50 Large Skippers, 40 Small Skippers, 2 Small Whites, a Large White, at least 150 Ringlets, 90 Meadow Browns, 6 Gatekeepers, 50 Marbled Whites, 1 Purple Hairstreak and up to 5 White-letter Hairstreaks glimpsed at the top of wych elms. In the afternoon I briefly visited Hawkhill in the New Forest, where I saw about 20 Silver-studded Blues,  about 10 Large Skippers, and a fresh Small Heath. I also visited Magdalen Hill Down, and in similar weather conditions saw 3 fresh Chalkhill Blues, 15 Marbled Whites, 30 Meadow Browns, 4 Ringlets, a Small Copper, 2 Red Admirals and 3 Gatekeepers.

Monday 2nd July

I spent much of this afternoon sheltering from the rain beneath trees in Stansted Forest, but during a dry and bright spell saw 4 Gatekeepers, 25 Meadow Browns, 15 Ringlets, 18 Marbled Whites, 3 Red Admirals, a fresh Holly Blue, a hutchinsoni Comma, 5 Silver-washed Fritillaries, a White Admiral, 2 Large Whites, 20 Small Skippers, and 4 worn Large Skippers.

Sunday 1st July

During a very brief spell of sunshine this afternoon I saw a Red Admiral and 2 Speckled Woods in my garden at Bedhampton. Unfortunately the weather system that has remained fixed over Britain, bringing heavy rain and extensive flooding for the past week, has made a mockery of predictions that late June would see a mass emergence of butterflies. There have nevertheless been a few sightings of White-letter Hairstreak, Purple Hairstreak, and Purple Emperor reported. The most exciting news lately however was of fresh Large Tortoiseshells reported from 3 widely separated sites in southern Hampshire.


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