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

Saturday 23rd June

Overcast and showery conditions today minimised butterfly sightings, but at Bentley Wood I saw about 30 Silver-washed Fritillaries ( mostly males ), 3 Red Admirals, 2 Commas, a White Admiral, a Large White, 2 Small Skippers, 20 Large Skippers, 10 Ringlets, 20 Meadow Browns and 7 Marbled Whites. Later, at Martin Down I saw 40 male Dark Green Fritillaries ( and 2 females ), 40 Marbled Whites, a migrant Painted Lady, a Small White, 2 female Common Blues, 15 Small Skippers, 20 Large Skippers, 25 Meadow Browns, 12 Small Heaths, 2 Ringlets, 2 fresh Small Coppers, and over 100 Chimney Sweeper moths.

Sunday 17th June

Today I visited a site in south-west England to see Britain's rarest butterfly, the Large Blue. Despite overcast conditions over 60 adults were flying. I was able to watch the females ovipositing on thyme flowers, and saw two individuals oviposit on self-heal. Small Tortoiseshells were also abundant, with at least 20 seen. Other species included 6 migrant Painted Ladies, 3 Common Blues, 30 Meadow Browns, 5 Small Whites, and 8 fresh Small Heaths.


Saturday 16th June

This morning, in showery conditions at Stansted Forest, I saw 30 Meadow Browns, a Speckled Wood, 5 fresh Marbled Whites, 3 Ringlets, 6 female Large Skippers, a Small Skipper, 2 Small Whites, 2 Red Admirals, and my first White Admiral of the year. In the afternoon the weather improved and I visited Alice Holt Forest. There I saw 35 Meadow Browns, 4 Ringlets, 24 Large Skippers, 6 very worn Commas, 4 Red Admirals, 28 fresh White Admirals, and 4 Silver-washed Fritillaries including a female which raised her abdomen to signal a male that she had already mated. Around one small oak tree I watched a group of 7 White Admirals flying in and out of the foliage. They often settled to feed at acorn buds, and were also seen nectaring at bramble and dog rose.
Reports from other observers indicate that Silver-studded Blues and Dark Green Fritillaries are now approaching the peak of their flight season, while Gatekeepers and Purple Hairstreaks are just beginning to emerge. There has also been a confirmed sighting of Queen of Spain Fritillary on Old Winchester Hill.

Sunday 10th June

I spent today in Kent, visiting a coppiced woodland where I saw about 40 fresh Heath Fritillaries in one small glade which was carpeted with the larval foodplant cow wheat. I also checked out several other recently coppiced glades but these were virtually devoid of cow wheat, and unsurprisingly also devoid of Heath Fritillaries. The only other species seen was a female Holly Blue. Later in the day I visited another nearby wood, where I counted another 30 Heath Fritillaries at a flowery ride intersection, and also saw 4 female Common Blues, and 3 migrant Painted Ladies.


Saturday 9th June

At Glapthorn Cow Pastures today I saw the first Black Hairstreaks of the year - one seen in flight around the top of a blackthorn bush, and another seen nectaring at bramble at another part of the site. Other species seen included 3 worn Green-veined Whites, a Brimstone, 6 Speckled Woods, 8 Meadow Browns and about a dozen Large Skippers. Later I visited Finemere Wood, where I failed to find further Black Hairstreaks, but saw 4 Green-veined Whites, a Brimstone, a Small White, 2 Small Tortoiseshells, a Peacock, a Comma, a Red Admiral, a migrant Painted Lady, about 30 Large Skippers, a Small Skipper, 20 Meadow Browns, 8 fresh Speckled Woods, a Small Heath, 2 Brown Argus, and a Holly Blue. Reports also arrived today of Large Blues emerging at a private site in Somerset, Dark Green Fritillaries at Pitt Down, Marbled White at Portsdown Hill, and Heath Fritillaries in several Essex woods.


Sunday 3rd June

While walking my dog in Stansted Forest early this afternoon I saw a Red Admiral, 2 Green-veined Whites, a Small Copper, a female Holly Blue, 2 Meadow Browns, and about 15 Speckled Woods, one of which was ovipositing on Milium effusum growing in dappled sunlight amongst foxgloves. Most of the Speckled Woods were worn specimens, some with bird-pecked hindwings.


Saturday 2nd June

The long-awaited return of fine weather prompted me to visit Stockbridge Down this morning, where I saw a fresh Small Tortoiseshell, 2 Green Hairstreaks, 4 very worn Brown Argus, a Small Copper, 8 Small Heaths, 15 fresh male Meadow Browns ( all feeding at bramble blossom ), 2 Large Whites, a Green-veined White, a dozen Common Blues, a Peacock, a fresh Red Admiral, a Speckled Wood, a faded female Holly Blue, and about 20 Brimstones - mostly females nectaring at bramble or musk thistle.
In the afternoon I checked out the mainland colonies of Glanville Fritillary. I walked the entire length of the undercliff between Hordle Cliffs and Milton-on-Sea, and then returned via the cliff top, but found no sign of the butterfly ( although I did see a Wall Brown ). Later I visited Hurst Castle where there were at least a dozen Glanville Fritillaries flying in the vicinity of the lighthouse. I suspect that the colony will be short-lived however - the Hordle Cliff colony was almost certainly the progeny of a single female that found it's way across the Solent. The genetic diversity therefore was very limited, and after a couple of generations entropy would have weakened the stock, reducing it's viability. The Hurst Castle colony is also almost certainly the progeny of a single migrant female, and will probably meet the same fate.


Friday 1st June

Britain's notoriously variable climate never gets boring does it ? April was so hot and sunny that it felt like August, and all the butterflies emerged 3 weeks early. In contrast the cool wet weather of May was more representative of late March !  Now, as we enter June, many of the summer species are already in the pupal stage, and we can expect to see early emergences of Silver-studded Blues, Heath Fritillaries and probably even White Admirals and Silver-washed Fritillaries. Watch this space !


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