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 20th May

At Magdalen Hill Down this morning the most abundant butterfly was Brown Argus, of which I saw about 20 worn individuals. Other species seen included a Red Admiral, a female Orange tip, 2 Grizzled Skippers, a Green Hairstreak, about a dozen Common Blues, 2 Grizzled Skippers, 2 Brimstones, and 10 fresh Small Heaths. In the afternoon I briefly visited a coppiced woodland near Stockbridge, where I saw a minimum of 12 Duke of Burgundy, mostly nectaring at wood spurge. Also a male Orange tip, 2 Brimstones, 2 Green-veined Whites and a Peacock.

Saturday 19th May

This afternoon at Tugley Wood there were very few butterflies to be seen - just 7 Brimstones, 2 very worn Speckled Woods, a Small Heath, a Green Hairstreak, a Wood White at roost on bugle, and a single female Large Skipper - my first of the year.

Friday 18th May

Windy and overcast conditions at Ballard Down minimised butterfly sightings this afternoon. I saw 2 very worn Wall Browns, 6 freshly emerged Speckled Woods, 2 Red Admirals, about 15 Adonis Blues, 20 Common Blues including some very blue females, 10 worn Brown Argus, a Small Copper, a Green Hairstreak, 3 Green-veined Whites, 2 Large Whites, and 2 Dingy Skippers. Biggest surprise however was a male Lulworth Skipper seen in a sheltered coombe. The butterfly was slightly worn, and probably emerged about a week ago - a full 2 months ahead of the normal emergence time.

Thursday 17th May

I had a fairly unsuccessful day at Martin Down yesterday, finding only a couple of roosting Grizzled Skippers, a battered Adonis Blue, 4 roosting Common Blues, and a Small Copper. This afternoon at Portsdown Hill however overcast weather interspersed with spells of warm sunshine was enough to produce 11 species. At the bottom of Paulsgrove chalk quarry I found about 25 Small Blues, including 2 or 3 fresh females. On the higher slopes I saw about 20 female Holly Blues flying around dogwood bushes, about 15 Common Blues, 2 Brown Argus, a Green Hairstreak, a Small Copper, 2 Speckled Woods, 12 Large Whites, 4 Small Whites, 3 fresh Red Admirals, and about 15 Brimstones. The picture below shows a female Brimstone raising her abdomen as a rejection signal to the male.

Monday 14th May

Unperturbed by the damp and windy conditions I visited a woodland site in east Hampshire early this afternoon. Butterflies were difficult to find, but diligent searching produced 4 fresh Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, all found at roost on bracken fronds, rushes or dead flower-heads. I also visited a woodland inclosure near Brockenhurst in the New Forest in the late afternoon, by which time the sun had finally appeared, and saw 13 weather-beaten Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, a female Brimstone, a Dingy Skipper, a Speckled Wood, and an ancient Holly Blue seen nectaring at daisies.


Saturday 12th May

Although observable numbers of butterflies are always lower during poor weather, it's always worth making the effort to get out and explore the countryside. Today for example, despite cool and blustery conditions I was able to see 6 species at Stansted Forest - 2 Speckled Woods, a Large White, a Red Admiral, a Common Blue, 3 Green-veined Whites, and a male Orange tip. My impression is that the latter are less abundant than normal this year, possibly as a consequence of the long spell of cold wet weather during their 2006 flight season.

Saturday 5th May

I spent today on the Isle of Wight. At Wheeler's Bay I saw about 80 Glanville Fritillaries. Many were worn and had clearly been flying for several days, but I also found several males which were freshly emerged and still drying their wings. Other species seen included a Small Copper, a Clouded Yellow, 2 Dingy Skippers, 2 Small Whites, a Large White and about a dozen Common Blues. I also visited a chine on the south-west coast, where I saw about a dozen Glanville Fritillaries, 3 male Wall Browns, 4 Common Blues, and a Small Heath.


Friday 4th May

This afternoon at Stansted Forest I saw 7 fresh Speckled Woods, 4 Holly Blues, a Small Copper, 2 Brimstones, and 2 male Large Whites. I also saw 6 very active and utterly pristine Red Admirals - almost certainly the progeny of those which were seen flying throughout the winter months at Stansted. Moths seen included several Speckled Yellows, a Brown Silver-line, 2 Silver Y's, and a Peacock moth.


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