- 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.
Sunday 30th December 2007
Another sunny morning at Stansted Forest allowed me to see
what will almost certainly be my last butterfly sightings
of 2007 - 2 Red Admirals and a Comma, all basking on tree
trunks in a sheltered plantation. These represent my
latest ever sightings for both species. All three were
worn specimens, and one of the Red Admirals had a large
bird-peck out of one hindwing.
Saturday 29th December
Despite mild sunny conditions today, a 2 hour walk
exploring the usual butterfly haunts at Stansted Forest
produced only one sighting - a Red Admiral flying in a
small sheltered glade within a mature stand of pine trees.
Although a few Red Admirals have been able to get through
the recent frosts, it is clear that survival levels this
winter have been very low in comparison with the amazing
numbers seen last winter.
Sunday 23rd December
So much for yesterday's pessimism ! Today, in mild and
sunny conditions at Stansted Forest I saw 2 Red Admirals,
both basking on tree trunks in one of the larch
plantations. Proof that this species can survive at least
6 consecutive nights of severe ( minus 3°C ) frost.
Saturday 22nd December
Mid-winter is here, and it would be nice to be able to report some
butterfly sightings, but unlike last year when the weather was
very mild and Red Admirals were a common sight, this year we are
experiencing a lot of rain, and recently some severe frosts.
Spending most of my time indoors however has the benefit of giving
me a lot of time to work on the website, so please re-explore
pages that you've previously visited to see the many additional
photographs and extended species accounts. Many of the other
sections ( taxonomy, anatomy, survival strategies, trip reports,
and especially the Amazon and Andes galleries ) have been much
expanded, so if you get stuck for something to do during the
Christmas / New Year holidays, I hope you find something
interesting here to occupy you.
Sunday 2nd December
Unfortunately a combination of poor weather and influenza have
prevented me from getting out to look for butterflies, so the only
lepidopteran I've seen in the last 2 weeks was a Mottled Umber
moth attracted to a house light. It was a male - the females are
wingless and spend their lives sitting on tree trunks in cold
weather, waiting for a mate to arrive !
Thursday 15th November
received confirmation today from Gerardo Lamas in Peru, that 2
photographs of Satyrines that I sent to him for analysis have
proven to be undescribed species ( i.e. new to science ). One is
an unknown species of
the other an unknown species of
Both species were photographed in rainforest in Manu Biosphere
Reserve, Peru, on my trip in August.
Friday 9th November
foliage, a chilly wind, and fluffy white clouds scudding across a
blue sky signalled the arrival of late autumn at Stansted Forest
today. Although the temperature was only 8°C, I saw a minimum of 12 Red Admirals,
some in flight, but mostly basking amongst leaf
litter in areas sheltered from the wind. These of course only
represented a very small proportion of the butterflies present -
the forest covers an area of about 400 hectares, and I'd estimate
that at least 150 Red Admirals were present today over this area.
The only other species seen was a Speckled Wood, nectaring at ivy
Sunday 4th November
ivy blossom at Stansted Forest was humming with bees in today's
warm sunshine, but seems to have lost it's attraction for
butterflies - I counted 15 Red Admirals today, but only one was
nectaring at ivy, the remainder all being seen basking on larch
trunks, or on hazel leaves. I also saw 2 Speckled Woods - a late
sighting, my latest for this species being 13th November 2002.
Friday 26th October
Despite cool and very dull conditions today I saw 2 Red Admirals
basking on leaf litter in Stansted Forest. Those of you who are
following progress on the identification of the mystery Riodinid
from Peru might like to know that Jason Hall and Curtis Callaghan
have concluded that it is a particularly bright form of
poliotactis, although this ID is still disputed by at least
one eminent authority.
Sunday 21st October
morning I visited Old Winchester Hill, where a solitary Meadow
Brown was flying at the bottom of a hill. On the ramparts I saw 2
Red Admirals in flight, and another 4 were seen along roadsides at
East Meon, Blendworth, Chalton and Dean Lane End. Encouraged by
these sightings, in the afternoon I revisited Stansted Forest,
where I counted a total of 17 Red Admirals. Most were nectaring at
ivy in the larch plantations - others were seen basking on foliage
or on tree trunks. Also at Stansted were 2 Speckled Woods and a
Saturday 20th October
walking with my dog in Stansted Forest at midday, I disturbed saw
2 Red Admirals which had been basking on leaf litter in a sunny
glade. I searched several locations in the wood, hoping to find
others nectaring at the ivy flowers. Most produced nil counts, but
on one particular larch tree there were at least 5 Red Admirals
nectaring on the ivy blossom. Also at Stansted, I saw a Comma in
flight, and 2 worn Speckled Woods.
Sunday 14th October
a week of damp and generally dull weather I visited Stansted
Forest yesterday afternoon in heavily overcast conditions, and it will
come as no surprise to learn that butterfly sightings were nil.
Today however, in hazy sunshine at Trotton Common I saw a Red
Admiral flying around a clump of Scots pines, and a Vapourer moth
flying across the heath.
Back at home I have added several more photographs and species
descriptions to the
the Andes pages, and updated the
F.A.Q. page and
Sunday 7th October
last night's chilly weather I expected to see very few
butterflies, but a visit to Stockbridge Down in lightly overcast
conditions produced a Speckled Wood, and no less than 18 Meadow
Browns. The latter were found in two widely separated areas - 5
females basking in a glade amongst marjoram, plus 12 females and a
fresh male disturbed from long grass along a hedgerow.
Saturday 6th October
Yesterday at Waterlooville I saw a Red Admiral flying in the
mid-afternoon sunshine, but an hour long walk in Havant Thicket
early this afternoon produced just a single Speckled Wood.