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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.
 
2007
October-December
 
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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 3C ) 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

I 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 Taygetis, the other an unknown species of Cepheuptychia. Both species were photographed in rainforest in Manu Biosphere Reserve, Peru, on my trip in August.
 

Friday 9th November

Golden 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 8C, 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 blossom.
 

Sunday 4th November

The 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 Xenandra poliotactis, although this ID is still disputed by at least one eminent authority.
 

Sunday 21st October

This 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 Comma.
 

Saturday 20th October

While 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

After 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 Butterflies of the Andes pages, and updated the F.A.Q. page and Species Index.
 

Sunday 7th October

After 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.

 

 

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