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 30th September

A quiet weekend, with cool cloudy weather and scattered showers, and just a single butterfly seen - a Red Admiral disturbed while walking along a track in a shady part of Stansted Forest.

Sunday 23rd September

As I headed westward towards Ballard Down this afternoon the weather deteriorated, and by the time I arrived it was cool, breezy and overcast, with a distinct threat of rain. The number of species seen was therefore quite surprising - 4 third brood male Wall Browns, 32 Speckled Woods, 6 Meadow Browns, 4 Small Heaths, 1 Small Copper, 1 Brown Argus, 2 male Adonis Blues, 2 female Common Blues, 2 Red Admirals, 2 Peacocks, and 4 fresh Commas feeding at fermenting blackberries.

Saturday 22nd September

I spent a couple of hours early this afternoon at Stansted Forest. The UK butterfly season is drawing to a close, and the weather was overcast, so butterflies were only present in very low numbers - just 2 faded Speckled Woods, 1 Small White, 2 fresh Red Admirals, and a Peacock.

Sunday 16th September

Early this afternoon I spent an hour at Stockbridge Down, where I counted 167 Meadow Browns, 11 Small Heaths, 9 Small Coppers, 3 Common Blues including 1 fresh male, and 2 male Brimstones.
Also seen - a fully grown pre-hibernation Fox moth larva.

Saturday 15th September

What a difference a day makes !  Or does it ?  Today I decided to do a repeat of yesterday's trips to two local sites - Stansted Forest and Old Winchester Hill. Despite warm sunny conditions at Stansted, the butterfly count was very similar to yesterday -  15 Speckled Woods, 2 Small Whites and 1 Large White, plus 3 Vapourer moths and a Pale Tussock moth larva.  At Old Winchester Hill the warm sunshine had a more profound effect on butterfly numbers - I saw an estimated 350 Meadow Browns including 4 mating pairs, plus 15 Small Heaths, 1 Speckled Wood, 1 very worn Essex Skipper, 16 Silver-spotted Skippers including 2 fresh females, 2 male Adonis Blues, 1 very worn male Chalkhill Blue, 3 female Common Blues, 1 Small Copper, 7 freshly emerged Red Admirals, 1 Painted Lady, 2 Peacocks, 4 Large Whites, 3 Small Whites, 1 Green-veined White, 5 Brimstones, and a minimum of 5 Clouded Yellows, each relentlessly patrolling it's own particular patch.  It was interesting to note how today's sightings at OWH compared with the numbers seen when I visited the site on 17th September last year - on that occasion I saw over 80 Small Heaths and no less than 70 Small Coppers - what a difference a year makes !  Getting back to today's sightings at OWH, I also saw a fully grown larva of Small Elephant Hawkmoth. Back at home this afternoon, I added a ( 3rd brood ? ) female Holly Blue in my garden at Havant, plus 3 Speckled Woods, and periodic visits from passing Small and Large Whites.

Friday 14th September

There was a definite feel of autumn this morning at Stansted Forest, reflected in the low number of butterflies seen - 9 Speckled Woods, 2 Meadow Browns, 4 Large Whites, 2 Small Whites, and a single Red Admiral. In the afternoon I spent a couple of hours at Old Winchester Hill, where in overcast and humid conditions butterflies were generally inactive. Nevertheless I saw between 250-300 Meadow Browns, 4 fresh Small Heaths, 1 Speckled Wood, 2 Large Whites, 3 Clouded Yellows including a fresh male, 1 very worn male Chalkhill Blue, a pair of copulating Adonis Blues, and 11 Silver-spotted Skippers.

Sunday 9th September

Today I spent about 2 hours walking the dog in Stansted Forest and saw 1 Large White, 1 Small White, 3 freshly emerged ( 3rd brood ? ) Green-veined Whites, 1 Comma, 1 fresh Small Copper, 1 female Common Blue, and 23 Speckled Woods. There is no sign yet of the mass influx of Red Admirals which were a characteristic of this site in autumn 2006, and no sign of any Meadow Browns, which seem to have ended the season early here.

Saturday 8th September

In warm sunny conditions at Ballard Down today I saw a minimum of 6 Clouded Yellows, 4 Large Whites, 6 Small Whites, 1 Green-veined White, 10 worn Small Coppers, 5 Brown Argus ( one of which was freshly emerged ), 12 Common Blues, 15 Adonis Blues ( including a mating pair ), 3 Peacocks, 4 Red Admirals, 3 Commas, 2 Painted Ladies ( both under-sized specimens, undoubtedly UK bred ), 12 Small Heaths, 2 Wall Browns, 5 Speckled Woods, 3 Gatekeepers, about 35 Meadow Browns, and a single faded Lulworth Skipper. In cloudy conditions late in the afternoon at Stockbridge Down, when most butterflies had gone to roost, I saw about 50 Meadow Browns, 4 Small Heaths, and a Chalkhill Blue.

Sunday 3rd September

Since returning from Peru most of my spare time has been spent working on the Amazon and Andes photo galleries, writing the trip report, and making a start collating the species lists, all of which should appear on the website before the end of September. I did however find time today to visit Noar Hill, where I saw 7 Speckled Woods, 5 Small Heaths, about 40 Meadow Browns, 1 Large White, 3 Small Whites, 1 Brimstone, 1 Red Admiral, 1 Clouded Yellow and 1 Brown Hairstreak.

Wednesday 29th August

I returned today from an 18 day trip to Peru, where I visited the cloudforests of the Manu Biosphere Reserve, and the rainforests along the Rio Alto Madre de Dios. a Trip report will be posted on the website shortly, complete with a full species list and photographs of some of the more dramatic or interesting species.....

Friday 10th August

At Stansted Forest this morning, in warm sunny conditions, I saw 3 Small Whites, 2 freshly emerged Green-veined Whites, 1 fresh Small Copper, 3 Common Blues, 1 female Holly Blue, 1 Red Admiral, 2 Peacocks, 2 Commas, 4 very worn Silver-washed Fritillaries, 18 Speckled Woods, 7 Meadow Browns, and 23 very faded Gatekeepers. I also received news that yesterday, at Noar Hill, a pair of mating Duke of Burgundy were observed.

Sunday 5th August

At Noar Hill today I saw 2nd brood specimens of 2 species that are normally single brooded. First to appear was a Dingy Skipper. A few minutes later I saw a freshly emerged male Duke of Burgundy which perched for several minutes on a burnet saxifrage flower-head. Despite the appearance of these second brood insects, butterflies were generally very scarce, hardly surprising after the cool and very wet summer which resulted in very low survival rates of larvae and pupae of all species.
I would estimate that butterfly populations at Noar Hill have this year been reduced to less than 10 percent of normal levels - just 3 Brown Argus, 4 Common Blues, 1 Purple Hairstreak seen flying around the top of an oak, 4 Peacocks, 1 Red Admiral, 2 very worn Silver-washed Fritillaries, 1 Comma, 1 Small Heath, about 50 Gatekeepers ( mostly females ), 80 Meadow Browns ( including a mating pair ), 4 very faded Small Skippers, 1 confirmed Essex Skipper, 5 Brimstones, 4 Small Whites, 1 Large White, 1 Green-veined White, and a single female Brown Hairstreak seen ovipositing on a shady blackthorn bush.

Saturday 4th August

Another warm sunny day ! This morning, while walking my dog in Stansted Forest, I saw 1 Peacock,
1 Red Admiral, 1 Silver-washed Fritillary, about 60 Gatekeepers, 40+ Meadow Browns, and 8 freshly emerged Speckled Woods. Later, I visited Stockbridge Down, where I saw at least 40 Brimstones, nectaring mainly at wild basil and knapweed flowers. Chalkhill Blues were still in good numbers, an estimated 500, plus about 200 Meadow Browns, 160 Gatekeepers, 2 Small Heaths, 2 Small Coppers, 3 Common Blues, 2 Peacocks, 4 Large Whites, 6 Small Whites, a handful of Small / Essex Skippers, and very battered singletons of Large Skipper, Dark Green Fritillary, and Silver-washed Fritillary - the latter seen nectaring at rosebay willowherb, a most unusual nectar source. Back home at Havant there was a Comma and a Holly Blue in the garden, making a total of 19 species for the day.

Friday 3rd August

At Broughton Down this morning there were about 30 Silver-spotted Skippers ( all males ) flying in the warm sunshine. Other species included about 15 Chalkhill Blues, 15 Brown Argus, 2 Peacocks, 8 Brimstones and large numbers of the Pyralid moth Microstega hyalinalis. In the afternoon I visited Noar Hill, where butterfly numbers were extremely low despite the warm sunshine - just 3 Peacocks, 8 Brimstones, 12 worn Small Whites, 1 Comma, 1 Silver-washed Fritillary, 1 Holly Blue, 12 Common Blues, 2 Brown Argus, 1 Speckled Wood, 1 Small Heath, about 40 Meadow Browns, 15 Gatekeepers, and about a dozen very worn Small Skippers.




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