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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.
 
2008
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March
 

Sunday 30th March

After what seemed like an eternity, spring finally arrived in southern England this morning. The winds dropped, the sun came out, and butterflies took to the wing in excellent numbers. First sighting was of 4 male Brimstones flying along the motorway embankment near Eastleigh. Interestingly they were all flying westward, against the prevailing breeze. I spent the afternoon at Crab Wood, where I had at least 25 further Brimstone sightings, although with such a conspicuous and highly mobile species you can never be sure if you have counted the same insect twice. All except one were males, actively searching for females. At least one succeeded, as seen in the photograph below. Other species seen included 3 Peacocks, 2 Red Admirals and at least 6 Commas. The latter all appeared to be males, each having set up a territory which was defended against all other intruding butterflies.

 

Monday 24th March

Easter weekend proved to be generally cold and windy, with spells of sleet or heavy rain and the odd short-lived sunny spell. Butterflies unsurprisingly were reluctant to come out of hibernation !  Amidst these wintery conditions it is difficult to imagine that Orange tips, Speckled Woods and Green-veined Whites will be emerging soon, and that spring woodlands filled with flowers will soon come alive with Peacocks, Commas and Brimstones, but theoretically we only have about 3 weeks to wait !
 

Saturday 15th March

Sallow catkins, wild strawberry, dog violet and the first bluebells of the season were flowering today, brightening up a rainy afternoon in Stansted Forest. Hawthorn, bramble, honeysuckle, larch and hazel are all now producing fresh foliage. No butterflies to be seen, but not long to wait until the first warm sunny days of spring !
 

Sunday 9th March

A 3 hour walk around Stansted Forest in mixed weather conditions - everything from warm sunshine to sleet and hail - failed to produce any butterfly sightings. The low numbers are probably attributable to poor breeding success in summer 2007, rather than to harsh winter conditions - compare the poor winter 2007-2008 counts to the spectacular numbers seen during the previous winter - see Red Admiral at Stansted Forest.
 

Sunday 2nd March

I've had no butterfly sightings since 9th February, but at Southleigh Forest today there were plenty of signs that spring is not far away, with primroses, celandines, snowdrops, daisies, dandelion, hazel catkins, blackthorn, gorse and wild daffodils in flower.
 

 

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