- field notes by Adrian Hoskins
sightings of each brood are highlighted in bold type
policy - details of certain sites where visitor pressure
or trampling may pose a threat to butterflies or alienate
landowners are excluded from these pages.
Diary page is normally updated at least once a week, but I will
not have access to a computer during the next 3 weeks, so please
bear with me during this period.
page will next be updated on 20th June, after which
my normal weekly updates will resume.
Sunday 23rd May
winds that brought cold weather to Britain during much of the
early Spring have now gone, and an area of high pressure is
currently centred on western Europe, bringing clear skies and warm
sunshine to the UK. The change in weather has stimulated a mass
emergence of butterflies, with reports of Common Blue, Small Blue,
Adonis Blue, Green Hairstreak, Grizzled Skipper, Dingy Skipper,
Small Copper, Small Heath, Small White and Pearl-bordered
Fritillary appearing in good numbers at their sites in Hampshire
temperature at Hod Hill in Dorset hit 25C at midday, making the
butterflies very jittery and almost impossible to photograph.
Marsh Fritillary numbers were the highest I've seen at this
site for several years, with well over 200 observed. Other species
seen included 1 Peacock, about 20 Grizzled Skippers, 100+ Dingy
Skippers, 2 Brimstones, 1 Green-veined White, 3 Orange tips, 2
Small Coppers, 1 Green Hairstreak, 15 Small Blues, 15 Common
Blues, 5 fresh male Adonis Blues, 20 fresh Brown Argus, 2 Speckled
Woods and at least 50 Small Heaths.
Late in the
afternoon we visited Cerne Abbas where we saw another 200 Marsh
Fritillaries including about 20 mating pairs; together with about
20 Dingy Skippers and 6 Grizzled Skippers.
Euphydryas aurinia, Cerne Abbas,
Friday 21st May
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries of the year were reported
today from Bentley Wood.
Monday 17th May
Clouded Yellow of the year was reported yesterday from Rye in
Sussex, and at least 25 pristine Adonis Blues were seen by a field
trip group at Mill Hill also in Sussex. Today, at Portsmouth in
Hampshire, 12 Holly Blues were reported, including several
egg-laying females. The beautiful moth illustrated below is a Lime
Hawkmoth, photographed in my garden.
Mimas tiliae, Hampshire
Saturday 15th May
Small Blues of the year were reported from Cocking in Sussex
today. Reports coming in from various sites in Hampshire and West
Sussex indicate that Pearl-bordered Fritillaries are now at the
peak of their flight period, as are Grizzled Skippers, Dingy
Skippers, Green Hairstreaks, Wood Whites and Duke of Burgundies.
Saturday 8th May
A dull cloudy day with light rain showers might not seem to be
ideal for butterfly watching, but I've never been a "fair weather"
entomologist, so today we visited several sites in Hampshire and
West Sussex to search for roosting butterflies. This is a
challenging pastime as they can be very difficult to find, but
it's a great way of learning about their behaviour, and beats
sitting indoors !
Anthocharis cardamines - the egg on
the right is freshly laid, that on the left is about 3 days old.
The first site visited was Rewell
Wood, where we found several Orange tip eggs on cuckoo flower and
garlic mustard. During a ( very ) brief sunny spell a
Pearl-bordered Fritillary flew past so I followed it trying to see
where it had settled. I failed to find it, but while searching I
came across a fresh male Orange tip at roost on a bracken frond.
Next we visited a site on the Sussex
/ Surrey border where we found 9 Wood Whites, most of which were
roosting on their favourite flower, greater stitchwort, while
others were found asleep on the flower heads of vetches, or among
grasses. During a bright spell 3 Wood Whites awoke and took
flight, joined by a Grizzled Skipper and 3 Speckled Woods.
Leptidea sinapis, at roost on greater
stitchwort, Surrey / Sussex border
The final site visited was Noar Hill.
On a farm track leading to the reserve I spotted a male Orange tip
at roost on a cow parsley flower head. The object of the trip had
been to find Dingy Skippers, which roost on knapweed plants, with
their wings tightly wrapped around the dead flower heads. I found
2, a male and a female, and also struck lucky by finding a fresh
female Duke of Burgundy at roost. As we were about to leave we
spotted the last butterfly of the day, a fresh Small Heath
at roost on a marjoram seed-head. Who needs sunshine ?
Erynnis tages, female at roost on
knapweed, Noar Hill, Hampshire, England
Coenonympha pamphilus, Noar Hill,
Thursday 6th May
The first Wall
Brown and Adonis Blue of the year were both reported
from West Sussex today, and the first Common Blue of 2010
was seen in Somerset yesterday.
Monday 3rd May
Another typical May bank holiday weekend - cool, windy and mostly
overcast ! Today however in the more sheltered chalk pits at
Noar Hill there was just about enough warmth to encourage a few
Duke of Burgundies to crawl up from their hideaways in the grass
tussocks and bask. Cold winds and a light rain shower soon sent
them back into hiding though, so I travelled across to the west of
Hampshire hoping for better weather. Luck was with me, because
shortly after arriving at Bentley Wood the sun appeared from
behind the dark clouds, and 5 Pearl-bordered Fritillaries quickly
took to the wing and began avidly nectaring at bugle, violets,
ground ivy and
wood anemones. Towards the end of the day I was fortunate to find
this beautiful specimen at roost on a dead flower head :
Clossiana euphrosyne, Bentley Wood,
Duke of Burgundy,
Hamearis lucina, female, Noar Hill,
Saturday 1st May
Pearl-bordered Fritillaries of the year were sighted 3 days
ago in West Sussex, and in the New Forest in Hampshire. Other
first sightings include a Brown Argus seen in Somerset, and
the first Glanville Fritillaries of the year
seen at Wheeler's Bay on the Isle of Wight today.
Emperor moth shown below is a captive bred ex-New
Forest female that emerged at home a couple of days ago. Female
Emperors have an organ at the tip of the abdomen from which they
disseminate pheromones to attract the day-flying males. The
females are heavily laden with eggs so are unable to fly very far,
and after mating lay most of their eggs very near the spot where
they emerge. After laying 100 or so eggs they have lightened their
load sufficiently to enable them to fly, but unlike the males they
fly by night. It takes them about 2-3 days to complete egg laying.
The female illustrated paired with a male that emerged the same
day, and has now laid all her eggs, which should hatch in about 2
Saturnia pavonia, female.