Monday 25th October
Red Admirals were reported from
several sites in Hampshire and West Sussex yesterday, as were
Small Coppers, Small Whites, and even a couple of late Small
Tortoiseshells which were probably fooled by the sunny weather
into thinking that spring had suddenly arrived ! The biggest
surprise however was Clouded Yellow - at least 6 of which were seen
today at Brownwich, near Gosport on the Hampshire coast.
Thursday 21st October
Yesterday a late Small White flew across my garden in Havant, and
on Monday a Red Admiral paid a brief visit, but following last
night's heavy frost, and the promise of more very cold weather
ahead, it seems unlikely that there will be many more
butterfly sightings in the UK this year. I intend to pay a few
visits to my local woods on sunny weekends however - just in case
Those of you who have been following my adventures in Peru might
like to visit the updated
Moths of Amazon & Andes gallery,
which has now been expanded to 5 pages, and illustrates an
interesting selection demonstrating the bewildering diversity of
moths to be found in South America. There are very few resources,
paper or electronic, that illustrate more than a tiny fraction of
the thousands of species found in Peru, so many will prove
impossible to identify. During the winter I will however be
attempting to identify as many as possible of the 600 moth species
photographed on the trip, and to expand the accompanying
My thanks go to those who have sent images for the Malaysia,
India, North America, Australia and New Zealand galleries, which I
will begin to update in November.
Sunday 10th October
It may be mid-October, but today's clear blue skies and hot
sunshine made it feel more like July !
spent the afternoon at my local woodland Stansted Forest, and was
greeted by a female Brimstone flying near the Rowlands Castle
entrance. Inside the wood I soon came across a fresh and brightly
marked Comma which circled around me several times before flying
to the top of an ash tree. Soon afterwards I saw 2 Speckled Woods,
both very old and faded, but very lively in behaviour.
then walked through the wood to Forestside, and made my way back
towards Rowlands Castle, but had to wait almost 2 hours before
seeing my next butterfly - a gorgeous Red Admiral. My clumsy
approach with the camera caused it to take flight, and it was
immediately intercepted by another Red Admiral which flew up from
the opposite side of the trail. Both were clearly males, as
evidenced by the aerial combat which followed. They chased each
other way up above the tree tops, circling rapidly before
returning to their original perches. They settled
about 3 metres apart, on bracken fronds on opposite sides of the
trail. One was in quite fresh condition, but the other had a
damaged hindwing, so it was easy to tell them apart, and to follow
the behaviour of each individual.
watched them for about half an hour, during which time at least a
dozen sorties took place. What I expected to happen was
for the "stronger" of the 2 males to oust his opponent from the
vicinity, and to retain ownership of his perch, but what actually
happened was rather different. After each sortie, both butterflies
returned to their perches, and seemed quite content to share the
same territory - a short 4 metre stretch of the trail where the
sun broke through the foliage and reached ground level. What
intrigued me was the fact that they regularly swapped places, with
each butterfly periodically settling to perch on the leaf
previously occupied by his "opponent". The most logical
explanation would seem to be that both butterflies were competing for
the better of the 2 available perching places. Sometimes the fresh
male won, sometimes the damaged one, and the "loser" had to settle
for the next best thing, on the opposite side of the trail. It was
fascinating to watch though - it's the little moments like this
which make butterfly watching so rewarding.
Vanessa atalanta male,
Stansted Forest, West Sussex.
Saturday 9th October
The promised sunny weather failed to materialise today, and the
only butterfly seen was a rather worn Red Admiral that flew across
my garden in Havant. Now that the UK butterfly season is all but
finished, I have more time to devote to the website. I've started
by updating several of the species galleries - e.g. the
Amazon and Andes galleries now
extend to 8 pages of thumbnails, which link to 450 individual
species accounts, and well over 2000 photographs of Amazonian
butterflies. I've also updated the
Butterflies of Europe gallery,
which now runs to 3 pages, and currently covers about 110 species.
Saturday 2nd October
Yesterday saw a very wet and windy start to the month, but there
are still a few butterflies about, including a pristine Comma
which appeared in the garden this morning, gorging itself on
fermenting blackberries during a very brief sunny spell. Many of
you will be attending today's annual exhibition and trade fair of
the Amateur Entomologists Society, at Kempton Park in London.
Unfortunately I will not be able to attend, but my best wishes go
to all friends and website visitors who are able to go.
Sunday 26th September
Northerly winds have sent temperatures plummeting this weekend,
signalling the end of the summer here in the UK. Despite the
colder temperatures however there are still a few butterflies on
the wing including a few Speckled Woods and a couple of Commas in
my garden today. Reports coming in from other recorders indicate
that there are still good numbers of Small Coppers, Small Heaths
and Meadow Browns flying at various sites in Hampshire, Sussex and
Sunday 19th September
Despite the dull and breezy weather I decided to chance a trip to
Seaford Head on the Sussex coast this morning, to search for the
elusive Small Copper ab.
that had been reported from the site by a contributor to the
Butterfly Conservation Sussex website. After an hour or so of fruitless
searching I realised that I was not going to find it, but I did
see 12 "normal" Small Coppers including ab.
which seems to be present in all populations. I also saw 2 Common
Blues, one of which was a very tiny female; a female Brown Argus,
2 Chalkhill Blues, a Small White and a few Meadow Browns and Small
Heaths. On the way home I stopped for a while at Mill Hill, but by
then it was quite cool and very breezy so nothing was seen apart
from 3 Adonis Blues, a couple of Small Heaths and a solitary
female, Seaford Head, Sussex.
female, Seaford Head, Sussex.