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. schmidtii
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.
Saturday 18th September
Summer and the UK butterfly season are both gradually drawing to a
close, and the last remaining butterflies were taking full
advantage of today's sunshine. At Old Winchester Hill the most
abundant butterfly without doubt was the Small Heath, of which I
saw an estimated 130+ individuals during my 2 hour visit. Meadow
Browns were not far behind, with at least 100 seen, many of which
appeared to be in quite fresh condition.
Small Coppers were also in excellent numbers - I counted 21 adults
including a group of 4 basking close together in a sheltered
rabbit scrape. I also watched an attempted mating - a male
intercepted a passing female, who immediately settled on the
ground and walked about in the grasses for 2 or 3 minutes, rapidly
quivering her wings. The male followed close behind her, keeping a
constant gap of about 5cms between himself and his prospective
mate. Eventually the lady took flight, followed instantly by the
male. Both settled at the base of a bush and I fully expected them
to mate, but the male appeared to lose sight of his quarry, at
which time she did a runner and left him in the lurch.
Other species seen at Old Winchester Hill included 4 Speckled
Woods, a male Brimstone, 4 old faded Chalkhill Blues, 1 very fresh
male Common Blue, 5 Commas ( all nectaring at devil's bit scabious
), 3 Red Admirals, and a very worn female Silver-spotted Skipper.
Additionally I saw a Holly Blue in Havant town centre, and in my
garden had 2 Large Whites and 3 Small Whites, bringing the day's
total to 13 species, and somewhere in excess of 280 individual
Old Winchester Hill
Monday 13th September
Transport problems meant another weekend spent at home for me -
and what a pity as yesterday was such a gorgeous sunny day !
Reports coming in from Hampshire, Dorset, Sussex and Surrey all
indicate that the 2nd broods of Adonis Blue, Small Heath and Small
White are still flying in excellent numbers; and that Small
Coppers are having a very successful 3rd brood, with 2 reports of
the rare ab. schmidtii
being seen for the second year running. Brown Hairstreak females
are still flying, and have been recorded for the first time at
several new sites in the southern counties. A few migrant Painted
Ladies and Clouded Yellows arrived on the south coast last weekend
and both are still flying in Hampshire and Sussex; and there have
been a few reports of late-emerging Commas, including 2 in my
garden a few minutes ago.
Sunday 5th September
I spent this weekend at home, not expecting to see anything more
remarkable than a Speckled Wood or a Small White, but was very
pleased yesterday when I noticed the unmistakeable flight of a Painted
Lady ( my first 2010 sighting ), charging back and forth
across my garden like a miniature fighter jet, before settling to
nectar at the top of my tall straggly Buddleia bush. It set me
thinking about how many other species there are whose behaviour is
so distinctive that they can be identified instantly purely from
their flight pattern - examples which sprang to mind included the
demented twisting acrobatics of the male Vapourer moth; the White
Admiral which weaves so gracefully between the branches of oaks;
the unforgettable looping courtship flight of Silver-washed
Fritillaries; the "spinning silver coin" flight of the Purple
Hairstreak in the tree tops; and the persistent "flying but going
nowhere" of the Wood White. Can you think of any others ?
Wednesday 1st September
September began with a gorgeous warm sunny day, but unfortunately
I was at work and unable to enjoy it, other than by having a brief
stroll through Waterlooville at lunch time. I was rewarded by
sightings of Small White, Large White and Meadow Brown. Perhaps
not the most exciting butterflies to begin the month, but better
than spending lunch time in the canteen !
male, Dunch Hill, Wiltshire.