- field notes by Adrian Hoskins
sightings of each brood are highlighted in bold type
Adrian and Emily's BLOG
Sunday 15th May
Today at Bentley Wood there were in excess
of 40 Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries flying in the
midday sunshine, mostly fresh males. The very warm spring weather
has caused the butterflies to emerge earlier than normal, and out
of sync with their preferred nectar sources - ragged robin and
thistles. Most instead fed at the flowers of bugle. Later in the
day when conditions became overcast the butterflies went to roost,
and I easily located a dozen or more perched on dead flower heads.
Other species seen included about 30 faded Pearl-bordered
Fritillaries, 8 Brimstones, 1 Orange tip,
4 Grizzled Skippers and 1 Duke of Burgundy.
Moths seen included Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth, Argent & Sable,
and caterpillars of Scarlet Tiger and Drinker moth.
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary,
male at roost, Bentley Wood, Hampshire
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary,
female, Bentley Wood, Hampshire
Sunday 8th May
Emily and myself have spent the
last few days in Leicester - not an area renowned for its
butterfly fauna, but we came across a few Small Whites and a Holly
Blue in the city centre; and on a day trip to Rutland Water we
found several Speckled Woods, about 8 Brimstones, 4 Green-veined
Whites, 8 Orange tips, and a courting pair of Small Coppers. The
female spent 2 or 3 minutes walking about on leaves and stems,
fluttering her wings rapidly, with the male in constant pursuit.
Unusually the male had a gorgeous purplish sheen on the hindwings.
Monday 2nd May
Pearl-bordered Fritillaries were
still present in good numbers in the Hampshire section of Bentley
Wood this morning. I saw an estimated 60 individuals, mostly
females ovipositing on dead bracken near the ditches. Also seen
were 2 Peacocks, 1 Red Admiral, 7 or 8 Brimstones, 6 Orange
tips, 3 Small Whites, 5 Green-veined Whites, 10 Speckled Woods, 2
Dingy Skippers, 2 Grizzled Skippers, 2 Duke of Burgundy, and
rather surprisingly in view of the forested habitat - a female
afternoon I visited Cerne Abbas where I found about 30 freshly
emerged Marsh Fritillaries at roost among the grasses on
the west-facing slopes. At nearby
Black Hill I discovered a flourishing colony of Grizzled Skippers,
many of which could be found roosting on dead flowerheads.
Likewise Dingy Skippers were also present in good numbers, mostly
roosting on grass heads.
female at roost on knapweed seed head, Noar Hill, Hampshire
male, Cerne Abbas, Dorset
female, Ballard Down, Dorset
Saturday 30th April
visited Ballard Down in Dorset, where well over 300 freshly
emerged Adonis Blues were flying on the south facing
slopes. The vast majority were males, fluttering continually just
above the grasses while the sun was shining, but settling to bask
in chalk scrapes whenever clouds obscured the sun. I also saw
about a dozen freshly emerged females, several of which were
strongly marked with blue. Other species seen included about 50
Dingy Skippers, 1 Brimstone, 2 Large Whites, 10 Small
Whites, 6 Orange tips, 8 Green Hairstreaks, 10 Small Coppers, 15
fresh Brown Argus, 12 fresh male Common Blues,
8 Holly Blues, 1 Red Admiral, 2 Peacocks, about 30 Speckled Woods,
9 male Wall Browns, and 4 or 5 Small Heaths.
at roost on dandelion seed head, Tugley Wood,
Friday 29th April
morning at Tugley Wood in Surrey, I saw about 50 freshly emerged
Wood Whites, including a mating pair. In the afternoon I
witnessed several instances of the well known "courtship" ritual
in which the male faces the female and uses his proboscis to whip
her alternately on each side of her underside hindwings. The
female response in each case was to bow her head towards the male,
fold back her antennae, and flick her wings in response to each
whipping. These rituals lasted between about 2-10 minutes. In
every case the males failed to seduce the females into copulation.
In the late
afternoon I visited Noar Hill in Hampshire, to search for Dingy
Skippers, which habitually roost on knapweed, with their wings
wrapped tightly around the dead flowerheads, on which they are
superbly camouflaged. In total I found about 15 of these
delightful butterflies at roost.
male (right) whipping female with proboscis, Tugley Wood,
policy - details of certain sites where visitor pressure
or trampling may pose a threat to butterflies or alienate
landowners are excluded from these pages.