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Butterfly Diary - field notes by Adrian Hoskins
note : earliest sightings of each brood are in bold type
2012
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April
Monday 30th April
A promising weather forecast tempted me to travel south again today to one of my favourite places, Rowlands Castle in West Sussex. On the train journey I spotted several Brimstones flying along the railway line at Leicester, Kettering, Luton and Guildford. When I arrived at Rowlands Castle I had a short walk to get to the entrance to Stansted Forest, and immediately found myself surrounded by butterflies. During my 4 hours in the forest I counted 5 Speckled Woods, 2 Green-veined Whites, 2 Small Whites, about 20 Orange tips, 10 Brimstones, 1 Holly Blue and 10 Commas. I also saw over 30 Peacocks basking on herbage along the edges of the grass avenue that runs through the forest.
Orange tip, Anthocharis cardamines Stansted Forest  Adrian Hoskins
Orange tip, Anthocharis cardamines Stansted Forest  Adrian Hoskins
Green-veined White, Pieris napi Stansted Forest  Adrian Hoskins
Saturday 28th April
The weather this April has been depressingly cool damp and windy. Green Hairstreak and Grizzled Skipper males both emerged early but the poor weather has delayed the emergence of females so consequently few eggs have been laid. Orange tips and Pearl-bordered Fritillaries are now emerging in quite good numbers in southern England, and there have been sporadic records of Small Copper, Small Blue, Holly Blue, Wall Brown, Small Heath, Dingy Skipper and Duke of Burgundy, but despite these early records overall numbers of all species have been low. Fingers are crossed, hoping for a major improvement in the weather next month!
Monday 16th April
The first Pearl-bordered Fritillary of the year was reported today from Rewell Wood in Sussex.
Sunday 15th April
The weather forecast promised clear blue skies today so I headed south in the hope of seeing some butterflies. My first sighting of the day was a Holly Blue seen from the train window at Byfleet. Half an hour later I spotted a Green-veined White as we approached Basingstoke station. Unfortunately by the time I arrived at Magdalen Hill Down at Winchester, the sky had become overcast and there was a cold breeze blowing, so butterfly activity was minimal. I was however rewarded with several sightings of Grizzled Skippers which appeared during the short sunny intervals, and I was delighted when a Green Hairstreak suddenly appeared out of nowhere and settled on a dandelion with its jade green underside glittering in the sun.

Green Hairstreak Callophrys rubi, Magdalen Hill Down, Hampshire  Adrian Hoskins

Grizzled Skipper Pyrgus malvae, Magdalen Hill Down, Hampshire  Adrian Hoskins
Friday 13th April
The first Duke of Burgundy of the year was reported today from Noar Hill in Hampshire. Speckled Woods, Holly Blues, Orange tips, Green Hairstreaks, Small Coppers and Grizzled Skippers are now being seen in good numbers at most of their sites in Hampshire, Sussex, Surrey and Dorset.
Friday 6th April
A return to colder damper weather has dramatically reduced butterfly sightings, nevertheless a few lucky people managed to see some butterflies today e.g. 8 Grizzled Skippers, 5 Green Hairstreaks and 2 Green-veined Whites were seen at Magdalen Hill Down in Hampshire this morning. At Mill Hill near Brighton several Dingy Skippers were seen, along with the first 2 Small Heaths of the year.
Tuesday 3rd April
Two Small Coppers were reported from Barton-on-Sea in Hampshire today.
Monday 2nd April
A Wall Brown was seen today at Frog Firle on the Sussex coast. There has been another report of Large Tortoiseshells from the Isle of Wight, where 2 individuals were observed at Walter's Copse.
Sunday 1st April
Here in Leicester butterfly diversity and abundance is considerably lower than in southern England. Butterflies also emerge a week or so later here compared to in the south. We decided nevertheless to take full advantage of today's sunshine and go for a walk around the local cemetery in the hope of seeing a Holly Blue or a Comma. Unfortunately we saw neither, but we were delighted to see our first Orange tip of the year, which we watched basking on nettles and nectaring at daisies.

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