Butterfly Diary - field notes by Adrian Hoskins
note : earliest sightings of each brood are in bold type
Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jly | Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec
Friday 29th June
The first Purple Emperor of the season was seen today at Bookham Common in Surrey.
Tuesday 26th June
Silver-washed Fritillaries, White Admirals and Purple Hairstreaks are now emerging at their usual sites in Hampshire, Sussex and Surrey. The first Ringlets of 2012 were seen yesterday at Bentley Wood on the Hants / Wilts border. Currently I have received no reports of Purple Emperors, Large Heaths or High Brown Fritillaries from any of their sites, although all are due to emerge very soon.
Wednesday 20th June
Sunny days have been rare in Britain this summer, so a second consecutive day of clear blue skies provided me with a good excuse to extend my mini-tour of eastern England. My target this time was to visit Hockley and Belfairs woods in Essex. Both sites support small introduced colonies of the rare Heath Fritillary. In the morning dozens of males could be seen patrolling back and forth along the trails, investigating any object that could potentially have been a female. Often I found groups of 4 or 5 males frenetically buzzing around copulating pairs. At the end of the afternoon as temperatures dropped the butterflies basked for a while on bramble, hornbeam and sweet chestnut leaves before finally settling on grass-heads, sedges and willowherbs to roost for the night.
Heath Fritillary Mellicta athalia, Belfairs Wood, Essex  Adrian Hoskins
Other sightings for today include the first White Admiral of the year seen at Park Corner Heath in Sussex, and 2 Black Hairstreaks seen at Whitecross Green Wood in Oxon.
Tuesday 19th June
I spent a very enjoyable day today in sleepy Norfolk, where I visited Strumpshaw Fen and How Hill in search of the beautiful and elusive Swallowtail. Sightings were fairly infrequent and in most cases were of fly-pasts by males flying over the reed beds, searching for females. Nevertheless I saw at least 20 Swallowtails during the course of the day, and struck lucky when a beautiful fresh female alighted momentarily to nectar at a marsh thistle, giving me a couple of seconds to snatch the photo below. Other species seen included 2 fresh Small Tortoiseshells, 2 Peacocks, 3 Speckled Woods, 1 Meadow Brown, 2 Holly Blues, 3 Brimstones, 6 Small Whites and 2 Large Skippers. Caterpillars seen included a 1st instar Peacock larval web, and fully grown larvae of Vapourer and Drinker moths.
Swallowtail Papilio machaon, River Bure, Norfolk  Adrian Hoskins
Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae, River Bure, Norfolk  Adrian Hoskins
Sunday 17th June
A White-letter Hairstreak was seen today near Cosham in Hants. In Sussex a Ringlet was seen at Lancing Ring, and the first Silver-washed Fritillary of the year was seen at Rewell Wood.
Wednesday 13th June
Despite continuing poor weather the mid-summer species are beginning to emerge, albeit in small numbers, with Silver-studded Blues, Marbled Whites, Meadow Browns and Small Skippers being reported from several sites in the south. There has also been a report of Dark Green Fritillary, seen today at Friston Forest on the Sussex coast. Currently there have been no records of Black Hairstreak or Heath Fritillary, although both should be expected within a few days.
Sunday 10th June
Almost all of the UK suffered another dull, cold and wet weekend again, but in Sussex a brief sunny spell yesterday was enough to encourage a Marbled White to put in an appearance at Bevendean Down. Also from Sussex came a report of the first Meadow Brown of the year, seen yesterday at Levin Down, and the first Silver-studded Blue, seen today at Iping Common. The first summer generation Small Tortoiseshells were also reported from Hampshire and Sussex this weekend.
Friday 8th June
Surprise surprise, it's raining again, so here to hopefully cheer you up are a few photos taken when I visited the sunny south a couple of weeks ago:
Brown Argus Aricia agestis male, Cerne Abbas, Dorset  Adrian Hoskins
Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas, Cissbury Ring, Sussex  Adrian Hoskins
Dingy Skipper  Erynnis tages, male, Cerne Abbas, Dorset  Adrian Hoskins
Sunday 3rd June
A Meadow Brown was reported today from Newtown meadows on the Isle of Wight. There have also been several reports of Glanville Fritillaries from Compton Chine and other sites on the Island, but indications are that the butterfly is currently only emerging in very low numbers.
Friday 1st June
The first Large Skippers of the year were reported a couple of days ago from sites in Hampshire, Dorset and Sussex, and Swallowtails have now begun to emerge on the Norfolk Broads.

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