Butterfly Diary -
field notes by Adrian Hoskins
sightings of each brood are in bold type
Friday 30th March
less than 3 Large Tortoiseshells were recorded today in southern
England, bringing the total seen this year to 4 specimens. Two
different individuals of this great rarity were seen and
photographed by different observers at Walter's Copse on the Isle of
Wight; and on the Hampshire coast another specimen was seen and
photographed basking on a tree trunk on a busy main road at
Warblington. This gorgeous butterfly became extinct in Britain in
the late 1980s - early 1990's but there can now be little doubt now
that it is beginning to recolonise the southern coast of Britain,
either as a result of migrations from Europe, or due to an
unpublicised reintroduction program.
Other records for
today included 2 Small Blues seen at Afton Down on the Isle
of Wight, 5 Grizzled Skippers at Mill Hill in Sussex, and no less
than 14 Orange tips at Stansted Forest, also in Sussex.
Thursday 29th March
The first Green
Hairstreak of 2012 was reported today from Beacon Hill NNR near
Exton in Hants.
Tuesday 27th March
have now been reported from Ramsdean Down and Magdalen Hill Down in
Hants. Holly Blue, Orange tip, Small White and Speckled Wood numbers
are building slowly at sites across Hampshire, Sussex and Dorset. As
predicted Small Copper has now started to emerge at Ballard
Down in Dorset. Another Large Tortoiseshell has been reported, this
time from Walters Copse on the Isle of Wight. This species has been
reported several times on the Isle of Wight in recent years although
as yet there is no evidence of breeding.
Saturday 24th March
Emily and myself
visited one of our favourite haunts today, Stansted Forest in West
Sussex. Among the butterflies we saw were 8 Commas, 5 Peacocks, 1
Red Admiral, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Small White and 9 Brimstones.
We also found an Orange tip chrysalis with its wing patterns just
beginning to show through.
sightings of all the above-mentioned butterflies were also reported
from sites across the south of England. The first Grizzled
Skippers of the year were seen at Mill Hill in Sussex today, and
with warm sunny weather forecast for the rest of the week we can
expect to see Green Hairstreaks and Small Coppers putting in an
appearance very soon!
Inachis io Stansted Forest, West Sussex ©
Friday 23rd March
Green-veined White of 2012 was reported today from Blackstone in
Wednesday 21st March
The first Orange
tip sightings of the year came today from Weston Colley in
Hampshire, and from Henfield and Stedham in Sussex. Other sightings
included a Speckled Wood at Woodhouse Copse on the Isle of
Wight, a Holly Blue was reported from Chichester in Sussex.
Brimstones, Peacocks and Commas are being reported from many sites
in the southern counties of England now. Small Whites are starting
to emerge in low numbers, and there are still plenty of battered Red
Admirals and Small Tortoiseshells to be seen.
Thursday 15th March
The second Holly
Blue reported this year was seen at Cowes on the Isle of Wight
today. Hampshire sightings included several Small Tortoiseshells,
Red Admirals, Commas, Brimstones and Peacocks. A similar range of
species were reported from Sussex, which also produced 2 Small
Whites seen in a garden at Rye.
Wednesday 14th March
Today a Large
Tortoiseshell was seen and photographed at Plymouth. It is
likely that the insect emerged last July and almost immediately went
into hibernation, hence the fresh appearance of the specimen
photographed. It is possible that the butterfly was the progeny of a
small and previously undetected resident population. It is more
likely though that this sighting represents a captive-bred butterfly
of European origin that escaped or was released last summer. The
Large Tortoiseshell is widely available as livestock from
entomological dealers, and is commonly released.
Monday 12th March
Another fine spring
day brought many records from the southern counties of England.
Brimstones and Commas were recorded at numerous sites in Hampshire,
Dorset, West Sussex, Berkshire and Oxfordshire. There were also
several records of Small Tortoiseshells, Peacocks, Red Admirals and
Sunday 11th March
Spring has finally
arrived in Leicester! We had a clear blue sky all day and the
temperature reached a staggering 17°C. We took this as a
signal to go on a 3 hour long walk around the fields and lanes east
of Oadby, and during this time we were lucky enough to see 3 Commas,
1 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Peacock and 3 Brimstones. Sightings of
these species were also reported from West Sussex and Hampshire.
Unsurprisingly the most interesting sighting of the day also came
from Hants, where the first Holly Blue of the year was seen
in a garden at Fareham. The first 2012 Large White was also
reported today, from Uckfield in Sussex.
Polygonia c-album ©
Monday 5th March
Here in Leicester
there have been no signs of lepidoptera since the Grey Shoulder-knot
moth which I found on a tree trunk back in January, but on a visit
to Hampshire a couple of days ago I spotted a Common Plume moth
Common Plume moth
Emmelina monodactyla ©
Thursday 1st March
Today there were
reports of Brimstones from Northington Down and Winchester in
Hampshire, and from Steyning in West Sussex. The latter site also
produced a pair of Small Tortoiseshells
that were seen nectaring together on blackthorn blossom.
Red Admirals were seen at several sites including Fleet, Gosport and
the New Forest. Other species reported included a
Grayshott in Hants, and a Comma seen at Woodhouse Copse on the Isle