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Butterfly Diary - field notes by Adrian Hoskins
note : earliest sightings of each brood are in bold type
2012
Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jly | Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec
March
Friday 30th March
No 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
Grizzled Skippers 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. Several 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!
Peacock, Inachis io Stansted Forest, West Sussex  Adrian Hoskins
Friday 23rd March
The first Green-veined White of 2012 was reported today from Blackstone in Sussex.
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 Small Whites.
Sunday 11th March
Spring has finally arrived in Leicester! We had a clear blue sky all day and the temperature reached a staggering 17C.  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.
Comma, Polygonia c-album  Adrian Hoskins
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 Emmelina monodactyla.
Common Plume moth Emmelina monodactyla  Adrian Hoskins
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 Peacock at Grayshott in Hants, and a Comma seen at Woodhouse Copse on the Isle of Wight.

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