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
Saturday 26th May
At Evington Meadows in Leicester today we saw 3 Speckled Woods, 2 Brimstones, 3 Small Whites, 5 Green-veined Whites, 15-20 Orange tips, 2 Common Blues, 7 Holly Blues, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, and a male Comma which much to Emily's amusement decided to establish a territory on my leg, using it as a perch from which to intercept a Peacock which periodically intruded into its domain!
Reports from Sussex included sightings of Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries at Rowlands Wood and Park Corner Heath, and a strong emergence of Adonis Blues at Mill Hill.
Wednesday 23rd May
Marsh Fritillary Euphydryas aurinia Cerne Abbas, Dorset  Adrian Hoskins
Today I visited Cerne Abbas in Dorset, where Marsh Fritillaries are now emerging in reasonable numbers. I estimated seeing about 50 males and 3 females, including a mating pair. Other species seen included about 25 freshly emerged male Duke of Burgundy, 15 Small Heaths, 3 Brown Argus, 5 Brimstones, 2 Orange tips, 20 Grizzled Skippers and upwards of 30 Dingy Skippers.
Euphydryas aurinia, freshly emerged male drying wings, Cerne Abbas, Dorset  Adrian Hoskins
Duke of Burgundy Hamearis lucina Cerne Abbas, Dorset  Adrian Hoskins
Tuesday 22nd May
Summer arrived suddenly today, with clear blue skies and temperatures reaching a blistering 25C.  I decided to make the most of the weather by taking a couple of days off work to visit several of my favourite butterfly sites in the south of England. I began at Cissbury Ring - a lovely chalk grassland site on an ancient Iron Age hill fort in West Sussex. During my 2 hours at Cissbury I saw about 15 Wall Browns, 2 Speckled Woods, 18 Small Heaths, 4 Brown Argus, 3 fresh Common Blues including a very blue female, 1 ovipositing Green Hairstreak, 14 Small Coppers, 2 Peacocks, 3 Brimstones, 1 Orange tip, 1 Green-veined White, 2 Grizzled Skippers and 10 Dingy Skippers. Moths seen included several Cinnabars, and an Angle Shades.
Green Hairstreak Callophrys rubi Cissbury Ring, West Sussex  Adrian Hoskins
Later I visited Chiddingfold in Surrey. At Botany Bay there were at least 30 Wood Whites fluttering incessantly back and forth the main forest track. I had several sightings of the fascinating 'head-to-head' courtship ritual. On one occasion I was watching a female ovipositing on Lotus pedunculatus, when she was intercepted by a passing male. As expected, the female immediately settled on a leaf and was pursued by the male which settled face to face in front of her, and tried to elicit copulation. A courting male butterfly will normally go through a brief stimuli-response routine which results in either copulation or rejection by the female. In the case of the Wood White the male tries to seduce the female by rhythmically whipping her underside hindwings with his extended proboscis. If she is a virgin she accepts his attention and copulates immediately, but if she has already mated she tells him to 'go away' by flicking her wings open and shut. Unfortunately the poor male just doesn't seem to get the message and often continues pestering her for several minutes until he eventually gives up and flies off!
Wood White Leptidea sinapis Chiddingfold, Surrey  Adrian Hoskins
Sunday 13th May
Call me crazy if you like but I took a 5 hour each-way train journey which included enduring 2 hours of drunken loudmouthed football "fans" on East Midlands trains ( why don't you people call the police to throw these hooligans off at the next station? ) so that I could spend an afternoon in the beautiful New Forest enjoying Pearl-bordered Fritillaries. The flight season has barely started and the weather was less than perfect but I saw 3 males and a female in woodland near Brockenhurst. Other species seen included 2 fresh Small Coppers, 1 Green Hairstreak, 2 Peacocks, 1 Orange tip, 1 Green-veined White and 2 Brimstones. Time well spent!
Pearl-bordered Fritillary Clossiana euphrosyne, male, Brockenhurst, Hampshire  Adrian Hoskins
Friday 11th May
Several freshly emerged male Adonis Blues were reported today from Mill Hill in Sussex, and the first Glanville Fritillaries of the year were seen at Wheeler's Bay on the Isle of Wight. The Duke of Burgundy is now approaching peak flight season in Hampshire, and Wall Brown is flying in good numbers at its Sussex and Dorset coastal localities. So far there have been no reports of any Marsh Fritillary sightings but they should appear at their sites in Dorset and Wiltshire very soon.
Tuesday 8th May
Two fresh Clouded Yellows were seen at Southbourne Undercliff on the Hampshire coast today. It is not clear whether these were migrants or the result of overwintered larvae. Brown Argus, Small Blues, Common Blues, Small Coppers, Brown Argus and Wall Brown are now emerging at several sites in Hampshire, Dorset and Surrey. Duke of Burgundy, Dingy Skipper and Grizzled Skipper are now approaching their peak flight periods in Hampshire and Sussex. Pearl-bordered Fritillaries have already reached peak numbers at Rewell Wood in in Sussex but are only just beginning to emerge elsewhere. Wood Whites are now emerging in Surrey, where 12 adults including a copulating pair were seen at Chiddingfold.
Sunday 6th May
The weather today in Leicester was cool but mostly bright and sunny, so Emily and myself decided to explore Evington Meadow, a small attractive area of parkland to the east of the city. A Peacock appeared shortly after we arrived, soon followed by 2 Speckled Woods, 3 Green-veined Whites, 1 Small White and several Orange tips. In total we saw about 10 males and 3 females, including one which we watched ovipositing on garlic mustard. While watching the Orange tips a sparrow hawk suddenly swooped across our path chasing a pair of house sparrows, but luckily they saw it coming and dived into a bush just in time to have a lucky escape!
Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria, male, Evington meadow, Leicestershire  Adrian Hoskins
Anthocharis cardamines, ovipositing female, Evington meadow, Leicester  Adrian Hoskins
Tuesday 1st May
The first Common Blues of 2012 were seen today on the Isle of Wight and in West Sussex. I've also received reports of Brown Argus and migrant Painted Ladies from various sites in Dorset, Hampshire and Sussex.

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