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Butterfly Diary - field notes by Adrian Hoskins
note : earliest sightings of each brood are in bold type
2013
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August

Thursday 15th August - Monday 2nd September

During this period I led a butterfly-watching group tour in Colombia, visiting several excellent sites in the Andes including Otun-Quimbaya, Tatama national park, Arrierito reserve, Rio Claro and sites near Medellin. The weather was less than ideal, but nevertheless we saw and photographed about 300 butterfly species and had an extremely enjoyable tour of this beautiful country. A full trip report and species list will be published in the near future. Further tours to Colombia are planned for 2014 and 2015, so please contact me for details.

Monday 12th August

Sightings reported at the weekend included Brown Hairstreaks at Bernwood meadows, Whitecross Green Wood, Otmoor, Abingdon and Merton Wood in Oxon. Clouded Yellows have been reported mostly as singletons at sites including Otmoor and South Weston in Oxon, Quainton Hill in Bucks and Greenham Common in Berks. A small Painted Lady migration has resulted in reports from Quainton Hill, Abingdon and Aston Rowant in Oxon, Rowland Wood in Sussex, and Hungerford in Berks. The most interesting reports however were of ovipositing Long-tailed Blues seen at Arundel and Rye in Sussex. Other notable records included 9 Wall Browns seen at Lymington and an amazing 58 Peacocks at Noar Hill, both in Hants. Also of interest were the many reports of stray Silver-washed Fritillaries and Chalkhill Blues seen well away from known breeding sites, and there is the promise of a large 3rd brood emergence of Small Tortoiseshells in September judging by the 30 webs of 1st instar larvae I found at Bedwyn in Wilts on Sunday.

Thursday 8th August

Butterflies are fussy about where they breed and are typically associated with well established wild habitats, so experienced enthusiasts tend to mainly look for them on chalk grasslands, heathlands and old woodlands. It pays however to sometimes investigate less obvious habitats such as disused railway tracks, field headlands and wasteland, where the commoner species can often be abundant. This afternoon I visited a site on the outskirts of Hungerford - an abandoned industrial estate which has reverted to a grassy wasteland, and I was rewarded with sightings including 14 Common Blues, 2 Small Coppers, 1 Brimstone, 15 Small Whites, 5 Large Whites, 4 Green-veined Whites, 60 Meadow Browns, 3 Ringlets, 80 Gatekeepers, 7 Peacocks, 2 Small Tortoiseshells and 5 Small Skippers.

Aglais urticae 2nd brood, Hungerford, Berkshire  Adrian Hoskins

Peacock Inachis io, Hungerford, Berkshire  Adrian Hoskins

Tuesday 6th August

At Lardon Chase and Lough Down today I saw an estimated 300 Chalkhill Blues, mostly very worn males, but there were also a few fresh individuals. It's difficult to estimate the number of females as they are inconspicuous and sedentary in behaviour but I'd guess that at least 200 were present. The Common Blue population was also impressive - a minimum of 150 males and 40 females. Peacocks have been present in good numbers at most of the sites I've visited recently, so it was no surprise to find 12 fresh individuals nectaring at a large clump of marjoram. There was also a Comma and 2 Small Tortoiseshells, one of which spent several minutes flying in and out of various rabbit burrows, presumably searching for somewhere to roost overnight. Other species seen included 1 Small Heath, 400 Meadow Browns, 60 Gatekeepers, 5 Ringlets, 1 Small Copper, 2 Green-veined Whites, 80 Small Whites, 35 Large Whites and 2 Small Skippers.

Common Blue Polyommatus icarus male, Hungerford, Berkshire  Adrian Hoskins

Common Blue Polyommatus icarus female, Lardon Chase, Berkshire  Adrian Hoskins

Reports indicate that Brown Hairstreaks are now emerging in small numbers at sites including Noar Hill and Shipton Bellinger in Hampshire, Whitecross Green and Otmoor in Oxon, and Steyning Rifle Range in Sussex. Silver-spotted Skipper numbers are also starting to build, with reports from Aston Rowant in Oxon, Chantry Hill in Sussex, and Stockbridge Down and Broughton Down in Hants. There have also been a few records of Clouded Yellows e.g. from Magdalen Hill Down in Hants.

Large White Pieris brassicae 2nd brood male, Lardon Chase, Berkshire  Adrian Hoskins

Chalkhill Blue Polyommatus coridon, Lardon Chase, Berkshire  Adrian Hoskins

Saturday 3rd August

A morning walk along the canal path between Bedwyn and Kintbury in Berkshire produced over 50 Green-veined Whites, 150 Meadow Browns, 40+ Gatekeepers, 3 Ringlets, 4 Speckled Woods and 2 Large Skippers, most of which were nectaring at hemp agrimony. While waiting at Kintbury station for our return train we checked out a Buddleia bush which had about 50 butterflies avidly nectaring on it including 15 Peacocks, 3 Commas, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 male Brimstone, 6 Large Whites, 10 Small Whites, several faded Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers, and a Small Skipper.

Thursday 1st August

I spent today at Combe Fields and Hartslock reserve - a cluster of small chalk grassland sites in the Chiltern hills near Goring. The commonest species was the Small White, of which I saw an estimated minimum of 300 adults. Meadow Browns were also very abundant - I saw at least 200 but the actual population was probably almost double that number. Other species included 6 Peacocks, 1 Comma, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, 10 very worn female Dark Green Fritillaries, 50+ Large Whites, 3 Brimstones, 7 Small Coppers, 20 fresh Common Blues, 15 Chalkhill Blues, 1 second brood female Holly Blue, 2 Speckled Woods, 60 Gatekeepers, 10 Ringlets, 12 very worn Marbled Whites, 2 Small Heaths, 1 old and faded Large Skipper, 2 Small Skippers and 2 fresh Silver-spotted Skippers.

Reports from elsewhere indicate that Scotch Argus has been flying for a few days now at Arnside Knott in Cumbria, and at various sites in western Scotland. Graylings are emerging in good numbers on heathlands in Dorset, Hampshire and Sussex; and the first Brown Hairstreaks were reported yesterday from Bernwood in Oxon.

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