Butterfly Diary - field notes by Adrian Hoskins
note : earliest sightings of each brood are in bold type
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July ( part 2: 18th-31st ) << part 1: ( 1st-17th )

Sunday 28th July

This weekend Silver-spotted Skippers were reported from Broughton Down in Hampshire, Aston Rowant in Oxon, and from several sites in Sussex including Friston, Castle Hill and Windover Hill.

Wednesday 24th July

I spent this afternoon at Lardon Chase in Berks where the most abundant butterfly was the Chalkhill Blue. I estimated having seen about 300 males and 25-30 females. Meadow Browns were almost as common, with about 250 seen, but most other species were in surprisingly low numbers - with only about 20 Common Blues, 15 Marbled Whites, 25 Gatekeepers, 35 Small Whites, 3 Large Whites, 1 Small Tortoiseshell and 15 Small Skippers.

Chalkhill Blue Polyommatus coridon male, Lardon Chase, Oxon  Adrian Hoskins

Tuesday 23rd July

I visited Bedwyn yesterday to attempt to photograph some of the commoner species, and had a few surprises! At 1pm I glimpsed a male Purple Emperor circling above an oak. Then at 2pm I saw what was probably the largest specimen of any butterfly I've seen in the UK - an enormous female Purple Emperor measuring an estimated 10cms across the wings, which gracefully swooped down from a sallow and landed momentarily in front of me before soaring back up into the treetop. At 4pm I had a third encounter, with a male probing at dung along a shaded track. Other species seen included 4 Peacocks, 3 Commas, 2 Red Admirals, 25 Silver-washed Fritillaries, 4 Large Whites, 2 Green-veined Whites, 15 Small Whites, 1 Brimstone, 400+ Meadow Browns, 600+ Ringlets, 30-40 Gatekeepers, 60 Marbled Whites, 40 Large Skippers and 15 Small Skippers.

Saturday 20th July

This morning in warm but slightly overcast conditions we walked the canal path from Hungerford to Bedwyn and saw over 30 first instar Small Tortoiseshell larval nests. Adult butterflies included 35-40 Small Tortoiseshells, 4 Peacocks, 3 Commas, 1 pristine Red Admiral, 70-80 Meadow Browns, 100+ Ringlets, 10 faded Speckled Woods, 15-20 Gatekeepers, 8 Green-veined Whites, 6 Small Whites, 5 Large Whites, 60 Large Skippers and 5 Small Skippers. We also saw a mating pair of Herald moths, and 11 Scarlet Tiger moths. The latter included 3 nectaring at hogweed and one which dipped down twice to snatch a drink from the water surface as it fluttered across the canal.

Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni Bentley Wood, Wiltshire  Adrian Hoskins

Friday 19th July

Hot sunny weather today kept most of the butterflies at Bentley Wood either hiding in the shade or resting high in the treetops. Nevertheless we saw over 60 Silver-washed Fritillaries including many females, 18 White Admirals, 2 Red Admirals, 8 hutchinsoni Commas, 4 Small Tortoiseshells, 6 fresh Peacocks, 2 Purple Emperors, about 150 Meadow Browns, 15 Speckled Woods, 20 Marbled Whites, 10 Gatekeepers, 120 Ringlets, 20 fresh Brimstones, 1 Green-veined White, 4 Small Whites, 2 Large Whites, 1 White-letter Hairstreak, 6 Purple Hairstreaks, 40 Large Skippers and 20 Small Skippers.

Silver-washed Fritillary Argynnis paphia male, Bentley Wood, Wiltshire  Adrian Hoskins

Thursday 18th July

During a short walk late this afternoon at Freeman's Marsh in Berkshire I saw between 40-50 adult Small Tortoiseshells and 7 batches of 1st instar larvae. Other species seen included 5 Small Whites, 60 Meadow Browns, 40 Ringlets, 4 Marbled Whites, 2 Small Heaths, 4 Gatekeepers, 12 final instar Peacock larvae, 20 Large Skippers, 12 Small Skippers and 6 confirmed Essex Skippers.

White Admiral Limenitis camilla Straits Inclosure, Hampshire  Adrian Hoskins

Wednesday 17th July

I spent today at Straits Inclosure in Hampshire, where I had 7 sightings of Purple Emperor, including 2 pristine males which came to the ground to mineralise on the track. Silver-washed Fritillaries were plentiful, with an estimated 60 males and 8 females seen, all in excellent condition. I also saw about 15 White Admirals. Some were in fine condition but many had torn wings resulting from bird attacks or encounters with bramble thorns. Other species included 3 Red Admirals, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, 8 fresh Commas, 1 freshly emerged Peacock, 5 Marbled Whites, 30 Large Skippers, 5 Small Whites, 2 male Gatekeepers, 80 Meadow Browns and 5 Speckled Woods. I was surprised to see only about 60 Ringlets, as the latter is very abundant in most woodlands and meadows this year.

Purple Emperor Apatura iris male, Straits Inclosure, Hampshire  Adrian Hoskins

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