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Butterfly Diary - field notes by Adrian Hoskins
note : earliest sightings of each brood are in bold type
2014
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July

Tuesday 29th July

Upon arrival at Stansted Forest today, the first butterfly to greet me was a valesina Silver-washed Fritillary - a worn specimen but the first I've seen at this site. Most of the other butterflies seen on my walk through the forest were also rather faded and worn, including Meadow Browns, Ringlets, Gatekeepers, Large Skippers, Green-veined Whites, Small Whites and a solitary White Admiral. A nice surprise was a pristine male Holly Blue that settled high on a thistle. After half an hours walk I came to my favourite butterfly hot-spot in the woods - a patch of flowery ground with a profusion of marjoram, fleabane, thistles and hemp agrimony. Peacocks were all over the place, at least 50 of them, mostly in very fresh condition. They were joined by several equally fresh Red Admirals, Commas, Small Tortoiseshells, Common Blues, Brimstones and Large Whites. A few faded Marbled Whites, Large Skippers and Essex Skippers completed the list of species seen.

Tuesday 22nd July

Butterflies were hyperactive in today's blazing hot sunshine. As usual at this time of year, Noar Hill in Hampshire was swarming with butterflies attracted to the abundant hemp agrimony, marjoram and other beautiful wild flowers. During a brief one hour visit to the site I estimated having seen about 50 Peacocks, 2 Red Admirals, 5 Small Tortoiseshells, 3 Commas, 5 Brimstones and 1 Large White, all of these species being in freshly emerged condition. Additionally, I saw 5 Silver-washed Fritillaries including a mating pair, about 150 worn Marbled Whites, several fresh male Common Blues and an abundance of Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers and Ringlets.

Monday 14th July

I returned a couple of days ago from a fabulous trip to Estonia which produced Large Coppers, Large Blues, Black-veined Whites, Mazarine Blues, High Brown Fritillaries, Heath Fritillaries, Purple Emperors and numerous other British rarities. There were also lots of local specialities including Large Chequered Skippers, Purple-shot and Purple-edged Coppers, Scarce Fritillaries, Pallas and Lesser Marbled Fritillaries, Yellow-legged Tortoiseshells, Woodland Browns, Poplar Admirals and a whole lot more! A follow-up trip is planned for next year - details available on request.

Back home in the UK I wasted no time and headed for Stockbridge Down today, where I saw about 50 freshly emerged Chalkhill Blues, 20 or so female Dark Green Fritillaries and several fresh Peacocks, Brimstones and Small Tortoiseshells.

Tuesday 1st July

High Brown Fritillaries are now approaching the peak of their flight season in Devon. At a site on Dartmoor this afternoon, I easily saw 10 individuals, including 2 females, within a 100 metre radius of the car park. It was a dull, damp and mostly overcast day, but whenever the sun broke through the clouds the butterflies instantly took to the wing. In mid-afternoon a spell of rain sent them deep into the bracken. Afterwards, while searching for roosting specimens, I came across my first Gatekeeper of the season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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