Butterfly Diary - field notes by Adrian Hoskins
note : earliest sightings of each brood are in bold type
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Tuesday 30th September

A beautiful sunny end to September encouraged me to go on a long walk through Stansted Forest, Havant Thicket and Staunton Country Park this afternoon. I saw 10 Speckled Woods (mostly fresh females), 1 Small White, 1 Green-veined White, 1 Large White, 1 Brimstone, 2 Commas, 1 Red Admiral, 1 Peacock and 1 Small Copper.

Thursday 25th September

As October approaches and temperatures drop, butterfly populations in the UK continue to dwindle. At Havant Thicket today all I found were 12 Speckled Woods, 5 Meadow Browns, 1 Red Admiral, 3 Commas, 1 Large White and 1 female Brimstone.

Sunday 21st September

A 3 hour stroll around woodland and fields near Rowlands Castle today produced 5 Red Admirals, 3 Commas, 1 Large White, 3 very ancient female Common Blues, 34 Speckled Woods and 5 Meadow Browns - including a mating pair.

Wednesday 17th September

The beautiful wild fox that lives in my garden provided me with much entertainment this morning, as he hunted for his dinner in the warm sunshine. I watched with great interest as he stalked and killed a grey squirrel, which he played with for a few minutes before dragging it under a bramble bush. In the afternoon I visited Stansted Forest, where I found a second brood White Admiral. Despite warm sunshine and diligent searching, there were only a few other species seen i.e. about 20 Speckled Woods, 1 Meadow Brown, 1 very worn female Common Blue, 3 fresh Large Whites, 4 fresh Commas, 1 Red Admiral and a Small Copper.

Tuesday 16th September

With the exception of Speckled Woods, which are still abundant, there were very few butterflies at Havant Thicket this afternoon. Despite very warm sunshine, the only other butterflies I saw were 3 Meadow Browns, 1 Small Heath, 3 Red Admirals, 1 Peacock, 1 Comma, 2 Brimstones and a Large White.

Friday 12th September

I revisited Havant Thicket today to explore a different section of the wood. Cloud obscured the sun for much of the afternoon, but neverthless I managed to see 7 species, of which the commonest was the Speckled Wood. I counted 19 individuals, including several fresh males and females. The other species seen were 1 Brimstone, 4 Small Whites, 7 Small Heaths, 20 faded Meadow Browns, 4 Commas and 4 Common Blues, including a freshly emerged male.

Wednesday 10th September

Today at Havant Thicket I saw 6 male Brimstones, avidly nectaring at a patch of fleabane in the corner of a field. A grassy track nearby produced 9 very worn Small Heaths, 7 very faded Meadow Browns, 1 Green-veined White, 2 Small Whites and 2 Common Blues. On the opposite side of the site, I found 4 fresh Red Admirals and a Peacock, attracted by some hemp agrimony that was still flowering. The numerous tracks through the woodland produced lower than anticipated numbers of Commas - just 2 males and 1 female, feeding at fermenting blackberries. By far the commonest butterfly in the forest was the Speckled Wood, of which I counted 27, mostly in worn condition.

Monday 8th September

The increased frequency of cool damp days during the last fortnight has impacted noticeably on butterfly populations at Stansted Forest. Today I counted only 29 Speckled Woods, most of which are now looking decidedly tatty. Commas have also diminished in number, with only 3 seen today. Other species seen on my 2 hour walk around the forest included 3 Red Admirals, 3 Brimstones, 2 Small Whites, 1 Large White and 1 Green-veined White.

Wednesday 3rd September

I spent most of this afternoon at my local wood Stansted Forest. It's getting late in the season now, so it was no surprise to find that the Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers have all perished, or that the Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells have now all entered into hibernation. However, there were still plenty of butterflies to see - I counted 53 Speckled Woods, 4 worn female Common Blues, 3 Small Whites, 1 Green-veined White, 2 male Brimstones, 1 Red Admiral and 7 freshly emerged Commas - the latter all seen gorging themselves on fermenting blackberries.


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