Butterfly Conservation
Saving butterflies, moths and our environment
Hampshire and
Isle of Wight Branch

Important Message (14 May 2020)

The UK Government's latest message is that we must stay alert. This means that we must stay at home as much as possible, work from home if we can, limit contact with other people, keep our distance if we go out (2 metres apart where possible) and wash our hands regularly.

However we are now also permitted to exercise outdoors as often as we wish. Consequently, Butterfly Conservation and the UKBMS have decided that transect walking can start in 2020. More details can be found on the Transect News page.

News

Please note that any sightings mentioned in news items do not automatically go into our records database. Sightings should be submitted using one of the mechanisms listed on the Recording page.

06 Jul 2020

Monks Walk, Frater Fields & Woods, Gosport. A mixture of blackberrying and butterfly spotting for 3 hours from 10 a.m. and good success in both ventures! We couldn't top the maximum of 19 species (26 June) but came close with eighteen today. The Skippers dominate the fields with Comma well represented in the hedgerows. It is always pleasing to see Common Blue numbers increasing and especially when a female is recorded. Sadly the White-letter Hairstreak appears finished nor did White Admiral show up today. The buddleia is abundant and attracting many butterflies in the enclosed meadow. All in all a really good morning. Total: Small White (16); Marbled White (27); Small Tortoiseshell (2); Red Admiral (4); Gatekeeper (12); Essex Skipper (4); Common Blue (M)(4)(F)(1); Small Skipper (46+); u/i Skipper (50+); Speckled Wood (1); Comma (17); Ringlet (10); Meadow Brown (34); Holly Blue (2); Peacock (4); Green-veined White (2); Small Copper (1); Large White (2); Purple Hairstreak (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Common Blue male
Photo © Francis Plowman
Common Blue female Var Fb
Photo © Francis Plowman
Comma
Photo © Francis Plowman

Alice Holt Forest. Today despite the weather being rather cloudy at times was a triumph. My best day of Purple Emperoring by a long way. Jackie my wife and I arrived at our destination at 09:30 and at 10:05 we saw our first male Emperor and he was oak edging for a few, minutes, and then we saw a female close by but she was in a large sallow keeping out of the way, she was surrounded by several males who were flying around her and above and over the sallow thicket, but she was not spotted.. Here she sat for well over an hour, looking across the ride. In two hours I noted in my notepad the Purple Emperor (28) times this includes two females. This would mean probably there were at least 10 males in and around our area, allowing for counting some twice or even three times, plus the two females as well. One male came down on to the ground and started imbibe but unfortunately he was very skittish. The highlight of the observation's was seeing a pristine female in a Caprea Sallow tree, she was sat there for a good 20 odd minutes, quite low down, just looking at us.This was at 10:55 and at 11:18 she started to start egg laying which is about the right time. Out she came and she looked enormous, and in fine fettle too. In and out of the sallow she weaved, diving into the back laying one egg and then two, then having a little rest up. we watched her doing this for a good 10 minutes until we lost her. All the males had been sallow searching and Oak edging, which means they were not that old, probably emerging in the last few days.

At one of the Assembly Points there was one male on station, but it was 14:30 and the weather had closed in with just a few glimpses of sunshine. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Female Purple Emperor on Sallow
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Female Silver-Washed Fritillary
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Bramble pecked White Admiral
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

Basingstoke hairstreaks. Despite rather cloudy conditions, a visit to Basing Wood in the morning gave good views of four Purple Hairstreaks. Two were low down amongst oak leaves (1st photo), the other two were seen on bramble leaves at rest and walking around. One opened its wings and basked (2nd photo) as sunshine tried to break through the clouds. In the afternoon, a visit to Crabtree Plantation yielded four White-letter Hairstreaks. Three were binocular views at rest high on elm foliage, but the fourth and final sighting, spotted by a friend, was less than a metre above ground level, at rest on an elm leaf. In the cloudy conditions, this pristine individual was very well behaved and provided plenty of photo opportunities. An impressive number (15+) of Commas, mostly on bramble was another highlight of this last site. [Posted by Andy Barker]

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Purple Hairstreaks (2)
Photo © Andy Barker
Purple Hairstreak basking
Photo © Andy Barker
White-letter Hairstreak
Photo © Andy Barker

05 Jul 2020

Browndown (South) Gosport. You never know for certain when access is available to the MOD training area at Browndown so I took a chance today despite the very strong wind from the SW. The red flag wasn't flying and the sun shone with temperature at 21 degrees Celsius but felt much fresher near the coast. Eleven sightings made but all species in single numbers and hardly surprising. The Grayling was my target but it was not found today. Totals: Gatekeeper (6); Small Heath (1); Small Copper (7); Meadow Brown (9); Marbled White (8); Ringlet (3); Small Skipper (2); u/i Skipper (3); Purple Hairstreak (4); Large White (1); Small White (2); Comma (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Gatekeeper
Photo © Francis Plowman
Purple Hairstreak
Photo © Francis Plowman
Purple Hairstreak
Photo © Francis Plowman

West Walk and Creech Wood. Visited two woods today and there was a fair amount of strong winds again, but lots of good sunshine, in fact the sun was out 100% of the time. West Walk (east) was a new area for me, although I had taken a field trip there last year in the western part of the wood and we had a lot of success with the Purple Emperor, this was on the eastern edge of the wood, and again it looked very good for the Purple Emperor, but alas it was too windy I feel. I spent about an hour and a half looking, but went back to nearby Creech Wood, at about 12:15. At 12:20 I saw my first male looking in and around the Douglas Fir trees which align the way-leaves area, it was still very windy. At 12:30 I saw a female Purple Emperor over the sallow strewn area of the way-leaves, it looked at if it had been laying eggs, and had been disturbed by a large flock of Long-Tailed Tits which I noticed had been sulking in the undergrowth. I walked further along to another vista, and saw another male at 12:35, he was flying in and around the vista , when a gale hit him and he just couldn't control his flight and he was gone. Another female was seen over sallow at 12:40 further up the way-leaves, but I lost sight of her, when I looked in and around the area. It wasn't a good day for White Admirals, not seeing one in either wood, and only 4 or five Silver-Washed Fritillary in Creech Wood. Many Red Admirals and Commas again in both woods, but the Purple Emperor now is getting hard to find. [Posted by Ashley whitlock]

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Skulking in the shadows a typical female Purple Emperor awaits.
Photo © Ashley whitlock
West Walk East
Photo © Ashley whitlock
In and amongst the sallow in Creech Wood
Photo © Ashley whitlock

Hairstreaks at Stockbridge Down. Despite blustery conditions, the warm sheltered areas at Stockbridge Down proved to have plenty of butterflies. A total of 21 different species were recorded in a 3hr visit. There were impressive numbers of Red Admirals, especially on bramble, but the highlight was seeing White-letter Hairstreak (3). One (on the NT reserve) was fairly low down taking nectar from a bramble flower, the other two (males), just off the reserve, gave good views through binoculars when at rest at the top of a hedge, between bouts of spiralling as they battled over territory. On the return to the lower car park several Purple Hairstreaks (4+) were seen on the SW sunny side of some oaks. Photo opportunities were limited, but I've included a couple of record shots of the hairstreaks. [Posted by Andy Barker]

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White-letter Hairstreak on bramble
Photo © Andy Barker
Purple Hairstreak hiding
Photo © Andy Barker
Brimstone on Musk Thistle
Photo © Andy Barker

03 Jul 2020

Havant Thicket. Today I walked Havant Thicket to search for the Purple Emperor. None were seen, the temperature was 17 degrees, around 10 degrees lower than my previous visit during the heatwave. A total of 12 species were seen with increasing numbers of Meadow Browns, but low numbers of most species. Totals: Small White 3, Gatekeeper 6, Marbled White 1, Meadow Brown 31, Ringlet 10, Peacock 1, Red Admiral 1, Silver-washed Fritillary 5, Small Tortoiseshell 1, White Admiral 1, Large Skipper 4, Small Skipper 1. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Southwick Park Trail, Southwick. Trying to find a location unaffected by the strong winds led us to the Southwick Park Trail in the village of Southwick. The gate is conveniently placed to the small car park by the village hall and leads through a mix of woodland paths, across a golf course, a few sunny glades in a circuit that returns one to the start. From 1450-1620 we followed the trail and saw nine species of butterfly. It would have been more but for the strength of wind and lack of consistent sunshine. But White Admiral turned-up so that was really nice and at one time we had four Red Admiral and a Comma settled on the pathway. Total: Red Admiral (15); Ringlet (2); Meadow Brown (18); Large Skipper (2); Comma (10); Peacock (3); Green-veined White (4); Gatekeeper (4); White Admiral (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Red Admiral in our way!
Photo © Francis Plowman
White Admiral
Photo © Francis Plowman
Large Skipper
Photo © Francis Plowman

Browndown South. Another trip to Browndown South - and another Force 7 gale. It's becoming a habit. My last opportunity for a while so had to go late afternoon just as the cloud thickened and the wind was strongest. At least it didn't rain. Managed to find my first Grayling of the year though (or rather it found me) which was worth the trip alone. Others seen were Small Copper (4), Marbled White, Common Blue (very fresh looking) and plenty of Purple Hairstreaks. The only one I could photo was on the ground - the rest were swinging about so wildly on the trees I was getting motion illness looking through the viewfinder! A lovely trip out despite the elements. [Posted by Mark Wagstaff]

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Small Copper - Browndown
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Grayling - Browndown
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Purple Hairstreak - Browndown
Photo © Mark Wagstaff

White-letter Hairstreak, Milton Common. A couple seen mid-afternoon in small copse containing elms on Milton Common between Eastern Rd and the cycle track. Don't know if this is a known site so GR is SU 6725 0103 . A couple at the top of a small tree that has been heavily strimmed below immediately next to the cycle track which was largely shelterd from the wind. [Posted by Keith Turner]

Creech Wood. Today was probably one of the windiest days Iíve ever had the pleasure of looking for HIM ever. I donít know whatĎs wrong with our weather but it seems to be windy every day we just cannot shake it off.

In the wayleaves again I had a look in the same places as last time, and spotted my first male Purple Emperor at 10:50 at the gap where it meets the small footpath. It seems to be a good area where there are several small and medium sized conifers and a few small beech and hazel stands and a good under-storey of Sallow, facing North again. He was flying towards the western end of the tree line from the eastern part of the way-leaves.

Surprisingly in small bouts of really good sunshine there was no action, and I did not see a Silver-washed Fritillary today, and only one White Admiral. At 11:15 another male was flying through the vista from East to West and circling in the Vista looking for something, but generally ambling about, and again a male seen flying 11:22 in and over some tall conifers but the wind was just about putting the mockers on everything.

At 12:00 I decided to walk a fair way along the way-leaves as it rises up slightly and here at 12:20 a male was seen over a smallish Oak and some conifers in good sunny period, he was flying in and around the conifers and decided to go up and over going south. Going back retracing my steps but a lot further in on a ride path, under the Oak under-story I espied another male at 12:30 patrolling over a stand of conifers close to the way-leaves going west again. At this time it was not sunny at all and very windy, but it didnít seem to bother him. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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First Gatekeepers of the season seen today
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Several Commas including one Hutchinsoni
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Marbled White mating hundreds of these along the power lines
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

02 Jul 2020

Monks Walk, Frater Fields & Woods, Gosport. My walk from 1200-1500 was rain interrupted and with a very strong wind augured ill for butterflies. Leaving the exposed areas well alone, however, some 14 species were numbered today including a mating pair of Essex Skipper right on the edge of the harbour shore. A rather ragged if not exhausted Painted Lady resigned itself to my intrusion and was still on the grass as I left. Flying in that strength of wind clearly had taken its toll. Total: Marbled White (23); Meadow Brown (22); Small White (8); Ringlet (22); Gatekeeper (3); Red Admiral (9); Comma (7); Large White (3); Peacock (2); Small Skipper (15); Essex Skipper (9); u/i Skipper (35); Common Blue (M)(2); Painted Lady (1); Holly Blue (M)(1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Ringlet
Photo © Francis Plowman
Painted Lady
Photo © Francis Plowman
Essex Skipper (black underside antenna tips)
Photo © Francis Plowman

01 Jul 2020

Martin Down National Nature Reserve North. After circulating the southern sector of the reserve we crossed the main road and for an hour 1500-1600 did a hasty survey of the fields, paths and woodland edges. As we were late and the wind still very strong many species were roosting and tolerated approach. One again there was not a single blue to be seen and the anticipated White Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillary was absent. Totals: Purple Hairstreak (1); Meadow Brown (50); Small Skipper (47); Dark Green Fritillary (12); Marbled White (55); Peacock (7); Small White (7); Ringlet (24); Small Heath (5); Comma (1); Large Skipper (4); Gatekeeper (1); Small Copper (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Small Copper
Photo © Francis Plowman
Small Skipper
Photo © Francis Plowman
Marbled White
Photo © Francis Plowman

Martin Down National Nature Reserve South. As we were in the Fordingbridge area we took a chance (of getting well soaked) to visit Martin Down. Under cloudy and threatening skies and buffeted by a very strong SW breeze we circulated the main paths and ditch edge between 1310-1445. We were neither drenched nor chilly but entertained by 13 species of butterfly. Significantly absent from the site including the chalk areas was any blues. Dark Green Fritillary was our 'target' and many were seen. At last a Large White settled for a photograph; it's been hard up to now to get them to stop! Total: Small White (29); Meadow Brown (45); Marbled White (69); Dark Green Fritillary (47); Small Skipper (35); Ringlet (19); Large White (14); Peacock (5); Small Heath (5); Brimstone (M)(1); Green-veined White (3); Red Admiral (1); Small Tortoiseshell (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Peacock
Photo © Francis Plowman
Dark Green Fritillary
Photo © Francis Plowman
Small Tortoiseshell
Photo © Francis Plowman

Birth of a White Admiral!. I was lucky to come across this chap today, which was just starting to emerge from its egg when I was out monitoring White Admiral eggs today at Pamber Forest. Out of 42 eggs found so far this year (which seems to be extremely good for White Admiral), 6 have already been predated, so I hope this one makes it through. [Posted by Pete Eeles]

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White Admiral 1st instar larva
Photo © Pete Eeles
White Admiral 1st instar larva
Photo © Pete Eeles
White Admiral 1st instar larva
Photo © Pete Eeles

Kevin Ross Nature Reserve, North Baddesley. It been about two years since Kevin invited up to see his reserve at North Baddesley and today was a good opportunity, although the weather wasn't great it did show what amazing amount of work he has put into his reserve, and what potential the site has. There were countless amount of invertebrates in the meadow, with Roesel's Bush Crickets,Common Green Grasshoppers, Meadow Grasshopper, several Long Horned Beetles, 7 spotted Ladybirds, Burnet Moths, all of the Skippers, Essex, Small, and Large by the hatful, Ringlets, Marbled Whites, and Meadow Brown, with many wild flowers,Small Scabious, Marsh Thistles, Self Heal,Birds Foot Trefoil,Hawks-beard, Stinging Nettle, Bramble and a host of other wild plants. We also saw a young Adder and many Slow Worms. In the Woods there are many good sallow stands and Medium to large Oaks, and I've never seen so much Honeysuckle, which is probably why today was my best count of White Admiral for many years, up to 25 plus I would say. Several Silver-washed Fritillary graced us with their presence, and of course a couple of Male Purple Emperors zoomed overhead in one of the rides, however I never saw where they went, and a suspected Assembly point never produced any flights. It was rather windy and the trees which were either Grand Fir trees or Western Hemlock were swaying much too much for any action today. All in all a great afternoon and thumbs up to Kevin for a wonderful site, which I thoroughly recommend to visit. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Woodland ride where two Purple Emperors zoomed through
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Mating Essex Skippers
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Newly emerged Small Skipper
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

29 Jun 2020

Wootton Coppice. Very strong breeze but in a sheltered part of the wood we found 10 Silver-washed Fritillary 2 White Admirals, 8 Ringlet, 2 Marbled White, Meadow Brown, Red Admiral, Peacock and a Speckled Wood. [Posted by Tony and Jill Blakeley]

Browndown South. Not a great day to look for butterflies but with Browndown South shut so often I took a chance this morning. Lots of cloud, cool temperatures and a Force 7 wind did nothing for any flying insects. In 2.5 hours there I only saw a total of 4 butterflies - 3 Purple Hairstreaks and a lone Small Copper. No sign of Grayling yet - poor weather and probably too early even for this advanced season. One of the Purple Hairstreaks 'performed' really well though and gave plenty of photo opportunities. On a less windy day the photos would have been relatively easy - today I managed to salvage less than 10% of those I took with the oak leaves swinging wildly in the wind! Just hope for better weather before the site closes again [Posted by Mark Wagstaff]

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Purple Hairstreak - Browndown South
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Purple Hairstreak - Browndown South
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Small Copper - Browndown South
Photo © Mark Wagstaff

Lockdown Larvae. One of the positives to have emerged in recent months is the opportunity to pay more attention to Nature closer to home. In my garden, one which in small part by design (for which read, well intentioned) and through most part by benign neglect, there is a variety of wildlife-friendly grasses, wildflowers, shrubs and trees. This past week or so, Iíve been keeping an eye on a vigorous ragwort plant supporting a healthy colony of Cinnabar Moth larvae. There are about 40 caterpillars on this one plant, although counting them is trickier than one would imagine. [Posted by Kevin Freeborn]

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If you look closely (click on the image) you can see the larvae munching their way through their ragwort world.
Photo © Kevin Freeborn
Cinnabar Moth larvae eating the unopened ragwort flower heads as well as the leaves.
Photo © Kevin Freeborn
Close scrutiny shows the larva dusted with ragwort pollen.
Photo © Kevin Freeborn

28 Jun 2020

Monks Walk, Frater Fields & Woods, Gosport. Sixteen species defied the strong winds today during my walk (1250-1515) when the temperature was late teens Celsius. Skippers predominate although identification remains problematical. As the Small Skippers age so their brown antennae appear to darken somewhat almost to the black of the Essex Skipper antennae. I find that gaining an underside glimpse of the antennae is crucial for correct verification, but always challenging. Sadly one Small Skipper fell foul of a large white spider. New Common Blue emergence is on the way with two superb males seen as was a remarkably fresh Red Admiral which was very patient as I approached for a close-up. Total: Meadow Brown (48); Marbled White (52); Small White (11); Ringlet (18); Small Skipper (9); Essex Skipper (8); u/i Skipper (43); Gatekeeper (3); Red Admiral (6); Comma (24); Large White (3); Small Copper (1); Common Blue (M)(2); Holly Blue (2); Purple Hairstreak (1); Speckled Wood (3); Small Tortoiseshell (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Common Blue male
Photo © Francis Plowman
Red Admiral
Photo © Francis Plowman
Gatekeeper
Photo © Francis Plowman

Creech Wood. It was good to read of so many good sightings of the Purple Emperor today as I went to a site I don't normally have a good count. But today was totally different, as Jackie my wife and I visited which should be one of the best sites in the county, as the sallow count in this wood is phenomenal. We went down the wayleaves, (Electricity Pylons) which is covered in sallow, and we looked at the north facing side away from the strong wind. In the space of an hour 11:30 to 12:30 we encountered 10 males. Several were searching the sallows for virgin females, and several were seen having a bit of a ding dong in the gaps in the trees, easily viewed. With counting twice I suspect we saw (4/5)individuals. Other counts were Silver-washed Fritillary, White Admiral, Small Skipper and Essex Skipper by the hundred, Marbled Whites, Ringlets, and Hutchinsoni Commas. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Sallow strewn Wayleaves in Creech Wood
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Silver-Washed Fritillary on bramble
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Small Skipper
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

Botley Wood/Whiteley Pastues. The conditions this morning weren't ideal for butterflies, with a fair bit of cloud and a bit of a breeze, but it was certainly an improvement on yesterday's wet and windy weather so I decided to give Botley Wood and Whiteley Pastures a go. The highlight was a Purple Emperor seen gliding around an oak by the main Whiteley track, just below the top of Ridge Copse. As I watched, it settled fairly low down and allowed some good views to be enjoyed before disappearing. There were also a few White Admirals (all at Botley Wood) and some Silver-washed Fritillary. Full list of sightings: 6 Large Skipper; 20 Small Skipper; 1 Holly Blue; 6 Silver-washed Fritillary; 1 Purple Emperor; 3 White Admiral; 18 Marbled White; 30 Meadow Brown; 12 Ringlet; 1 Speckled Wood. Also 1 Beautiful Demoiselle; 1 Azure Damselfly; 1 Golden-ringed Dragonfly; 1 Ruddy Darter; 1 Common Darter. [Posted by Mark Rolfe]

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Purple Emperor
Photo © Mark Rolfe
Silver-washed Fritillary
Photo © Mark Rolfe
White Admiral
Photo © Mark Rolfe

27 Jun 2020

Puss moth chrysalis. On 4th June I collected poplar leaves from Broadmarsh in Havant to feed hawk moth caterpillars we were feeding. At home we found I had also inadvertantly collected puss moth caterpillars - more mouths to feed.

On 27th we have chrysalis. [Posted by John Goodspeed]

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Photo © John Goodspeed

26 Jun 2020

Purple Emperors - West Wood. This has to go down as one of the most exciting introductions to a butterfly transect! I met with two new butterfly transect walkers to show them around the West Wood (Winchester) butterfly transect, and the various butterflies they might expect to see. None of us expected that within the first 100-150 metres of Section 1 of the transect we'd encounter not one, not two, but three Purple Emperors!! The first, at 10.35am, flew around us then settled high on a hazel allowing some photos from distance, before disappearing up to the tree-tops. The second was disturbed from the ground shortly afterwards (10.40am), flew a couple of metres then settled on the path, probing away on extremely dry ground. The third (11.05am), seen further along the track, was flying low and investigating the ground surface before settling to probe the dry surface. Having had little success it then moved to try imbibing fluid from low vegetation in the shade. The left forewing of this individual was curiously only about two thirds the correct size (see second photo) but didn't seem to affect its flight. Other highlights of the visit were Silver-washed Fritillary (8), White Admiral (3) and Scarlet Tiger Moth (3). [Posted by Andy Barker]

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Purple Emperor on hazel
Photo © Andy Barker
Purple Emperor probing
Photo © Andy Barker
Purple Emperor (underside)
Photo © Andy Barker

Monks Walk, Frater Fields & Woods, Gosport. Today I spent 4 hours at Monks Walk from 1030 when the temperature was already 24.5C and the winds very slight. It was an amazing experience with 19 species being recorded and most photographed. A Cuckoo was heard somewhere in the woods. Had the White-letter Hairstreak, Peacock and Brown Argus (all recorded this week here) put in an appearance it would have been an amazing haul! Four mating pairs were found, Meadow Brown (2 pair), Marbled White and Green-veined White. First Gatekeeper of the year recorded too. A Small Tortoiseshell was nectaring on wild Buddleia that I had cut back hard in the Spring! To cap it all White Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillary put in an appearance. Totals: Marbled White (46); Small White (13); Meadow Brown (71); Ringlet (18); Comma (10); Small Skipper (18); Green-veined White (3); Large White (5); Red Admiral (5); Gatekeeper (3); Large Skipper (1); Essex Skipper (3); u/i Skipper (50); Purple Hairstreak (1); Small Copper (2); Speckled Wood (6); White Admiral (1); Silver-washed Fritillary (1); Holly Blue (3); Small Tortoiseshell (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Marbled White mating pair
Photo © Francis Plowman
White Admiral
Photo © Francis Plowman
Green-veined White mating pair
Photo © Francis Plowman

Multiple Emperor Fly-Pasts In Abbotts Wood Crowned By Grounded Male. A one and a half hour exploration along the main track in Abbotts Wood this morning produced 4 encounters with male Purple Emperors, including fly-pasts, brief tree landings and ground skimming. Best of all, however, was one male down on the ground for about 15 minutes, flying around close to ground a few times before settling to take minerals and then repeating the stunt several times, occasionally flicking open his wings to reveal his emperor sheen. This male was at first glance in perfect condition but on closer inspection, was missing a small piece from his rear right wing. [Posted by Alan Thornbury]

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Purple Emperor (Male)
Photo © Alan Thornbury
Purple Emperor (Male)
Photo © Alan Thornbury
Purple Emperor (Male)
Photo © Alan Thornbury

Pitt Down & West Wood. Surprised to pick up a White-letter Hairstreak today at ground level on the Pitt Down transect.

Couldn't resist popping into West Wood after and was almost immediately rewarded with a grounded male Purple Emperor, who resolutely refused to orient himself for a decent photograph. A couple of females a bit later on proved far more compliant. [Posted by Rupert Broadway]

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White-letter Hairstreak at Pitt Down
Photo © Rupert Broadway
Purple Emperor (female) at West Wood
Photo © Rupert Broadway

25 Jun 2020

Chilling Coastal Area, Titchfield. It was 29.5C on arriving at the copse car park at 1130 for a 2.5 hours' circular perambulation of the woods, field edges, shore and cliff-top path by Brownwich. Hoping the recent warm southerly breezes had brought some Clouded Yellow over from France but, sadly, this was not confirmed. Sixteen species were sighted included my first Gatekeeper of the season; it wouldn't settle but a lucky mid-air shot confirmed the elusive butterfly! Total: Large White (8); White Admiral (6); Meadow Brown (120++); Small White (10); Marbled White (46); Peacock (2); Holly Blue (2); Ringlet (3); Small Tortoiseshell (1); Small Skipper (5); Essex Skipper (3); u/i Skipper (35); Large Skipper (3); Comma (4); Red Admiral (1); Speckled Wood (1); Gatekeeper (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Marbled White female
Photo © Francis Plowman
Small White mating (female left butterfly)
Photo © Francis Plowman
Distant White Admiral
Photo © Francis Plowman

Haslar Sea Wall Car Park Scrub - Gosport. Half-hour circulation of this small scrubby field from 3pm (26.5 deg C) provided a count of six species. Total: Essex Skipper (20); Marbled White (30); Meadow Brown (12); Holly Blue (F)(1); Small Skipper (10); Brown Argus (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Holly Blue female
Photo © Francis Plowman
Marbled White male
Photo © Francis Plowman
Small Skipper
Photo © Francis Plowman

24 Jun 2020

Havant Thicket Purple Emperor. On what was the hottest day of the year, in the late morning I visited Havant Thicket where the temperature reached a scorching 28 degrees. Looking once more for the Purple Emperor, I saw a male circle and then land part of the way down the long main West side track. It remained feeding on moisture on the path for around 10 minutes allowing for some photographs to be taken. Silver-washed Fritillarys were still in single figures, while I also saw my first White Admiral of the season, with Meadow Browns flying everywhere. Totals: Brimstone 1M 1F, Small White 2, Marbled White 14, Meadow Brown 78, Ringlet 3, Purple Emperor 1, Red Admiral 1, Silver-washed Fritillary 8, White Admiral 1, Large Skipper 11. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Homerhill & Pigeonhouse Coppices, Boarhunt. A mid-afternoon stroll along the 1km-long ride produced 3 White Admiral, 6 Silver-washed Fritillary (all male), 2 Red Admiral, and numerous Meadow Brown, Ringlet, and skippers feasting on the plethora of bramble blossom. The woods are no longer managed for pheasant shooting, which perhaps explains the poor showing of fritillaries. [Posted by Andrew Brookes]

Ranvilles Lane, Stubbington. An afternoon walk around my local fields produced 14 species of butterfly. I'd seen White-letter Hairstreak in the elms by the RSPCA last year for the first time so I was keen to see if I could see any today. I soon spotted three from the lane itself, adjacent to the Ark, including good views of a perched individual. A Purple Hairstreak was in the oaks by the wooden footbridge - a regular spot for them. Butterflies seen:

6 Essex Skipper, 1 Large Skipper, 3 White-letter Hairstreak, 1 Purple Hairstreak, 20 Large White, 50 Small White, 1 Green-veined White, 3 Small Tortoiseshell, 2 Red Admiral, 2 Peacock, 4 Comma, 12 Marbled White, 50 Meadow Brown, 6 Ringlet. Also 2 Golden-ringed Dragonfly, 4 Emperor Dragonfly, 1 Broad-bodied Chaser, 6 Black-tailed Skimmer, 12 Azure Damselfly, 6 Common Blue Damselfly and 5 Blue-tailed Damselfly. [Posted by Mark Rolfe]

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Marbled White
Photo © Mark Rolfe
White-letter Hairstreak (record shot)
Photo © Mark Rolfe
White-letter Hairstreak (record shot
Photo © Mark Rolfe

Browndown (North) Gosport. Access to Browndown's southern (military training area) being closed it was to the woods and heaths of the northern area that we visited between 1050-1250. The temperature rose steadily to reach 29 degrees Celsius and the breeze across the heath-land was warm but fairly strong. We went in search of Silver-studded Blue on the heath and White Admiral within the woodland glades. A single specimen of each was seen. More Small Copper were recorded today but the Skippers predominate. Totals: Marbled White (49); Meadow Brown (35); Essex Skipper (3); Small Skipper (2); u/i Skipper (61); Large Skipper (2); Ringlet (4); Small Copper (5); Purple Hairstreak (1); Comma (5); Peacock (1); Small White (4); Large White (4); Small Heath (1); Silver-studded Blue (M)(1); White Admiral (1); Green-veined White (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Small Copper
Photo © Francis Plowman
Silver-studded Blue male
Photo © Francis Plowman
White Admiral
Photo © Francis Plowman

Martin Down (Wooded Area). Not easy to say exactly which county a lot of these sightings were as I was literally right on the border with Dorset. However a three hour visit in the heat from 10.00 until 13.00 to the wooded part of the down only (across the main A354 Salisbury-Blandford road) produced Dark Green Fritillary 21, Silver-washed Fritillary 4, White Admiral 5, Small Skipper 34, Large Skipper 10, Meadow Brown 150+, Ringlet 54, Small Copper 1, Marbled White 200+, Small White 3, Large White 4, Small Heath 3, Brimstone 1, Red Admiral 2, Small Tortoiseshell 3, Scarlet Tiger 1, Cinnabar 4, Thistle Ermine 1. The most bizarre sighting was the Ringlet/Meadow Brown mating pair! [Posted by Mark Pike]

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Dark Green Fritillary (without much dark green!)
Photo © Mark Pike
Marbled White (male & female)
Photo © Mark Pike
Ringlet+Meadow Brown mating pair!
Photo © Mark Pike

23 Jun 2020

Chalton Down. After a visit to Old Winchester Hill, I called in Chalton Down on my way home where the temperature had increased to 24 degrees. As expected with the scrub clearance and shorter turf, numbers are well below usual at this site for the time of year. Totals: Brimstone 1F, Small White 1, Marbled White 6, Meadow Brown 10 and Large Skipper 1. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Old Winchester Hill. Today I visited Old Winchester Hill, where during the late morning the temperature reached 23 degrees. I walked to the hill fort, walking around the perimeter then returned via the steps and the car park slope. Plenty of Meadow Browns and Marbled Whites were recorded with the Common Blues all gone. Totals: Large White 2, Small White 3, Marbled White 34, Meadow Brown 45, Small Heath 6, Comma 1, Speckled Wood 1, Painted Lady 1, Red Admiral 2, Silver-washed Fritillary 1, Small Tortoiseshell 4, Large Skipper 2. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Monks Walk, Frater Fields & Woods, Gosport. Yesterday's count of 14 species was topped today by 17; the aggregate of species for the two days, 19. This included first summer emergence of Peacock, my first sighting of Painted Lady at this site this year and a clearer sighting of White-letter Hairstreak. Getting-up at silly o'clock in order to see if WLH was equally an early riser, my walk started at the elms at 0945 with the temperature at 21.5C. For half an hour with my 300mm macro not a sign of the WLH. But the enclosed area was well alive with butterflies so I changed to the fixed 100mm macro. Then the inevitable happened; the WLH immediately dropped from the elms and landed at the back of the brambles to feed! So the shot is terrible but WLH are definitely back! The long and thorough walk ended at 1345 when the temperature was 25 degrees Celsius. Beautiful day. Totals: Small White (8); Marbled White (44); Meadow Brown (94); Comma (11); Ringlet (7); Small Skipper (15); White-letter Hairstreak (1); Peacock (1); Painted Lady (1); Brown Argus (1); Large White (3); Speckled Wood (3); Essex Skipper (3); Large Skipper (1); Small Tortoiseshell (1); Red Admiral (3); Holly Blue (1); u/i Skippers (53). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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White-letter Hairstreak
Photo © Francis Plowman
Painted Lady with damaged wing
Photo © Francis Plowman
Peacock, summer brood
Photo © Francis Plowman

Browndown North. A walk from home today for a pleasant change. With Browndown South closed (for the week by the look of it) that meant a trip to Browndown North taking in some of the Alver Valley on the way back. The highlight was undoubtedly 2 White Admirals in the oak copse. Unlike somewhere like Whiteley where I expect/hope to see them, I've always found this relatively small oak copse a bit hit and miss so seeing any is more of a bonus for me. The 2 today were just at the start of the copse, entering it from the Gosport Road end. Also seen were lots of Marbled Whites in the (parched!) fields, Small, Essex and Large Skippers, Speckled Woods and a brilliant orange Comma that is presumably second generation. My id skills with skippers are not great, but I've labelled the one below as an Essex Skipper because of the black markings on the antennae. Very happy to be corrected. All underwing photos today for a change - the Marbled Whites in particular are always striking. [Posted by Mark Wagstaff]

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Comma - Alver Valley
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Marbled White - Browndown North
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Essex Skipper - Browndown North
Photo © Mark Wagstaff

22 Jun 2020

Havant Thicket. Today I visited Havant Thicket where the temperature reached 19 degrees. Hoping to search for any early sightings of the Purple Emperor, I did not see any, but was rewarded with a Purple Hairstreak resting on a low branch of an Oak and my first sighting this season of a Ringlet. Silver-washed Fritillarys were in single figures, unusual for this time of year. Totals: Large White 1, Small White 1, Purple Hairstreak 1, Marbled White 2, Meadow Brown 35, Ringlet 2, Speckled Wood 1, Comma 1, Silver-washed Fritillary 6, and Large Skipper 17. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Sightings in Crab Wood, Farley Mount. In a short walk through Crab Wood this afternoon we saw around half a dozen White Admirals and Silver-washed Fritillary. [Posted by Bob Whitmarsh]

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White Admiral somewhat worse for wear
Photo © Bob Whitmarsh
Female Silver-washed Fritillary
Photo © Bob Whitmarsh

Monks Walk, Frater Fields & Woods, Gosport. Fourteen species including first sighting of White-letter Hairstreak and Purple Hairstreak! Just over 3.5 hours from 1125 this morning with warm sunshine but strong southerly breeze so the very largest and most exposed field (belonging still to the MOD) was avoided. (This field is prodigious for Meadow Brown and Skippers). Two White-letter Hairstreak were noted around mid-afternoon buzzing over and around the same elms as last year; I waited but neither descended. Better luck earlier or later in the day I guess. The largest oak tree in the area also had Purple Hairstreak high in its branches. The photograph albeit at a distance was a total fluke. Totals today: Marbled White (29); Meadow Brown (43); Small White (11); Comma (17); Ringlet (8); Holly Blue (7); Red Admiral (6); Small Skipper (7); Speckled Wood (2); Large White (4); Essex Skipper (2); Green-veined White (F)(1); White-letter Hairstreak (2); Purple Hairstreak (2); u/i Skipper (21). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Distant Purple Hairstreak
Photo © Francis Plowman
Comma
Photo © Francis Plowman
Small Skipper pair
Photo © Francis Plowman

White-letter Hairstreak at Newport,IoW.. At least one White-letter Hairstreak seen flying among the lower branches of the DR Elm at Towngate,Newport this afternoon. [Posted by Peter Hunt]

Whiteley Pastures/Botley Wood. Another lovely morning in Whiteley. More cloud than anticipated but plenty of sunshine too. Numbers of woodland species seem to be increasing - I managed just into double figures of White Admirals and Silver-washed Fritillary in a 2.5 hour walk. Also plenty of Large Skippers (still not seen a Small Skipper here), Speckled Woods and Marbled Whites. Some dragonflies about too - BT Skimmer and Emperor on the main track. No sign of a PE but it surely can't be long now. I think there were others about looking so fingers crossed they had some luck. [Posted by Mark Wagstaff]

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White Admiral - Whiteley
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Silver Washed Fritillary - Whiteley
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Marbled White - Botley Wood
Photo © Mark Wagstaff

21 Jun 2020

West Wood. A number of Silver-washed Fritillary were out in West Wood (near Winchester) around mid-day last Sunday. I also found one Purple Emperor which stayed on the ground long enough for a picture before flying off towards Crab Wood. [Posted by Dave Pearson]

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Silver-washed Fritillary on Creeping Thistle
Photo © Dave Pearson
Purple Emperor on rotting vegetation
Photo © Dave Pearson

Better and better. A strong breeze kept butterflies conveniently low and concentrated. Small Tortoiseshells were abundant patrolling the resurgent nettles bordering the river Wallington at Boarhunt, while Comma, Meadow Brown, and Large Skipper enjoyed the bramble blossom in the lee of Gravel Hole Copse. Earlier at Great Fontley, a Purple Hairstreak was seen on the lowest branch of one of the many oaks. [Posted by Andrew Brookes]

Hampshire's Purple!. It's been a long time stuck in first gear but today I have the pleasure of saying Hampshire is now in 5th gear and the colour is Purple! In Abbotts Wood Inclosure today I saw at least 6 Purple Emperor males. Several of these were just meandering in and around the tops of the Oaks sprigs, hoping to bump into another of their kind, of which happened several times later on, when they started playing catch me if you can. I think they have all come out today or probably last night, which must have been a rude wake up call as it rained quite heavily in the night. Also today it was very windy so the Assembly Points normally used were not occupied as there were some pretty strong gusts going through the vistas today. There was one male grounded but he didn't stay long and was very jittery.

Other species of note were Silver-washed Fritillary, White Admiral, Peacock, Comma, Ringlets, Marbled Whites, and Purple Hairstreak. I never saw any Skippers, which is quite unusual at this site. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Good areas of Sallow now in the rides.
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Ride in Abbotts Wood Inclosure
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Silver Washed Fritillary posing
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

20 Jun 2020

Lone White-letter Meets Oxeye in SE Hants. I made a brief early afternoon visit to a roadside White-letter Hairstreak site just down the road (the A27 that is) from their currently inaccessible local HQ at North Harbour. I was rewarded with the appearance of a single male, initially feeding deep in the bramble thicket below the elms, but thankfully making a short foray to sample the nearby Oxeye daisies, before flying off over the roadside fence. [Posted by Alan Thornbury]

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White-letter Hairstreak (Male)
Photo © Alan Thornbury
White-letter Hairstreak (Male)
Photo © Alan Thornbury

Test Valley Tortoiseshells. An amazing sight of a riverside meadow of comfrey and thistle filled with Small Tortoiseshell butterflies today, off of the Clarendon Way just east of Houghton. Impossible to count, but we've never seen so many in one place; they were crowding every thistle head, joined by a few Red Admiral and Small White. [Posted by Rupert & Sharron Broadway]

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Photo © Rupert & Sharron BroadwayPhoto © Rupert & Sharron Broadway

19 Jun 2020

Monks Walk, Frater Fields & Woods, Gosport. The overcast skies and strong wind provided opportunities to see butterflies on a slow wander around just three relatively weather-protected sites. From 1340-1610 with a temperature around 19 degrees Celsius some 9 butterflies were seen including my first Small Copper and Ringlet at Monks Walk this year and (at last) my first female Marbled White; as far as mates are concerned she will be spoiled for choice! Sadly one fresh male Marbled White was struggling with clearly deformed wings and a nearby colourful dragonfly was likely to find an easy meal. Large Peacock larvae were noted wandering away from the nettles so hopefully Peacock on the wing next month. So numbers down but great opportunities to have a close look at many of them. Totals: Meadow Brown (18); Marbled White (20); Small Skipper (5); Ringlet (2); Comma (7); Small White (1); Essex Skipper (4); Small Copper (1); Large White (1). Plus one unidentified Skipper. [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Ringlet
Photo © Francis Plowman
Small Copper
Photo © Francis Plowman
Marbled White female
Photo © Francis Plowman

White-letter Hairstreak at Yew Hill. Fairly distant, but definite, sighting of a White-letter Hairstreak this afternoon, having spotted a small butterfly landing on top of one of the elms in the lane behind Yew Hill reserve. Once I'd taken my binoculars off, no chance of finding it again with the branches swaying merrily in the stiff breeze! [Posted by Rupert Broadway]

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