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

News Archive for Jul 2016

31 Jul 2016

Double Visit. Took a final trip of the year to Alice Holt and stopped off at Oxenbourne on the way. Good numbers of Chalkhills were fluttering across the turf - probably the best numbers of any species so far this year - including several mating pairs and egg laying females. Only one Silver Spotted Skipper, which is a bit worrying, but also caught up with Dark Green Fritillary and all of the other usual downland species.

At Alice Holt butterflies were almost non-existent at Straits Inclosure with a few Meadow Browns and just a handful of Silver Washed Fritillaries.

Half hours at the Goose Green territory in perfect weather revealed nothing on the Emperor front I but did discover a nice female Adder and a second brood Holly Blue - so it didn’t bode well for my last stop at Abbotts wood.

After an hour of searching the usual spots and some prime sallow I finally spotted a small movement in the top of a large sallow which turned out to be an inactive female flicking her wings as she was being annoyed by a fly. She sat in the same spot for 45mins before flapping off presumably to finish her egg laying. I encountered two more males and a further female along with a courting pair of White Admirals but again overall numbers of all woodland species was very low. [Posted by Mark Tutton]

Parkhill Inclosure, New Forest. My search for "valezina" finally came to an end today with this individual along Frowhawk Ride. At one stage a male pursued her down the ride, with the male performing his 'cartwheel' display. Alas they separated without taking things further. Lots of gatekeepers were also present. [Posted by Paul Cox]

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Photo © Paul CoxPhoto © Paul CoxPhoto © Paul Cox

Brown Hairstreak at Shipton Bellinger. I saw at least 8 freshly emerged male Brown Hairstreaks at Shipton Bellinger during a two hour visit early this morning. The first was seen at 8.30, but I suspect they'd kicked off even earlier. They'd quietened down by 10.30. Most were seen over or around prominent ash trees close to sloe thickets. Please note that the best time to see Brown Hairstreak males is during the early morning, often from 8-10am. I also saw a few Purple Hairstreaks over the same ash trees and 3 Holly Blues.

There is going to be an eruption of Small Tortoiseshells here in about three weeks, given the abundance of larvae (in various stages) on fresh nettle regrowth in one of the cattle grazed fields. The nettles had been topped a few weeks back. [Posted by Matthew Oates]

30 Jul 2016

A thanks. On Saturday I photographed my species number 59 for the UK - many from Hants and completed in 360 days. Thanks to all the help and tips, particularly as I have AVN of the hip and so walking is tricky. I have site info for many and also 'Michael with the pink hat' I have lovely photos of Purple Emperor on you. markjonesbrack@me.com. Next year (with a fixed hip?) I want to join you folk in the hard labour of getting sites cleared etc. [Posted by Mark Jones]

Shipton Bellinger. Linda and I had an excellent visit to the area west of Shipton Bellinger this afternoon. We were fortunate to find a fresh male Brown Hairstreak along the main hedge that people visit. After a brief flight it settled and nectared on a bramble flower within the hedgerow, giving excellent views for several minutes. With my arm at full stretch I managed to get a few photos with my compact camera. We saw 18 butterfly species in total, with noteworthy counts being Brimstone (54), nectaring on Wild Basil, Green-veined White (16), Holly Blue (6), DG Fritillary (1), SW Fritillary (2), Peacock (9), Gatekeeper (61) and Meadow Brown (219). [Posted by Andy Barker]

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Brown Hairstreak (male)
Photo © Andy Barker
Brown Hairstreak (male)
Photo © Andy Barker

Brown Hairstreak Kicks Off At Shipton Bellinger. An early afternoon visit to Shipton Bellinger, as the skies began to brighten, paid off handsomely, with two male Brown Hairstreaks nectaring on bramble along the county boundary hedge. It was almost a case of two for the price of one, since just two yards separated them, yet neither moved more than a few inches during the half hour I was observing. It was just a pity that thick undergrowth and the lack of a step ladder prevented closer access!

The wild parsnip lining the hedgerow is rampant this year and can of course cause skin blisters – other observers beware! [Posted by Alan Thornbury]

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Brown Hairstreak
Photo © Alan Thornbury
Brown Hairstreak
Photo © Alan Thornbury
Brown Hairstreak
Photo © Alan Thornbury

29 Jul 2016

Fort Widley and Portsdown Hill. Today I visited Fort Widley, Portsdown Hill where the temperature was 19.5 degrees. Not much appeared to be flying with Marbled Whites totally absent. My totals: Large White 2, Small White 12, Meadow Brown 9, Gatekeeper 2.

Afterwards crossing the road I walked the path along the ridge (Portsdown Hill East), where numbers were better and ten different species recorded. Totals: Brimstone 2F 2M, Large White 7, Small White 8, Common Blue 1, Holly Blue 1, Meadow Brown 7, Speckled Wood 2, Gatekeeper 1, Peacock 1, Red Admiral 1. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Goose Green Inclosure. When the morning cloud cleared a bit to reveal small patches of blue sky I couldn't resist another visit to Goose Green Inclosure. I hadn't been in position many minutes when a single Purple Emperor appeared and did a circuit of the master oak tree. I observed three more circuits and was trying to decide if each circuit was performed by the same butterfly when suddenly there were two in my vision at the same time. I continued to watch their antics and was about to call it a day when three of them appeared together, circling and tumbling in the air before separating as a pair and a single. They reappeared again as a two and a single before disappearing from view. At this point I decided to leave. Time of visit 1.25 -2.00pm.

Encouraged by this experience I decided to call in at Straits Inclosure. Here I saw 6 Silver Washed Fritillaries, 1 Comma and small number of Large Whites ,Meadow Browns and faded Ringlets. Probably not the best time of day to visit this site. [Posted by Hazel Pratt]

26 Jul 2016

North Hayling Cycle Path. In cloudy conditions with little sun but with the temperature at 22 degrees, I walked the North section of the North Hayling Cycle Path (SU7103) from the car park opposite Victoria Road to the old railway bridge. Good numbers of Small Whites were seen, while due to no sun most other species could just be seen resting on the verges.

Totals: Small White 25, Meadow Brown 2, Gatekeeper 3, Red Admiral 4, Peacock 2. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

25 Jul 2016

Paulsgrove Chalk Pits. Today I paid a visit to Paulsgrove Chalk Pits (SU6306), a site I had not visited before even though I have lived near Portsmouth for over 60 years! Here I walked several paths in exploration. I managed to locate two Small Blues in an area sheltered from the strong breeze which was blowing.

Totals: Large White 8, Small White 10, Meadow Brown 28, Gatekeeper 7, Marbled White 12, Chalkhill Blue 10, Small Blue 2, Red Admiral 6, Peacock 2, Small Skipper 1. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Noar Hill Flower Show. After spending a lot of time at Straits Inclosure recently, today I decided to visit Noar Hill which I hadn't visited for several weeks. What a wonderful experience this was. A rich abundance of wild flowers of different varieties and nearly all in peak condition. Wild flower heaven!

The butterflies seemed to appreciate them too with Skippers, both Small and Essex, Ringlets, Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers present in good numbers. Other species seen include: - Large and Small Whites; Marbled Whites (6); Brimstone (m 3); Red Admiral (2); Speckled Wood (1); Silver Washed Friitillary(4); Dark Green Fritillary (1 -very worn); Holly Blue (1); Common Blue (m 3); Small Heath (1). 16 species in all. A most enjoyable morning. [Posted by Hazel Pratt]

Oxenbourne Down. I ventured onto what was once my favourite Downland sites but it is rapidly becoming past its best with tall grasses on the bottom slopes making any form of butterfly counts impossible. Here there used to be good counts of Dark-Green Fritillaries and the Small Copper has now no chance in this sort of habitat. The upper slope is still open with excellent counts of Chalkhill Blues,many were pairing up, but alas there were no Silver-Spotted Skipper today. If there were good cowslips in this area it could easily support a colony of Duke of Burgundy, but I regularly walk around this site in the spring and there is very little Cowslip. The scrub is becoming very widespread and dense in places which will be unsuitable for the colony of Silver-Spotted Skipper here in the future. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Mating pair of Chalkhill Blues
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Male Chalkhill Blue
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Another pair of Chalkhill Blues
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

24 Jul 2016

Head Down and Holt Down Queen Elizabeth Country Park Field Trip. Again today it looked as if the weather was going to beat us but as we mustered in the car-park the sun came out in fits-and starts and the temperature became quite warm. On Head down the rides were full of Skippers... Essex and Small, and this was an excellent opportunity whilst the sun was in, and the Skippers were a little reluctant to fly to observe the difference between the Small and Essex Skipper in close-up as it seems to be a bit of a problem for many observers especially if the species is constantly on the wing. There was also a sprinkling of the Large Skipper, and the Silver-Washed Fritillary was on the wing and feeding on Bramble. The star of the show again was the Red Admiral which was seen in excellent numbers along with a few Peacocks. On Holt Down the area is more enclosed but there is a ride with a few Wych Elms which I pointed out and the Sallow content is a lot better than on Head Down. We saw a lovely female Silver-Washed Fritillary, but the weather was closing in and when we all got back to the car-park and I set off down the road it started raining, so we certainly had the best of the day. Many thanks to all who turned up and made this a most enjoyable walk. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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The only way is Essex! ......Black Tips
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Small Skipper....... Orange Tips
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Female Silver-Washed Fritillary
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

23 Jul 2016

Chalton Down. On a hot morning with the temperature reaching 25 degrees, I paid a visit to Chalton Down (SU736156). Here I looked in vain to locate a colony of Small Blues, walking in areas I do not usually tread. Numbers of Chalkhill Blues remain in around the 50's where up until a few years ago 400's were the norm.

Totals: Brimstone 2F, Large White 10, Small White 9, Meadow Brown 54, Gatekeeper 35, Ringlet 3, Chalkhill Blue 63, Red Admiral 1, Large Skipper 1, Small Skipper 2. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Havant Thicket. A 3 hour walk in hot sunshine around midday failed to produce a single sighting of Purple Emperor. This must be my 6th visit without a confirmed sighting.I did count 12 Red Admiral, 10 silver washed Fritillary, 10 Brimstone, 9 Peacock and 4 comma,single white admiral and a few ringlet. [Posted by Peter Gammage]

Good day for garden butterflies. 10 species in the garden at Badger Farm, Winchester today, the star being an Essex Skipper (see photo) which is now hunkered down for the night in a small area of unmown grass and wildflowers known as "the meadow".

The most bizarre sighting of the day was a single Chalkhill Blue at Winchester water meadows. Sadly, one more than I've seen at Yew Hill, which used to host hundreds at this time of year. [Posted by Rupert Broadway]

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Essex Skipper
Photo © Rupert Broadway

22 Jul 2016

Browndown (South) Gosport. My last English summer 2016 butterfly walk took me to Browndown South for no other reason than there was no red flag flying, it was a delightfully warm afternoon and the Solent breezes most welcoming to those nearer to its shores. Before my camera's battery pack expired (frustratingly as I was focusing on a Purple Hairstreak!) I counted 13 species of butterfly: Gatekeeper (14); Large White (2); Meadow Brown (4); Small White (3); Marbled White (5); Peacock (2); Small Skipper (1); Common Blue (M)(2); Grayling (5); Purple Hairstreak (1); Small Copper (1); Red Admiral (1); Essex Skipper (1). No Clouded Yellow, yet! At least five Grayling were seen but it was probable there are many more lying around the thick bunches of heather. [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Grayling
Photo © Francis Plowman
Photo © Francis Plowman

RN Cemetery, Alverstoke. Only four species found this afternoon during a casual perimeter promenade around the well-kept lines of mostly naval graves. Sadly it appears that the small Common Blue colony near the shore has ended; earlier this summer it was devoid of this butterfly and there appears no mid-summer representation either. The following were seen: Essex Skipper (4); Meadow Brown (4); Gatekeeper (7); Small White (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

Haslar Sea Wall Car Park Scrub. Pending the arrival at noon of the Red Arrows to launch the next round of the America's Cup at Southsea today, I put in a couple of circuits of the scrub field adjacent to the sea wall. High-hundreds of aircraft and sailing enthusiasts traipsed through the field to reach their vantage point but this evidently did not put off the rather less noisy but equally as impressive insect-aviators flitting around this field. Twelve species were recorded with, once again, the Clouded Yellow missing from the count which was: Gatekeeper (12); Large White (2); Essex Skipper (8); Small White (3); Meadow Brown (7); Common Blue (M)(3); Peacock (2); Marbled White (6); Green-veined White (2); Holly Blue (1); Small Copper (1); Small Skipper (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Green-veined White
Photo © Francis Plowman
Peacock
Photo © Francis Plowman
Common Blue male
Photo © Francis Plowman

Stockbridge Down. A wonderful butterfly-filled couple of hours. Chalk Hill Blue numbers are building up nicely (I saw, literally, hundreds) and Essex Skipper is now out in full force, with many females seen ovipositing. Other species included good numbers of Gatekeeper, Ringlet, Meadow Brown and Small Skipper, with the occasional Silver-washed Fritillary Small White, Green-veined White, Large White, Brimstone and Red Admiral thrown in. Marbled White and Dark Green Fritillary are definitely coming to the end of their flight period. A single Small Copper was a nice bonus! Lots and lots of Silver-Y too! [Posted by Pete Eeles]

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Chalk Hill Blue males
Photo © Pete Eeles
Chalk Hill Blue males
Photo © Pete Eeles
Female Essex Skipper
Photo © Pete Eeles

21 Jul 2016

Close encounter with a Purple Emperor. After an early morning (9.30am) start at Straits Inclosure , among other species seen was a single Purple Emperor circling the top of an oak near the first tower.

On the walk back I saw Pauline who had found and was photographing a male Purple Emperor on the ground. Together we spent over an hour in his company as he circled each of us and settled on us both as well as the ground and various plants enabling us both to get numerous shots of him.

Definitely the highlight of my experiences with the Purple Emperor so far and unlikely to be surpassed. [Posted by Hazel Pratt]

Chalton Down. Today I visited Chalton Down (SU736156) where the temperature was 21 degrees. Numbers of Chalkhill Blues here have increased in the past week from just a few on my last visit a week ago to around 50. Similarly Gatekeepers are now here in good numbers as well as Whites. A regular ornithologist who I often see at this site reported seeing several Small Blues here a few days ago. A small colony did exist here in the past where my son and I had seen them last in 1997 and 2000. I will look closely for them on my next visit.

Totals: Brimstone 4M 1F, Large White 14, Small White 21, Meadow Brown 45, Gatekeeper 60, Ringlet 6, Marbled White 4, Chalkhill Blue 51, Holly Blue 1, Comma 1, Large Skipper 1, Small Skipper 9. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Alice Holt. Another quiet day in Abbotts Wood - 2 Purple Emperors (or the same one twice as both were high in the trees at the southern most assembly point). Also saw 2 White Admirals, 5 Purple Hairstreaks and 4 Silver-Washed - the latter including this photo of a possible valezina , or is it just a green tinged female? I then went on to Straits-whilst there were no signs of PEs, there were were more White Admirals (5) and Siver Washed (9) than I have seen there all summer. [Posted by Phil Hooper]

Small Copper, Fort Gilkicker, Gosport. Good to see at least two Small Coppers at Fort Gilkicker, Gosport, this afternoon. [Posted by Hazel Taylor]

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Small Copper
Photo © Hazel Taylor

White Admiral at Pamber Forest. I've had several outings of late, and several were to Pamber Forest where I've started tagging White Admiral ova and 1st instar larvae as part of an ongoing survey. Various shots below. Today I managed to locate 2 eggs and 5 first instar larvae - not bad for an hour of searching! [Posted by Pete Eeles]

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White Admiral egg - 2 hours before hatching
Photo © Pete Eeles
The occupant!
Photo © Pete Eeles
1st instar larva covered in frass
Photo © Pete Eeles

Abbotts Wood Inclosure CLA Field Trip. Today I took some members of the CLA Group around Abbotts Wood Inclosure, and with perfect weather we saw up to (18) species although none of the species were in great numbers except Meadow Brown and Ringlet and even these were well down to other sites. We managed to see two Purple Emperors one at a newly discovered Assembly Point in the wood and another at a Assembly Point further into the wood. Other species which were seen Green Veined White (5) Small Tortoiseshell (2) Red Admiral (2) Silver-Washed Fritillary (10) Speckled Wood (5) Meadow Brown (20-30) Ringlet (50) Small Skipper (7) Large Skipper (1) Gate keeper (2) Essex Skipper (1) Purple Hairstreak (5) Large White (1) White Admiral (1) Peacock (1) Brimstone (1) Small White (1) Marbled White (1). Its particularly worrying that every visit to Alice Holt in the 2016 season, has only resulted in one or two sighting's of the White Admiral, when its usually seen in really good numbers.

Id like to thank all those who came and learn't something about butterflies! [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

Good Emergence Of Second Brood Small Blues On Portsdown. A late morning walk along the lower slopes of Portsdown Hill, below the western end of Paulsgrove Quarry, produced a good showing of second brood Small Blues, with a total of 10 seen including 2 females.

This is a good count for the second brood, which is normally modest here, however the habitat this year looks not far short of a Small Blue paradise. There is abundant kidney vetch all along this section of hill, as well as a choice of nectar and patches of bare chalk, which the species also likes.

Our smallest species was not alone in taking advantage of the weather and habitat – Marbled Whites, Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, Small Skippers and the odd Chalkhill Blue were also having a ball. [Posted by Alan Thornbury]

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Small Blue
Photo © Alan Thornbury
Small Blue
Photo © Alan Thornbury

20 Jul 2016

Heath Fritillary Sighting. I took this photo Wednesday 20th July at Lambert's Coppice, near Titchfield, as part of the nationwide Big Butterfly Count. I've asked people on Twitter to confirm that this butterfly is indeed a Heath Fritillary (Melitaea athalia). I hope it's not just lost, and that it has found a new habitat. [Posted by Adam Conley]

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Heath Fritillary
Photo © Adam Conley

Back home in Chandlers Ford....... After seeing the Dark Green Frit. at work, I got a pleasant surprise when I went into my greenhouse to check on my plants. I found a Green-veined White sitting on one of my Coleus! It had a large chunk missing from a hind wing but when I rescued it and put it outside it still managed to fly, weakly. I then saw another one straight afterwards which was in better condition. Out in my front garden there was a fresh looking Red Admiral and Small and Large White.

Things have been improving in the garden since the weather warmed up. We have had a Meadow Brown, 2 Gatekeepers, 2 Red Admirals, Holly Blues, Comma, Speckled Wood, Painted Lady and the 3 Whites; Large, Small and now Green Veined, all in the past week. [Posted by Tracy Piper]

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Green-veined in the greenhouse!
Photo © Tracy Piper
Fresh Red Admiral
Photo © Tracy Piper
Comma seen on the 16th July
Photo © Tracy Piper

Ordnance Survey HQ Adanac Park. I popped outside in the actual grounds of the OS today because there is a dedicated wild flower area which they don't mow until late in the year. It's looking as good as I have ever seen it. Full of Knapweed and Thistles, Teasel, long grasses, Yarrow and Yellow frothy flowers. Plus the formal planting area is full of Lavender.

It's obviously working because along with Marbled White, Meadow Brown, Skipper and Gatekeeper, a Dark Green Fritillary flew past my ear! I have not seen this species here before! It landed right in front of me and the sun caught the beautiful silver spots full on! If only I had my camera! [Posted by Tracy Piper]

19 Jul 2016

St Catherine's Hill, Winchester. I made two brief visits to St Catherine's Hill today first 0945-1005 and then 1230-1305. Parking at Garnier Road I approached the low meadows (left and right beyond the wicket gate) by walking through the footpath tunnel under the old GWR railway line. This tunnel and approaches was alive with Red Admiral; around the gate and neighbouring Budlea the red-white-black theme continued in full swing. Through the gate the gravel path immediately in front of me was a veritable kaleidoscope of Red Admiral. In one photograph I can count at least 24 of the insects! As if this wasn't enough, the field to the left of the path was a blur of blue with fresh Chalkhill Blue! The following was seen in the first visit and the numbers for the later return are given in square brackets. Red Admiral (25+)[38]; Comma (1)[2]; Large White (1)[2]; Meadow Brown (3)[5]; Marbled White (2)[1]; Chalkhill Blue (22)[20M 4F]; Green-veined White [2]; Gatekeeper [1]. [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Red Admiral's pathway!
Photo © Francis Plowman
Chalkhill Blue female
Photo © Francis Plowman
Chalkhill Blue male
Photo © Francis Plowman

18 Jul 2016

Monks Walk & Frater Fields Gosport. My final butterfly call was the local field between 1630 - 1700. Trees casting dark shadows reduced the numbers at this time of day but still ten species presented themselves as follows: Meadow Brown (15); Essex Skipper (19); Marbled White (18); Gatekeeper (2); Red Admiral (1); Peacock (2); Comma (5); Small White (3); Common Blue (male)(3); Brown Argus (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Common Blue male
Photo © Francis Plowman
Essex Skipper
Photo © Francis Plowman
Marbled White
Photo © Francis Plowman

Chilling Woods & Coastal Path. Between 1400 - 1600 a long walk through the woods, field edges and cliff-tops at Chilling revealed a pleasing number of butterflies also, cyclists, walkers and one or two quite unexpected nudists roasting under hot sunshine on the beach! However, the sought after Clouded Yellow was again absent but the following were counted: Large White (25+); Red Admiral (3); Peacock (1); Meadow Brown (25+); Gatekeeper (13); Marbled White (9); Small White (3); Green-veined White (7); Small Tortoiseshell (1); Comma (2); Small Skipper (1); Essex Skipper (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Large White
Photo © Francis Plowman
Comma
Photo © Francis Plowman
Red Admiral
Photo © Francis Plowman

Monarch at Browndown Coastal Area, Gosport. Once again in search of Clouded Yellow I completed a circulation of the extensive field which is Browndown Coastal Area between 1250 - 1350. On a clockwise pattern I followed the path adjacent to the main road and then returned on the south side of the field which follows the fence-line separating it from the MOD land (where the red flag was again flying today). At 1.15pm a Monarch butterfly flew over this fence, directly over me (and my wife) and flew north across the field. It did not stop notwithstanding the abundance of flora including much Budlea. The last time I saw this species I was on the Greek mainland! Absolutely amazing. I hazard a guess that it was a release and probably from the Isle of Wight as the breeze was south-easterly at the time. Other butterflies recorded here: Small White (8); Small Skipper (2); Marbled White (12); Meadow Brown (6); Common Blue (male)(2); Gatekeeper (4); Essex Skipper (1); Red Admiral (4); Large White (1); Green-veined White (1); Small Copper (1). Still no Clouded Yellow here - so clearly it's not yet summer on The Solent - notwithstanding the unusual Monarch sighting. [Posted by Francis Plowman]

Portsdown Hill (East). After visiting Fort Widley, my father Roy Symonds and I walked the track along the ridge of Portsdown Hill directly above Queen Alexandra Hospital (SU657063). Here shortly into the walk we met Richard Jones who was conducting the weekly butterfly transect count on behalf of Portsmouth City Council. After comparing sightings, we continued in opposite directions. Among the sightings was a fresh male Brimstone, while a Dark Green Fritillary flew fast by us and was not stopping.

Totals: Brimstone 1M, Large White 9, Small White 11, Meadow Brown 9, Marbled White 5, Gatekeeper 4, Speckled Wood 1, Red Admiral 2, Peacock 1, Comma 1, Dark Green Fritillary 1, Small Skipper 5. [Posted by Richard Symonds]

Fort Widley, Portsdown Hill. On my last day on holiday before returning home to Cornwall, my father Roy Symonds and I visited Fort Widley, Portsdown Hill (SU658066). Here on a very hot, sunny early afternoon, the temperature reached 24.5 degrees. Several Meadow Browns, Marbled Whites, Small Skippers and Whites were flying, especially in the grass meadows. Here at the Eastern end I saw and photographed a second brood male Small Blue.

Totals: Large White 16, Small White 19, Green Veined White 2, Small Blue 1, Meadow Brown 21, Marbled White 16, Gatekeeper 4, Red Admiral 3, Comma 2, Small Skipper 20. [Posted by Richard Symonds]

Stockbridge Down. Three Chalkhill Blues were seen during a brief visit to the eastern end of Stockbridge Down this afternoon. [Posted by Dave Pearson]

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Chalkhill Blues
Photo © Dave Pearson

17 Jul 2016

Red Admiral explosion. Searching Boarhunt Woods for White Admiral (1), the commonest species by far was the Red Admiral: 67 counted, mostly basking on the gravel track, up to 8 visible at any one time. 12 Silver-washed Fritillaries (a very low tally for this site, where @50 has been the norm.), tatty Ringlets (22), Meadow Browns (20), Gatekeeper (1), Speckled Wood (4), Large White (6), Small White (4), G V White (13), Large Skipper (5). [Posted by Andrew Brookes]

West Wood and Pitt Down Field Trip. Today I was able to add another wood to the Purple Emperor sightings in 2016 with a single male sighting in West Wood. We had all gathered in the car-park and started walking into the wood counting various species along the way Silver-Washed Fritillaries, Ringlets, Meadow Brown and Red Admirals on the footpaths. There has been a fair amount of coppicing going on in some of the rides, and I didn't really recognise my ride where I've had most of my Emperor sightings in the past. However as we turned the corner at the 'T'junction there he was his majesty flying in an 's' formation over the ride and he did a few small turns as he approached the ground and everybody got really excited. He landed quite close to some doggy-doos but he just started imbibe on the ground as we all got quite close to him but he didn't seem very fazed about it at all. He stayed for about 5 minutes and then he shot off up into an Ash tree. Unfortunately the sun wasn't out and I only managed to get a small purple patch on his right wing. We were all delighted to tick off one of the target species in the wood. We carried on walking down a long ride lined with magnificent Beech and Norwegian Spruce and it's here we encountered the Scarlet Tiger Moth, in fact we saw up to half a dozen along the ride, which was rather marvellous along with an egg-laying Comma on Nettle. We got back for our lunch and in the afternoon strolled over Pitt Down where it was festooned in Marbled Whites; it would seem that there were two or three fighting on every Knapweed head. The Dark-Green Fritillary was out in force and I counted up to (25) including some magnificent females being harassed by eager males. Some of the males looked rather tatty but others were in pristine condition. Thank you everyone for making this a most enjoyable Field Trip. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Photo © Ashley WhitlockPhoto © Ashley WhitlockPhoto © Ashley Whitlock

Haslar Sea Wall Car Park Scrub. Very warm and hot sunshine (am I writing this.....?) between 1315 - 1345 a circulation of the field revealed: Essex Skipper (12); Gatekeeper (4); Common Blue (female)(1); Marbled White (3); Small Tortoiseshell (1); Small White (1); Meadow Brown (7); Peacock (1); Large White (1); Comma (1); Red Admiral (1); Small Skipper (1). Lovely to see the Peacock in mint condition. [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Common Blue female
Photo © Francis Plowman
Peacock
Photo © Francis Plowman
Essex Skipper
Photo © Francis Plowman

Gilkicker Point, Gosport. Warm under high clouds between 1350 - 1430 the following noted down by the seaside: Marbled White (7); Meadow Brown (6); Essex Skipper (13); Small Copper (1); Common Blue (male)(3); Gatekeeper (3); Small White (1). Still no Clouded Yellow! [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Common Blue male
Photo © Francis Plowman
Small Copper
Photo © Francis Plowman
Gatekeeper
Photo © Francis Plowman

16 Jul 2016

Alice Holt Straits Inclosure. Moving inland later in the day saw the sunshine and blue sky disappear, replaced by heavy grey clouds. It was still warm and there were butterflies about. We did manage a tantalising glimpse of one Purple Emperor at the Assembly point, but that was it, we had to be satisfied with many Silver-washed Fritillaries, 4 White Admirals, Marbled Whites, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Gatekeeper and a single Green-veined White.

There was also some interesting Hover Fly behaviour.

http://awayfromfourmarks.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/16th-july-hill-head-gosport-browndown.html [Posted by Chris Rose]

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White Admiral
Photo © Chris Rose
Silver-washed Fritillary
Photo © Chris Rose
Hover Flies
Photo © Chris Rose

Browndown. Under beautiful blue skies for once we were treated to some wonderful views of Purple Hairstreak and Grayling. The oaks seemed to be alive with the hairstreaks, in one tree we found at least four. The Grayling were around the flowering heather, and here we counted 8 to 10 individuals. Also present were Marbled White, and a single Common Blue, Meadow Brown, Ringlet and Gatekeeper [Posted by Chris Rose]

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Purple Hairstreak
Photo © Chris Rose
Purple Hairstreak
Photo © Chris Rose
Grayling
Photo © Chris Rose

Heritage Way Gosport 09.00 - 11.00 am. An amazing couple of hours in a disused car park off Heritage Way included at least four different White-letter Hairstreaks, a single Purple Hairstreak, Essex and Small Skipper, Marbled White, Common Blue Comma, many Ringlet, Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper, and a single Brown Argus. Plus a Peregrine fly over. http://awayfromfourmarks.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/16th-july-hill-head-gosport-browndown.html [Posted by Chris Rose]

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White-letter Hairstreak
Photo © Chris Rose
Common Blue
Photo © Chris Rose
White-letter hairstreak
Photo © Chris Rose

Havant Thicket, Boundary Trail. Today after visiting Hollybank Woods, my father Roy Symonds and I visited Havant Thicket. Here the temperature during the afternoon increased to a sweltering 25 degrees. We followed the 2.25 mile Boundary Trail, which as its name suggests follows the outer perimeter of the woodland complex. Meadow Browns, Ringlets and Small Skippers were seen in large numbers. Marbled Whites were seen singularly at intervals, while the Silver Washed Fritillaries seemed to favour the Eastern side of the woods. We observed a White Admiral imbibing from the ground on the Southern side path, and later saw another on Bracken near Bramble from where another individual appeared. One Essex Skipper was positively identified among the many Small Skippers, as it was actually resting on vegetation directly above a Small Skipper which afforded a direct comparison.

Totals: Large White 10, Small White 11, Meadow Brown 90, Ringlet 42, Gatekeeper 14, Marbled White 6, Silver Washed Fritillary 7M, White Admiral 3, Red Admiral 3, Comma 2, Large Skipper 9, Essex Skipper 1, Small Skipper 105. [Posted by Richard Symonds]

Hollybank Woods, Southleigh Forest. Today my father Roy Symonds and I walked most of the main tracks within Hollybank Woods, Southleigh Forest (SU7408) where the Purple Emperor has been seen in the past. Sadly no signs today, where in the morning the temperature was a humid 22.5 degrees. Having never visited the site before, there were several small open areas of grassland and shaded paths through Oak and Sweet Chestnut trees. At the Eastern end is a plantation of firs, most of which have been sawn with open areas of Bramble blooms where Silver Washed Fritillary were found. Butterflies were in low numbers but saw two Commas collecting nutrients from dried fox faeces.

Totals: Large White 5, Small White 4, Meadow Brown 9, Ringlet 7, Gatekeeper 2, Comma 5, Red Admiral 5, Peacock 2, Silver Washed Fritillary 2M, Large Skipper 1, Small Skipper 3. [Posted by Richard Symonds]

15 Jul 2016

Testwood lakes. As this cloudy ,windy , showery summer continues there was a brief window of opportunity early morning to check my local nature reserve for purple and white letter hairstreaks neither of which I had managed to see here in 2016 yet despite the date and many attempts. At 08:35 a white letter hairstreak landed in the grass followed by more hairstreaks. Within 5 minutes I had 3 white letters and 5 purple hairstreaks on the ground/ vegetation. By 9:30 the sun had disappeared again behind thick cloud, game over. Total count was 5 white letter hairstreaks and 9 purple hairstreaks. All the butterflies were showing wear and tear and some very old looking so had been out a while but I had not seen any hairstreaks at all here and not through lack of trying. Also what was so special about this morning that they all came down from the trees en masse !!!! [Posted by Mark swann]

Monks Walk, Frater Fields & Woods, Gosport. A few more species photographed today in Elson. [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Brown Argus
Photo © Francis Plowman
Common Blue male
Photo © Francis Plowman
Red Admiral
Photo © Francis Plowman

Monks Walk, Frater Fields & Woods, Gosport. Today was an incredible experience for me in and around the fields and woodlands at the end of Frater Lane, Elson. At 1040 I started at the bramble bushes hard by the shore line at the end of Ham Lane; I wanted to see if I could find the unusual Holly Blue of a couple of days ago - but did not. However,the bush was alive with butterflies which, under sultry skies and the early warmth of the day, were having a lie-in. Commas, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admirals and Skippers were very languid. To my utter amazement a Silver-washed Fritillary joined the crowd! This was my first ever sighting of the large fritillary in Gosport and within 5 metres of the shoreline at that! Sadly it was soon harried away by a large bee and two Commas. It was tremendous to see so many Red Admirals today. The field at Monks Walk is a veritable hive of activity with butterflies absolutely everywhere. I briefly also circulated the overgrown field and woodland adjacent to MOD land before returning to Monks Walk and concluding at 1420 under grey skies and stronger breeze. Fifteen species were counted as follows: Red Admiral (7); Comma (12); Small White (3); Small Tortoiseshell (1); Silver-washed Fritillary (1); Essex Skipper (16); Marbled White (23); Brown Argus (2); Ringlet (3); Meadow Brown (9); Gatekeeper (10); Common Blue (M)(3); Green-veined White (1); Speckled Wood (1); Large White (2). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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What do you see?
Photo © Francis Plowman
Comma
Photo © Francis Plowman
Silver-washed Fritillary
Photo © Francis Plowman

Butterfly Count West Harting Down Hants/Sussex Border. Today I went up to one of my favourite sites on the Hants/Sussex Border, which is a combination of Chalk and Beech and Conifer Woodland. Weather was fine and warm for the first part but then clouded over but was still very warm and no windy conditions. The best counts of Butterflies today were as follows Red Admiral were all over the site I had at least (40-50) throughout the rides and along the chalky footpaths leading up to the summit. They seem to be doing rather well as I had (4) on my buddliea this morning, in the back garden. Other good counts today were the Ringlet and Small Skipper. The Ringlet outnumbered the Meadow Brown by about (20-1) and the Small Skipper did very well as well, with many seen roosting on the many grasses along the rides. The shocking truth is the Silver-Washed Fritillary count was abysmal, comparing the count at the same site last year when we had well over (30) today it was just (4). There were no Dark-Green Fritillaries either when they certainly were here last year. Large Whites are also doing well and Small White and there were a token count of Brimstone. It looks as if it might be a bumper year for the Peacock as I saw several Nettles full of Peacock caterpillars, large clumps of caterpillars numbering at least (50+), several had been eaten whether the caterpillar is cannibalistic it's not noted in any reference book I have. They were out plain as day so it's hardly surprising that they get parasidised by Wasps. It would seem that they do better in cool wet summers, so there should be shed loads then! [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Red Admiral very common now....
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Ringlets very common in rides at most woods
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Small Skipper has also done very well
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

14 Jul 2016

Martin Down NNR (North) and (South). 1140 - 1250 a gentle circulation of the northern sector of Martin Down National Nature Reserve allowed the following count: Meadow Brown (25+); Ringlet (25+); Marbled White (25+); Gatekeeper (8); Large White (2); Small Skipper (7); Comma (1); Small Tortoiseshell (2); Small Heath (2); Small White (1); Silver-Washed Fritillary (2); Green-veined White (4); White Admiral (1); Speckled Wood (1); Large Skipper (1); Essex Skipper (1).

Given that it was Bastille Day I was hoping to record at least une bleu during a walk of the southern sector from 1310 - 1430; sadly not one blue to record! But the following were noted: Ringlet (25+); Marbled White (25+); Meadow Brown (25+); Dark Green Fritillary (13); Small Skipper (8); Gatekeeper (1); Small Heath (2); Small Tortoiseshell (1); Large White (3); Essex Skipper (2). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Dark Green Fritillary
Photo © Francis Plowman
DGF - slightly bleached!
Photo © Francis Plowman

Eventful Alice. For the first time in a while the morning provided some decent weather - light winds no rain and intermittent sunshine so I headed to Alice Holt early.

At about 12.30 I was watching a male oak edging when he perched on a prominent oak spray, after a few minutes a female casually glided into his path and he launched immediately. I watched transfixed as he flew in tight circles around her and she flew onto an oak spray. The male landed right behind her with quickly vibrating open wings and hers tightly closed. After a few seconds she led him over the top of the oak and unfortunately out of sight - hopefully to make next years crop.

I managed to fire off a few quick, and not very good, shots one of which is shown here and has been highly cropped. You can see the males vibrating wings with the female with closed wings - head on I think - under the males left wing. In all I saw three females and a male at Abbots so Alice is performing quite well. [Posted by Mark Tutton]

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Courting Emperors
Photo © Mark Tutton

Quiet Day in Alice Holt. After yesterday's abundance, strangely much quieter in Abbotts Wood today until a damaged male PE alighted on the path in between the 2 most southerly assembly points. Sadly it didn't remain long so no photos possible. After a lengthy wait and no other sightings,I visited Straits and eventually saw 3 PEs in the trees around the first tower.Only 2 White Admirals, a single Purple Hairsteak and 5 Silver Washed even in the sunny spells. A very disappointing day. [Posted by Phil Hooper]

Abbotts Wood Inclosure, Alice Holt Forest. From Goose Green, our third and final site visit in Alice Holt Forest was Abbotts Wood Inclosure (SU814398). Here the sun was fully out following the earlier cloudy skies. Still low numbers of species were seen. The first Oak tree near to the South entrance showed no signs of Purple Emperor activity where I had seen a male last year. Further down the track on one of a few Oaks close to the crossroads of paths, a male was seen. Taking off regularly his flight times were, 14.25, 14.26, 14.28, 14.31, 14.33, then every 3 minutes until 14.41 and 14.43. At 14.30 a second male was seen and engaged the resident male in a brief aerial combat before he flew to another area. A total of nine species were seen including a fresh second brood male Holly Blue which landed on a damp area of the path which afforded a great photo.

Totals: Large White 2, Small White 1, Holly Blue 1, Purple Hairstreak 3, Meadow Brown 30, Ringlet 11, Purple Emperor 2, Comma 1, Small Skipper 4. [Posted by Richard Symonds]

Magdalen Hill Down. Despite some cloudy interludes managed 18 species around the reserve today. Highlights included a fresh male Small Blue on the extention and Southern Brown Argus and 3 Chalkhill Blues on the western end of the original reserve. A very obliging Golden-ringed Dragonfly was a surprise here. Visiting Lancs & Cumbria BC member. [Posted by Steve Graham]

Goose Green Inclosure. From Straits Inclosure, our next stop was Goose Green Inclosure (SU804416), formerly a good site for observing Purple Emperors in aerial combat as males guarded the Sweet Chestnut master tree. It had been two years since my last visit here, with Bramble and trees now almost obscuring the old vantage point. A walk behind the master tree gave a good view and within minutes we had seen a male (a descendant of Brian?), chasing off flies and the odd Purple Hairstreak which came close to him. His flights took place quite regularly, times being 13.41, 13.46, 13.49, 13.51, 13.52, 13.54 and 13.55.

We have two photos which I have attached (hope they appear OK below).

Totals: Large White 2, Small White 1, Purple Hairstreak 2, Meadow Brown 8, Ringlet 7, Gatekeeper 1 and Purple Emperor 1. [Posted by Richard Symonds]

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Purple Emperor at Goose Green
Photo © Richard Symonds
Goose Green Purple Emperor
Photo © Richard Symonds

Straits Inclosure, Alice Holt Forest. Today my father and I visited a total of three sites in Alice Holt Forest starting with Straits Inclosure (SU801400). Arriving at around 11am, there was plenty of cloud with the sun appearing briefly every ten minutes or so. Meadow Browns and Ringlets were everywhere even with no sun. When the sun appeared Skippers became active along with Silver Washed Fritillaries and a few White Admirals. Numbers of both these species were very low and were joined with Marbled Whites and Gatekeepers. My target species the Purple Emperor made two brief appearances at 11.50 and 11.54, both time flying around an Oak or across the ride just beyond the first main clearing before the dip by the generator hut. No further sightings were seen of His Majesty were seen in this Inclosure. Despite the low numbers of butterflies 15 species were recorded with two separate pairs of mating Green Veined Whites - a first for me.

Totals: Large White 2, Small White 4, Green Veined White 5, Purple Hairstreak 5, Meadow Brown 45, Ringlet 157, Gatekeeper 13, Marbled White 3, Silver Washed Fritillary 14M 5F, White Admiral 5, Purple Emperor 1, Red Admiral 1, Comma 2, Large Skipper 11, Small Skipper 16. [Posted by Richard Symonds]

Havant Thicket and Bell's Copse. Had a cycle ride around Havant Thicket and Bell's Copse from 0930-1400.No sign of any Purple Emperors for me today but a very enjoyable 4+ hours.The highlights were Silver-washed Fritillary 21 most of these seen in the Bell's Copse area,4 Purple Hairstreak,

5 Red Admiral,4 Comma,11 White Admiral etc,plus a Southern Hawker [Posted by Barry Collins]

Havant Thicket. Today I concluded that Havant Thicket is well below par on the Purple Emperor counts this year.I wandered around for a good four hours in my usual hot spots, and if they were not flying in reasonable numbers in weather like today which was warm and sunny with cloud, then the numbers here are well down on 2015. I did espy one on the start of the main ride flying fast along the oak edge at 0850 in the morning and again a male sat in a oak sprig in the main ride at 1130. But that was all I achieved for those 4 hours. However I met a couple who had seen somebody who had just taken a photo of one imbibing on the ground.The best butterfly counts today were White Admiral (11) and Silver-Washed Fritillary (10) and the Small Skippers in the rides were in the hundreds, and thrown in for good measure were a few Essex variety.

Generally in Hampshire at the moment the Emperor is having one of its poorest seasons on record. This time last year I had had records for the species from 20 different sites, this year its just five. Obviously the poor summer weather is stopping general observations, lets hope things improve in the last two weeks of July. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Male White Admiral's now looking quite tatty
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Large Skipper's on thistle
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
I'm off!
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

13 Jul 2016

Chawton Park Wood. At Chawton Park Wood near Alton:

Silver-washed Fritillary (1)

White Admiral (1)

Essex Skipper (1+)

Small Skipper (1+)

Large Skipper (6+)

Marbled White (6)

Comma (1)

Small Tortoisehell (1)

Plus Gatekeeper, Ringlet, Meadow Brown [Posted by Steve Mansfield]

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Meadow Brown
Photo © Steve Mansfield
Green-veined White with hoverfly
Photo © Steve Mansfield

Haslar Sea Wall Car Park Scrub. My first wander of the day was around the flowery scrub between the old immigration removal centre and golf club etc. This has often produced Clouded Yellow but sadly not today. The following butterflies were present and counted between 1015-1040: Meadow Brown (17); Gatekeeper (4); Small White (2); Essex Skipper (8); Marbled White (8); Small Skipper (1); Large White (2). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Marbled White (female top butterfly)
Photo © Francis Plowman
Essex Skipper
Photo © Francis Plowman
Small White
Photo © Francis Plowman

Monks Hill and Seafield Park. Between 1100-1130 I walked the front and then into and around Seafield Park; I was hoping to find Clouded Yellow but was unsuccessful; perhaps the winds need to veer more southerly? The following were counted: Marbled White (18); Meadow Brown (8); Ringlet (3); Red Admiral (1); Small White (2); Essex Skipper (1); Small Skipper (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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

Peel Common field, Gosport. My first visit this year to this large sports field surrounded by mature woodland and tall grasses was very rewarding. How much of this field will remain following the planned Stubbington relief-road project only time will tell. Between 1140-1240 the following butterflies were noted: Essex Skipper (12); Comma (5); Gatekeeper (6); Small White (3); Meadow Brown (17); Marbled White (9); Ringlet (16); Green-veined White (2); Small Tortoiseshell (3); Large Skipper (1); Speckled Wood (1); Large White (3). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Small Tortoiseshell
Photo © Francis Plowman
Speckled Wood
Photo © Francis Plowman
Comma
Photo © Francis Plowman

Monks Walk/Frater field Elson, Gosport. Between 1250-1400 a large number of butterflies took advantage of the sunshine and warmth: Comma (6); Red Admiral (4); Meadow Brown (7); Essex Skipper (25+); Small White (3); Green-veined White (6); Small Tortoiseshell (1); Marbled White (25+); Gatekeeper (6); Large White (1); Speckled Wood (2); Common Blue (M)(1); Small Skipper (1); Brown Argus (1) & unidentified blue, possibly Holly Blue aberrant (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Brown Argus
Photo © Francis Plowman
Essex Skipper
Photo © Francis Plowman
Common Blue male
Photo © Francis Plowman

Unidentified blue?. During an early afternoon circulation of Monks Walk, Gosport and the adjacent Frater field (to the harbour shore), I came across what I was sure was Holly Blue. It was feeding on bramble but at some distance from the camera. (I was using 100mm macro rather than my 70-300mm. Typical!) Having looked at the enlarged images it is definitely a blue but it is very unusual (to me). It has clear black streaks or veining and dark spots in white on the under sides as, for example, on Common Blue; but clearly there is no orange present here. The spots do not conform to Holly Blue so is this an aberrant form and can anyone tell which, please? [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Photo © Francis PlowmanPhoto © Francis PlowmanPhoto © Francis Plowman

White Admiral, Bay House School, Gosport. I was surprised and delighted to see a White Admiral briefly visiting a Buddleia in the grounds of Bay House School, Gosport today. ( The School is at one end of Stokes Bay, bordering Stanley Park. ) No photo, as my arms were full of books at the time! [Posted by Hazel Taylor]

Chalton Down, Old Idsworth. On a visit from Cornwall, accompanied by my father Roy Symonds, I paid a late morning visit to one of my old haunts - Chalton Down (SU736156). Here the Eastern facing slopes were warm and sunny with the temperature reaching 20 degrees. My target species were Marbled Whites which were spread over the site mostly flying in areas in twos or threes, with a total of 35 recorded. Meadow Browns and Ringlets were also plentiful, with numbers of Gatekeepers slowly increasing. Small Skippers were also common with just a single male Large Skipper found. Highlight of the visit was seeing 3 Chalkhill Blue males (both my father's and my first sightings this year), one of which I chased up the steep slope before it alighted on a bloom to feed, where I was able to get an underside photo. The other two seen were found towards the bottom of the slope. We completed a full survey of the site just as rain clouds started to appear, which produced rain 15 minutes later.

Totals: Brimstone 1F, Large White 11, Small White 3, Chalkhill Blue 3M, Meadow Brown 76, Ringlet 38, Gatekeeper 19, Marbled White 35, Small Heath 2, Red Admiral 1, Peacock 1, Large Skipper 1, Small Skipper 24. [Posted by Richard Symonds]

Abbotts Wood Inclosure. Today I spent the best part of 6 hours sat under two sets of Oak trees in Abbotts Wood Inclosure. It was a pleasure to arrive at the site with bright blue skies nil wind and the prospect of a good few hours butterflying. I arrived at 0940 and immediately I looked up at the one of the Oak's at the triangle and a male was already on patrol.A lady who had been on site there long before me had seen a female Emperor flying in and around the area. Any way good weather the tree tops were like a busy airport with males flying this way and that. One male had settled down on a sprig of Oak and he sat there for a good 45 minutes, quite why as there was a lot of action from other males in the area. There were a few of us had gathered at the 'Lek' site by now and we espied a 'girlie' in a Sallow bush height underneath this magnificent Oak. Whether she was there too get courted by a male suitor or was hiding out of the way from males I wasn't sure. Anyway after about 30 minutes she flew out and around the Sallow and over the ride just above our heads and started looking at the small conifer plantation opposite where there is a lot of suitable Sallow bushes now. She landed a few times and I got a good look at her she was about eight foot from the ground but she decided there were too many 'humans' chasing her now and she disappeared over the back of the area. I took several observers up to one of the Assembly points at 1255 and there were at least three males chasing and flying around the tall conifers there. We didn't stay long and I walked back to my car by which time the weather had cleared up again and I walked back to the triangle,and sure enough from my thoughts of seeing it on Monday the Oak on the right hand side of the triangle is being used as an Assembly Point, there were several males chasing each other from about 1330 onwards its an excellent vista, and I left at 1400 as the heavens opened up and it threw it down all the way home. All in all a good day with about (10 ) Emperors seen just in one vicinity. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Male Emperor on patrol around the main oak in the ride
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Male Silver-Washed Fritillary
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
White Admiral
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

Odiham Common Field Trip. Ive had a e-mail from David Walton who is the leader of the Odiham Common Field trip on the 20th July a Wednesday. He has done a risk assessment there and parts of the route are completely waterlogged, and im-passable. He advises to cancel this Field Trip.

So with regret this field trip is cancelled, unfortunately we cannot do anything about this awful summer we are enduring this year so far.

Ashley Whitlock

Hampshire Butterfly Field Trip Co-ordiantor [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

12 Jul 2016

Wight Admiral. My annual July outing to private woodland near Wootton, IoW, in poor weather (well, I'd booked the ferry) got what it deserved. A single, tatty, White Admiral during a spell of faint drizzle (air temp. 17 C) on bramble, followed later in a rare bright spell by two Silver-washed Fritillaries, both immaculate females. Ringlets aplenty, oblivious to the climate, easily outnumbering Meadow Browns. 4 Marbled Whites completed the tally. [Posted by Andrew Brookes]

11 Jul 2016

Alver Valley, Gosport. Between 1712 - 1800 a quick check on White Admiral confirmed one in haphazard flight within and around mature oak trees. It seemed to be gaily cavorting with a pair of Red Admirals and a Speckled Wood. Watching it crash onto the high leaves of a huge oak it seemed to disturb three or four grey butterflies which I guess were Purple Hairstreak; they were very high so I could not make a positive identification. No butterfly sat still for a second, ignoring the bramble flowers. Given that the glade was being patrolled aggressively by a very large dragonfly I guess it was simply a case of missing tea rather than becoming tea! Seen: Comma (1); Green-veined White (1); Speckled Wood (1); White Admiral (1); Red Admiral (2); Large White (2); Large Skipper (1). The latter was the only subject for a photograph apart from a large Heron that was perched just above the River Alver likely also in search of an evening meal. [Posted by Francis Plowman]

Browndown (South) Gosport. 1525 - 1700. Despite the strong SW wind butterflies were still to be seen though in very low numbers and opportunity for photography was very limited. Purple Hairstreak was seen at both the southerly group of small oaks as well as on a mature oak on the northern perimeter adjacent to the main road. Gatekeeper (1); Small Copper (2); Meadow Brown (3); Grayling (2); Small Heath (1); Purple Hairstreak (2); Red Admiral (1); Marbled White (7); Small Skipper (3); Small White (1); Essex Skipper (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Grayling
Photo © Francis Plowman

Silchester / Pamber. I've spent some time observing both Silver-studded Blue and White Admiral at Silchester Common and Pamber Forest (respectively) this past week, which has given me a chance to try out a new (super-macro) lens while taking photos of their eggs. A new world has definitely opened up for me! [Posted by Peter Eeles]

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Silver-studded Blue egg
Photo © Peter Eeles
White Admiral egg
Photo © Peter Eeles

Abbotts Wood Inclosure and Straits Inclosure. Went to one of favourite Purple Haunts today, although as I stood at the triangle at 10:30 there wasn't a hope in Hell of seeing his majesty. Cold strong winds were battering the Oaks, and there was rain in the air with thick black clouds.Then along came Mark Tutton and things just changed after that I dont know where he got the weather from but the clouds shifted somewhat as we both stood up and looked up at the canopy just hoping. The wind never abated, and we had a strong shower but I knew if the sun shone after this things would get going and they certainly did! The sun shone about 11:45 when I espied a Male creeping up on us from behind from the ALHF(1) end and he did a quick 's' shaped fly past up and over the small conifer plantation. We then saw up to (5) males at the Oaks at the triangle and we saw at least two males doing battle on a Oak just to the right of the triangle. This Oak really stands out, and maybe they use this as an assembly point in times of hardship when the winds are too strong at the Hi Points. We then decided to go over to the Straits Inclosure and the weather was quite good by then at 1320 a male was seen at the first observation tower, flying over a large Sallow bush, then we saw another which made two in the same vicinity. We then walked a bit further down to the other observation tower and we a had a nice male on the ground imbibing on the stony shingle, he was there for a good 20-30 minutes often flying off and on to the deer tower and then back down on to the floor, where he took an interest in me, and alighted on my trouser leg...heaven! [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Silver-Washed Fritillary on Bramble
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Nice colour trousers sir!
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Male imbibing on the stony ground at Straits
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

10 Jul 2016

Havant Thicket and Southleigh Forest Field Trip. Today was a game of two half's, the first hour and a half we walked around Havant Thicket in the rain and complete blanket of cloud with the odd Ringlet popping up out of the rides, everybody getting a good soaking. I salute everybody who turned up and braved the weather with me. We eagerly kept looking up at the sky and by the time we got back to the car-park at about 1:00pm it was clearing up, but like everything this year as soon as the sun came out so did the wind, get up. However after lunch we re-traced our steps for a while and out came the White Admirals with newly emerged females, flitting in-between the sallow stands, and the Marbled Whites were out as well along with Large and Small Skippers, but 'him' he was not playing in the wind it was hardly surprising. I convinced most of my fellow field trippers to join me at Southleigh Forest but there again on the high Oaks they were getting so battered by the wind we had not a chance of any Purple Observations. Again Id like to thank everybody for coming, from so far and wide, and braving the elements things will get better I'm sure! [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Female White Admiral
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Emperor Dragonfly
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Southleigh Forest Assembly area.
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

Alver Valley. An early afternoon walk from home, across the Alver Valley, up to Grange Farm and back. Brought on by a combination of being couped up all morning by awful weather and an afternoon tennis avoidance strategy! Plenty of the usual suspects in the meadows - lots of marbled whites and meadow browns enjoying the sun (after a thoroughly miserable morning) and some fresh commas and red admirals in the hedgerows. Also my first gatekeepers of the year - for such a common butterfly they are strikingly handsome - especially when not seen for almost a year. Then on to Grange Farm to try and prove the theory that WLH sometimes descend to nectar after rain. The Grange Farm lot had obviously not read the book! I'll try the early morning theory next. Its difficult to do anything but guess numbers here as the butterflies dodge about the elm tops - but given the wide spread of trees and the number seen then I think this must be a very healthy colony well into double figures. Called in to the Oak Copse by Apple Dumpling Bridge on the way home for the highlight of the day - 2 possible but one absolute definite white admiral. Its very encouraging to see them being reported more regularly here over the last couple of years - you never know, their larger cousin might be here too! All in all a lovely walk, made all the better by not involving the car. Still couldn't completely avoid you know who though - but hes two sets to love up as I write this! [Posted by Mark Wagstaff]

09 Jul 2016

Hollybank Woods, Southleigh Forest. Paid my first butterfly visit to Southleigh Forest, encouraged by reports of Purple Emperors. I made a short walk through Hollybank Woods (SU744082)on a casual exploratory look and saw two White Admirals plus a Comma. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Audience with the Emperor!. I set off to Whiteley Wood for an early audience with the Emperor. I soon found three other - chatty yet unidentified suitors - plus Dave (good to meet you mate) but at the appointed time, sadly, the Emperor was otherwise detained! After two circulations of the pathways and meadow, under threatening skies and a birthday party to run I left the scene of my disappointment. Hopefully the other supplicants were more successful. Nevertheless, between 0840 - 1050 I managed to account for the following somewhat less august species: Meadow Brown (3); Ringlet (21+); Small Skipper (7); Small Tortoiseshell (1); Gatekeeper (1); Essex Skipper (1); Green-veined White (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Essex Skipper
Photo © Francis Plowman
Green-veined White
Photo © Francis Plowman
Gatekeeper
Photo © Francis Plowman

Monks Walk, Elson, Gosport. Between 1115 - 1210 this little haven of natural wildlife produced sightings of ten butterfly species: Comma (4); Marbled White (15); Meadow Brown (20); Red Admiral (1); Large Skipper (2); Gatekeeper (4); Large White (2); Green-veined White (3); Ringlet (1); Essex Skipper (11). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Gatekeeper
Photo © Francis Plowman
Gatekeeper - not keeping the gate!
Photo © Francis Plowman
Meadow Brown female
Photo © Francis Plowman

Breamore, Fordingbridge. In a private garden in the countryside between 3-3.45pm with my grandfather I saw: Meadow Brown (7); Marbled White (3); Ringlet (6) - including a mating pair; Essex Skipper (1). [Posted by Kitt Wills]

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Ringlet's mating near Breamore
Photo © Kitt Wills

Purple Abundance at Browndown South. Despite near gale force winds and low,dark clouds,there were 15 Purple Hairstreaks battling the elements at Browndown late this morning.A tatty male near the W. entrance and some pristine females nearer the shooting range but only one glimpse of purple,the otherscsitting sheltering in the low Oaks.No evidence of Graylings though.Three White Letters were seen racing around the tops at Grange Farm early afternoon but none at all at Cosham. [Posted by Phil Hooper]

08 Jul 2016

Alice Holt. Had a fine day at Alice today with four groundings including two at once and a thorough inspection of my clothing!!!

In all I saw fourteen males most Oak edging with not much Sallow activity but they were quartering the rides and frequently stopping to test the surfaces and very confiding once they found what they were looking for. At one point I had two males and a red Admiral within six feet of one another - and one male decided that my dog Flossie would make a good perch and landed on her head much to her bemusement.

All were in pristine condition and my guess would be that they had emerged within the last couple of days.

Considering the less than sympathetic habitat management in recent times this was my best day in this forest for four years.

Kind Regards

Mark [Posted by Mark Tutton]

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Photo © Mark TuttonPhoto © Mark TuttonPhoto © Mark Tutton

Havant Thicket. 1315-1615 under cloud with sunny breaks but strong breezes circulated paths (and one or two bogs!) at Havant Thicket. Nothing seen of the Purple Emperor and very little flying in the tree-tops with such strong winds. Nonetheless, 17 species were identified which is my best count in UK for 2016 so very rewarding. The following were counted: Meadow Brown (25+); White Admiral (4); Small Skipper (6); Ringlet (25+); Large White (4); Brimstone (F)(1); Speckled Wood (3); Large Skipper (8); Gatekeeper (1); Essex Skipper (2); Small White (3); Common Blue (M)(1); Silver-washed Fritillary (3); Green-veined White (2); Marbled White (3); Comma (1); Clouded Yellow (1) - the latter on the wing. [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Large Skipper - unusual colouring
Photo © Francis Plowman
Ringlet
Photo © Francis Plowman
Silver-washed Fritillary
Photo © Francis Plowman

Grayling On Browndown. My late afternoon visit to Browndown South, in overcast conditions, was aimed at the Grayling colony close to the firing range wall. It was a qualified success – but I recorded just one Grayling (a male) towards the north of the site.

I also took the opportunity to check some of the stunted oaks for Purple Hairstreak within the Grayling area itself, this being several hundred yards east of where I normally see them. Purple Hairstreak were present in two of these oaks, jerkily flying around and resettling when the branches were gently tapped. [Posted by Alan Thornbury]

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Grayling (male)
Photo © Alan Thornbury
Grayling (male)
Photo © Alan Thornbury

Finally! a butterfly in our Chandler's Ford garden!. Is it just me or has anyone else noticed a total lack of butterflies in their garden this year? Since seeing the Peacock in March, there has been hardly any butterflies in the garden at all! The only ones have been the resident Holly Blues and Large Whites which are devouring my broccoli as we speak! Very poor compared to previous years. We have spent so much time making the garden a wildlife haven that it's been really disappointing.

But today at last, we have a visitor that has stayed all day. A rather worn and tatty but VERY welcome Painted Lady. A large possibly female one. It has found a rather large, some would say out of control, Hebe very appealing. It wouldn't come very close, prefering to stay on the top so resorted to 300mm zoom. Also a Large White has been visiting it to.

Let’s hope it's the start of something good! [Posted by Tracy Piper]

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Hungry after a long trip?
Photo © Tracy Piper
Painted Lady worn but welcome!
Photo © Tracy Piper
Hebe taking over the bungalow! Can you spot the PL?
Photo © Tracy Piper

Havant Thicket. Again another blank at Havant Thicket, far too windy for the Emperor today, however I did see Gatekeepers and a new brood of Green-Veined Whites, which were a plus.I stayed at the Assembly point again at 1300 until about 1320 but it was far too windy,'him' had his head down. The totals of species today in this warm but windy afternoon were as follows:Red Admiral (3) White Admiral (7) Large Skipper (6) Ringlet (100+) Meadow Brown (50) Small Skipper (25+) Small White (3) Large White (2) Speckled Wood (1) Silver-Washed Fritillary (5) Marbled White (15) Gatekeeper (2) Green-Veined White (2) Essex Skipper (2) [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Mating Ringlets
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Gatekeeper
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Mating Small Skipper
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

07 Jul 2016

Martin Down National Nature Reserve. Returning home from a successful hunt for the Large Blue at Collard Hill in Somerset, we stopped-off for a quick circulation of the southern area of Martin Down. This was between 3-4.30pm when the sun was out but a very strong westerly breeze played havoc on the grasslands. However, 12 species presented themselves as follows: Common Blue (2) (M&F); Marbled White (25+); Meadow Brown (23); Essex Skipper (4); Small Skipper (7); Small Heath (6); Ringlet (12); Small Tortoiseshell (1); Gatekeeper (1); Dark Green Fritillary (8); Small White (1); Comma (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Marbled White
Photo © Francis Plowman
Dark Green Fritillary
Photo © Francis Plowman
Essex Skipper
Photo © Francis Plowman

Staunton Country Park. Today with the hope that the sun may shine ...but it didn't not for long I went to my local Purple Wood Havant Thicket. With no prospect of seeing 'him' I did a little bit of exploring and went over to Staunton Country Park and here I was pleasantly surprised, how good the topography of the site is and the sallow and oak tree content. The main part of the Park has magnificent Oaks, and with very good Sallow content. In the main ride it rises up to a peak where I'm sure on a good day I would find something resembling an Assembly point. It has all the hallmarks of a Emperor wood and with Havant Thicket, Stein Wood, and Southleigh Forest in close proximity there is no reason why there shouldn't be a few sightings in this part of the woodland complex. I certainly will be keeping a eye out in this area in the future. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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The main ride rising up towards the north of the park
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Staunton Country Park looking south
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
What you should be looking for.......
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

Whitely Pastures - Purple Emperor. I set off down the main Whitely track more in hope than expectation this morning. Thick cloud cover and just the odd glimpse of sum dampened my spirits and sure enough by the time I was climbing the ridge at the end I'd only seen a couple of silver washed fritillaries and they were high in the canopy. Then I caught a flash of blue in my right eye and a Purple Emperor attempted to land on my jacket pocket! It circled me a few times - amazing sight and always very blue to me (but then I failed the RN colour perception test many years ago!). Eventually it landed on the track and although never really settled, it kept on moving, it was down long enough for photos and managed to ignore a jogger and two dog walkers - but the third proved too much (two inquisitive spaniels) and it ascended to the tree tops after about 10 minutes. I think I should pay credit to Alan (Thornbury's) post of yesterday - we met just after the Emperor flew off and in chatting it was clear that it was in much the same location as his of yesterday so more than likely the same one. I think I was always going to Whitely today, the cloud made me hesitate but Alan's post pushed me - many thanks! [Posted by Mark Wagstaff]

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Purple Emperor - Whitely Pastures
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Purple Emperor - Whitely Pastures
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Purple Emperor - Whiteley Pastures
Photo © Mark Wagstaff

06 Jul 2016

White letter day!!. A perfect morning weather wise sunny, warm and still for white letter hairstreak watching. Managed to see 52 before the sun got clouded over. These were in the Test valley. [Posted by Mark swann]

Havant Thicket. Today in perfect weather conditions, I visited Havant Thicket (SU7110) where I was pleased to see my first Silver Washed Fritillary and White Admiral this year. Numbers of other species were in single figures except for Ringlets, which seemed to have emerged in force and Meadow Browns. Totals: Large White 2, Small White 4, Ringlet 29, Meadow Brown 15, Marbled White 4, Gatekeeper 3, Silver Washed Fritillary 1, White Admiral 1, Large Skipper 4. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Hairstreaks. Lovely to see so many purple hairstreaks on the stunted oaks in the Browndown MOD site (check access times). A tap on one oak yielding 6-7 and most of the oaks had plenty on them - most at 1m height or lower. A short trip up to Grange Farm yielded 5-6 white-letter hairstreaks, but all high up in the elms near the car park - believed to be fighting males. A good mix of very fresh Essex, Small and Large skippers in this area too. Great to have them together to see the differences. Also with Marbled Whites, lots of Ringlet and Comma and Emperor Dragonflies. [Posted by Mark Jones]

Rownhams Plantation. After not having much luck trying to get our first photo of a White Admiral at Hut Wood, we thought today we would try another local haunt which I pass every day on my way to work! We have seen White Admirals here before and with the better weather it was worth a try. This is another sight used for logging with mixed woodland and clearings which are very boggy in places. Also there is a fair amount of Honeysuckle and patches of bramble.

We got here about 9.30 and wandered along the gravel path. At first we saw the usual Ringlets, Meadow Browns and Skippers both large and small. We got to an area which had been cleared a couple of years ago and found a very small group of Marbled Whites. (4 or 5) We kept going with the occasional detour into the woods but so far no Admirals. We came to a larger clearing and stopped for a while to watch the Ringlets when a bright flash of orange shot past us. Things were looking up. It flew around us a couple of times then disappeared. We were fairly sure this was a Silver-washed Fritillary but were hoping to see it again to be sure. A beautiful Golden-ringed dragonfly then turned up and grabbed a wasp for a snack! Wandering even further we found a particularly good clump of bramble which was a favourite haunt of a group of 4 Large Skippers. We decided to stay here and watch as there was also some Honeysuckle nearby. Ringlets and Meadow Browns were all nectaring here and sure enough the Silver-washed Fritillary came here too. It was a male and returned several times so got some good pictures. It was joined several times by a second male but no females were present. We wandered down to the end of the path but it was too boggy to go further so we went back the brambles for one last try. Just as we were about to leave Dave spotted what he thought was a White Admiral that dropped down behind the bracken and brambles. We looked all round then spotted it on some flowers! It came only slightly closer to sunbathe for a few seconds but I got a few shots! I had to shoot through a lot of bracken but got a reasonable shot with the 90mm although I had to crop it a bit!

Totals were 2 Silver-washed Fritillaries both male, 5 Marbled Whites, 3 Small Skippers, 8 Large Skippers, Large White, 15 Meadow Browns even more Ringlets and 1 White Admiral. Also 2-3 buzzards and the dragonfly

We finally left about 13.30 overjoyed to at least have come away with a picture of the White Admiral and the Silver-washed Fritillaries were a bonus! [Posted by Tracy Piper]

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Silver-washed Fritillary
Photo © Tracy Piper
White Admiral in the jungle!
Photo © Tracy Piper
Golden-ringed dragonfly eating a wasp!
Photo © Tracy Piper

Southleigh Forest. Male purple emperor holding territory from a large oak at the ride junction approx. 200m in from Emsworth Common Road between 12:30 and 13:30 at least. A second male chased off on at least one occasion. Also 1 silver washed fritillary and a small tortoiseshell [Posted by Peter Gammage]

Pristine Emperor Takes A Liking To My Shoe. Little did I know at the time, but my rather unspectacular late morning walk in Whiteley Pastures was soon to be turned on its head, as I started my return down the main track from Ridge Copse. As I approached what looked to be a black and white butterfly basking down on the track (thinking at this stage it was a White Admiral), it soon became clear it was actually a male Purple Emperor – in pristine condition!

As I approached, the emperor took off, and I prayed it would not just fly up into the trees (it’s happened to me before!) but thankfully my luck was in today and I spent the next fifteen minutes in its company. Having circled me at low level a few times, providing great views of the iridescent sheen, it landed on my shoe and began feeding! It even tolerated a few gentle changes in stance as I tried to obtain some pics, which is not easy when you cannot move independently from the subject!

Having fed from a few different podiatric positions, it flew a little way down the track to eventually settle close to the grass verge, with wings pressed flat to the ground and feeding from the track. The odd flick of the wings, as I manoevered around it, was interpreted as "that’s close enough" (even though it had been on my shoe previously). I departed with the Emperor still on the track to return to civilisation and the Whiteley Business Park.

Several Silver-washed Fritillaries and one White Admiral were also seen, as well as common woodland species, but today’s visit belonged to the Emperor! [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

Alice Holt. Visited two inclosures at Alice Holt this morning in lovely warm sunshine. What a contrast! Abbots Wood was remarkably quiet, the odd meadow brown and red admiral but no fritillaries or white admirals. Success though with 2 Purple Emperors at the assembly point furthest from the car park - battling away at the top of the oaks just to the right of the main, central tree. Crossed to Straits Inclosure and the main ride was alive with butterflies. Lots of silver washed frittillaries, 3 white admirals, small and large skippers - but sadly no PE. Despite this, I think if I went again tomorrow I'd opt for the latter Inclosure but its a difficult choice - dreary walk but 2 PE or wonderful butterfly filled walk and no PE! [Posted by Mark Wagstaff]

05 Jul 2016

Old Winchester Hill. Paid a visit here today looking for Dark Green Fritillaries. I must say, although we did see good numbers of some species, there is definitely a drop in numbers on the whole. Weather was cloudy at first but brightened as the day went on, getting very warm.

We did see Dark Green frits but only about 4 in total. A couple in the dip of the fort, one just before we entered the wood and the last one on the path to the bottom of the car park slope. All were males. We walked to the fort, all round, down to the bottom of the field next to the fort (good colony of Small Heaths here, about 20 seen) back to the circular walk, through the wood and up the car park slope. In the meadow next to the fort we also saw a very fresh Painted Lady, a very tired and parasite ridden Common Blue male and some Small Tortoiseshells (they seem to be doing slightly better than last year) One I photographed ended up with a small beetle passenger!

Probably due to the bad weather and the fact that OWH is often two weeks behind other areas due to the exposed aspect, it is still too early for the main flight period of Dark Greens. Still, we spent a pleasant if long walk from about 10.30 to 14.30.

Totals were: Good numbers of Ringlets and Meadow Browns and Marbled Whites. 20-30 Small Heaths, 8-10 Small Tortoiseshells, 4 Dark Green Fritillaries all males, A very fresh Painted Lady, 6-10 Large Skippers, 6-8 Small Skippers, 3 Speckled Woods, 2 Common Blue males and a couple of Large Whites [Posted by Tracy Piper]

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Marbled White male
Photo © Tracy Piper
Small Tortoiseshell with beetle passenger!
Photo © Tracy Piper
Dark Green Fritillary male
Photo © Tracy Piper

Farley Mount, Winchester. We went into Crabb Wood to seek out White Admirals. It was warm but cloudy with few sunny intervals. However 2 Silver-washed Fritillaries appeared near the car park and we saw 2 more later in the wood itself. It was sufficiently warm that none of them settled. As we left the wood, at last, we saw a single White Admiral flying up and down at a height of about 5m between clumps of honeysuckle. Other species seen included Meadow Brown and Ringlet in abundance, mostly in the meadow near the car park, and occasional Marbled White.

We then moved to the meadow at the extreme western end of Farley Mount where I'd often seen Dark-green Fritillaries in previous years. We saw one orange-looking fritillary flying strongly in the distance but no definite Dark-green Fritillaries. Possibly too early to see them here. However there were lots of Meadow Browns, Ringlets and Marbled Whites and occasional Large Skippers. [Posted by Bob Whitmarsh]

Browndown East & West of the River, Gosport. Walking from Grange Road and across Apple Dumpling bridge I headed for the wooded glade where last year there were sightings of White Admiral. A mature Oak tree beneath which stands a large clump of Honeysuckle was alive with butterflies all tumbling and chasing, it seemed, a single White Admiral. Meadow Brown, Comma, Speckled Wood and even a Large Skipper were all entangling up and around the Oak. All high activity. Walking further south I came across a Gatekeeper on foliage at the bottom of relatively recently revealed and now cleared WW1 trench-warfare training systems. Today there were no explosions but the insect had to suffer the camera flash so deep was it within the trenches (well-worth a visit in their own right). Crossing the purple-Heathered heath I returned through the woodlands only to come across the White Admiral (5.30pm) now feeding sedately on bramble. So that made my day. Total butterflies noted: Marbled White (1); White Admiral (1); Speckled Wood (1); Comma (1); Meadow Brown (5); Large Skipper (2); Gatekeeper (1); Red Admiral (1); Essex Skipper (1); Small Skipper (3). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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White Admiral
Photo © Francis Plowman
Photo © Francis PlowmanGatekeeper
Photo © Francis Plowman

The Hermitage Wildlife Garden, Gosport. This small, quiet and beautifully maintained urban public garden was dappled in warm sunshine this afternoon just before 4 pm. A well-worn Speckled Wood and a somewhat better conditioned Comma were seen. [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Comma
Photo © Francis Plowman

Smessex. Just missed Ashley at Havant Thicket and spent a pleasant couple of hours checking out the rides - no emperors for me but a few Silver Washed Fritillaries and White admirals as well as very good numbers - in excess of 70 - Essex and Small skippers in one of the meadows [Posted by Mark Tutton]

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Essex Skipper
Photo © Mark Tutton

Havant Thicket. Margaret and I had a walk around Havant Thicket and saw 2 Purple Emperor one of which flew strongly above the trees along the main ride towards Rowlands Castle golf club.

Other species recorded included White Admiral 8,Silver-washed Fritillary 9,Common Blue 1F,Brimstone 1M,Marbled White 15,Ringlet 50+,Small Tortoiseshell 1,Orange Tip 1M,Large White 2,Small White 3,Meadow Brown 10+,Large Skipper 6,Small Skipper 12.(Barry and Margaret Collins) [Posted by Barry Collins]

Havant Thicket. A walk around one of my favourite sites, although the weather was rather windy and overcast at times towards the mid-day period the weather was bright and very sunny. I managed just one sighting of 'him' and that was at 10:15 a male was Sallow searching in the main ride. Its still very early yet to get a decent count at any Purple Wood, unless you live in Sussex of course! Other species of note were as follows: Speckled Wood (2) White Admiral (13) Ringlet (50-100) Meadow Brown much the same Large Skipper (15) Large White (7) Small White (5) Marbled White (25) Small Skipper (10) Silver-Washed Fritillary (11) Brimstone (1) Small Tortoiseshell (1) Red Admiral (1). There was nothing at the Assembly point in Havant Thicket at 12:30 and again at 13:30 where I stayed for at least 30 odd minutes. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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White Admiral on Thistle
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Small Skipper
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Havant Thicket
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

04 Jul 2016

Fort Widley and Portsdown Hill. Today paid a visit to Fort Widley (SU657066) to look for the Marbled Whites found there. A reasonable early number were seen, although the weather was not ideal. Totals: Meadow Brown 8, Marbled White 16, Ringlet 4, Red Admiral 1, Small Tortoiseshell 1.

Crossing the road opposite and walking the track (SU657063)a few more Marbled Whites were flying but again low numbers. Total: Large White 1, Meadow Brown 2, Marbled White 4, Ringlet 1. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Gosport Hairstreaks. The Purple Hairstreaks were very obliging on Browndown Ranges. If you intend to visit you can check on the Lee Residents web site for when this area (Browndown South) might be closed (and it often is!). Also a good number of White Letter Hairstreaks at Grange Farm. Not so obliging for my limited camera range - very heavily cropped shot included but unless one decides to nectar on the nearby plants its the best I can manage in the tree tops! Still, great to watch, constantly battling each other above the elms. [Posted by Mark Wagstaff]

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White Letter HS - Grange Farm
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Purple HS - Browndown South
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Purple HS - Browndown South
Photo © Mark Wagstaff

Hut Wood SU425187. Went for a walk in our local wood today looking for White Admirals. The wood is a mixture of deciduous and pine plantations with clearings of rough scrub and grass. Also there is Honeysuckle growing up through the trees. The wood belongs to the Forestry Commission and has been used recently for logging so the paths are in a terrible condition and very muddy due to recent weather!

We got there about 11.40 and the weather was showing signs of sun but it soon clouded over again with some light drizzle although it was very warm and humid! That said we still saw plenty of butterflies in the clearings with good numbers of Ringlet, a small colony of Marbled Whites (8-10) and we saw our first Gatekeeper (2) here. There were also Large Skippers (10-15), mostly females and Small Skippers (10+) too. We also saw a couple of Meadow Browns and a very pale (worn?) Speckled Wood. As for the White Admirals? Well we did see some, about 4 or 5 but they were up in the trees and showed no signs of settling or coming down to feed so no photos at all of them. At least they are still here despite the logging and there is plenty of Honeysuckle flowering and brambles nearby. We will try again when the weather is brighter. We left about 14.15pm [Posted by Tracy Piper]

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Slightly deformed Marbled White
Photo © Tracy Piper
Large Skipper female
Photo © Tracy Piper
Small Skipper male
Photo © Tracy Piper

Hut Wood SU425187. Some more photos.... [Posted by Tracy Piper]

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First Gatekeeper
Photo © Tracy Piper
Ringlet male
Photo © Tracy Piper
Very pale Speckled Wood
Photo © Tracy Piper

Browndown South, Gosport. Between 2 and 4 pm today I revisited the low oaks adjacent to the shore at Browndown South. Pessimism was the order of the day under grey skies, noticeably fresh SW breeze and temperature around 19C. It took some time to find the first Purple Hairstreak, low down, inverted and well tucked-in on the lee side of the oak. By watching it carefully I deduced this was a male given the very dark glimpse of wing that I was occasionally given. On another oak within this small group of trees I saw another Purple Hairstreak perched at the highest branch; rushing back I found the first still sat in his bolt hole; so that was two. Over 300 metres to the north and on my way out I came across Number 3, this time a female. It was very patient and tolerated my close approach. No Grayling to report but I did manage a quick shot of a very flighty Small Copper. Totals then: Purple Hairstreak (3); Essex Skipper (1); Small Skipper (1); Small White (1); Small Copper (1); Marbled White (3). Not bad for a dull afternoon by the sea. [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Purple Hairstreak, probably male
Photo © Francis Plowman
Purple Hairstreak female
Photo © Francis Plowman
Small Copper
Photo © Francis Plowman

Hawkhill Inclosure and Hatchet Moor. With the weather being a bit iffy and very non-Purple Emperor watching weather I ventured down into the depths of the New Forest today to see how the Dark-Green Fritillary was faring. I must have been a little early as they seemed very absent in the areas I normally see them. I managed to see one in flight at Warts Gutter, but other than that it was just a splattering of Large and Small Skippers a few Marbled Whites, Meadow Browns, and the odd Ringlet. Hatchet Moor saved the day with good counts of Silver-Studded Blues all in pristine condition, there must have been 1-200 in the area just adjacent to Hawkhill Inclosure, with a few Small Heaths as well. The area adjacent to the entrance of Hawkhill Inclosure is fast becoming a miniature Conifer Plantation in between the Bell Heather. I suspect this will be addressed when the trees become a lot larger, or cattle will browse them! [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Dark-Green Fritillary on Thistle
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Male Silver-Studded Blue
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Female Silver-Studded Blue
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

03 Jul 2016

Chalton Down. Visited Chalton Down (SU736156) today where there was sunny spells and the temperature 17 degrees.Many Meadow Browns were flying along with Ringlets. The weather was not ideal so may account for the lower number of Marbled Whites and other species seen. Totals: Small White 1, Meadow Brown 37, Ringlet 14, Marbled White 18, Small Heath 2, Large Skipper 2. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

No Step-ladder Needed For Browndown’s Purple Hairstreaks!. Having checked the site was open (access times published on Lee Residents website), I visited Browndown South this afternoon, with the main target species being Purple Hairstreak. Focusing on an area of stunted oaks (6-8ft tall) and ground cover scrub oak just to the west of the brick face of the firing range. I recorded around 20 Purple Hairstreaks. There were approximately equal numbers of males and females, with typically 1-3 in several of the small trees (a light tap sends them flying!) and odd ones amongst the scrub oak. The males are showing some signs of fading but many of the females are pristine, as shown in the photos. Amazing to be able to see so many of this species at close quarters with ease! [Posted by Alan Thornbury]

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Purple Hairstreak (Female)
Photo © Alan Thornbury
Purple Hairstreak (Female)
Photo © Alan Thornbury
Purple Hairstreak (Male)
Photo © Alan Thornbury

Alice in Wonderland. Today I made my first pilgrimage to Alice Holt Forest although the weather was generally warm with lots of dark clouds the majority of time after twelve o'clock it was quite sunny, and the woodland itself in Abbotts Wood Inclosure there wasn't a lot around at all. Plenty of Ringlets a splattering of Meadow Browns and a single Speckled Wood with a couple of Marbled Whites. Very poor considering what I saw at Abbotstone Down yesterday. However I ventured over to Alice Holt Forest (1) Assembly Point and as soon as I set up my step ladder, unfortunately this site is now almost a right off, as I cannot see with trees and shrubbery in the way, and I just caught a glimpse of two Purple Emperors chasing each other at 1250 flying from the east-to west. Then there was a single male doing a typical vista patrol around the Assembly Point. I never stayed long as this site now is very uncomfortable trying to make notes balancing on a step-ladder....could almost be in a circus! [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Typical ride in Abbotts Wood Inclosure
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Mating Ringlets
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
The veiw from a step ladder somewhere in the forest
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

02 Jul 2016

Aberrant Small Tortoiseshells - Alton. At least two aberrant Small Tortoiseshells near Alton on 2 July.

Two fresh individuals with yellow replaced with white - one of which with extensive white. I would value any views on which variant they are.

Also "blue-eyed" grass snake (in moult) nearby. [Posted by Steve Mansfield]

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Small Tortoiseshell with much white
Photo © Steve Mansfield
Small Tortoiseshell with some white
Photo © Steve Mansfield
Grass Snake - moulting
Photo © Steve Mansfield

Abbotstone Down Field Trip. Its like an old record now sitting in the car-park wondering if I should have cancelled the field trip, everybody arrives and the heavens open up...a good start. The good thing if it is a good thing is that the showers are short and sharp and invariably good sunny weather comes along soon after which happened today. We enjoyed good lengthy periods of sunshine, as we walked amoungst this splendid woodland and the meadows surrounding it. The meadows had numerous Marbled White, Ringlets and Meadow Brown, and the meadow edges were full of Bramble flower were we saw a couple of very late Green Hairstreaks, and some rather splendid Cream spot Tiger Moths, plus the bramble was being fed on by the newly hatched Silver-Washed Fritillary. When we got to the car-park there was some excitement as there would seem to have been a 'possible' Purple Emperor flying over the tree tops and what looks like a good area as a Assembly Point not far from the car-park. There isn't much Sallow about and there is no Honeysuckle of note, so White Admiral could be quite rare here. Butterflies of note were as follows:Meadow Brown (100+) Marbled White (100+) Ringlet (50+) Large Skipper (10) Small Skipper (4) Green Hairstreak (2) Silver-Washed Fritillary (6) Speckled Wood (13) Large White (3) Small Tortoiseshell (4) Small White (1) Red Admiral (1) possible Purple Emperor, I never actually espied it! last but not least Scarlett Tiger Moth (2).I'd like to thank the ever faithful for making this a most enjoyable Field Trip. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Scarlett Tiger Moth
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Mating Marbled Whites
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
A stormy Abbotstone Down
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

Silver-washed And An Admiral In The Pastures. A stroll along the main track in Whiteley Pastures this morning, before the shower clouds closed in, produced 6 Silver-washed Fritillaries. They were all fresh males and very active, occasionally stopping to feed on the abundant bramble flowers. A single White Admiral came down from the heights to pose briefly on bracken for a heavily cropped photo. Other species seen were Large Skipper, Ringlet, Meadow Brown and Brimstone. [Posted by Alan Thornbury]

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Silver-washed Fritillary
Photo © Alan Thornbury
White Admiral
Photo © Alan Thornbury

01 Jul 2016

Monks Walk, Elson, Gosport. Additional photographs from Monks Walk, Elson, Gosport. [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Green-veined White
Photo © Francis Plowman
Marbled White
Photo © Francis Plowman
Meadow Brown
Photo © Francis Plowman

Monks Wood, Elson, Gosport. The natural protection of this small field from this afternoon's strong breeze realised a count of 10 species when I walked it between 1445-1605. Meadow Brown (11); Comma (5); Red Admiral (1); Marbled White (6); Small White (1); Essex Skipper (6) including mating pair; Common Blue (F)(1); Small Skipper (2); Green-veined White (1); Large Skipper (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Comma
Photo © Francis Plowman
Essex Skipper
Photo © Francis Plowman
Small Skipper
Photo © Francis Plowman

Chilly at Chilling Coastal Area. Between 1310-1420 I walked the public footpaths of Chilling Coastal Area and did so in a Force 5-6 westerly and very boggy ways. Despite such folly, at the start of the walk ie nearer to the sheltered wood was found: Meadow Brown (8); Large Skipper (1); Red Admiral (1) and Small White (2). Except the Red Admiral (on the wing) the other butterflies were all hunkered-down on the ground hanging-on grimly. [Posted by Francis Plowman]

Abbotstone Down nature reserve. On a warm showery morning, ideal for slugs, when at first only Ringlets(5) were visible flying low over the damp grassland, I came across some Meadow Browns(8) and Marbled Whites(3)by the hobbits graveyard of anthill hummocks. [Posted by Robert Bryant]


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