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

News Archive for Mar 2017

30 Mar 2017

North Hayling Cycle Path. After visiting Havant Thicket, on the way home I walked the Northern end of the Hayling Cycle Path from North Hayling Holt to the old railway bridge (SU7103). Here I saw a male and female Brimstone and four Peacocks. Totals: Brimstone 1M 1F, Peacock 4. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Havant Thicket. Paid yet another visit to Havant Thicket today where the temperature was 15 degrees. I was pleased to record my first sighting this year of a male Orange Tip which landed on a Dandelion and was happy enough for its photo to be taken. Almost a dozen Brimstones (males) and Peacocks were also seen but no Commas today. Totals: Brimstone 11M, Orange Tip 1M, Peacock 11. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

27 Mar 2017

Havant Thicket. Returned to Havant Thicket (SU7110) today, walking the outer paths where the temperature reached 15.5 degrees. I saw many male Brimstones with only a single Comma and some Peacocks. Totals:Brimstone 23M, Comma 1, Peacock 8. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Lunchtime walk at Adanac Park, Nursling. Near the Ordnance Survey Offices, where I work, is a great spot for butterflies and other wildlife that used to be a house and an old nursery. Today, between 13.00 and 13.45 I saw 4 Peacocks, one of which sat on my arm for a couple of minuites. 3 Brimstones, 2 males, 1 female and a single male Orange Tip! This is very early and it flew past me without settling, but I'm pretty sure it was an Orange Tip. I wandered up and down hoping to see it again but I didn't. I will be paying regular visits to see if I can find it and others again. This is a good site for them and I saw several here last year.

After getting home and doing the usual round in the garden my other half saw another Holly Blue. This one flew past us and settled in next door's driveway. We went and grabbed our cameras and got several pictures of it flying around a blue piece of ceramic embedded in the ground. This male seemed very interested in it and kept circling around it several times. Did it think it was another Holly Blue or did it just like the colour!? It then got bored and wandered around taking minerals from the ground. After comparing the underside markings to the one I saw on Saturday, this is a different male to that one. [Posted by Tracy Piper]

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Confused male Holly Blue? or did it just liked the colour!
Photo © Tracy Piper
Not getting anywhwere so having a drink instead!
Photo © Tracy Piper

South Hampshire Round-up. Browndown Coastal Area, Elmore, Gosport. A 40 minutes' circulation of this scrubby-field from 1100 this morning realised not one butterfly sighting notwithstanding the warmth and shelter from the light breeze.

Titchfield River Meon Walk. Walking the pathway to the Meon Shore and back from 1145 - 1310 realised total sightings of just 5 butterflies; Peacock (2); Comma (2); Small Tortoiseshell (1). The ongoing water vole project has apparently ensured much coppicing, hedge-lopping and tree-felling along the pathway and provides for hurdle-type fencing and river bank support here and there. There were many more sightings in previous years when the hedgerows were unkempt and in abundant blossom. I wouldn't mind but has anyone seen a water vole here? A big fat rat running along the riverbank looked as if he had!

Monks Walk, Gosport. 1430 - 1515. Consistent sightings once again! Peacock (4); Comma (4); Small Tortoiseshell (2); Small White (1); Brimstone (M)(1); Red Admiral (2); Speckled Wood (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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

26 Mar 2017

Leigh Park our garden. We saw our first spring sighting of a pristine male Holly Blue in our back garden.(Barry and Margaret Collins) [Posted by Barry Collins]

Butterflies at Magdalen Hill Down. After a brief walk in the sunshine about midday, I had seen a Small White, a Holly Blue, 3 Peacock, a Small Tortoiseshell and 7 Brimstone including a mating pair. [Posted by Gerwyn]

Alice Holt Lodge Inclosure. In the Butterfly Conservation meadow:

Brimstone 5+ males, one female

Small Tortoiseshell

In Lodge Inclosure:

Peacock 3

Comma 1

Red Admiral 1

Steady flow of male Brimstones

My first Bee Fly sp. and Pond Skater sp. of the year

Earlier, a cycle ride along the North Downs produced a Comma at Shalden, 5 male Brimstones, and a female Brimstone at Lower Froyle village pond [Posted by Steve Mansfield]

Seven-Up at Monks Walk!. Two lovely warm days has seen an increase in species at Monks Walk, Gosport. This afternoon (1300-1400) seven counted: Small White (1); Peacock (2); Brimstone (M)(2); Speckled Wood (1); Small Tortoiseshell (3); Comma (3); Red Admiral. [Posted by Francis Plowman]

25 Mar 2017

Havant Thicket. Walked Havant Thicket (SU7110) today where the temperature was 14.5 degrees. Several male Brimstones were in flight as awell as good numbers of Peacock and Commas which often landed on the track. Totals: Brimstone 13M, Comma 7, Peacock 10. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Alice Holt Straits Inclosure. In Straits Inclosure itself:

Brimstone 2 males.

Comma 5

Plus one Small Tortoiseshell on nettles in field to the south

At Kingsley Common: 3 male Brimstones [Posted by Steve Mansfield]

Acres Down NF. A walk through the wooded areas away from the brisk cold north easterly wind today saw several butterflies on the wing. In total there were 16 Brimstones including 2 females, 4 Peacocks, 2 Commas and a single Red Admiral [Posted by Chris Rose]

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Brimstone & friend
Photo © Chris Rose
Peacock
Photo © Chris Rose
Comma
Photo © Chris Rose

Portsdown Hill/Portchester Common/Anson Grove. Today in very warm but breezy weather the following Butterflies were espied on the wing, following around the old transect route I used to follow. Brimstone (43) Comma (3) Peacock (10) Small Tortoiseshell (3) Small White (2) and Holly Blue was seen flying down one of the busy roads in Cosham on the way home. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Brimstone many on the wing now
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Grazing Horses on the main part of the down
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Anson Grove Open space Ten years ago there would have been several Wall Browns here
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

New Holly Blue in our Chandlers Ford Garden!. A beautiful if somewhat windy day has brought our first emergence of a lovely fresh male Holly Blue! Last year, I photographed a female laying eggs on August 10th in our Ivy, which covers the south facing wall of our bungalow. Only yesterday I was looking at it wondering if anything would hatch out from this laying and today I have the answer! I have never managed to get a picture of a male Holly Blue before, only females, so I was overjoyed to get this male trying to sun itself before it literally got blown off the buddleia! It was sitting just below the ivy in my butterfly garden so pretty sure this is where it came from.

Letís hope that a few more hatch out this weekend. There were also the usual male Brimstones flying around too. [Posted by Tracy Piper]

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Holly Blue laying eggs last August
Photo © Tracy Piper
Pristine male Holly Blue
Photo © Tracy Piper
Holly Blue underside
Photo © Tracy Piper

Monks Walk, Frater Fields & Woods, Gosport. Sheltered from the strong, salty easterly that whipped-up white horses across Portsmouth harbour, four butterfly species presented themselves to the camera during a warm and sunny circulation from 1pm. Peacock (10); Comma (3); Red Admiral (2); Small Tortoiseshell (2). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Comma feeding on Pussy Willow
Photo © Francis Plowman
Peacock feeding on Blackthorn
Photo © Francis Plowman
Small Tortoiseshell sunbathing!
Photo © Francis Plowman

21 Mar 2017

Exmoor Zoo visit to Marsh Fritillary larvae. Andy Barker, Tim Bernhard and myself were pleased to host a visit from Exmoor Zoo and BC's All the Moors Threatened Butterfly project team on Friday 17th March to one of our Marsh Fritillary breeding sites. They are in the early stages of planning a Marsh Fritillary re-introduction on Exmoor and came to see our set-up and learn about some of the issues we are managing. The photos were taken by John Hammond, the Exmoor Zoo in-house photographer. [Posted by Clive Wood]

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Marsh Fritillary basking larvae
Photo © Clive Wood
Checking on the captive larvae
Photo © Clive Wood

Wayfarers Walk, Totford. A Small Tortoiseshell and an Orange Tip butterfly flying along hedgebanks in bright sunshine this morning. [Posted by Robert Bryant]

Milton Lock Nature Reserve / Allotments. Visited my local patch today where it was windy and decidedly cool today, so most of the butterflies out today had their heads down. Although finding in the more sheltered areas, where it was a few degrees warmer were (5) Small Tortoiseshells, (2) Peacocks and (1) Small White. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Small Tortoiseshell in a sheltered spot
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Milton Lock / Allotment shoreline
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Milton Allotments a small strip of vegentation where the Small Tortoiseshell can be found
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

18 Mar 2017

Marsh Fritillary caterpillars. I'm pleased to report that the Marsh Fritillary larvae that form part of our licensed captive breeding project have been making the most of the recent sunny weather. They have been increasingly active and feeding on the Devil's-bit scabious in our breeding cages. The attached images show a view of one of the breeding cages, with lots of Devil's-bit Scabious plants, plus dry grass to provide basking sites. If you look closely at the bottom edge, the pot just right of centre has a group of larvae on the right corner. To the left of this you may just spot a few individual larvae feeding on leaves of Devil's-bit scabious. These are the larvae in the other two photos. Notice how the bigger (later instar) larvae are blacker. This project has created a lot of interest and I hope these regular updates keep you well informed. [Posted by Andy Barker]

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Marsh Fritillary breeding cage
Photo © Andy Barker
Marsh Fritillary larvae feeding
Photo © Andy Barker
Larvae of different instars
Photo © Andy Barker

15 Mar 2017

Unexpected Butterflies In Andover. I was working at Copper Beeches, Woodlands Way, Andover today. On my arrival in bright sunshine at lunchtime, I was greeted by a display of butterflies in their small sheltered garden area. A couple of male Brimstones were bobbing around and taking frequent rests accompanied by a single Comma. As I left an hour later I took another look and spotted my first Holly Blue of the year flying over the conservatory roof and my first Small White of the year fluttering around in the flower beds. [Posted by Paul Harfield]

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Photo © Paul HarfieldPhoto © Paul Harfield

Painted Lady at Monks Walk, Gosport. Six butterfly species seen and photographed this afternoon between 1320-1520 at Monks Walk and the nearby field edges. Numbers are increasing from my last visit on 13th March when just four species were recorded. Today's count: Peacock (6); Comma (6); Small Tortoiseshell (4); Red Admiral (2); Brimstone (M)(1); and finally, Painted Lady (1). I found the latter on my second visit to the small enclosure that is Monks Walk. I disturbed it in the grass and for the next 20 minutes watched it feed on the high branches of Pussy Willow. I was beset with Commas and Peacock and blessed with one landing on my head! In the sheltered corner the sun was warm and the air reverberated to the rhythm of a distant woodpecker; but still the Painted Lady fed. Eventually it couldn't resist joining in the squabble of Comma and Peacocks, soon got bored and I got my best shots while it sat on the grass. In virtually immaculate condition this butterfly simply got my admiration for its endurance and spectacular colours. This is by far the earliest that I have seen this specie here; 9th June 2016 being my last sighting. The Small Tortoiseshells are pairing-up it would seem and it promises to be a bright year along the sheltered southern edge of Portsmouth Harbour. [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Small Tortoiseshell
Photo © Francis Plowman
My early Painted Lady!
Photo © Francis Plowman
Plenty of food for the Painted Lady
Photo © Francis Plowman

14 Mar 2017

Soberton Down. I was asked several months ago to visit Soberton Down a small 4 acre site not far from Beacon Hill at Exton. Here they are progressing with scrub bashing large tracts of Blackberry and Blackthorn Scrub at the base of the hill, which has a North-West aspect. There are hundreds of Ant-hills dotted all over the down and the downland has never been ploughed. They have cattle keeping the sward a reasonable height, and the flora and fauna on the site from Spring to the Autumn is quite impressive, with good Orchids, Carpets of Cowslip where they have put in some scallops where they have left the scrub at the base of the hill. Whether a wandering Duke will ever find this site remains to be seen, but I shall have a good look in the flight season. Like most sites like this it is isolated, so the site has to be kept in good condition to attract anything that maybe passing. Anyway time will tell I shall report a list of flora and fauna at a later date. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Friendly Cattle!
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Soberton Down
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

13 Mar 2017

Brownwich Butterflies - Pt 2. Just to clarify my comments regarding the small whites I saw yesterday. Two settled very briefly, (one on a nearby rhubarb field, the other on ivy). Not long enough for a photo and also too distant but enough to see with binoculars that they settled with wings open, black tips to both wings and black spots/markings also (but couldn't count the number). So, still not 100% sure if small white, green veined white or female orange tip! If pushed I would opt for the former - but either way, on looking all these up they do seem particularly early. [Posted by Mark Wagstaff]

Havant Thicket. Another sunny spring day so with the temperature at 14 degrees I walked Havant Thicket (SU7110) as far as Bell's Copse. Several Brimstones were flying along with an odd Comma and Peacock. Totals Brimstone 12M, Comma 1, Peacock 3. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Brownwich Butterflies. On a walk round Brownwich and Chilling in spring like weather today I managed 7/8 Small tortoiseshell (they were very active in the afternoon sun), 4 Peacock, 1 Comma and 3 Small Whites. I can't be 100% sure of the latter other than they were small and distinctly white - but in a hurry and not settling so no photo unfortunately. Lovely day to be out - species count up to 6 now with Brimstone and Red Admiral in the garden already. [Posted by Mark Wagstaff]

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Peacock - Brownwich
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Small Tortoiseshell - Brownwich
Photo © Mark Wagstaff

Hassock Copse, Northington. A Brimstone butterfly and two Commas flying along the verge in bright sunshine, early afternoon. [Posted by Robert Bryant]

Portsdown Hill/Portchester Common/Anson Grove. A good day to be out and about and decided to walk my old transect route on Portsdown Hill, via Portchester Common and then along Anson Grove (an open space) very good for butterflies. Once the warmth had hit the southern slopes of this wonderful downland there were in total (24) Brimstone (8) Peacock (1) Comma and (1) Small Tortoiseshell. The horses were also out munching away at the grasses and keeping everything short. Buzzards were on the wing over Fort Widley there were (4) spiraling upwards on the thermals and a couple of Kestrels were also seen. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Common Dog Violet
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Peacock
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Ponies keeping the sward short
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

09 Mar 2017

Garden Sightings. With the weather spring-like for once it was no surprise to see singles of a male Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, and a Peacock in the garden this afternoon [Posted by Chris Rose]

Spring Sightings at Havant Thicket. Today as Spring temperatures were rising I saw a single male Brimstone in my sister's garden at Elizabeth Road, Waterlooville (SU687087).

I decided flying conditions would be ideal in Havant Thicket (SU7110). Here the temperature reached 15 degrees, where I walked the main outer track as far as the corner of Bell's Copse. I was surprised with my counts of Brimstone (14M), Comma (2) and Peacock (1). The Comma's appeared to be a pair chasing each other in the sunshine.I manged to get a photograph of the Peacock as it landed, all the Brimstones were seen in flight. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

5 species at Knowle Village Today. Plenty of male Brimstones around, I counted at least 10 'en route' and at Knowle Village today. Also seen several each of Comma, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell together with a single Red Admiral. [Posted by Paul Harfield]

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Photo © Paul HarfieldPhoto © Paul Harfield

Monks Walk, Frater Fields & Woods, Gosport. Having just returned from three weeks in Cyprus where I focused my camera on not one butterfly (the winter weather having set back nature many weeks) it was a real pleasure on my first wander of 2017 to find five species. Peacock (4); Comma (4); Small Tortoiseshell (3); Red Admiral (1) and Brimstone (1) a male on the wing were seen in just an hour in warm Spring sunshine. Very encouraging start to the year for me. [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Comma
Photo © Francis Plowman
Small Tortoiseshell
Photo © Francis Plowman
Peacock
Photo © Francis Plowman

Brimstones at Adanac Park. A lovely day so I braved the mud to go for a walk at lunchtime between 13.30 and 14.00. By the Ordnance Survey offices, I was rewarded with 3 male Brimstones patrolling the bushes and hedgerows and a Comma defending a small sunny alcove. There were also a few Bumblebees feeding on willow flowers. For today at least, spring is definately here! [Posted by Tracy Piper]

Milton Lock Nature Reserve. Today perfect spring weather, and with the Hawthorn Blossom all coming out, it was a great attraction to many insects, not least a Peacock Butterfly looking in immaculate condition despite coming through the winter. Also not to escape my notice was a Red Admiral on the wing, flitting in and around some fresh shoots of Nettle. A Small Tortoiseshell was also seen on the wing flying around some Hawthorn bushes, and on the way out a Comma Butterfly was espied on a couple of unopened Bluebell's. Four Species in this small but interesting site, gets my butterfly season off to a good start. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Peacock on Hawthorn
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Peacock
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

08 Mar 2017

Munching caterpillars. Following on from my message of 21 February, I'm pleased to report that our Marsh Fritillary larvae (as part of a captive breeding programme under licence) are getting more active in mild sunny weather. They're busily munching their way through the Devil's-bit scabious leaves on the plants provided. The photos attached, taken yesterday, show a couple of larvae feeding on one of the leaves, plus another caterpillar basking on dry leaf material. [Posted by Andy Barker]

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Marsh Fritillary larva basking
Photo © Andy Barker
Larvae feeding
Photo © Andy Barker

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