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

News Archive for Aug 2017

22 Aug 2017

Martin Down. It felt like I had the Down to myself this morning with not another soul in sight until gone 1200. Perhaps the locals know something I don't about the weather - the forecast was good but in reality it was very overcast, breezy, hardly any sun and even some rain. That said, my target for the day didn't disappoint - Adonis Blues showed very well (even in the bit of rain). Difficult to give an accurate count as they seem concentrated in one patch of maybe 100m at the top of the hill (from where it flattens out to the paths crossing) - so very easy to double count but being very conservative I think 10-12 at minimum. Most were pristine but a couple were faded so they must have been out a few days. I struggled to find a female (and was probably fooled more than once by Common Blues) but the very last one I found does seem more promising if only because it was in such good condition. With the eye of faith I think I can see some blue below the orange crescents (rather than white) so fingers crossed the ID is correct. Aside from Adonis Blues there were plenty of Common Blues around, similarly Brown Argus. No Chalk Hill Blues and a very nice Painted Lady. Probably my last butterfly trip this year - if so, lovely way to finish! [Posted by Mark Wagstaff]

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Adonis Blue - Martin Down
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Adonis Blue - Martin Down
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Adonis Blue -Martin Down
Photo © Mark Wagstaff

Old Winchester Hill. More photos of the Silver- Spotted Skipper mating ritual [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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She was interested but he seemed too eager!
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
The size of the female and the male are obvious in this photo
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
When he was tired he moved onto a Small Scabious keeping his eye on the lady!
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

Old Winchester Hill. In not ideal conditions a blanket of cloud over most of the Meon Valley today but it was quite warm on the main southern slope of Old Winchester Hill today, and it did threaten to become somewhat sunnier although this didn't last, however the butterfly count was very good considering. The Silver-Spotted Skipper was buzzing about with great gusto (little whizzers!). I managed to count up to 15 (on the fort slope) and I suspect there were far more as I saw at least 3 together. Two managed to court each other, although they never mated not in my presence anyway! I've seen many butterfly mating rituals but I think the Silver-Spotted Skipper is one of the best. One male was in pursuit of this rather lovely female, she was very stand off-ish, he had seen one male off, and kept in pursuit of this female, as she flew off he was off in hot pursuit. When he lost interest trying to bend his abdomen round to hers, she just moved away. He then just flew off close by and started feeding on a Small Scabious. When she flew off again he was in hot pursuit. I watched this fascinating maneuvering for at least 10 minutes. Other butterflies of interest were good numbers of immaculate Adonis Blues, (14) males and at least (2) females. Chalk Hill Blues were still in evidence but looking rather tatty now, with the odd ones still looking in good shape. Common Blues look as if they may well have had another brood as they were in good number and shape as well. I counted (14) species today despite the conditions. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Male Adonis Blue
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Male in pursuit of the female Silver-Spotted Skipper
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Another male comes into the close incounter
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

20 Aug 2017

Chalton Down, Clouded Yellow Again. After a visit to Portsdown Hill, I revisited Chalton Down (SU736156), where I had seen and photographed a Clouded Yellow on 17th August. Today, where the temperature reached 19 degrees, Chalk Hill Blues and Meadow Browns were in good numbers, with a few worn Gatekeepers, fresh Small Heaths and Whites. Only a single Brimstone, a female was seen. Once I reached the top of the slope so a Clouded Yellow made an appearance, presumably the same individual I saw a few days ago.

Totals: Brimstone 1F, Large White 2, Small White 6, Clouded Yellow 1, Chalk Hill Blue 35M 7F, Common Blue 1M, Gatekeeper 4, Meadow Brown 28, Small Heath 8. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Portsdown Hill (East). Today I visited the Eastern end of Portsdown Hill where the temperature was 17 degrees. Meadow Browns and Large Whites were most common with a few worn Gatekeepers. A few odd Chalk Hill Blues were seen among the Common Blues.

Totals: Large White 7, Small White 4, Chalk Hill Blue 2M, Common Blue 5M, Gatekeeper 2, Meadow Brown 21, Small Heath 1, Speckled Wood 2. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

17 Aug 2017

Chalton Down, Clouded Yellow. Today I visited Chalton Down, the temperature 21 degrees, where I was met almost immediately by a Clouded Yellow flying past me. I saw it later on the top of the slope where it stopped to feed and I was able to get several photos. Elsewhere Chalk Hill Blues and Meadow Browns were flying in good numbers. No Brimstones were seen but several Large Whites, no doubt some migrants increasing numbers, while the Gatekeepers seem to have almost finished.

Totals: Large White 14, Small White 3, Clouded Yellow 1, Chalk Hill Blue 52M 1F, Common Blue 5M, Gatekeeper 3, Meadow Brown 23, Small Heath 5. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

15 Aug 2017

Old Winchester Hill. At last - an Adonis Blue at OWH! A lovely day to be out and there are still masses of Chalk Hill Blues at OWH making it quite a spectacle. In addition I managed 4 Adonis Blues at the bottom of the car park slope (just as the track turns left). Very active and not settling much. Never ceases to amaze me how in the first instance I can frequently mistake a Common Blue for an Adonis Blue but when I see the real thing the colour is just amazing. For what it's worth I think these were originating from the short sward to the left of the track but then making their way over to the longer grass (and flowers) on the right hand side. Also a lot of Clouded Yellow about in the same area this morning - difficult to be accurate as it's easy to double count but I think somewhere in the region of 6/7 even being a little conservative. Like the Adonis Blues - they were not hanging around much to be photographed! [Posted by Mark Wagstaff]

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Adonis Blue - Old Winchester Hill
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Adonis Blue - Old Winchester Hill
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Adonis Blue - Old Winchester Hill
Photo © Mark Wagstaff

14 Aug 2017

Brimstone bonanza, Ropley area. Dr David Martill, University of Portsmouth, reports 'hordes' of Brimstones seen along the Watercress Line in the vicinity of Ropley, many nectaring on Buddleja. [Posted by Andrew Brookes]

Holly Blue in a Gosport Garden. How satisfying to seed-plant Lantana camara (Ham & Eggs plant) and find it in use by our tiny winged friends! A passing female Holly Blue found the many flowers quite to its liking and allowed me to get a shot or two.

(Incidentally, sudden illness since early May has totally curtailed my outings this year and all my (few) summer species captured on camera have been visitors to my back garden. Hopefully normal service will be resumed next year) [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Photo © Francis PlowmanPhoto © Francis Plowman

Clifden Nonpareil in Leigh Park, Havant. Clifden Nonpareil in my moth trap at Leigh Park this morning was a nice surprise. [Posted by Barry Collins]

13 Aug 2017

Oxenbourne Down. After visiting Old Winchester Hill, I called at Oxenbourne Down on the way home to look for Silver-spotted Skippers. Here the temperature was 20.5 degrees with many Chalk Hill Blues flying. I did managed to find 3 Silver-spotted Skippers and got a few photos.

Totals: Chalk Hill Blue 80M 5F, Gatekeeper 4, Meadow Brown 24, Small Heath 7, Small Skipper 1, Silver-spotted Skipper 3. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Old Winchester Hill Clouded Yellows. Today I spent a total of 3 hours walking Old Winchester Hill where the temperature was 20 degrees. Meadow Browns and Chalk Hill Blues were in good numbers as well as fresh Brimstones. A total of 14 different species were seen, although no Silver-spotted Skippers. A real bonus was seeing a total of 3 Clouded Yellows. The first was seen on the main path forking left as you leave the main car park, while two were seen while I descended the steps from the hill fort area down the side of the wooded hillside where the pair were seen flying along the slope.

Totals: Brimstone 11M 9F, Clouded Yellow 3, Large White 2, Small White 3, Chalk Hill Blue 85M 4F, Common Blue 16M 2F, Gatekeeper 4, Meadow Brown 101, Small Heath 1, Painted Lady 3, Red Admiral 1, Silver-washed Fritillary 1, Small Tortoiseshell 2, Small Skipper 1. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Browndown N. A fair No of Graylings out on the central heathland today including a courting couple

The Male showing off his upper wings , a rare sight.

Chris Cobb [Posted by Chris Cobb]

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A Courting Couple
Photo © Chris Cobb

Dingy Skipper, Stockbridge Down. A couple of photos of a Dingy Skipper seen on Stockbridge Down mid morning. [Posted by Michael Duffy]

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Photo © Michael DuffyPhoto © Michael Duffy

12 Aug 2017

Portsdown Hill and Paulsgrove Chalk Pits. Today with the weather windy and cloudy but with some sunny spells, I visited the Eastern end of Portsdown Hill (SU657063) where Meadow Browns and some Chalk Hill Blues were seen. Numbers were low due to the sun frequently disappearing.

Totals: Large White 1, Meadow Brown 19, Speckled Wood 1, Chalk Hill Blue 7M, Common Blue 1M, Holly Blue 1.

Next I went to the Western end of Portsdown Hill to Paulsgrove Chalk Pits (SU6306) where Meadow Browns, Whites and Chalk Hill Blues were the commonest species seen. After halfway during a circular walk there, once again the sun disappeared frustratingly.

Totals: Brimstone 1M, Large White 4, Small White 3, Gatekeeper 2, Meadow Brown 17, Small Heath 2, Speckled Wood 1, Chalk Hill Blue 11M 1F. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

11 Aug 2017

Noar Hill Revisited. After visiting Noar Hill yesterday and having seen the Brown Hairstreak, I was keen to return once more to try my luck again. Today the temperature was warmer and more species were on the wing a total of 14. I saw just a single female Brown Hairstreak ovapositing in the same area as yesterday, the Triangle where I was able to get another photo. Brimstones, Meadow Browns and Common Blues were the next most numerous species seen along with Silver-washed Fritillarys in the wooded areas.

Totals: Brimstone 5M 5F, Large White 3, Small White 1, Brown Hairstreak 1, Common Blue 21M 3F, Gatekeeper 8, Meadow Brown 16, Small Heath 9, Speckled Wood 7, Comma 1, Painted Lady 1, Peacock 3, Red Admiral 7, Silver-washed Fritillary 8. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Martin Down (again). A morning visit from 0900-1330 before the weather collapsed again produced Clouded Yellow 1, Brown Argus 8, Common Blue 15, Chalk Hill Blue 6, Painted Lady 1, Dark Green Fritillary 3 (very worn!), Comma 1, Large White 2, Dingy Skipper 2 (2nd brood), Small Skipper 1, Small Tortoiseshell 5, Meadow Brown 12, Gatekeeper 10, and a tired looking Hummingbird Hawkmoth on one of the chalk tracks. Had a scout around for Silver Spotted Skippers but no luck. [Posted by Mark Pike]

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Photo © Mark PikePhoto © Mark PikePhoto © Mark Pike

Adonis and Clouded Yellow at St Catherines Hill. A couple of fresh male Adonis Blue and a single Clouded Yellow were the star attractions at St Catherine's Hill this morning; the supporting cast including many Chalk Hill Blue and Meadow Brown and various numbers of Small White, Brimstone, Small Copper (one only), Brown Argus, Common Blue and Small Heath. Disappointingly, no Silver-spotted Skipper and strangely not a single Gatekeeper, which are still active in my garden. [Posted by Rupert Broadway]

Silver Spotted Skippers at Oxenbourne Down. A short trip 9:30 - 10:45 covering just the lower, short grassy slopes. At least 6 Silver-spotted Skippers (all males). Also 50 + Chalk Hill Blues and a few Small Heaths amongst other common species. [Posted by Keith Turner]

10 Aug 2017

Noar Hill. Today I visited Noar Hill (SU7431) to search for the Brown Hairstreak, a species frustratingly I did not see last year despite several visits to this site. My visit lasted just over 4 hours, during which time I walked most areas searching the trees and scrub. It was not until towards the end of my visit that some fellow enthusiasts I had met with before showed me the area where they had seen a male earlier. No luck there but at the Triangle a female appeared and landed on a Blackthorn bush where it crawled underneath a leaf and ovaposited. After I manged a photo it quickly flew off fast in an opposite direction. Looking up at the same bush I then spotted towards the top, a male at rest with wings wide open. So I was very pleased with my two sightings. Elsewhere a few Holly Blues were seen and well as Silver-washed Fritillarys in the woody areas, a two very worn Ringlets and two Painted Ladys.

Totals: Large White 4, Small White 3, Brown Hairstreak 2, Common Blue 15M 1F, Holly Blue 4, Gatekeeper 10, Meadow Brown 15, Ringlet 2, Small Heath 6, Painted Lady 2, Red Admiral 2, Silver Washed Fritillary 8. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Martin Down. More from Martin Down [Posted by Mark Wagstaff]

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Brown Argus - Martin Down
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Small Copper - Martin Down
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Small Copper - Martin Down
Photo © Mark Wagstaff

Martin Down. Today looked like it was going to be the best of a (very!) poor week so I decided on the long trip to Martin Down. I was hoping it would be my last of the year to this site if I managed to see Adonis Blue - the fact that I'm planning another will tell you how successful I was - none found (although perhaps a little early?). Certainly the sun shone but it was surprisingly cold and quite breezy. All that said there were lots to see - Chalk Hill Blues by the ditch, lots of Common Blues everywhere, Brown Argus, fresh Brimstones and fresh Small Tortoiseshell. Also some obliging Small Coppers and even some faded Dark Green Fritillaries about (5). So, a wonderful day even though the main attraction stayed away. Good excuse to go again! [Posted by Mark Wagstaff]

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Common Blue - Martin Down
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Chalkhill Blue - Martin Down
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Small Tortoiseshell - Martin Down
Photo © Mark Wagstaff

08 Aug 2017

Oxenbourne Down. After visiting Charlton Down, I travelled to nearby Oxenbourne Down (SU7118). Here the weather was still warm, but with very high humidity and where low cloud could be see. Numbers of butterflies wrere therefore not as high as usual, but still a good number of Chalk Hill Blues were flying.

Totals: Chalk Hill Blue 65M 1F, Holly Blue 1, Gatekeeper 9, Meadow Brown 6 and Small Heath 2. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Charlton Down. Today I visited Charlton Down (SU736156) where despite some overcast conditions, the temperature was 17 degrees, with many butterflies on the wing with 13 species recorded. Chalk Hill Blues and Meadow Browns were the most common. A few fresh Brown Argus were seen as well as a very strong and fast flying Dark Green Fritillary. Gatekeeper numbers seemed to have dropped significantly here now, as well as Small Skippers of which only a single specimen was seen.

Totals: Brimstone 1F, Large White 5, Small White 4, Green-veined White 1, Brown Argus 3, Chalk Hill Blue 51M 5F, Common Blue 9M, Gatekeeper 9, Meadow Brown 24, Small Heath 4, Dark Green Fritillary 1, Peacock 1, Small Skipper 1. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Adonis at Broughton. Fresh Adonis Blue seen at Broughton Down yesterday at the western end of the reserve at the top of the driveway. [Posted by Mike Allen]

07 Aug 2017

Immature Stages. Some photos that I hope are of interest - a Silver-washed Fritillary 1st instar larva, taken in Pamber Forest; the larva has created a silk pad among the moss, on which I saw the egg laid, and on which it will overwinter. Also, Silver-spotted Skipper are doing well at Broughton Down, and I managed to get a photo of an egg today before the inevitable rain! [Posted by Peter Eeles]

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1st instar Silver-washed Fritillary larva
Photo © Peter Eeles
Silver-spotted Skipper egg
Photo © Peter Eeles

Northington Down. A hummingbird hawkmoth is zooming around our buddleia on a dull Monday morning - easily evading a Red Admiral who seems to be claiming territorial rights to this bush.

How a solitary hawkmoth seeks and finds our buddleia out here in the backwoods seems an extraordinary achievement. [Posted by Robert Bryant]

06 Aug 2017

South Hayling and beyond. Despite the butterflies being in short supply (on Ashley's field trip to South Hayling), we did manage to unearth a few interesting moths. A nationally scarce Bordered Grey was flushed from a scrubby area of Gorse; three Red Underwings were found roosting on the sunny side of a building (see Ashley's post), and; two Sulphur Pearl (Sitochroa palealis) micro moths were found at the tip of the Kench. I also popped into South Browndown on the way home and found some Small Ranunculus larvae feeding on Prickly Lettuce. [Posted by Dave Pearson]

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Bordered Grey (male)
Photo © Dave Pearson
Sulphur Pearl (Sitochroa palealis)
Photo © Dave Pearson
Small Ranunculus larvae
Photo © Dave Pearson

Hayling Island Field Trip. A perfect day today, but the absence of the Purple Hairstreak in the scrubby Oaks looks as if we were a few weeks late. We wandered around some of the areas where I had seen the Grayling butterfly in the past but after a couple of hours of fruitless searching we headed back to the car-park with a few butterflies for our efforts,11 species, in the areas of shingle, gorse, and scrubby meadows cut into the gorse, butterflies of interest were Small Copper, Small Heath, Holly Blue, Common Blue, Brown Argus, and I managed to see a male Jersey Tiger moth while waiting for everybody to turn up. A female Red Admiral was seen testing spindly nettles with her forefeet whilst laying eggs. In the afternoon I decided to look around the bird sanctuary known as the 'The Ketch' and by an old abandoned building right by the side of the road opposite the golf course we encountered some Red Underwings sheltering from the daylight, and low and behold in the brilliant sunshine just above our heads a Grayling parked itself settling with its wings at an angle towards the sun, typical Grayling behavior! He took off over towards the Ketch area, but I suspect it came from the Golf Course, as I used to see them there a few years ago. Still it was a target species, and I thank everybody who made the trip onto Hayling Island, which isn't easy, with all the traffic. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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A Red Underwing Moth
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
The Ketch bird santucary, an area where I've seen Grayling in the past
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Female Common Blue
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

Ranvilles Lane and Newlands Farm, Fareham. A walk around my patch primarily to look for migrant birds produced a good selection of butterflies as well. The highlight was a Purple Hairstreak which landed nearby giving me some great views and allowing for a photo to be taken.

Totals: Green-veined White 8, Small White c80, Purple Hairstreak 1, Small Copper 1, Common Blue 12, Holly Blue 2, Red Admiral 8, Small Tortoiseshell 1, Painted Lady 2, Comma 4, Speckled Wood 10, Gatekeeper 15, Meadow Brown 20. Also 2 Silver Y, 3 golden-ringed Dragonflies, 2 Southern Hawkers and 2 Migrant Hawkers. [Posted by Mark Rolfe]

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Green-veined White
Photo © Mark Rolfe
Purple Hairstreak
Photo © Mark Rolfe
Painted Lady
Photo © Mark Rolfe

Old Winchester Hill. Paid another visit to OWH today. The weather was fine and sunny and the wind at least reduced from recent days to just a breeze. For anyone wishing to see Chalk Hill Blues en masse then now is a good time - the bottom of the car park slope (it would be the bottom!) is alive with them and most in very good condition. I searched this area for Adonis Blues but no luck - perhaps just a little early for the second generation if they are going to appear here? In addition to the usual suspects we did manage my first Clouded Yellow of the year - again at the bottom of the car park slope. Plenty to see on the west side of the fort too if your knees are as dodgy as mine! [Posted by Mark Wagstaff]

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Clouded Yellow - Old Winchester Hill
Photo © Mark Wagstaff

05 Aug 2017

More from Broughton Down. more photographs [Posted by Chris Rose]

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Silver-spotted Skipper
Photo © Chris Rose
Dark-green Fritillary
Photo © Chris Rose
Six-spot Burnet
Photo © Chris Rose

Broughton Down. After leaving Shipton Bellinger in torrential rain, I arrived at Broughton Down as the sunshine returned. Coming out of the woodland there were many Brimstones and six-spot Burnets about, but it wasn't until I reached the far end of the reserve that I found the first Chalk Hill Blues. There were not that many on the wing, I only counted 5 individuals. There were also 2 Silver-spotted Skippers, and 2 very faded Dark-green Fritillaries. Walking down the slope there were more Silver-spotted Skippers about, I counted at least a dozen, and also 7 Dark-green Fritillaries. Coming back up the slope towards the woodland i was lucky to have pointed out to me a Silver-washed "valenzina" fritillary nectaring on valerian, the perfect end to a good day out.

https://awayfromfourmarks.blogspot.co.uk/ [Posted by Chris Rose]

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Chalkhill Blue
Photo © Chris Rose
Silver-spotted Skipper
Photo © Chris Rose
Silver-washed fritillary
Photo © Chris Rose

More From Shipton Bellinger. More photographs

https://awayfromfourmarks.blogspot.co.uk/ [Posted by Chris Rose]

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Brown Argus
Photo © Chris Rose
Red Admiral
Photo © Chris Rose
Holly Blue
Photo © Chris Rose

Shipton Bellinger. My first visit here in the hope of finding Brown Hairstreaks, and early start with rain wasn't too promising but by 9.30 the sun was out and along the trees on the county border there were several Red Admirals, a Brown Argus, up to 6 Holly Blues, and of course many Meadow Browns. I found the first Brown Hairstreak at 9.50, a female and it gave some excellent views. Over the course of the next hour hairstreaks could be seen higher up in the trees. Finally around 11.00 a male came down, and then when considerably more people arrived a female performed admirably, even in the rain. Other butterflies seen were 2 Silver-washed Fritillaries, a Small Copper, several Common Blues, 3 Commas and 4 female Brimstones. https://awayfromfourmarks.blogspot.co.uk/ [Posted by Chris Rose]

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Brown Hairstreak
Photo © Chris Rose
Brown Hairstreak
Photo © Chris Rose
Brown Hairstreak
Photo © Chris Rose

Big Butterfly Count. I carried out several counts for the BBC today and along with the exoected species I saw a Clouded Yellow in Farlington and Small Tortoiseshell and Painted Lady in Hayling Island - all nice surprises [Posted by Mark Tutton]

Shipton Bellinger Field Trip. More photographs from the field trip [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Magpie moth
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Common Footman
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Typical habitat for the Brown Hairstreak
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

Shipton Bellinger Field Trip. Another field trip threatened with large areas of dark grey clouds, however we were lucky especially in the morning when the rain held off and we had good bouts of warm sunshine which brought out our quarry the Brown Hairstreak. Walking along one of the known footpaths we saw up to three males having a battle in a small area where there was good Blackthorn thickets and some moderately sized Ash trees. We had already espied a lovely female with its wings open almost at ground level, but unfortunately all of us never saw this splendid specimen. We had a rather wounded male which had obviously been caught by a bird and had a big chunk out of its wings. Close-by there was also a rather fetching female down at camera height which seemed to be glued to the leaf it was perched on and became a rather fetching superstar. There is definitely more activity when the sun shone after a period of cloudy rain sodden looking skies, and in all we counted about a dozen Brown hairstreak in total. Other stars were a lovely Magpie moth which seemed to be stunned by the weather, as we saw it in a period between bouts of sunshine and was quite tame. Other species of note were Brown Argus, Small Heath, Silver-washed Fritillary, and the usual suspects. I like to thank all who came on the field trip and made a most enjoyable experience. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Male with rather a large bird strike
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Superstar female
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Looking for that illusive Hairstreak
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

04 Aug 2017

Oxenbourne Down. After returning home from visiting my son and his wife in Cornwall, I visited Oxenbourne Down (SU7118) where the temperature was 20 degrees. I was searching for the Silver-spotted Skipper. I managed to find a total of 3 in among the hundreds of Chalk Hill Blues that were flying on the slopes. Fresh Small Heaths were flying and a couple of Brown Argus.

Totals: Large White 1, Brown Argus 2, Chalk Hill Blue >200, Common Blue 3, Gatekeeper 12, Meadow Brown 23, Small Heath 7, Peacock 1, Silver Spotted Skipper 3. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Obliging Female Brown Hairstreak At Noar Hill. Lady luck was definitely on my side this morning at Noar Hill, as I unusually chose to access the reserve by the Charity Farm route. Just minutes after entering, I spotted my main target - a female Brown Hairstreak feeding contentedly on Hemp Agrimony close to the stone circle. Had I eventually reached the spot after first exploring the other side of the reserve, as I normally do, I may have missed her amongst the mass of flower heads, or been too late. She stayed for around 20 minutes within the same small area, in blustery, mainly cloudy conditions, before making a 10 yard flight over the bank. Try as I might I could not relocate her, so suspect she was en route into nearby trees. A few sunny intervals produced some brief open wing views. [Posted by Alan Thornbury]

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

Noar Hill. I decided at the last minute on a trip to Noar Hill today - in the hope of seeing Brown Hairstreaks. Its the first time I've been to the reserve at this time of year - its my 'go to' place for Duke of Burgundy early in the year but I've not returned later. On previous visits I hadn't noticed the amount of blackthorn here - there is a lot! So, not knowing any 'hot spots' I worked my way up one side of the reserve and down the other peering into every likely blackthorn/ash area I could find. After nearly 2 hours (and no hairstreaks) my neck was telling me enough - so I reluctantly decided to call it a day. Not that I'd had a bad day - far from it with the carpet of wild flowers worth the trip alone, then add in lots of Common Blues, Brown Argus, Green-veined White and Painted Lady and it was a lovely morning - but just a tinge of disappointment I hadn't found what I principally came for. On the way out I decided to look in the bottom chalk pit for one last effort and met the same enthusiast who had found a female Brown Hairstreak at Shipton Bellinger just a few days before. You can probably guess what happened next - she amazingly found another! Hidden away high up in a bramble - there is no way I would have found it. Fortunately it descended - presumably to egg lay - and posed nicely. A wonderful end to the visit and I will be eternally grateful to Hazel for making my day! [Posted by Mark Wagstaff]

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Painted Lady - Noar Hill
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Brown Hairstreak - Noar Hill
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Brown Hairstreak - Noar Hill
Photo © Mark Wagstaff

01 Aug 2017

White Admiral survey. Today I conducted my first survey for White Admiral larvae in Pamber Forest and found 16 in just over an hour, together with 7 absentees (based on the typical larval feeding damage and "pier"; I assume predated). Based on previous years, this is a pretty good "hit rate" and it would appear, based on this limited data, that White Admiral has had a relatively-good year. Most larvae are in their 2nd instar, with some still in their 1st instar. None are in their 3rd instar, so I don't hold out much hope for a second brood; the recent weather seems to have calmed things down considerably. I also found a final instar larva (I assume that overwintered in 2016/2017) that has been parasitised, presumably by Cotesia sibyllarum - the usual culprit when it comes to White Admiral. Amazingly, this larva is still feeding as per normal, despite grubs having emerged from it, where they have built cocoons, pupated, and then emerged. [Posted by Peter Eeles]

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Photo © Peter Eeles

Charlton Down. A look in on Charlton Down which is about a mile away from Oxenbourne Down as the crow flies, had many Chalkhill and Common Blues today, in fact it was festooned with them! Other excellent counts came of Small White and Large White, maybe a small influx from across the channel. There were several species I saw here though not noted at Oxenbourne Down, these were Dark-green Fritillary(4), Brown Argus, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Comma. Other species of note were Small Copper, and Small Heath. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Charlton Down
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Brown Argus
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Chalkhill Blue double take!
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

Oxenbourne Down. A look up at Oxenbourne Down today in very windy conditions and the temperature was struggling as well, and it took a while to get my eye in on the Silver-Spotted Skipper today. However after an hour or so the count was into double figures with several females being the tamest of the two sexes, and I found one female, which stayed on a stemless thistle for about five minutes and allowed me to look at her quite closely. Other species of note were good numbers of Chalk Hill Blues, and the Small Heath is building up its numbers. Small Copper, numbers on site are disappointing, I hope they get better throughout the month of August or we have a good Autumn and we get a third brood. I also saw a couple of Silver-washed Fritillaries, one of these a male was in excellent condition. Others of note good numbers of Common Blue and the Gatekeeper is now past its peak. Barry Collins who I met up there also saw a Clouded Yellow but I never saw this. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Small Heath
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Female Small Copper
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Female Silver-Spotted Skipper
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

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