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

News Archive for Jul 2019

18 Jul 2019

Havant Thicket and Bell's Copse. While visiting my father, Roy Symonds from my home in West Cornwall, we paid a visit to Havant Thicket (SU7110) to search for the Purple Emperor. The early afternoon started cloudy but with the temperature still 20 degrees there were plenty of Gatekeepers, including a mating pair with Meadow Browns and Ringlets mostly at rest. Later with more sunshine Large Skippers, Small Skippers (including one positive identification of an Essex Skipper) and Silver Washed Fritillarys were seen along with a few White Admirals, Comma and Red Admiral. A Purple Hairstreak briefly flew around an Oak and disappeared from sight. Walking back from Bell's Copse area, halfway along the main track near Long Wood at SW71651039 at 15:30, a male Purple Emperor flew from an Oak and landed on the top of a medium sized Sallow. It remained there until 15:45 where he disappeared from view. I took several photos which showed the underside wing pattern. Totals: Brimstone 1M, Large White 1, Green-veined White 2, Small White 2, Purple Hairstreak 1, Gatekeeper 126, Meadow Brown 30, Ringlet 16, Speckled Wood 2, Comma 1, Purple Emperor 1, Red Admiral 1, Silver-washed Fritillary 9M 2F, White Admiral 2, Large Skipper 6, Essex Skipper 1, Small Skipper 20.

At Bell's Copse (SW708101) we searched for the Purple Emperor but this was during a period of sunny intervals and were out of lucky. We did see, however a total of 3 Purple Hairstreaks including one which landed on a small Oak, where I was able to get a good photo. Totals: Purple Hairstreak 3, Gatekeeper 50, Meadow Brown 9, Ringlet 12, Silver-washed Fritillary 2M 2F, Small Skipper 2. [Posted by Richard Symonds]

17 Jul 2019

Queen Elizabeth Country Park Field Trip. Another glorious day to have a field trip and this is one of the best sites to see the glorious Hampshire Countryside in all its glory, as from the footpaths which rise quite steeply from the car park from Buriton end there are small gaps in the Hedgerows and tree line where you can look out over the landscape and see Ashford Hanger in the distance and beyond. There are several Buddliea bushes on the ride sides, and these produced several Silver-Washed Fritillaries feeding avidly and giving us some nice flying displays. The Beech escarpment looks splendid now, and in a few months will be turning a rich golden ochre and red colouration where this place really becomes a fantastic place to be. Also seen were Large Skippers, Ringlets, several Marbled Whites, lots of Brimstones and Large Whites.

I'd like to thank all those who came today. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Peacocks are now out in good numbers
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Ringlets are now looking a little tired
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Class of 2019
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

Browndown. An early morning walk on Browndown South in lovely conditions - plenty of sun and very little wind for a change on this exposed site. The Purple Hairstreaks performed on the stunted oaks - well into double figures although most were worn. Much better for Grayling - found them roughly in the middle of the site and then 7 or 8 more in their more usual spot in front of the firing range (slightly to the left of it looking east). Also found a similar number on Browndown North on the way home. Lots of Gatekeepers everywhere but the Marbled Whites seem to be reducing now. [Posted by Mark Wagstaff]

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

16 Jul 2019

Portsdown Hill East and Fort Widley. Today I visited the East end of Portsdown Hill where the temperature reached 22.5 degrees. Here several Browns were flying and a few fresh Common Blues. Totals: Brimstone 1M, Large White 7, Small White 7, Common Blue 2M, Gatekeepers 7, Meadow Brown 16, Ringlet 1, Speckled Wood 2, Peacock 2, Small Skipper 3.

At Fort Widley several Marbled Whites were flying. Totals: Small White 6, Gatekeeper 3, Marbled White 9, Meadow Brown 10. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Havant Thicket. Today in Havant Thicket I arranged to met the Forest Ranger for the Forest of Bere and he told me the size of the coppicing that FC will be undertaking in September 2019. I'm not at liberty to say what they will be doing on this forum. But anybody wishing to know may contact me in the normal way. On the Purple Emperor front it was really rather quiet, the Males have all but finished sallow searching and Oak edging and are a mostly an afternoon butterfly. I saw a lovely female opposite Bells Copse and she was interested in the good sallow stands there , and this was at 11:00. At 12:50 I saw a rather tatty male fly in and around a large Oak close to the main car-park as I was going up to the Assembly Point at Horsefoot Hill. Once there at 1325 I espied a male on a Beech Tree and saw him fly around many times in a vista, but not once did he engage with any other males, maybe it was a little breezy or just too early for them. There were the usual suspects flying good Silver-Washed Fritillaries and several White Admirals one female was in really good condition. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Assembly Point in Havant Thicket
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Purple Emperor on Beech in the Vista
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Gatekeeper
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

Whiteley Pastures/Botley Wood. Another lovely walk around Whiteley and in to Botley Wood this morning - conditions excellent with lots of sun and hardly a breeze. The quality of some of the woodland species might be dropping a bit - many are looking a little worn now - but the variety today was excellent. Still plenty of Silver Washed Fritillary about and White Admirals. Also Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, Large Skipper, Gatekeeper and Ringlet in abundance. A single Holly Blue at the top of the path followed by 3 or 4 very fresh Peacocks on the way in to the wood. Red Admiral also seen and a couple of Purple Hairstreaks which obliged by coming low down. In the meadows still fresh looking Marbled Whites mixed with numerous Meadow Browns. Not a single human (or dog) to be seen in 2.5 hours of solitude! [Posted by Mark Wagstaff]

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White Admiral - Whiteley
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Silver Washed Fritillary - Whiteley
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Gatekeeper - Whiteley
Photo © Mark Wagstaff

15 Jul 2019

Alice's Emperors. Paid an afternoon visit to Alice Holt this afternoon once the sun decided to put in an appearance and within 2 minutes I spotted a Purple Emperor gliding around the oaks which set the tone for the rest of my visit. Males were regularly spotted Sallow searching trying to find a mate and females were doing their best to avoid them as it seems most had previously found a partner and were intent on egg laying. I probably saw at least half a dozen eggs laid but only one at a reasonable height that allowed a photograph. I also managed to locate two males getting drunk on a sap run high on an oak - it was easy to determine what they were up to us they had a very wobbly flight and disappeared deep into the understory which males do not normally do. It would seem that this species is probably at its peak now and males will stop sallow searching in the next couple of days.

A great afternoon [Posted by Mark Tutton]

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Fresh Emperor Egg
Photo © Mark Tutton
Males on Sap Run
Photo © Mark Tutton
Battered Female Taking a Rest
Photo © Mark Tutton

Ranvilles Lane and Oxleys Coppice area, Fareham. An enjoyable morning’s walk around the Ranvilles Lane and Oxleys Coppice area produced 18 species of butterfly including an unexpected patch tick in the form of a single Dark Green Fritillary. This was seen in a small area of meadow by the edge of a field of barley. The area was full of activity particularly on the clumps of tufted vetch where Essex Skippers, Marbled Whites, Peacocks and Gatekeepers were amongst the species gathered. The fritillary was rather worn-looking and I assume that it had drifted down to here from the downs to the north? Unfortunately I wasn’t able to photograph this as every time it settled it was chased off by a Gatekeeper. Other species included my first Brown Argus of the year. There were still a few Ringlets around but these are looking a bit tatty now.

Butterflies seen:

Essex Skipper (12); Small Skipper 92); Large Skipper (1); Small Copper (2); Brown Argus (1); Green-veined White (1); Small White (12); Large White (1); Dark Green Fritillary (1); Painted Lady (3); Red Admiral (3); Peacock (4); Comma (1); Marbled White (14); Ringlet (10); Gatekeeper (80); Meadow Brown (30); Speckled Wood (2).

Also 2 Golden-Ringed Dragonflies, 1 Emperor, 2 Black-tailed Skimmers, 12 newly emerged Common Darters, 1 Banded Demoiselle and 1 Blue-tailed Damselfly. [Posted by Mark Rolfe]

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Small Copper
Photo © Mark Rolfe
Essex Skipper
Photo © Mark Rolfe
Area where the Dark-green Fritillary was present
Photo © Mark Rolfe

14 Jul 2019

2nd Brood Brown Argus in Bentley Wood. An afternoon up at Bentley Woods yielded four Purple Emperors, all only at treetop height. Three were seen at the Donkey Copse, one at the crossroads on the switchback. Proceeding further brought us to the White-Letter Hairstreak site but, despite watching and waiting over an hour, no insects were seen. I did manage to capture this beautiful 2nd brood Brown Argus, as fresh as a daisy, just down in the grass near Donkey Copse and a Dark Green Fritillary on the switchback as we returned to the car park. As usual, the 'browns', of varying sizes and colours, were all too numerous to count. [Posted by Mark Hardaker]

West Walk Field Trip. I'm pleased to announce today after a very successful field trip that West Walk is painted Purple. This wood is a very under-recorded wood and walking around today with my fellow field trippers, gazing skyward we managed to see about 4-5 males these were Oak edging and one male came down to head height and flew down one of the main rides, and then about turned and gave every body another pass but despite this we never saw any on the ground. Its a busy place full of weekend walkers with dogs, so they may well be put off at peak times by all of the noise and disturbance. In the afternoon we were overflown by a female Purple Emperor which to me had probably been laying eggs on some of the excellent broad-leafed Sallow which adorn this site.

There were plenty of Silver-Washed Fritillaries, and a few White Admirals which decidedly tatty now.

We chalked up (20) species today considering the sunshine wasn't all that plentiful but getting the Emperor was a big triumph. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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White Admirals are now beginning to look very worn
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Mating pair of Ringlets
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Red Admiral on Broad leafed sallow
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

Browndown South. Took an early morning walk along Lee on Solent sea front today and as the red flag wasn't flying (first time for quite a while)couldn't resist a detour in to Browndown South to see if Grayling were there. They were - spotted the first just 60-70 metres from the west side entrance then 4 others in roughly the centre of the area, very close to the stunted oaks. Surprisingly I couldn't see any in front of the firing range (usually my best place to look) but in fairness the cloud cover had reached 100% by the time we got there. A similar number of Purple Hairstreaks found close by with one settling on the gravel and wings open. All looked a bit worse for wear. The lack of rain and subsequent heat has taken its toll on the wild flowers - still lots to see but nothing like the carpet of colour a few weeks ago. On the way back home we saw a White-letter Hairstreak in the Alver Valley (a new site for me - but sure enough when I looked closely I could make out what I'm 99% sure are elms in the background). Also a solitary White Admiral. The only other butterfly of note was probably Gatekeepers - they were literally everywhere, sometimes 5 or 6 flying together. [Posted by Mark Wagstaff]

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Grayling - Browndown South
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Purple Hairstreak - Browndown South
Photo © Mark Wagstaff
Purple Hairstreak - Browndown South
Photo © Mark Wagstaff

13 Jul 2019

Paulsgrove Chalk Pits and First Chalkhill Blue. Today I visited Paulsgrove Chalk Pits where the temperature reached 23.5 degrees. Many Marbled Whites and Meadow Browns were in flight. Among the half dozen male Common Blues I also recorded my first Chalkhill Blue this year. My son Richard will be visiting soon where we hope to search the Purple Emperor sites.Totals: Large White 2, Small White 4, Chalkhill Blue 1M, Common Blue 6M, Gatekeeper 1, Marbled White 20, Meadow Brown 16, Small Heath 1, Small Skipper 1. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

dark green fritillary at north baddesley. dark green fritillary seen on my butterfly reserve at north baddesley today.also many other species in there hundreds. [Posted by Kevin Ross]

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Photo © Kevin Ross

Creech Wood. After reading Mark Swann's excellent counts in West Wood and Ampfield Wood, obviously some woods have got their business in order, although I can hardly say that for Creech Wood. This wood looking at it, should be on a scale of Knepp there is so much sallow in the wood and the sallow scrub now growing in the wayleaves and where a big block of Coniferous forest being cut down a few years ago, its absolutely fantastic.I managed one Emperor after looking into the heavens for the best part of three hours. Still that's the nature of the beast....

Good Silver-Washed Fritillary, and few White Admirals, and the Gatekeeper is going up in numbers. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Sallow scrub in the wayleaves of Creech Wood
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Mating pair of Gatekeepers
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Silver-Washed Fritillary on bramble
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

12 Jul 2019

West wood -purple emperor. After a successful trip to ampfield wood tried my luck at west wood . The last few years I have got lucky with grounded purple emperors here but have only ever recorded small numbers until today. This morning I saw at least 12 purple emperors with 5 in view at one location. Another ride had at least 4 present. The action was constant for the whole two hours I was there .all males seen today and no groundings but I did bump into a couple who had some excellent purple wing shots of a grounded male [Posted by Mark swann]

Bell's Copse and Havant Thicket. We Walked from home to Bell's Copse and along the main track going east to the first bench. Then back to Bell's Copse and finally walking back home the long way across Deerslaughter Plain, and The Avenue etc PHEW from 0920-1400. We had a very productive walk seeing at least 7 male Purple Emperors and fantastic views of a female perched on an oak tree about 15 feet above our heads before flying off and disappearing into some sallows. Other butterflies of note included, Silver-washed Fritillary 34, White Admiral 2, Purple Hairstreak 12, Red Admiral 4, Brimstone 3M 1F, Small Heath 20, Peacock 1 etc. Other goodies of note, Southern Hawker Dragonfly 2, Beautiful Demoiselle 2 and a Red Kite. [Posted by Barry and Margaret Collins]

11 Jul 2019

Portsdown Hill and Fort Widley. Today I visited the East end of Portsdown Hill and Fort Widley where the temperature reached 23.5 degrees. Around Fort Widley the following were recorded; Small White 1, Marbled White 13, Meadow Brown 5, Small Heath 1.

Numbers across the road on the slopes and along the path directly above Queen Alexandra Hospital were better with 8 different species including one fresh male Common Blue and a pair of Peacocks. Totals: Brimstone 2F, Small White 2, Common Blue 1M, Gatekeeper 1, Marbled White 10, Meadow Brown 13, Peacock 2, Small Tortoiseshell 1. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Pitt Down and Crab Wood /West Wood Field Trip. Starting at 0600 at Pitt Down I was taking pictures of roosting butterflies like the Marbled White and hopefully the Dark Green Fritillary. I was really surprised how quickly the butterflies warmed up and were soon flying all over the down. On the Field trip I had the Romsey Naturalists Group with me as well as some of my usual field trippers, and I had to split it into two groups. One anti and one clockwise around the wood. Unfortunately West Wood wasn't giving me anything resembling a Purple Emperor this year, I dont know why, any how just inside the area of Crab Wood is a good bit of Coppicing where I have been fortunate in the past to see a fair few flying around and interacting with me. Today we saw a male imbibing on a sap run on an Oak tree, how they smell this I do now know but he was a fair way into the wood from the small footpath. He flew off up onto a Oak tree and spent some time there and I managed to see another couple Oak edging in the vista. We also saw many Scarlett Tiger Moths in the rides and plenty of Silver-Washed Fritillaries as well. In the afternoon we spent an hour looking at the Dark Green Fritillaries, of which there were many. We also saw a Silver-Studded Blue on the Down quite why it was here I do not know but we got pictures as proof. We also had a female Purple Emperor on a fence post on a gate on the down, I nearly squished it as I never saw it, and she flew off just in time around our heads and we got good views of her until she disappeared.

Id like to thank all who came today a most enjoyable day. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Male Purple Emperor on a sap run on an Oak
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Roosting Marbled White at about 0600 hrs
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Female Dark Green Fritillary on Pitt Down
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

Southleigh Forest. A lunchtime visit to the purple emperor assembly point drew a blank for males which was ironic as at 13:30 a female appeared at low level. She perched up briefly several times before coming to rest on an alder where I eventually had to walk away from her. [Posted by Peter Gammage]

10 Jul 2019

Old Winchester Hill. Visited Old Winchester Hill (SU6420) today where the temperature reached 22 degrees. Following the path to the hill fort which I circled before returning to the car park. A total of 13 species seen with large numbers of grassland species, Meadow Browns and Marbled Whites (my biggest total for this species at one site this year). Two Painted Ladys were also recorded, but failed to spot the Dark Green Fritillarys. Totals: Large White 4, Small White 9, Green Veined White 1, Marbled White 72, Meadow Brown 45, Ringlet 13, Small Heath 14, Speckled Wood 2, Painted Lady 2, Silver Washed Fritillary 1, Large Skipper 1, Small Skipper 6. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Ampfield wood. Plenty of purple emperor action today at least 5 seen with 2 groundings of which one looked like it was straight out of the box mint fresh. Also good numbers of white admirals and silver washed about [Posted by Mark swann]

Old Winchester Hill. We spent about 3 hours during the afternoon walking around various parts of Old Winchester Hill, the highlights of our walk were. Dark Green Fritillary 20+, Silver-washed Fritillary 4, Painted Lady 6, Red Admiral 7, Small Tortoiseshell 6, Comma 4, Brimstone 3, Peacock 1, Humming-bird Hawk-moth 2. [Posted by Barry and Margaret Collins]

Havant Thicket. Two male purple emperors were seen searching sallow's and patrolling the crossroads in the main east/west ride (the first one with a seat as you come from the car park).

This continued for about 20 minutes until approx 13:00. I got the distinct impression that either a female was present nearby or had passed through recently. Single White admiral and plenty of SWF in supporting cast. [Posted by Peter Gammage]

Abbotts Wood Inclosure. Another day starting with a very overcast overtones, went for breakfast and coffee at Oakhanger so if the weather did change I was almost there, and as luck would have it the weather changed to bright sunshine about 1100. I arrived at about 1110 and at 1115 I saw my first male oak edging and edging around some tall Scots Pine trees. This was a good start I thought, and it certainly was between that time and 1300 I espied (25) Male and (3) female Purple Emperors, These were all noted between the main car-park and the small car park at the southern end of the main ride. Most of the males were sallow searching and Oak edging, and I was very fortunate to see several females as well one of these was egg-laying, right in front of me. She layed a few eggs about 25 foot up in a broad leafed sallow tree and then stopped for a few minutes. Then she carried on and I lost sight of her. I never got a grounding from any of the males I think they were making hay whilst the sun shone. There was good Silver-Washed Fritillaries still looking in good condition and a few White Admirals. (17) species were noted in the wood. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Female Purple Emperor on broad leafed Sallow
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Female again in the Sallow, just above her was a male.
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Female Silver-Washed Fritillary
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

Purple Emperor.. Yesterday a Purple Emperor visited my garden. At the edge of the Abbots Wood enclosure of Alice Holt Forest on Batts Corner.It was about for about 3hrs from midday. [Posted by Amanda Adolph]

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Photo © Amanda AdolphPhoto © Amanda AdolphPhoto © Amanda Adolph

09 Jul 2019

Obliging Purple Emperor Havant Thicket. At Havant Thicket at 11am, 100m from the western end of the straight track that runs approximately E-W, north of Deerslaughter Plain. Came across it on the track with a small fragment of dung. It stayed for 25 minutes ignoring a pack of five dogs that passed peacefully. Only seldom did it show any purple. I think my polaroid sunglasses did not help here. Photographed with mobile phone held very close. Very few people passed by to share it. [Posted by Doug Yelland]

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on track
Photo © Doug Yelland
Purple Emperor Havant Thicket
Photo © Doug Yelland

Leigh Park moth trap in my garden. I had my moth trap on overnight in my garden at Leigh Park on 8-9th July and caught 44 species. The highlights included Black Arches 2, Burnished Brass 2, Kent Black Arches 2, Poplar Hawkmoth 1, Blackneck 2, Scarce Footman 7, Marbled Green 1, Double Square-spot 3, L-album Wainscot 2. The 4 most abundant species were Uncertain 74, Smoky Wainscot 34, Dark Arches 32, Heart and Dart 31. [Posted by Barry Collins]

Oxenbourne Down. His Majesty the Purple Emperor is rather annoying me at the moment so I thought I would take a break from the woodland scene and look at a downland at Oxenbourne and my favourite Fritillary the Dark Green Fritillary. However there was only (4) seen one was a pristine male. So they may well still be emerging like several other species at the moment.

Note: They are grazing sheep on the lower slopes at Wascoombe Bottom so please be aware, if visiting. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Scarlet Tiger Moth
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Dark Green Fritillary Female
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Vipors Bugloss
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

Whiteley Pastures/Botley Wood. A cancelled trip to Thursley this morning meant I had an unexpected chance to visit Whiteley again. The weather forecast seemed to indicate the sun would break through what was heavy cloud as I set off the nearer I could keep to the coast - so Whiteley it was! Another excellent trip - no PE (naturally!) but I did meet the Head Ranger who has had at least two sightings reported to him last week - so all is not lost. Sadly, he was there to assess damage from an illegal party held in the wood over the weekend - vehicles have driven down some of the rides and literally smashed through fences - it beggars belief. Back to the butterflies - lots of Silver Washed Fritillaries in excellent condition, only 3 White Admirals this time - they definitely seem to be on the wane. Plenty of Gatekeepers looking fresh and a significant increase in Small Skippers. I spent some time trying to improve my decidedly poor skills at differentiating Small Skipper from Essex Skipper. I'm not sure I succeeded - have posted a couple of pictures that I think are Essex Skippers - please don't hesitate to correct me if the id is wrong. I suspect that may be my last trip to Whiteley for a while - I can feel a change of landscape and hopefully some Chalkhill Blues calling if the weather holds! [Posted by Mark WAgstaff]

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Essex Skipper? - Whiteley Pastures
Photo © Mark WAgstaff
Gatekeeper - Whiteley Pastures
Photo © Mark WAgstaff
Essex Skipper? - Whiteley Pastures
Photo © Mark WAgstaff

08 Jul 2019

Whiteley Pastures/Botley Wood. Another trip to Whiteley - another excellent day - and another blank for Purple Emperor! Its a shame none seem to have been seen so far this year but apart from the one negative - every trip there has been outstanding with everything you could wish to see in a woodland setting at this time of year. Silver Washed Fritillaries were in abundance (and settling nicely early on). Gatekeepers have increased numbers dramatically since last week. Still plenty of White Admirals about but I suspect they are going in the opposite direction - I only managed 8 today in nearly 3 hours of wandering but they all seemed to be in good condition. One was imitating a PE by circling me then landing on my trousers - but sadly it was too small to be a female. Another fresh Peacock on the top path. Lots of Marbled Whites and Ringlets in the glades. I even managed to spot some distant Purple Hairstreaks on top of the oaks with binoculars when searching for PE. Fingers crossed the lack of PE is just my poor observation and/or a temporary blip. [Posted by Mark Wagstaff]

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

Creech Wood field trip. My first field trip on a Monday, and my first in Creech Wood which to everyone's surprise is a splendid wood, however we never saw our quarry the illusive Purple Emperor. Its one of the woods where you see good numbers one year and nothing the next. However everybody enjoyed seeing good numbers of Silver-Washed Fritillaries, White Admiral,very few Purple Hairstreak today, but in the way-leaves there were good numbers of Skippers, and Marbled Whites. Several Buzzards were seen and calling, possible Goldcrest where the the large areas of Conifers were, and several species of Dragonflies were seen patrolling up and down the rides. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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White Admirals are now beginning to look very worn
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Silver-Washed Fritillary
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Enjoying a walk through the woods
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

07 Jul 2019

clouded yellow at north baddesley. 2 clouded yellow seen on my butterfly reserve at north baddesley today.also seen on 30 minute walk 1 very fresh painted lady,white admiral 10,silver washed fritillary 3,red admiral 1,small tortoiseshell 1,mixed skippers 100 plus,large white 12,small white 14,speckled wood 1,ringlet 100 plus,meadow brown 100 plus,marbled white 100 plus,6 spot burnet 5. [Posted by Kevin Ross]

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Photo © Kevin Ross

06 Jul 2019

Havant Thicket and Bell's Copse. Today we used the car and walked from the carpark in Havant Thicket along the main track to Bell's Copse etc, on our way there we were met by Pete Gammage who joined us on our walk. The highlight of the day were 3 or 4 Purple Emperors which was our target species and at least 40+ Silver-washed Fritillary, but only one White Admiral was observed. We also saw 1M 2F Beautiful Demoiselle. [Posted by Barry and Margaret Collins]

Field trip - Butterwood Forest. Despite a late cancellation by Ashley, thirteen eager participants turned up for the walk in Butterwood Forest near Greywell. Helped by stand-in leader Kevin, a copy of Ashley's book and an OS map we managed to find our way around reasonably well despite nearly straying into a clay pigeon shoot! Butterflies were in good number with a total of 14 species seen, the highlights being dozens of Purple Hairstreak, many coming down to perch on bracken and some even seen at ground level. Good numbers of Silver-washed Fritillary were also seen and at least seven White Admiral. The supporting cast included Painted Lady; Large and Small Whites; Marbled White; Red Admiral; Large, Small and Essex Skippers; Meadow Brown; Ringlet and a single Gatekeeper. It was noted that there was hardly any Sallow in the wood which may account for the dearth of Purple Emperors. [Posted by Dave Pearson]

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Purple Hairstreak on Silverweed
Photo © Dave Pearson
Purple Hairstreak on Bracken
Photo © Dave Pearson
Ringlet
Photo © Dave Pearson

Butter Wood field trip. Butter Wood was looking splendid this morning. A red kite hung in the air just feet above our heads crossing a pasture on the way into the woodland; and we also saw a very faded Painted Lady, remarkably still flying with no hind wings and very worn forewings. There was immediate Purple Hairstreak interest upon reaching Butter Wood’s outlying oaks and regular sightings of twos and threes in the tree tops all the way round. We walked the route in 'Hampshire and Isle of Wight Butterfly Walks', making the circuit in a clockwise direction. In clearings all along the route, especially where oaks sent their branches closer to the ground above a sunlit path-edge stand of bracken, Purple Hairstreaks could be viewed at head height and on several occasions they alighted on the path. We had great close-to views of White Admiral with a count of seven in total. There were good numbers of Silver-washed Fritillary, too. In addition to the above, the sightings list for the morning included: Small White, Large White, Marbled White, Large Skipper, Small Skipper, Essex Skipper (confirmed by a photo), Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Gatekeeper and Red Admiral. Sorry you couldn’t be with us Ashley, we did our best to keep the show on the road, and we all hope you are feeling better soon. [Posted by Kevin FREEBORN]

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Purple Hairstreak
Photo © Kevin FREEBORN

05 Jul 2019

Chalton Down. Today I walked Chalton Down where the temperature was 23 degrees around mid morning. Here a total of 11 different species were recorded just prior to the Chalkhill Blues making an appearance here, although the downland slopes are still continuing to grow with course grases as the rabbit population decreased.The grass has helped support the Marbled Whites, with a mating pair seen. A few Silver Washed Fritillarys were seen in the scrubby areas as well as one of the many migrant Painted Ladys. Totals: Brimstone 3F, Small White 2, Common Blue 1M, Marbled White 29, Meadow Brown 29, Ringlet 10, Small Heath 6, Painted Lady 1, Silver Washed Fritillary 4, Large Skipper 2, Small Skipper 3.

NOTE: My reports which appear on the top of this page dated 29th July from Hayling Island Cycle Trail and 28th July from Blackbush Hanger, Southleigh Forest should read 29th JUNE and 28TH JUNE respectively. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

04 Jul 2019

Portsdown Hill and Fort Widley. Today I walked the East end of Portsdown Hill, where the temperature was 22 degrees. Meadow Browns and Marbled Whites were the main species recorded, although a Silver Washed Fritillary put in an appearance. Totals: Brimstone 1F, Large White 1, Small White 2, Marbled White 16, Meadow Brown 17, Ringlet 1, Silver Washed Fritillary 1.

Across the rd at Fort Widley further Meadow Browns and Marbled Whites were in flight. Totals: Brimstone 3F, Gatekeeper 1, Marbled White 12, Meadow Brown 18, Ringlet 2. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Private site. I've been involved with a Wilding Project on Private land in southern Hampshire, and have been looking for presence of the Purple Emperor, and recently over the past two years many areas of dense Woodland have been heavily coppiced, lending the area to be more open with 'vistas' being created. On the more pronounced High areas on the site I could get a more visual look at one area, and with a gladdened heart I witnessed One and then two Male Purple Emperors giving chase over some very high Oaks and Silver-Birch Trees. This was at 1300 and between that time and 1530 I saw several more chases and then seeing the two males returning to their respective perches, highly visible through binoculars. I also witnessed a female Emperor leading a lucky male away from the area, to mate with him, leaving the area very quiet at about 1530.This is a completely new site they have never been recorded here before.

Last night I put a Moth trap out on the site and this proved to be highly successful with many species of moth not yet ID. Also other highlights today were many female Marbled Whites bombing the grasses laying eggs, several mating Small Skippers, and a Female Painted Lady laying eggs on Thistle. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Painted Lady laying her eggs on thistle
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Small Skipper mating
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Purple Emperor Vista Oak and Silver Birch
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

Southampton Common. A 30-minute foray around the North end of the Common turned-up Marbled White (10), Meadow Brown (30+), Large Skipper (4), Small Skipper (20+), Silver-Washed Fritillary (4), Purple Hairstreak (4) - one of the latter found low down (photo, below). Small & Large White also seen, in small numbers.

Later, a walk around the West border path turned-up more Silver-Washed Fritillary (5), particularly at the South end. [Posted by Jon Holden-Dye]

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Purple Hairstreak, Southampton Common
Photo © Jon Holden-Dye

Leigh Park my garden. While doing some work in my garden at Leigh Park this morning. I had a nice surprise when I found a Purple Hairstreak resting on a camellia bush. [Posted by Barry Collins]

03 Jul 2019

Havant Thicket. Today I visited Havant Thicket where the temperature reached 20 degrees. I walked for around 2 hours but did not see any sign of the Purple Emperor, although the recent warm weather has increased numbers with over 100 Meadow Browns and a total of 12 different species, the areas was abound with butterflies. Totals: Brimstone 3F, Small White 2, Gatekeeper 7, Marbled White 2, Meadow Brown 130, Ringlet 23, Speckled Wood 45, Painted Lady 1, Silver Washed Fritillary 8, White Admiral 2, Large Skipper 6, Small Skipper 8. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Southleigh Forest. We had good views of at least 3 Purple Emperors at the Assembly Point from 1250-1330. [Posted by Barry and Margaret Collins]

Monks Walk, Frater Fields & Woods, Gosport. A thorough and methodical coverage from 1150-1500 uncovered 15 species. Highlights were a fresh summer emergence Peacock, first Silver-washed Fritillary of the season and a distant sighting of Purple Hairstreak. Marbled Whites proliferate closely followed by Meadow Brown and Essex Skipper. The latter occupy the meadows as well as shore-line grasses with the tide coming very close to their habitat here. A young deer leapt out in front of me and I'm sure I jumped higher! Totals today: Marbled White (83); Essex Skipper (38); Ringlet (20); Meadow Brown (67); Small White (7); Speckled Wood (1); Gatekeeper (9); Red Admiral (3); Comma (8); Small Skipper (7); Brown Argus (1); Large White (1); Silver-washed Fritillary (1); Purple Hairstreak (1); Peacock (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Brown Argus
Photo © Francis Plowman
Peacock on wild budlea
Photo © Francis Plowman
Essex Skipper
Photo © Francis Plowman

Whiteley Pastures. Another morning trip to Whiteley - but sadly still no Purple Emperor despite another 'perfect' day to spot them. I keep thinking I'm a little early - but they are starting to show elsewhere now so I hope nothing untoward has happened to this area. I did leave others there in danger of a 'crick in their neck' looking so hard - so fingers crossed they were successful later in the day. All the 'usual suspects' in very good numbers - double figure White Admirals and Silver Washed Fritillaries for example. Bonus butterflies of the day were my first of the year Gatekeeper, 2 Holly Blues on the hard track (second generation?) and a fresh Peacock in one of the glades. Dragonflies were much increased on previous visits with 5/6 Golden Ringed Dragonfly (the most numerous species), 2 Emperors patrolling, a female Broad Bodied Chaser and an immature Black Tailed Skimmer on the path. Also, my first of the year Southern Hawker - just emerged. [Posted by Mark Wagstaff]

02 Jul 2019

Havant Thicket Field Trip. Purple Emperor in Havant Thicket Photos Copyright Marianne Eagles First Photo Second Ashley Whitlock [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Male Purple Emperor in Havant Thicket copyright Marianne Eagles
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Purple Emperor in a Oak stand
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

Havant Thicket Field Trip. On a glorious sunny day and an excellent turn out , we all were expecting a few surprises as we walked along the many Oak and Sallow strewn rides today. The Purple Emperor is a fickle creature, observing from his lofty perch he will sit still and not move for many hours given the chance and I suspect that is what was happening today in the early morning anyway, try as I might and our chants in the inner circle in the car-park would not waver him. We were glad when at 1150, I blew the whistle and tally ho! we had our first male in the ride which underlates towards western part of the wood. He was a fine specimen, he was flying around a smallish Oak flying around a few oak sprigs, and then he finally settled down and we could see him with his wings open and antennae pointing outwards. He was playing us for fools, gazing down and mocking us as we gazed up at him admiringly. He stayed there for a good twenty minutes then did another few circuits around this oak and settled back down again. We watched as he then took off giving us tantalizing glimpses of his perfect patterning on the underside of his wings, there goes grace and beauty, I thought, and then he was gone. I always say that anybody who leaves my field trips early always miss out...and that's what happened today. We made it back to the car-park and we had our lunch and at 1330 HAIL! another male in the car-park flying around a tall Oak by this time there were only (7) of us left. But the car-park area has always been a good area,for this species. We had a look at the Assembly Point in the afternoon but there were no takers today, probably not enough males about.On our way back and just past a very large Oak which is very prominent in the ride I espied a rather large Emperor in the ride just flying above the fern line, this was a magnificent female, she was a beaut, but again she seemed to be in a hurry but it was the best view of an Emperor today,she flew in and up around another oak and disappeared over some tall Silver-Birch trees.With excellent counts of Silver-Washed Fritillaries and White Admirals, we had (20) plus Purple Hairstreaks, one of the best counts I've had for ages. It was an excellent field trip and everybody went home happy. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Clouded Border Moth
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Ringlet
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Male Comma
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

Whiteley Pastures. Another lovely walk around Whiteley Pastures and in to Botley Wood. A 'perfect' day for Purple Emperor - warm, sunny and the wind decidedly less than recent days - but no luck at all. I made a determined effort to search the oak tree tops but no sign. That said, everything else I could have wished for was there. White Admirals and Silver Washed Fritillaries along the main path in good numbers. Lots of Large Skippers, Marbled Whites and a couple of Small Tortoiseshell in the glades - and just the one Painted Lady on this occasion (very worn). A much better day for dragonflies - 4 Golden Ringed, 2 Emperors and my first Black Tailed Skimmer of the year on the hard path. Plenty of Beautiful Demoiselles near the damp patches. Fingers crossed someone finds a PE soon - they seem to be out in good numbers outside Hampshire. [Posted by Mark Wagstaff]

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

01 Jul 2019

Blackbush Hanger, Southleigh Forest. On a warm early afternoon, where the temperature reached 21 degrees, I paid a visit to Blackbush Hanger, Southleigh Forest (SU742087). Here making a fine start to the month of July I saw my first Purple Emperor this year. A male briefly flew from his master tree circling before returning to his spot. The time was 13:20. Other species recorded were Marbled White 1, Meadow Brown 2, Silver Washed Fritillary 3. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

silver spotted skipper. Bidden Road, Upton Grey, Hampshire [This is actually a male Large Skipper - Ed] [Posted by David Arthur]

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silver spotted skipper
Photo © David Arthur

Seafield Park & Monks Hill Promenade, Hill Head. An hour from 1425 when the temperature had risen to 23 deg C, I circulated around and then crossed the scrub-land which is Seafield Park. The sea airs could almost be tasted but this meant that the breeze was very strong off The Solent. Sadly, the promenade field - about 2 acres of flowery scrub - has been cut recently leaving only a few Meadow Brown looking rather confused! Nevertheless, thirteen species were recorded with a fresh Brown Argus, Small Copper and mating pair of Marbled White seen. The tally: Ringlet (19); Meadow Brown (51); Marbled White (21); Small Skipper (27); Large Skipper (1); Comma (2); Gatekeeper (1); Small Copper (1); Small White (1); Red Admiral (1); Brown Argus (2); Essex Skipper (1); Large White (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Brown Argus
Photo © Francis Plowman
Small Copper
Photo © Francis Plowman
Essex Skipper (antennae detail)
Photo © Francis Plowman

Whiteley Woods and Meadow, Fareham. From midday for two hours I walked through the meadow, woodland edges and paths of Whiteley Woods (21 deg C and breezy). Thirteen butterfly species accompanied my walk at various stages and a deer provided additional interest. The Purple Emperor was not seen although unnaturally pungent odours were (too frequently) smelt, presumably baits left by the fish-paste brigade! Perhaps the stench is even too overpowering for the emperor? Today must have been the feast day of St.Ringlet for it was scattered throughout the walk in biblical numbers; surprisingly only one mating pair was seen. Totals: Ringlet (90); Large Skipper (14); White Admiral (6); Meadow Brown (43); Marbled White (4); Painted Lady (1); Small Skipper (4); Comma (2); Silver-washed Fritillary (9); Large White (1); Essex Skipper (2); Gatekeeper (1); Red Admiral (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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

Abbotts Wood Inclosure. Today in perfect Purple Emperor conditions and walking head up for three hours and covering about 6 miles, I never saw any Purple Emperors patrolling Oaks or Sallow searching. Looks like I've got to wait for a few more days yet before trousers can be worn on head. Seriously it is painfully slow here in Purple Emperor land and the only singleton I saw was the same one I saw on territory at one of the Assembly Points. The good news is though is the Silver-Washed Fritillary and the White Admiral numbers are picking up. I saw (23) Silver-Washed Fritillaries and (15) White Admirals, along with good numbers of Small and Large Skipper, Ringlet, and Red Admiral and the Comma.

Beware there is logging going on in the wood and its right in the middle of 'His'area, so if you are looking for the Emperor please be aware of this. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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The Lonesome Male on territory
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Forestry Signs in Abbotts Wood
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
The Assembly Point in the main car-park
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

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