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

News Archive for May 2020

27 May 2020

Faded, jaded, but still rockin-n-rollin. This morning I visited a well-known woodland clearing on the Hants-Wilts border. Apologies for the poor quality images but I was particularly struck by how some well-worn specimens were still capable of flight. Among the rather faded and battered individuals I encountered Duke of Burgundy (x1), Marsh Fritillary (x2) and Pearl-bordered Fritillary (x16), while in stunning condition, possibly just emerged, I spotted Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (x3), Grizzled Skipper (x2) and Large Skipper (x3). Small Heath, Brimstone, Holly Blue, Small White and Speckled Wood were also flying. [Posted by Kevin Freeborn]

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Marsh Fritillary
Photo © Kevin Freeborn
Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Photo © Kevin Freeborn
Mint-condition Small Pearl (male)
Photo © Kevin Freeborn

26 May 2020

sightings North Baddesley. seen today on my reserve at N Baddesley.very fresh Small Tortoisehell,first Meadow Brown of the year,7 Large Skipper 2 Brimstone 1 Comma 2 Small White 1 Green-veined White 5 burnet companion 1 brown silver line 9 mother shipton 1 6 spot burnet 5 cinnabar 2 adder 1 grass snake 17 slow worm 1 lizard.now that the lockdown has been lifted a bit you are very welcome to come and have a look round. my email is spark.ky@hotmail.co.uk or phone number 02380 733995.all welcome. [Posted by Kevin ross]

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Photo © Kevin rossPhoto © Kevin rossPhoto © Kevin ross

Tortoiseshells on the wing in Great Fontley. As predicted a fortnight ago, Small Tortoiseshells have taken to the air before the end of May. Two pristine specimens seen nectaring on Phuopsis stylosa and Red Valerian in the front garden at Great Fontley. [Posted by Andrew Brookes]

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Small Tortoiseshell on Phuopsis stylosa
Photo © Andrew Brookes
Small Tortoiseshell on Red Valerian
Photo © Andrew Brookes

Alver Valley Country Park (West of River), Gosport. For three hours from 1030 we covered a huge area of the Alver Valley with its very mixed habitat. The temperature rose from 20 to 24 degrees Celsius and only a light SW breeze refreshed the area. However, despite the coverage only seven species were seen including our first sighting of the year for Large Skipper. No sign of an early Meadow Brown and very little heather is out on the southern heath with its dry and narrow paths devoid of Small Copper usually seen there. Flower is abundant but on the main fields the clover is already drying to a crisp. Totals noted: Brimstone (M)(4)(F)(1); Common Blue (M)(8)(F)(1); Brown Argus (1); Holly Blue (4); Peacock (1); Small Heath (6); Large Skipper (2). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Male Common Blue
Photo © Francis Plowman
Large Skipper
Photo © Francis Plowman
Small Heath - so patient!
Photo © Francis Plowman

Old Winchester Hill NNR. Although it was perfect weather for sitting on a beach maybe , walking around a downland it soon became clear it was rather too warm, and most of the butterflies and other invertebrates were frantically flying about. On the main Southern slope below the ancient hill fort there were plenty of Adonis Blues, many males and a few females. The turf here is in excellent condition for these species now, and there was a conservative count of (30), which I could see from the footpath, but I suspect there were two or three times as many and all in very good condition. Small Heaths and Common Blue were in good number also and the odd one or two Small Blue were seen, although I never see any Kidney Vetch on the slopes. Other species of note were Green Hairstreak, Dingy Skipper and Grizzled Skipper, Brimstones were laying their eggs on Alder Buckthorn. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Male Adonis Blue in a rare short stop
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Close up of his face and antennae
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Small Blue feeding on Bird's Foot Trefoil
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

25 May 2020

Monks Walk, Frater Fields & Woods, Gosport. Really warm and sunny from 1130-1350 today (22.5 deg C). Number of species seen down on recent visits but totals today: Small Heath (6); Brown Argus (1); Common Blue (M)(2); Small White (6); Speckled Wood (10); Holly Blue (7); Comma (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Small Heath
Photo © Francis Plowman
Speckled Wood mating pair
Photo © Francis Plowman
Brown Argus
Photo © Francis Plowman

Moths in the garden. Such a warm today and just a couple of moths seen braving the heat in my back garden,several Mint Moths flying around my large patch of Mint, strangely enough. Also a Cinnabar Moth graced me with its presence, I'd never had one of these in the garden before. Also a couple of Holly Blues were also seen. [Posted by A Whitlock]

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Cinnabar Moth on a conifer tree
Photo © A Whitlock
Mint Moth on Mint!
Photo © A Whitlock

24 May 2020

New Forest, Ashurst. On Ashurst heath Silver-studded Blues on the wing [Posted by Mark swann]

Northington Down. Painted Lady - basking in warm sunshine on farm track at 7:30pm. My first sighting of a Painted Lady this season [Posted by Robert Bryant]

Larval highlights, Great Fontley. Peacock larvae have been found in unprecedented numbers in a meadow at Great Fontley, 16 webs, more than one for every nettle clump, a conservative total of over 1000, most now be third instar. The magic one-hectare meadow is narrow, NW-SE orientation, and well protected from prevailing winds by dense blackthorn and sallow hedging >5m high.

Beyond the meadow, Orange-tip larvae are commonly found on Honesty and Garlic Mustard, with occasional Red Admiral larvae among the more solitary nettles. On the wing, Small Heath are presently the most numerous, perhaps their best year yet, seconded by Common Blues, with the occasional Grizzled Skipper and Brown Argus. A most remarkable spring. [Posted by Andrew Brookes]

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Orange-tip larvae on Honesty
Photo © Andrew Brookes
Peacock larvae
Photo © Andrew Brookes
And more Peacock larvae
Photo © Andrew Brookes

West Butser and Lower Butser Slope. A bit of a breezy day, but once the sun shone and I got down towards the bottom of Butser the wind tended to ease down, and once this happened, small pockets of butterflies were counted in really good numbers. The Duke of Burgundy is now showing signs of wear and tear. Several Females were observed feeding on Bramble and Dogs-Mercury, and there was one or two in very good condition, (14) were seen in all and one female was observed laying eggs on the slope behind the Beech tree Copse. Star of the show were the Small Heath they were everywhere and the Brown Argus was seen in good numbers as well as the Common Blue. Green Hairstreak put in an appearance but these are now looking very worn. 10 species were seen with many Burnet Moths and Cinnabar Moths Speckled Yellow, Common Carpet, and the Yellow Shell. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Female Duke of Burgundy
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Brown Argus in good numbers
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Fresh Burnet Moth at rest
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

23 May 2020

Monks Walk, Frater Fields & Woods, Gosport. I never expected nine species to turn-up during my tour of this site from 1210-1400 with the temperature at around 19 degrees C and with an incredibly strong SW wind swirling around the woods and glades. Just 4 miles to the north Fareham was having a rain storm but Gosport stayed in the sunshine. That encouraged the butterflies even though numbers were slightly down. Totals: Peacock (1); Common Blue (M)(2); Small Heath (1); Small White (4); Holly Blue (6); Brown Argus (1); Speckled Wood (5); Large White (1); Red Admiral (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Common Blue shares a swing with a friend!
Photo © Francis Plowman
Speckled Wood
Photo © Francis Plowman
Damaged Red Admiral
Photo © Francis Plowman

22 May 2020

Oxenbourne Down. With a good spell of warm weather continuing, I visited Oxenbourne Down where the temperature reached 22 degrees. Here I was pleased to record my first Green Hairstreak and Small Copper of the year and managed to get a good photo of the only Grizzled Skipper recorded. Totals: Brimstone 1M 3F, Small White 3, Common Blue 1M, Green Hairstreak 1, Small Copper 1, Small Heath 6, Dingy Skipper 4, Grizzled Skipper 1. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

21 May 2020

Alver Valley Country Park (AVCP), Gosport. Being much nearer The Solent with its cooler prevailing breezes, the AVCP seems still to be in early Spring compared to the protected north of the peninsular. Bluebells were still in evidence this afternoon between 1330-1450 with the thermometer recording 23 degrees of heat. South of Howe Road there is much evidence of habitat disruption in the area with a swathe of mature trees and scrub completely flattened - presumably another development on the way! All the car parks on the approach to The Grange have been either filled-in or blocked with earth berm. These factors probably combined to produce - for the size of area covered - a very disappointing sighting of just eight species with numbers of each very low. Totals: Speckled Wood (4); Common Blue (M)(3); Small Heath (2); Peacock (1); Small White (2); Holly Blue (1); Brown Argus (1); Small Copper (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Peacock - tatty but tame!
Photo © Francis Plowman
Microscopic Small Copper
Photo © Francis Plowman

Monks Walk, Frater Fields & Woods, Gosport. I drove 100 miles yesterday for Martin Down's return of 10 butterflies. Four hundred metres or so from home this morning at Monks Walk and I recorded nine! Between 1025-1210 the temperature rose from 23 to 25.5 deg C and very pleasant at that. So far missing here this Spring is Small Copper; it's usual field area was inundated for weeks during the winter although the Common Blue has managed to emerge in the same habitat. Totals: Orange-tip (M)(1); Small White (11); Common Blue (M)(3)(F)(2); Small Heath (2); Brown Argus (1); Holly Blue (7); Peacock (1); Speckled Wood (6); Red Admiral (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Brown Argus
Photo © Francis Plowman
Common Blue female
Photo © Francis Plowman
Common Blue male
Photo © Francis Plowman

Meadow Brown at Magdalen Hill Down. No photo, but a Meadow Brown seen at Magdalen Hill Down this lunchtime. [Posted by Lee Hurrell]

Pheromone Sucess. Having stumbled upon a six belted Clearwing last year I thought I would get some pheromone lures this year to see what else I could turn up. First try in the garden today with the ‘myo’ lure turned up a Red Belted Clearwing within ten minutes. [Posted by Mark Tutton]

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Red Belted Clearwing
Photo © Mark Tutton
Red Belted Clearwing
Photo © Mark Tutton

First garden Painted Lady,Cromarty Rd,Lordshill. Saw my first Painted Lady of the year on Phlox subulata in my garden. [Posted by Jason Claxton]

20 May 2020

Martin Down National Nature Reserve South. From 1145-1420 in warm sunshine yet intrusive SW breeze the southern section was circulated. Many nature lovers were evident one couple overheard describing it as Piccadilly Circus! There was always enough space to maintain safe social distancing and the walk was a delight. The target was Marsh Fritillary a butterfly I had not encountered previously. We quickly found the species as we traversed the path parallel to Bockerley Ditch all the way to the five-way track junction. Totals: Adonis Blue (23); Brimstone (M)(25)(F)(13); Dingy Skipper (5); Common Blue (M)(53); Green Hairstreak (1); Grizzled Skipper (6); Holly Blue (1); Marsh Fritillary (13); Small Blue (16); Small Heath (88); Small White (8). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Marsh Fritillary
Photo © Francis Plowman
Dingy Skipper
Photo © Francis Plowman
Grizzled Skipper
Photo © Francis Plowman

Martin Down North. The second smaller section of the NNR was circulated between 1445-1545 when the temperature was 24 deg Celsius but shadows lengthening. It was a joy to be accompanied by the call of the cuckoo which seems to return to the woods here each year. Totals: Brimstone (M)(7)(F)(2); Small Heath (19); Common Blue (M)(10)(F)(1); Adonis Blue (4); Marsh Fritillary (4); Brown Argus (2); Small Blue (1); Dingy Skipper (2); Speckled Wood (3); Large White (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Marsh Fritillary
Photo © Francis Plowman
Speckled Wood
Photo © Francis Plowman
Adonis Blue male
Photo © Francis Plowman

19 May 2020

Noar Hill. Today I paid my first visit of the year to Noar Hill where the temperature reached 20 degrees. Spending a few hours walking around each pit around the site I was disappointed not to find any Duke of Burgundy's, but a sighting of a Small Blue and some Dingy Skipper's made up for it. Totals: Small White 6, Green-veined White 1, Orange-tip 1M, Common Blue 8M, Small Blue 1, Small Heath 5, Dingy Skipper 9. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Marsh Fritillary butterflies at the north Hampshire reintroduction site.. I visited the Marsh Fritillary butterfly reintroduction site in the north of Hampshire late yesterday afternoon. I saw several of the butterflies, they spent most of the time low amongst the grass in the damp meadow, occasionally rising up to fly, including a three-butterfly aerial interaction. And then what appeared to be two engaged in courtship behaviour. I observed the latter from a distance, it was too precious an event to risk disturbing by photography. [Posted by Peter Vaughan]

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Photo © Peter Vaughan

Mating Adonis At Old Winchester Hill. A midday exploration of the south field at Old Winchester Hill (just below the fort) produced about 12 Adonis Blues, including two females. This count also included a mating pair, the female having been found by ‘her suitor’ soon after emergence and even before her wings were fully expanded!

Other numerous species were Common Blue and Small Heath, with variety enhanced by singletons of Small Blue, Dingy Skipper and Green Hairstreak. [Posted by Alan Thornbury]

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Adonis Blue (Male)
Photo © Alan Thornbury
Adonis Blue (Mating pair)
Photo © Alan Thornbury
Small Blue (Male)
Photo © Alan Thornbury

Martin Down. More Photos from today [Posted by Whitlock]

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Wood Tiger Moth
Photo © Whitlock
Small Blue on my shoe
Photo © Whitlock
Resting Privet Hawk Moth
Photo © Whitlock

Martin Down. Today if this had been a field trip to this wonderful site it would have a magnificent triumph, with species of butterflies and moths in good numbers. First on my list was the sighting of a Narrow Bordered Bee Hawk Moth which was flying very close to the ground, and I was fortunate enough to be right there when it came to rest.There was 18 Moth and Butterfly species on my list some of the best counts I've ever had coming to this site over the past three decades. There were plenty of Marsh Fritillary flying up and down the Bockerley Ditch and around the Rifle Butts. Adonis Blue put in a good appearance as well as Small Blue which I gave up counting after a hundred. Brown Argus, and Dingy Skipper and Grizzled Skipper came along as well. Wood Tiger Moths were also seen and the Yellow Shell Moth. Hundreds of Small Heaths were everywhere and courting Brimstones flying backwards dancing in the breeze. On our way back a lovely Privet Hawkmoth had parked up on a grassy stem and made for a perfect picture, it looked like he had just emerged, as it was in perfect condition. This is probably one of the best sites if not the best site for all flora and fauna in Hampshire, and it never disappoints. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Narrow Bordered Bee Hawk moth at rest
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Female Adonis Blue
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Male Marsh Fritillary
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

Baker's Drove Field/Cromarty Road Areas. A trip to my local field yielded my first Large Skipper and 3 Common Blues plus a couple of Green-veined Whites. The brambles are just starting to come into bloom. [Posted by Sue Lambert]

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Large Skipper
Photo © Sue Lambert
Female Common Blue
Photo © Sue Lambert
Male Common Blue
Photo © Sue Lambert

18 May 2020

Portsdown Hill (East). After visiting Paulsgrove Chalk Pits, I paid a visit to the East end of Portsdown Hill where I walked the slopes and tracks in front of Fort Widley. My totals were: Brimstone 1M 1F, Green-veined White 1, Common Blue 4M, Holly Blue 1, Red Admiral 1. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Paulsgrove Chalk Pits. Paid a visit today to Paulsgrove Chalk Pits where the temperature reached 16 degrees. Few butterflies were on the wing, but I did record my first Small Blues this year. Totals: Brimstone 1F, Small White 3, Common Blue 6M, Small Blue 5. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Second brood Holly Blue at MHD?. On one of my regular trips to Magdalen Hill Down, I found what I thought to be a second brood Holly Blue; a fresh male. It could be a late first brood but what with the warm weather, it could be! [Posted by Lee Hurrell]

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Holly Blue, male, Magdalen Hill Down, Winchester, Hampshire, 18th May 2020
Photo © Lee Hurrell

Forester Moths at Odiham Common. Numerous Forester Moths Adscita statices were out in the afternoon sunshine at Odiham Common on 18th May. I also saw a Common Blue butterfly there. [Posted by Peter Vaughan]

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Photo © Peter VaughanPhoto © Peter Vaughan

Martin Down.. A superb day with a light breeze. I visited from 0930-1330 and as reported yesterday the whole place was in fine form! Species noted and approx numbers were Small Copper 4, Green Hairstreak 7, Adonis Blue 25, Common Blue 10, Small Blue 115 (possibly more), Marsh Fritillary 18, Dingy Skipper 28, Grizzled Skipper 33, Brown Argus 1, Brimstone 4, Orange-tip 1 and a nice fresh Common Heath moth. Most of the Small Blues were in or around the perimeter ditch. The female of the pair of Adonis Blues didn't even get a chance to get her wings working before the male nabbed her! [Posted by Mark Pike]

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Adonis Blue Pair
Photo © Mark Pike
Common Heath
Photo © Mark Pike
Small Blue
Photo © Mark Pike

Old Winchester Hill. An early start today as we decided to check-out Old Winchester Hill and did so between (1020-1205). We were met at the gate by a Red Admiral so a good start! However the cool SW wind was quite strong and just eight species were recorded. We walked the area clockwise coming back up the car park slope - fortunately with a following wind - to finish. Totals: Red Admiral (1); Brimstone (M)(2)(F)(10); Small Heath (26); Common Blue (M)(24)(F)(4); Small White (4); Orange-tip (M)(1); Dingy Skipper (1); Adonis Blue (M)(10)(F)(1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Adonis Blue male
Photo © Francis Plowman
Common Blue male
Photo © Francis Plowman
Adonis Blue female
Photo © Francis Plowman

Fort Widley, Portsdown Hill. Sticking to the theme of chalk hills between 1300-1400 we circulated the northern ie less exposed (to the strong SW breeze) side of the fort. The fields do not appear in abundant flora and only seven species were found. These were: Brimstone (M)(7); Holly Blue (3); Common Blue (7); Small Blue (4); Orange-tip (M)(1); Green Hairstreak (1); Small White (1). (The Small Blues were found in three separate areas; one just inside the west gated entrance; two in the ditch beside the road/main field; one almost by the small gate on the main road). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Small Blue
Photo © Francis Plowman
Small Blue
Photo © Francis Plowman
Green Hairstreak
Photo © Francis Plowman

Monks Walk, Frater Fields & Woods, Gosport. Our last visit was the local haunt which, more sheltered than the chalk hills visited earlier, was warm and sunny. So between 1430-1530 a total of nine species were counted as follows: Brown Argus (2); Small Heath (1); Small White (9); Common Blue (M)(2)(F)(1); Holly Blue (4); Peacock (2); Comma (1); Speckled Wood (3); Red Admiral (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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

17 May 2020

Noar Hill. We last visited Noar Hill some 8 weeks ago. Today in warm sunshine we searched for orchids and butterflies quickly spotting a Brimstone, many Dingy Skippers, several Small Blues, a number of busy Common Blues and Small Heaths plus at least 8 Duke of Burgundy. [Posted by Robert Bryant]

Small Blue at Pitt Down - postscript. (See news item from 15 May) I'm slightly heartened by the prompt responses to my email to HCC Countryside Service regarding the loss of the Small Blue colony in the Beechclump area through inappropriate grazing. They were apparently unaware of the Small Blue there but will graze particular that area in winter, rather than spring, in future. Hopefully the colony won't take so long to bounce back as last time, but we shall see. [Posted by Rupert Broadway]

Martin Down. An excellent display of spring butterflies at Martin Down today, with abundant Small Blue and a respectable showing by Marsh Fritillary and Adonis Blue. Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper, Green Hairstreak, Common Blue, Brimstone and Small Heath were present in good numbers, with a couple of Peacock and a single Small Copper. [Posted by Rupert Broadway]

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Small Blue at Martin Down
Photo © Rupert Broadway
Marsh Fritillary at Martin Down
Photo © Rupert Broadway
Adonis Blue at Martin Down
Photo © Rupert Broadway

Monks Walk, Frater Fields & Woods, Gosport. Much later than usual our final walk took us to our local fields, scrub-land and small woods beside the southern harbour shore at Gosport. Between 1445-1540 at 18.5 deg C eight species were recorded. Most pleasing was the appearance of three very fresh grass species within the main enclosed walk namely Common Blue, Brown Argus and Small Heath. Totals: Small White (6); Common Blue (M)(1); Small Heath (1); Holly Blue (4); Brown Argus (2); Comma (1); Orange-tip (M)(1); Large White (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Common Blue (male) on buttercup
Photo © Francis Plowman
Brown Argus
Photo © Francis Plowman
Small White (female)
Photo © Francis Plowman

Gilkicker Point, Gosport. The temperature was around 17 degrees celsius with a cool SW breeze which I suspect kept butterfly numbers low this afternoon (1330-1425). Totals: Common Blue (M)(3); Small White (4); Small Copper (1); Holly Blue (2). Beautiful displays of daisies and foxgloves. [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Small Copper
Photo © Francis Plowman
Bright daisies!
Photo © Francis Plowman
Holly Blue (female)
Photo © Francis Plowman

Haslar Sea Wall Car Park Scrub - Gosport. Between 1300-1325 today I circulated the scrub between the public car park (still closed-off) and the sea wall. The field is awash with tall grasses, clover and vetch and ready for the grass butterflies. The biggest surprise was my first sighting here of Grizzled Skipper. Only one which whizzed and flitted in the breeze defying all photography. Otherwise pretty poor fare on this visit. Totals: Small White (2); Grizzled Skipper (1); Green-veined White (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

West Wood. A cloudy and cool morning greeted me as I walked into West Wood today and at first there wasn't anything flying about at all. However when the sun did shine the Duke of Burgundy did appear all be it in small numbers, Five males were seen in varying degrees of freshness and several fresh females were also seen, totalling (8) altogether. There were several Pearl-bordered Fritillary all looking very faded, but good to see never-the-less. Bringing up the rear was a lovely fresh Brown Argus and several Grizzled Skippers. [Posted by Whitlock]

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Fresh Female Duke of Burgundy with egg filled abdomen
Photo © Whitlock
Jaded looking Pearl Bordered Fritillary
Photo © Whitlock
Lush looking Primroses quite bountiful in the wood.
Photo © Whitlock

16 May 2020

Havant Thicket. Today I visit Havant Thicket where the temperature was 15 degrees with sunshine and some cloudy spells. Several Brimstones were flying. Totals: Brimstone 6 1F, Small White 1, Orange-tip 1M, Speckled Wood 1. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Butser Hill & Ramsdean Down. Five 'first sightings' of my year thus far rewarded the significant effort of tackling Butser Hill and Ramsdean Down today. It was just about do-able even for a pair of healthy OAPs but as Messrs Freeborn and Whitlock say in their book the "walk crosses steep slopes and may present difficulties for vertigo sufferers"! Eleven species were recorded between 1145-1430 with the temperature around 17 degrees and warm sunny periods. The sheltered valley was well populated with many grass butterflies. Totals: Brimstone (M) 16; Small Heath (29); Common Blue (M) (31); Grizzled Skipper (6); Dingy Skipper (18); Duke of Burgundy (8); Green-veined White (1); Brown Argus (4); Small Copper (1); Large White (F)(1); Small White (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Brimstone male
Photo © Francis Plowman
Small Heath
Photo © Francis Plowman
Brown Argus
Photo © Francis Plowman

15 May 2020

Oxenbourne Down. After visiting Chalton Down, after lunch I drove to Oxenbourne Down (SU716183), where the temperature reached 15 degrees. I was pleased to record my first Small Heaths and Dingy Skippers, although numbers were low. Totals: Brimstone 1F, Small Heath 4, Red Admiral 1, Dingy Skipper 2. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Chalton Down. Paid my first visit to Chalton Down (SU736156) this year where the temperature was 14 degrees.The lower slopes have been transformed as some of the scrubby and overgrown areas have been mechanically cleared. Most of the larger busy areas remain however, with livestock rotation first I was told by several hundred sheep and currently with around 20 cattle. Although looking a little untidy, this can only benefit the Chalk Hill Blues, Small Blues and Skippers found here, as longer grasses in recent years have reduced the numbers of Chalk Hill Blues as the Vetches have become overwhelmed. Numbers subsequently were low: Brimstone 1M 1F, Small White 1, Red Admiral 1, Small Tortoiseshell 1. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Small Blues at Fort Purbrook. Went back today to see how the very small colony of Small Blue that lives in front of fort purbrook is doing. I have visited these every year for about the last 12 years or so and they seem to survive on a dozen or so Kidney Vetch plants. The plants are just coming in to flower and after having spotted a couple of males I waited by one of the plants with a few flowers and sure enough within two minutes a female had arrived and busily began laying. I watched her lay four eggs deep into the florets then left her in peace. The colony is always very small with the maximum of about six seen in any one visit but with her efforts, would seem to be secure for another year. I will see if I can find any larvae but Britain's smallest butterfly obviously has minute eggs and caterpillars! [Posted by Mark Tutton]

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Small Blue egg
Photo © Mark Tutton
Female Small Blue
Photo © Mark Tutton

Monks Walk, Frater Fields & Woods, Gosport. From 1130-1400 a rather more prolonged search in warm and sunny conditions (about 17 degrees celsius with the cool NE breeze) brought forth ten species. These gave me most welcome opportunities to practice my camera focusing and taking shots after a long and dreary layoff! (As you can see, more practice yet required but it was a lot of fun). The grass areas so far remain devoid of Common Blue, Small Copper yet the larger butterflies are still about. Totals today: Small White (5); Orange-tip (M)(2); (F)(1); Speckled Wood (4); Holly Blue (12); Peacock (4); Comma (1); Green-veined White (2); Brimstone (M)(1); Red Admiral (1); Large White (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Peacock
Photo © Francis Plowman
Green-veined White (female)
Photo © Francis Plowman
Red Admiral on wild garlic in the woods
Photo © Francis Plowman

Butser Hill NNR. One of the Highlights of the Field Trip calendar is the trip to Butser Hill, with rolling hills deep sides and invariably the Cuckoo in song but not today, and plenty of Butterflies and Moths on the wing. Today was no exception, and these are the following counts in what is a very difficult area with so many butterflies flying about. Duke of Burgundy (47) Red Admiral (1) Small Heath (75) Brimstone (10) Green Hairstreak (3) Small Copper (3) Common Blue (55) Brown Argus (10) Dingy Skipper (70) Grizzled Skipper (20). Cinnabar Moth (5) Speckled Yellow (1). Generally the Duke of Burgundy so far has had a poor year, it peaked in the first week of May at several sites, but today even though 47 to most recorders would be a good score, but I would expect a lot more, however many of these of were in very good condition, so they haven't finished yet. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Female Duke of Burgundy feeding on Wild Strawberry
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Dingy Skippers Mating
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Small Copper keeping territory
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

Pitt Down Small Blue Colony. Sad to say the area of Pitt Down that was re-colonised by small blue last year, having been grazed out in 2011 by Highland cattle, has once again been totally destroyed - this time by four ponies, who are still present and intent on finishing the job. Not a single kidney vetch plant remains, nor a single small blue. There were a few Grizzled Skippers in the scrubbier areas.

I wrote to HCC Central Countryside Service about this last time and have done so again. Surely the point of grazing should be to conserve habitat, not destroy it? [Posted by Rupert Broadway]

14 May 2020

My first Meadow Brown this year at Farlington. There were 2 Meadow Browns on the inside of the sea wall at Farlington p.m. on 14th. [Posted by John Goodspeed]

Butser Hill. My first non walkable trip out since lockdown started was to a very cool and blustery Butser Hill. Fortunately in the sheltered areas it was reasonably warm and revealed a pleasing twelve + species. All the spring Downland specialists were noted including a dozen or so Duke of Burgundy including one with very pale forewings and normal hindwings. A couple of fresh Small Copper were seen but most surprising was a beautiful fresh male Adonis Blue - I have never seen them here before and looking back through the annual reports I can’t see any previous either. Maybe a stray from OWH has started a small colony here - worth keeping an eye open for. [Posted by Mark Tutton]

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Adonis Blue
Photo © Mark Tutton
Unusual Duke
Photo © Mark Tutton
Duke of Burgundy
Photo © Mark Tutton

13 May 2020

Paulsgrove Chalk Pits. After a visit to Portsdown Hill in mid morning, I drove to Paulsgrove Chalk Pits, where in the early afternoon and in sheltered areas the temperature reached 14 degrees. Here my totals were, Brimstone 2M, Small White 2, Common Blue 5M. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Portsdown Hill (East). With the ease in lockdown restrictions, I drove to Portsdown Hill, where in the mid morning I walked the slope and paths directly above Queen Alexandra hospital. A chill wind prevent many species flying on the slopes where the temperature reached 11.5 degrees. Along the paths totals were, Small White 2, Common Blue 2m, Holly Blue 1, Green Hairstreak 1 - my first sighting this year. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Monks Walk, Frater Fields & Woods, Gosport. Between 1330-1400 it was clearly too cold and overcast here and only three species were seen: Small White (1); Speckled Wood (1); Green-veined White (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Speckled Wood (male)
Photo © Francis Plowman
Green-veined White (male)
Photo © Francis Plowman

Portsdown Hill. Taking advantage of the easing of Covid 19 constraints I enjoyed my first camera-accompanied outing in 7 weeks. Sadly the weather wasn't up to much but the walk along Portsdown Hill (southern slopes) from 1140-1250 was both bracing and suitably isolated. My first sighting this year of Small Copper and Common Blue was reward enough. Totals: Common Blue (M) 2 (F) 1; Small Copper (1); Small White (2); Red Admiral (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Common Blue (male)
Photo © Francis Plowman
Common Blue (female)
Photo © Francis Plowman
Small Copper
Photo © Francis Plowman

Stockbridge Down. In the absence of any field trips probably in 2020, around about this date I would be visiting Stockbridge Down and did so with Wife in tow..But having got there there was a cool breeze, and the cloud cover was about 80%. No butterflies were seen for at least 45 minutes, and it was obviously when the sun broke through and the sun pushed the temperature up into the giddy heights about 16C. My quarry, the Pearl-bordered Fritillary, were very illusive, and I only saw two in the coppiced woodland by the roadside. The Duke of Burgundy was even rarer with just a single male being seen. Other species once the sun shone for a good period of time was Orange-tip, Green Hairstreak, Grizzled Skipper, only one Dingy Skipper usually this site is over run with this species, Small Coppers, Small Heath, Brown Argus, Common Blue, Common Carpet Moth. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Grizzled Skipper on Nettle
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Male Orange Tip with egg
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Pearl-Bordered Fritillary
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

12 May 2020

Tortoiseshell postscript. Apropos yesterday's discovery of final instar small tortoiseshell larvae at Great Fontley, all but one had disappeared by 11am today, hopefully to pupate. If successful, this could see the butterfly on the wing before the end of May, a month earlier than usual. [Posted by Andrew Brookes]

11 May 2020

Precocious Tortoiseshells. Final instar Small Tortoiseshell larvae found at Great Fontley today; apologies for poor autofocus photo. The discovery rather ironic as the Small T. was conspicuous by its absence there earlier this spring. Nearby, a web with minuscule golden larvae, Peacock or Small Tort. again? [Posted by Andrew Brookes]

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Small Tortoiseshell larva
Photo © Andrew Brookes

10 May 2020

Orange-tip larva in Lordswood. I have noticed over the last month a few Orange-tip butterflies on a large honesty plant in my Lordswood garden, two were female and also noted a male. Females were egg laying, I noted one egg which lasted a week or so then vanished, but today I managed to spot a larva!... [Posted by David Lobb]

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Photo © David Lobb

09 May 2020

Duke of Burgundy at Farley Mount. I visited the area of West Wood within Farley Mount for Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Duke of Burgundy. Both were seen although in the heat of the day the Pearls were not stopping. Dukes were a bit more obliging. Grizzled Skipper also seen. [Posted by Mr L Hurrell]

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Duke of Burgundy, West Wood, Winchester, Hampshire, 9th May 2020
Photo © Mr L Hurrell
Duke of Burgundy, West Wood, Winchester, Hampshire, 9th May 2020
Photo © Mr L Hurrell
Duke of Burgundy, West Wood, Winchester, Hampshire, 9th May 2020
Photo © Mr L Hurrell

Eggs aplenty. The warmest day yet began well with the sight of a Comma ovipositing on nettle at Great Fontley, followed shortly afterwards by a Holly Blue determinedly ovipositing on Alder Buckthorn. Calling at Priors Hold, Boarhunt, in the afternoon, a Brimstone was seen doing her duty on yet more Alder Buckthorn, avoiding the more obvious sunny side shoots in favour of the shaded centre of the bush. [Posted by Andrew Brookes]

08 May 2020

Hayling Billy Cycle Trail. My daily walk along a section of the Hayling Billy Cycle Trail near Saltmarsh Lane, Hayling Island, recorded the following sightings where the temperature reached 21 degrees. Small White 19, Orange-tip 1M, Holly Blue 2, Speckled Wood 1. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Orange Tip larva (3rd instar). For those interested in the developing story of Orange-tip larvae in my garden, here's the latest update. While cars sit parked on neighbouring drives, the Orange Tip larvae in my garden are still busily munching away. The one shown in this report is a full grown 3rd instar larva, on the seed-pod of a Garlic Mustard plant alongside the trellis fence at the back of our garden. Putting a small ruler alongside it, I measured it as around 10-11mm length. Peter Eeles' book states that a full grown 3rd instar Orange Tip larva measures 10.5mm, so I assume this one must be about ready for a moult. If you look at the close-up shot, you can see on the opposite side of the plant there is a chewed down seed pod that this caterpillar has already munched. Looking for these chewed seed-pods is the easiest way to home in on larvae of this species, so assuming you've got the plant, why not see if you've got any in your garden. A hand magnifier will help if larvae are small. [Posted by Andy Barker]

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Orange Tip 3rd instar larva
Photo © Andy Barker
Orange Tip 3rd instar (close-up)
Photo © Andy Barker

06 May 2020

Southwood Country Park. A brief walk around Southwood Country Park (East),this afternoon produced a single Small Heath along with a number of Orange-tips and Small Whites. (No photos) [Posted by Terrence Hotten]

Pearl-bordered Fritillaries at Farley Mount. We had a good day out at Farley Mount in glorious warm sunshine today. Walking from Winchester we saw plentiful Brimstones (M and F), a few Speckled Woods and unidentified Whites. We spent 90 minutes in a replanted area of Farley Mount known for its sighting of Pearl-bordered Fritillary and were not disappointed although most were on the wing. Our patience was rewarded when we spotted a mating pair necessarily stationary on a clump of grass. Also seen were Green Hairstreak (1), and at least a dozen Grizzled Skippers and Duke of Burgundy. [Posted by Bob Whitmarsh]

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Grizzled Skipper
Photo © Bob Whitmarsh
Duke of Burgundy
Photo © Bob Whitmarsh
Mating Pearl-bordered Fritillaries
Photo © Bob Whitmarsh

Small Blue at Fort Purbrook. A very fresh pristine Small Blue on my lunchtime walk at Fort Purbrook [Posted by Mark Tutton]

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Photo © Mark TuttonPhoto © Mark Tutton

Small Blues Emerging On Portsdown Hill. A walk this afternoon along the foot of Portsdown Hill, below the Paulsgrove quarry face, produced 4 fresh male Small Blues. In addition 2 Green Hairstreaks were disturbed from the scrub and Common Blues added a further touch of bright colour to the scene - 7 males seen. [Posted by Alan Thornbury]

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Small Blue - Male
Photo © Alan Thornbury

05 May 2020

Small Heath butterfly at Bartley Heath. I saw a Small Heath butterfly at Bartley Heath today. Managed to get a quick record photo with my phone. Apart from that there were Brimstone butterflies on the wing, and a Cardinal Beetle. [Posted by Peter Vaughan]

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Photo © Peter Vaughan

Orange Tip larva (2nd instar). I have to report that the 1st instar Orange-tip larva that I showed in my report of 25th April is missing in action, presumed predated. However, there are others in our garden, so I've attached a photo and close-up of a 2nd instar larva on a seed-pod of Alliaria petiolata (Garlic Mustard). This larva measured about 6mm length, and you can see how it has eaten half-way through the seed-pod. Although larvae of many species only eat leaves, the Orange Tip caterpillars and those of some other species concentrate on seed-pods. This is a good plan as they're more protein-rich. [Posted by Andy Barker]

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Orange Tip larva (2nd instar)
Photo © Andy Barker
Orange Tip larva (close-up)
Photo © Andy Barker

04 May 2020

relieve the boredom. If any of you are bored during the lock down you could have a look at a film taken here on my butterfly reserve at north baddesley a few years ago.it is on you tube titled wild flower meadow restoration hampshire.first silver y moth of the year here on saturday and first speckled yellow moth as well as many butterflies. [Posted by Kevin ross]

02 May 2020

Home. Another day at home with not a lot generally flying about but today I had a lovely Angled Shades Moth which took to our newly painted garden bench,. I was wondering whether it was attracted to the smell of fresh paint. Other species seen were Small Whites, Hummingbird Hawk Moths making fleeting visits, and the ever present Holly Blues. [Posted by Whitlock]

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Fresh Angled Shades Moth sitting on a park bench....
Photo © Whitlock
Angled Shades trying to hide
Photo © Whitlock
Holly Blue
Photo © Whitlock

Hayling Billy Cycle Trail. Not been on a daily walk for several days, so with bright sunshine I walked a section of the Hayling Island Cycle train near Saltmarsh Lane. Here before some cloud cooled the temperature, I recorded the following: Small White 7, Orange-tip 1M, Speckled Wood 2 and Peacock 1. [Posted by Roy Symonds]

Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Duke of Burgundy at West Wood, Winchester. I found at least two Pearl-bordered Fritillary and at least three Duke of Burgundy at West Wood Winchester today. The site also holds a colony of Grizzled Skipper, with 10 seen. [Posted by Lee Hurrell]

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Pearl-bordered Fritillary, West Wood, Winchester, Hampshire, 2nd May 2020
Photo © Lee Hurrell
Duke of Burgundy, West Wood, Winchester, Hampshire, 2nd May 2020
Photo © Lee Hurrell
Duke of Burgundy, West Wood, Winchester, Hampshire, 2nd May 2020
Photo © Lee Hurrell

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