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News Archive for Jul 2024


13 Jul 2024

Elson Wood, White Admiral. First visit to Elson Wood, part of the Defence Munitions Gosport complex, in over 10 years, in search of the White Admiral colony. The wood is extraordinary, very old, untouched by the MOD for over a century, no deer, ancient oaks supporting massive tresses of honeysuckle, the abandoned rides almost overrun by bramble and marsh thistle. Purple Hairstreak aplenty, along with browns, skippers, and a solitary Comma, but no sign of the White Admiral until we turned for home: one pristine specimen basking on an ivy leaf only inches away at eye level. No photos alas, as cameras not permitted.

Moving on to the Bedenham area to the north, White-letter Hairstreak (3) found on the margins of the Dutch elm copse, along with numerous Meadow Browns, fresh Gatekeepers, Marbled Whites, some very bright second-brood Speckled Woods, plus a few Small / Essex Skippers. Just one Green-veined White representing the Pieridae as this low-lying London Clay site is strangely bereft of cruciferae. [Posted by Andrew Brookes]


Haslar Sea Wall Car Park Scrub - Gosport. From 1015 for an hour I quartered the small scrubby field seawards from the car park. The temperature rose from 17.5C to 19C and was pleasantly warm with a westerly breeze across the field. Distracted somewhat by a marvellous pair of Spitfires, I eventually recorded 12 species including my first blues of the Summer! Total: Small White (1); Large White (2); Small/Essex Skipper (38); Small Heath (2); Gatekeeper (1); Meadow Brown (24); Small Skipper (6); Marbled White (5); Essex Skipper (3); Common Blue (F)(1)(M)(1); Small Copper (1); Ringlet (2); Comma (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Small Heath
Photo © Francis Plowman
Common Blue Variety Fb
Photo © Francis Plowman
Marbled White female
Photo © Francis Plowman

Gilkicker Point, Gosport. Just a few hundred metres west from the Haslar car park, through the golf course towards the sea and Fort Gilkicker uncovered and under conversion. From 1120-1235, 19-20 deg C sunny with westerly breeze. Total: Small White (7); Speckled Wood (1); Meadow Brown (6); Small/Essex Skipper (10); Gatekeeper (14); Small Copper (2); Small Skipper (1); Large White (1); Common Blue (M)(2); Marbled White (2); Red Admiral (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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

Monks Walk, Frater Fields & Woods, Gosport. My final wander was around my local patch (1250-1600, 21 deg C mostly warm sunshine). Total: Green-veined White (M)(1); Speckled Wood (4); Gatekeeper (38); Large White (8); Meadow Brown (23); Small/Essex Skipper (49); Ringlet (5); Red Admiral (5); Small White (7); Comma (10); Purple Hairstreak (2); Marbled White (4); Essex Skipper (3); Peacock (1); Common Blue (M)(1); Small Skipper (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Peacock
Photo © Francis Plowman
Comma
Photo © Francis Plowman
Large White female
Photo © Francis Plowman

Alice Holt. A walk round the rides of Alice Holt, in pleasant weather for once, revealed reasonable numbers of the woodland species but still well below what I would normally be expecting at this time of the year. Several pairs of Silver-washed Fritillary were conducting their courtship flights along the paths and a few White Admiral were nectaring on Bramble. Pleasingly there were a dozen very fresh Red Admiral which have been fairly scarce so far this year.

Purple Emperor numbers appear to have been affected by the recent high winds and I could only rustle up five in four hours, three males and two females. One of the females was looking pretty weather beaten as she glided around a sallow looking for a suitable leaf to lay an egg on, but the other had found a sap run on an Oak where she was getting decidedly merry on the mildly alcoholic liquid. She was thirty or forty feet up so unfortunately the photos are not very sharp. [Posted by Mark Tutton]

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At the bar
Photo © Mark Tutton
About to fall off
Photo © Mark Tutton

Charlton Down. A Day where you thought summer might have started, beginning at last and then the clouds started to roll in and by the time I had got back to the car, it was quite cloudy. My mission was to see the Dark Green Fritillary, but this year they are very few and far between, and I only managed just four. Usually at this site they are flying in very good numbers, and you normally see at least one or two in any given vista you may be looking at. The Marbled White dominated the downland; however, these were probably not in such big numbers as usual at this site. There are some big buddleia bushes in bloom on top of the downland, but these were very empty despite the number of butterflies flying about, but this is where I first noted the male Dark Green Fritillaries, and a solitary female which looked amazingly fresh. Moths of note were several Silver ‘Y’s and 6 Spotted Burnet Moths. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Female Dark Green Fritillary
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Green-Veined White
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Large White
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

11 Jul 2024

Great Fontley and Nelson Reservoir, Ports Down. Small White busy ovipositing on Bowles Mauve and Nasturtium at Great Fontley, while a Red Admiral spent hours laying on the regenerating nettles following the summer mow.

At Nelson, one fresh female Brimstone seen resting, possibly nectaring, on flower of Old Man's Beard C. vitalba. One White-letter Hairstreak glimpsed above the elms; Marbled Whites and Meadow Browns aplenty on the grassland, but no blues of any sort. [Posted by Andrew Brookes]


North Baddesley sightings.. Seen today on the path from my reserve Purple Emperor x 1 White Admiral x 2,very fresh Silver-washed Fritillary amongst many other summer species. [Posted by kevin ross]


10 Jul 2024

Browndown (North) Gosport. Eighteen species recorded here today (1100-1315, 19.5-21.5 deg C, cloudy skies with sunny periods). The public are still excluded from Browndown South with the rifle range in constant use. Clearly some species have weathered the last week better than others. Grayling numbers are increasing as Marbled White diminish. Not a blue of any description, sadly. Total: Essex Skipper (6); Ringlet (8); Meadow Brown (25); Small/Essex Skipper (38); Small White (3); Speckled Wood (6); Brimstone (F)(1); Large White (4); Red Admiral (1); Comma (5); Gatekeeper (23); Small Skipper (6); Grayling (5); Green-veined White (M)(1)(F)(1); Small Copper (2); Marbled White (4); Small Heath (3); Large Skipper (1); White Admiral (1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Small Skipper
Photo © Francis Plowman
Ringlet and friends
Photo © Francis Plowman
Small Copper
Photo © Francis Plowman

06 Jul 2024

Havant Thicket. Today at Havant Thicket the temperature was 18 degrees. Here I walked the main track. Totals: Small White 2, Meadow Brown 9, Speckled Wood 3. [Posted by Roy Symonds]


05 Jul 2024

West Walk Field Trip nr. Wickham. West Walk Field Trip Thursday 4th July 2024

A re-arranged field trip as the weather for the actual scheduled day was going to be more like November than July. The only thing that spoilt today was the wind it was quite gusty at times which made observations extremely difficult. It was a new site to a lot of field trippers and the first butterflies we saw were one of target species a Silver-washed Fritillary, which are not in great numbers anywhere at the moment. White Admirals were seen flitting through the bramble patches and teasing us with a picture from afar. There were Ringlets and Meadow Browns but not great numbers, but the Comma seems to be in good numbers. Just before lunch 11:30 we were down a very small ride with plenty of sallow overhanging the ride when a male Purple Emperor was seen feeding off some very old Horse manure, unfortunately he didn’t like being disturbed and soon got up into a loftier perch where he looked down on us in all his regal splendour.

He was a pristine specimen and I think this site is quite late, so these have only just started here. He stayed with us about twenty odd feet above our heads moving several times, I think he would have come back down however our presence probably put him off. But it was a treat to see him, nevertheless. We also witnessed a male being blown down the ride by the gusty wind, for a few seconds, it certainly wasn’t good Emperor watching weather.! In the afternoon a short walk around the site the species count didn’t go up any, but it was a lovely field trip and I thank all those who managed to change their plans at such short notice. [Posted by Ashley Whitlock]

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Head on veiw of a Purple Hairstreak with crumpled wings
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Male Purple Emperor just waiting...
Photo © Ashley Whitlock
Purple Emperor reflections on caprea sallow
Photo © Ashley Whitlock

04 Jul 2024

Broxhead Common. From Alice Holt Forest the temperature increased to 19 degrees but with a strong breeze as I visited Broxhead Common. Here disappointingly only a few Silver-studded Blues were seen, however on the pond several male Broad Bodied Chaser dragonflies gave spectacular aerial displays.

Totals: Silver-studded Blue 4M 2F, Small Tortoiseshell 1. [Posted by Richard Symonds]


Abbotts Wood Inclosure, Alice Holt Forest. After a visit to Straits Inclosure, I visited Abboots Wood Inclosure, Alice Holt Forest arriving aroundc12 40pm. The weather was sunny but during the visit cloud cover and wind increased. There were lower numbers of butterflies than at Straits, with Meadow Browns and Ringlets still abundant, with a mating pair of Ringlets noted. A Comma was seen taking minerals from a dried dog feases. Once more all Silver-washed Fritillarys recorded were fresh males. Only a few Purple Hairstreaks were seen perhaps due to the wind. A total of 5 sightings were made of the Purple Emperor. At 13.01 a male flew from an Oak joined by a second male, which in turn disturbed a third male with all three briefly in air together. At 13.16 two males were seen flying around sallow at the point where a path leads from the right-hand side of the main track. Here in company with Mark Tutton further individual sightings of a male around a prominent Oak were made at 13.20, 13.34 and 14.06.

Totals: Small White 5, Purple Hairstreak 3, Meadow Brown 23, Ringlet 28, Comma 3, Purple Emperor 5, Red Admiral 1, Silver-washed Fritillary 16, White Admiral 7, Large Skipper 1. [Posted by Richard Symonds]


Straits Inclosure, Alice Holt Forest. Today in company with my father Roy Symonds, I visited Straits Inclosure, Alice Holt Forest. Arriving around 10.15am the temperature was 17 degrees with just a gentle breeze in the sunshine. Along the main track many Meadow Browns and Ringlets were in flight with a handful of Large Skippers and Small Skippers. Fresh Silver-washed Fritillarys were seen all males, while likewise the the White Admirals recorded all appeared to have emerged in the past week. Zipping around the Oaks and sometimes crossing between trees overhead, were several Purple Hairstreaks. My target species of course was the Purple Emperor. Halfway along the main track before the open vista on the right hand side a male was seen flying around an Oak at 10.34 before returning at 10.37 and setting on an outer branch which was visible from the path. Further along the path alongside the open vista on the right side of the path, another male flew from sallow around an Oak before flying at tree height parallel to the path at 10.57. At the demolished deer tower at 11.52 a further male was seen flying around the tops of sallow. Finally two males were seen chasing each other, one of which flew off while we returned down the main track, witnessed the weekly transect recorder.

Totals: Small White 5, Purple Hairstreak 19, Gatekeeper 2, Meadow Brown 40, Ringlet 112, Comma 2, Purple Emperor 5, Red Admiral 2, Silver-washed Fritillary 15, White Admiral 10, Large Skipper 6, Small Skipper 11. [Posted by Richard Symonds]


03 Jul 2024

Old WInchester Hill DGF. Writing this on a typical summer 2024 day (relentless rain, 16C, 9th July). Scrolling through the sightings I noticed that we yet to have a record of DGF this year. So, I can add Dark Green Fritillary (3M) seen on Old Winchester Hill, last Thursday (3rd July), whilst with friends on the South Downs Walk. Sadly was travelling light, so no photos. [Posted by Jon Holden-Dye]


Emperor emergence at Alice Holt. After finding two pupa by UV torchlight on 17th June I have been checking them most days to monitor their progress. Over the past four years I have found ten or so , and to date all have been predated so I wasn’t very hopeful. Sure enough one disappeared in the night after five days just leaving the cremaster. I suspect the culprit is a mammal, probably Dormouse, Yellow-necked mouse or even a foliage gleaning bat like the Barbestrelle?

However the other survived and fifteen days after finding it, was darkening significantly. Yesterday I arrived early and checked through binoculars (it was 25’ up) and the wing spots were clearly showing so emergence was imminent. However nothing happened until I was about to leave at 5:30 and sure enough she had emerged and was hanging off the pupal case pumping up her wings. Once the wings were inflated I left her at 6:30pm and wished her well. [Posted by Mark Tutton]

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Pupa with wing spots
Photo © Mark Tutton
About to burst free
Photo © Mark Tutton
On leaf under pupal case
Photo © Mark Tutton

02 Jul 2024

Havant Thicket. After midday, my father Roy Symonds and I visited Havant Thicket. The weather was cloudy until long sunny spells increased the temperature to 17 degrees. Walking the main track numbers if butterflies were generally low with Meadow Browns and Ringlets dominating. A single White Admiral was at rest on a fern until disturbed, while pairs of fresh Large Skippers and Small Skippers were also recorded. At almost the end of the main track the cloud started to appear once more apparently signalling butterflies to take cover as suddenly we saw a Purple Emperor, presumably a male fly unmistakably out from an Oak tree and as it flew over a further tree to our surprise another make took flight and was chased off by the first male. The appearance of the pair was brief which gave no chance to get a photo. This occurred at 13.49. I have included photos of the Oak tree concerned fir future reference.

Totals: Gatekeeper 2, Meadow Brown 26, Ringlet 26, Purple Emperor 2, White Admiral 1, Large Skipper 2, Small Skipper 2. [Posted by Richard Symonds]


Chalton Down, Old Idsworth. Today I visited Chalton Down, Old Idsworth in company with my father Roy Symonds with whom I was visiting from Cornwall. Arriving in the morning the weather was cloudy then hazy sunshine appearing causing the temperature from 15 to 17 degrees. Many Meadow Browns and Marbled Whites were on the wing, the latter species almost in twice the numbers from my visit to the site at the same time last year, perhaps due to late emergence. Several fresh Ringlets and Gatekeepers were seen in the scrubby areas as well as a few Small Heaths and Small Skippers.

Totals: Gatekeeper 10, Marbled White 96, Meadow Brown 84, Ringlet 27, Small Heath 4, Comma 1, Small Skipper 3. [Posted by Richard Symonds]


01 Jul 2024

Disconnected jottings. Seven White-letter Hairstreaks seen at Defence Munitions Gosport last week during search for Coleophora vibicella. WLH numbers at Great Fontley still low, with just single figures seen nectaring on lime. One pristine Small Tortoiseshell on buddleja in a Longstock garden yesterday. [Posted by Andrew Brookes]


Monks Walk, Frater Fields & Woods, Gosport. A very gloomy start to July, wandering from 1200-1420 (19.5 deg. C) under grey skies and with a cool breeze. What with a weather-delayed Summer and today's gloom just ten species were recorded. However, most were extremely new butterflies and except for the fidgety Ringlet most were sedentary and accepted a close approach. The Small/Essex Skipper count is combined although the majority actually photographed turned-out to be Essex Skipper. Hoping for better things as July opens up. Total: Comma (1); Speckled Wood (2); Red Admiral (5); Meadow Brown (26); Marbled White (12); Small/Essex Skipper (42); Ringlet (5); Gatekeeper (4); Green-veined White (F)(1). [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Female Green-veined White
Photo © Francis Plowman
Male Marbled White
Photo © Francis Plowman
Gatekeeper
Photo © Francis Plowman