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Re: July Sightings

Posted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 1:10 pm
by NickB
David M wrote:Stuff the cricket, I'd be out amongst the Frits.

As a native Yorkshireman it is impossible to ignore a cricket match; the beauty was that I could sit above the bowlers arm and check-out their action (I used to be a fast(ish) bowler) whilst still getting my butterfly fix at the same time. They are one of the most fascinating butterflies to watch - such power and grace...

Re: July Sightings

Posted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 1:27 pm
by Jonathan Evans
Walked around Bentley Wood last Tuesday, in dreadful weather. Not a great deal of butterfly activity; only 1 White Admiral, 3 Silver-washed Fritillary were of note in an all too brief bright spell.

White Admiral 3.JPG

The undoubted highlight of the day was provided by this little chap, who popped out of the bracken to say hello and give me a quick sniff to see if I was mum!


Re: July Sightings

Posted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 1:29 pm
by Charles Nicol
bugmadmark wrote:
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:lol: :lol: :lol:

Re: July Sightings

Posted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 5:38 pm
by Jack Harrison
15th July

Several times recently I have seen first brood Small Tortoiseshells entering the barn/garage or the house, behaviour clearly associated with hibernation. Here is the proof - underneath a mirror in our lounge. Sorry, but I had to use flash so not a very pleasing photo.

I released it outside as clearly it would be too hot and dry indoors over the winter for it to survive.


Re: July Sightings

Posted: Fri Jul 16, 2010 5:44 pm
by felix123
The weather I have to say has been a little on the cool side that might explain why it might try to hibernate.

Is this a problem?


Re: July Sightings

Posted: Fri Jul 16, 2010 8:53 pm
by Charles Nicol
this Gatekeeper is keeping up with changes in Gate Technology... it was keeping any eye on our Side Door !!



8) 8)

Re: July Sightings

Posted: Sat Jul 17, 2010 5:06 pm
by Jack Harrison
Felix123 asks about hibernating Tortoiseshells:
Is this a problem?
It’s not a problem, but the observations are not in accord with conventional ideas. It has of course been cooler after the recent heatwave but I wouldn’t think that is the trigger for apparent hibernation attempts

Tortoiseshells after hibernation produce the next generation that comes out mid June and into early July. (in the south of Britain). These then breed and there is a further generation in late summer, August/September – it is these that are thought to hibernate.

However these recent observations suggest that the situation is not quite as simple as this. Small Tortoiseshells could well have a similar life-cycle to the Comma. The Comma after hibernations produces offspring of two type, the pale hutchinsoni and the darker “normal” form (the normal form emerges a little later than hutchinsoni). The hutchinsoni do not hibernate; they breed quickly and give rise to early autumn butterflies of the “normal” dark form. The dark forms, whether from the summer or autumn broods hibernate.

Now because the Comma forms are distinct in appearance, it is relatively easy to work out what is going on. Now I hypothesise that Small Tortoiseshells might follow the same life cycle as Commas. However, because it is not possible to tell by appearance as in the case of Commas, it could be that it is not just autumn brood Tortoiseshells that hibernate but also the later emerging summer butterflies. In the case of Commas, these would be dark and easy to recognise; we cannot tell by appearance whether a summer Tortoiseshell is destined to breed or to hibernate.

I suppose the Small Tortoiseshell is in effect single brooded (it certainly is in the far north of Britain) but a partial second brood occurs in the south. There is evidence that Peacocks are more and more often having a second brood nowadays, presumably following a similar life cycle to the Comma and Small Tortoiseshell.


Re: July Sightings

Posted: Sat Jul 17, 2010 5:25 pm
by millerd
Jack - what you say about Peacocks is certainly true. Last year, there were several nests of caterpillars in my locality (near Heathrow) at the end of August, and the butterflies emerged during the first couple of weeks of September. Luckily, the summer continued throughout October in these parts and they were able to lay down fat for hibernation - with some success, looking at the numbers that appeared in April this year. (As an aside, 1st October was the best single day here for butterflies in 2009, both in terms of variety of species and overall numbers).


Re: July Sightings

Posted: Sat Jul 17, 2010 9:08 pm
by David M
At last, some sunshine, and although temperatures only hovered around 17C, I was determined to get out of the house and decided to pay another visit to Aberbargoed Grasslands, where earlier in the year the Marsh Fritillaries were flying.

I had seen that Graylings were marked as being present at this site, which intrigued me as I've never seen them more than a mile from the coast before (mainly in the Isle of Man, where believe it or not they're plentiful).

I arrived at 1430 and spent two hours on site. Sure enough, after a Small White provided the first species of the afternoon, a Grayling was next, settling inconspicuously on a slope at the bottom of the spoil heap from the long since closed mineworks.

I only actually encountered one on the SSSI itself (it being largely grassland - marshy stuff too), but sensing that they may prefer the stony ground of this huge slag heap, I exited the Grasslands and found two more on a buddleia!! There were 5 more seen, so they're hardly abundant but they are definitely present, and they seemed a bit larger than those I remember from the Isle of Man (at first glance they were like Speckled Woods on steroids).

The only other notable thing was that I nearly spent a day working a site WITHOUT spotting a Ringlet, but two showed up on the sheltered grassland as I was returning to the car.

The full tally was:

1. Meadow Brown 50-70
2. Small Skipper 15-20
3. Hedge Brown 10-15
4. Common Blue 10
5. Grayling 8
6. Green Veined White 8
7. Large Skipper 5
8. Small Tortoiseshell 5
9. Large White 5
10. Small Copper 3
11. Small White 3
12. Small Heath 2
13. Speckled Wood 2
14. Ringlet 2
Large White female.jpg
Unusually docile Large White
Small White female.jpg
Gust of wind exposed the hindwing spot
Grayling on buddleia.jpg
Didn't expect to find Graylings feasting on buddleia!

Re: July Sightings

Posted: Sat Jul 17, 2010 9:55 pm
by Matsukaze
I always understood that Peacocks mated after hibernation, so fitting in a second brood would require quite a behavioural change. I know that Small Tortoiseshell and Comma are capable of this, but the early summer adults of these species is very definitely territorial. I've never seen a summer Peacock behaving like a spring Peacock, or vice versa.

Saw my first freshly-emerged Peacock of 2010 today; a joy to observe, as always.

Re: July Sightings

Posted: Sat Jul 17, 2010 11:31 pm
by millerd
Quite apart from my own experience from last year, I believe it has been documented that Peacocks can fit in a second brood. Perhaps a learned soul can find some references for us!


Re: July Sightings

Posted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 12:11 am
by Jonathan Evans
A visit yesterday, to Springdale Farm Reserve near Usk, South East Wales, produced: 3 Essex Skipper, 7 Small Copper, 4 Peacock, and numerous Common Blue, Marbled White, Gatekeeper and other meadow species.


Essex Skipper f1.JPG

Essex Skipper f5.JPG

Small Copper 2.JPG

Peacock 1.JPG

Common Blue m10.JPG

Common Blue f4.JPG

Marbled White 8.JPG

Gatekeeper f1.JPG

Re: July Sightings

Posted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 5:04 pm
by doggie
Another fabulous visitor to my garden, and I've only just realised why now.

I have one thundering great tree - and it's only a black poplar :lol:


Re: July Sightings

Posted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 5:33 pm
by Lee Hurrell
That photo is made by the lego man :lol:

On the subject of Nymphalid second broods, I saw Red Admiral couple courting today, I wonder if they also breed again before hibernation?



Re: July Sightings

Posted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 6:26 pm
by SteveA
A number of butterflies in the garden today, Rochford, Essex with 3 Gatekeepers, 2 fresh Holly Blues, 2+ Comma, 2+ Peacock, 1 Green-viened White, 3+ Small Whites, 4+ Large Whites and at least 40+ Painted Lady larva munching the stinging nettles; knew the weeds would be good for something

Re: July Sightings

Posted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 8:05 pm
by JohnR
Wandered across my neighbour's land to help with something and on a tangle of brambles I spotted a Peacock, 2 Silver Washed Fritillaries, a Small Skipper, a Comma and what must have been a very inexperienced Humming Bird Hawk Moth briefly checking the blackberry flowers, a Large White, several tatty Meadow Browns whilst overhead darted a Brimstone. I haven't previously seen such a variety of butterflies on one bush before. I also have never seen so many SWF in the woods around my house, certainly 30-40 on one walk.

Re: July Sightings

Posted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 9:36 pm
by Gibster
Just back from 6 days in Scotland via Cumbria with Sami. A truly superb time was had, if just a bit ruined by constant rain/cloud cover for the final two and a half days.

Well, we started quite well - Arneside Knott in Cumbria yielded plenty of High Brown Frit activity plus lots of Graylings semele on the gravel paths. A pair of Northern Brown Argus salmacis were lifers for us!

Nearby we hit Meathop Moss and were soon taking pics of Large Heath davus, our second butterfly lifer of the day, plus Manchester Treble-bars and Oak Eggars zooming across the heather at speeds clearly approaching Mach 2 :)

On into Scotland where we wild-camped on the Ardnamurchan Peninsular, a Wildcat in the headlamps being a superb bonus although I was somewhat disappointed to note that the leftover midges from May's trip were still present and were just as bloodthirsty as ever :(

We saw lots of Dark Green Fritillary scotica, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary insularum, Meadow Brown splendida, lots and lots of Chimneysweepers, Northern Emerald Dragonflies and Common Hawker at Ariundle Oakwoods/Fairy Street. And maybe/probably Azure Hawker, but not conclusively. At Ardnamurchan Point we saw several Graylings atlantica (yet another lifer!)but none of the hoped for Orcas. Just east of Kilchoan we found Large Heath scotica (and yep, that was new for us too!!!)

The next day we attempted Small Heath rhoumensis on Rhum, but ended up on a rainswept Canna instead. Four Meadow Browns splendida and wet feet were all we had to show for our efforts. Beautiful island though...even if it is littered with rabbit corpses (?)

Heading into Speyside we hit more inclement weather. During the sunnier spells we managed Northern Damselfly at three well-separated sites (lifer!), Common Emerald Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly, Large Red Damselfly, 4-spotted Chaser, Golden-ringed Dragonflies, Raft Spiders, Small Heaths, DGF, SPBF, lots of Ringlets including arete, Northern Brown Argus salmacis (another lifer for us) but not a lot else.

We attempted Ben Lawers for Mountain Ringlet scotica but the low temperature (and horizontal rain!) hampered our best efforts. More wet feet without a lot to show for it. Still, we had to try...

We somehow ended up on Bookham Common in Surrey (as you do..!) and managed one battered Purple Emperor atop the Master Tree, many Purple Hairstreaks - including a dozen in knee-high brambles, probably nearly 100 Silver-washed Fritillaries on brambles and Marsh Thistles (several dark abbs noted and one stunning valesina). Plenty of Comma, 4 fresh Peacocks, umpteen Ringlets and Meadow Browns, several Green-veined Whites, Large and Small Skippers, a few male Gatekeepers, an obliterae White Admiral amongst small numbers of the usual types, a Speckled Wood and my first stridulating Roesel's Bush-cricket of the summer.

Phew - a butterflyfest extraordinaire :D :D :D

Many thanks to Members who gave us helpful hints and advice regards our Scottish targets. We tried our best, blame the weather for thwarting our attempt. Still, if I can sweet-talk the boss I may be able to try again in 10 days time!!! :wink:

Happy butterflying everybody!

Re: July Sightings

Posted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 10:50 pm
by Matsukaze
Mass emergence of Peacocks on the Somerset Levels today, along with rather fewer Red Admirals.

Re: July Sightings

Posted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 9:22 am
by NickB
My sister excitedly called me at 11:30pm last night to report her signtings of White-Letter Hairstreak in the lanes around Epping Forrest. Specifically in the elm suckers in the hedgerows, which contain large numbers of these elms, around Upshire (and it is a real place, not just part of Hobbit-land :lol: )

Re: July Sightings

Posted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 4:23 pm
by Mark Senior
A couple of hours spent at Lancing Rings , North Lancing West Sussex , today with 19 species seen .

Gatekeeper/Hedge Brown 200 plus - the commonest butterfly species by far .
Meadow Brown 60 or so - dissappointingly low numbers .
Large White 20
Small/Essex Skipper 15 at least 1 of each
Peacock 10
Red Admiral 8
Small White 8
Marbled White 8
Common Blue 7 ( all very fresh )
Ringlet 6
Holly Blue 4
Comma 4
Small Copper 3
Small Heath 2
Brimstone/Small Tortoiseshell/Green Veined White 1 each
Wall Brown 1 ( very fresh )

Late report of visit to Beacon Hill , Rottingdean on Saturday 10th July , only a little hazy sunshine because of a sea mist
Marbled White 200 plus - the butterfly par excellence at this site
Meadow Brown 50
Hedge Brown 20
Small/Essex Skipper 20
Small Heath 4
Large White 4
Small White 3
Small Tortoiseshell 2
Ringlet 2
Large Skipper 1
Dark Green Frit. 1

Ten years or so since I used to visit this site regularly . Nice to see the Dark Green Frits are still present here in small numbers . No sign of Chalkhill Blues . I fear the small colony here has been lost . The small area where the horseshoe vetch grew has become overgrown with other wild flowers and grasses - good for the Marbled Whites but not the Chalkhills .