Butterflies in the Mist

As autumn slowly closes it grasp around us, the butterfly season still refuses to lie down and hibernate. Over recent days we have had to endure damp and misty mornings (and a few soggy afternoons), but for a few of us in the right place at the right time (alas not yours truly), the occasional sunny afternoon has brought late season butterflies out into the open to refuel before the onset of winter. On the 22nd of October, Steve Lee spotted a Red Admiral and a Comma in his Enderby garden, as did Paul Ruddoch at Melton Country Park, along with a Knot Grass larva. The following day AJ Cann noted a further Red Admiral at Egleton. Red Admirals can often be seen feeding on Ivy flowers on sunny autumn days, and also taking advantage of fermenting fallen apples, pears and plums, almost to the point of ending up in a drunken stupor.

Mark Searle paid a visit to Bagworth Heath Country Park on a sunny 1st of November and was rewarded with a haul of 12 butterflies, noting 6 Speckled Wood, 4 Comma, 1 Small Tortoiseshell and a Brimstone. Many of these were in pristine condition too, having either emerged late or dodged the worst of the weather. On the same day Matthew Harpin noted a swiftly moving ‘white’, which he feels was most likely a Small White.
A few of our hardier members have been out looking for autumn moths with some interesting visits being made to traps. On the 20th October Lyn Bull spotted a Green-brindled Crescent in her Kirby Muxloe garden, and 2 days later, Graham Calow photographed another in his Sapcote garden (courtesy of NatureSpot). Graham also recorded a Mottled Umber on the 27th, and then on the 30th noted a Sprawler and the beautiful Merveille du Jour. On the 26th of October Ted Gaten recorded, in his Thurlaston garden, a Red-green Carpet, a Yellow-line Quaker, a Juniper Carpet and a November Moth. Photographs of all the moths seen by Ted and Graham can be viewed on the Latest Sightings page of the NatureSpot website.
Butterfly sightings have certainly been thin on the ground in much of the county over the last few days (a comment echoed by several members of this group), unlike other counties who seem to have had much better weather and, as a result, larger numbers of opportunistic butterflies. It could be easy, therefore, to think that the butterfly recording season is over and put away notebooks and pens for the winter. For those of us with withdrawal symptoms already (and that includes me) there are still ways that we can get out and about and record butterfly ‘activity’. Autumn and winter are a good time to look for butterfly larvae, pupae and ova, and in doing so, try to gauge the potential numbers of butterflies next spring or summer, with good numbers of the former hopefully leading to good numbers of the latter. If you do see any larvae, pupae and ova then please feel free to share your sightings here (with photographs if possible). A good butterfly book should give illustrations of the various stages of a butterfly’s life cycle, including details of where and when to find them, and thus aid identification. If you cannot identify a species then please post it to our Facebook page where I’m sure someone will come to your assistance.
This coming Sunday, the 8th of November, we have the East Midlands Butterfly Conservation Members’ Day and Annual General Meeting. It will take place at Conkers, Rawdon Road, Swadlincote, DE12 6GA, on the Leicestershire/Derbyshire border. Arrival should be for 10.00am with proceedings due to commence at 10.20am. After the formalities of the Annual General Meeting we will enjoy two talks, one either side of lunch. In the morning, Butterfly Conservation’s Martin Warren will be giving a talk entitled ‘Butterfly Breakthroughs: 50 years of learning to conserve Lepidoptera’. After lunch Derbyshire Recorder Ken Orpe will give a presentation on ‘Recording the Changing Status of Butterflies in Derbyshire’. If any of you can attend then please introduce yourself as it would be nice to put faces to names.
Please continue to send in any news of sightings or any other newsworthy items, and I’ll share them in the next Update.

East Midlands Butterfly Conservation AGM on Sunday

Sunday 8th November at Conkers, Rawdon Road, Swadlincote, Leicestershire, DE12 6GA

Keynote speaker Martin Warren

The official part of the day starts at 10.30 am to be followed by a presentation by Martin Warren, the Chief Executive of Butterfly Conservation. After lunch ken Orpe will be giving a Powerpoint Presentation on ‘Recording the Changing Status of Butterflies in Derbyshire’ so We hope to meet as many of you as possible before we all wind down and go into hibernation!

Latest Large White Record

Just as we thought that the butterfly season was over, the last 10 days have surprised us with a mild southerly airflow together with days of above average temperatures and a really pleasant sunny day on the 26th of October 2015. On that particular day over 60 butterflies were seen in the County which consisted of 6 species (Red Admiral; Small Tortoiseshell; Peacock; Comma; Speckled Wood and surprisingly a Large White). The previous County last sighting for this latter species was the 24th of October (2013) but an individual was seen by Brian Cuttell in his Grassmoor garden on the 25th of October 2015 and then another was seen by Pat Orpe in a garden in Hilton on the 26th of October 2015, so the record was broken twice!
Since the last Update approximately 100 butterflies have been seen flying at over 40 localities throughout Derbyshire, and which consist of 8 species (the 6 named above plus Small Copper and Small White). At least a third of the sightings were of Red Admirals seen mainly on ivy together with about 30 Small Tortoiseshells noted as well. Maximum counts  include 12 Red Admirals at Creswell Crags on the 21st of October 2015 (Jim Anderson), 4 Commas on the 25th of October 2015  in his garden at Grassmoor (Brian Cuttell), 4 Speckled Woods noted at Rose End Meadows NR on the 26th of October 2015 (Sue Quick), and 4 Small Tortoisehells seen in the Whaley Bridge Garden of Angie & Alan Seymour on the 26th of October 2015..
The latest additional dates in 2015 that I have got for these species are as follows
Large White – 26th October 2015 – Hilton Garden (Pat Orpe)
Small White – 19th October 2015 – Avenue Washlands NR (Ron Turner)
Small Copper – 20th October 2015 – National Forest near Grange Wood (Maxine Ellis)
Red Admiral – (various sites in the County on the 26th of October 2015)
Small Tortoiseshell – 30th October 2015 – Buxton Garden (Steve Orridge), Chapel en le Frith Garden (Jason Adshead), Parwich Village (Ray Walker)
Peacock – 26th October 2015 – Belper (Andrew Brown – Jackson)
Comma – (various sites in the County on the 26th of October 2015)
Speckled Wood – (ditto as last).

Many thanks to all the volunteers who took part in the October 2015 Wall Brown ‘suicidal’ third brood survey – it looks as though most sightings came from the southern most transect sites of the Peak District which suggests that elevation also plays its part in the emergence of this third brood.

A pleasant surprise awaited Suzy Ellis on the 27th of October 2015 when she saw a Hummingbird  Hawkmoth flying around flowering dahlias in her Belper garden, no doubt the insect having arrived as a result of the warm southerly airflow which originated in the Iberian Peninsular.

Finally just a quick reminder that the Members Day and AGM of Butterfly Conservation East Midlands will take place on Sunday the 8th of November 2015 in the Gallery Suite, the Waterside Centre, Conkers, near Moira DE12 6GA on the South Derbyshire/Leicestershire border. Attached is a copy of the Agenda – the official part of the day starts at 10.30 am to be followed by a presentation by Martin Warren, the Chief Executive of Butterfly Conservation. After lunch I will be giving a Powerpoint Presentation on ‘Recording the Changing Status of Butterflies in Derbyshire’ so I hope to meet as many of you as possible before we all wind down and go into hibernation!