A Stuttering Start to Spring

Orange Tip - male

Photograph by Richard M. Jeffery

Update Number 7

So far the arrival of spring has come in stops and starts, with warm sunny days interspersed with cold and wet days. It’s hardly surprising, therefore that butterfly sightings have been fewer than anticipated for this time of the year and appear to be concentrated on certain days, with some days producing no sightings at all. We are currently experiencing dry, sunny days accompanied by a keen west or north-westerly breeze and occasional frosty mornings. Only sheltered sites are yielding numbers of any significance. The forecast is for more of the same, and a return to arctic winds by the end of the week. It will be interesting to see how our local Lepidoptera respond.

We are now two weeks into the butterfly transect season with mixed results coming in. Close scrutiny has been required to monitor the daily weather forecast, and on some days even hourly forecasts, to select the best time to walk the transect. My first visit to Bardon Hill Quarry started in glorious sunshine, coupled with one of those keen chilly winds, and this soon deteriorated into a cold and overcast afternoon. The result? No butterflies. The highest numbers in week one came from Great Glen where David Scott recorded 10 butterflies (1 Brimstone, 2 Comma, 3 Small Tortoiseshell and 4 Peacock). David Foulds noted 5 Small Tortoiseshell and a Brimstone at Brocks Hill CP. Pick Triangle Wood produced a single Peacock and a Small Tortoiseshell, whilst another single Peacock accompanied by 3 Small Tortoiseshell were spotted at Sence Valley. Donisthorpe Woodland Park saw just one butterfly, a single Small Tortoiseshell, and the new transect at Croft Hill resulted in a single Brimstone being seen right at the very start of the route. The other new transect at Sarah’s Wood gave up a single of both Brimstone and Small Tortoiseshell.

Week two fared slightly better, especially for the transects walked on the 12th and 13th of April. The top performance this week came at Sence Valley where Tony Teperek recorded 24 butterflies on the 13th, with 10 Peacock, 4 Brimstone, and 2 each of Small Tortoiseshell, Comma and Small White. He also noted 4 Orange Tip, which along with several other recorders on the same day was the first reported sighting of this harbinger of spring. The transect at Pick Triangle was walked on the 10th of April and produced the first sighting of a Green-veined White. The Small Tortoiseshell appears to be the star performer on the rest of the transects reported so far, with 7 seen at Brocks Hill, 11 at Pick Triangle and at Great Glen and 5 seen at Croft Hill. It will be interesting to see what week 3 brings with the mixed bag of weather predicted by the Met Office.


Casual sightings have been coming in, and are listed by species as follows:

Small Tortoiseshell: 10 Apr – A.J. Cann, Narborough Bog. 11 & 13 Apr – David Foulds, Oadby. 17 Apr – Steve Lee, Croft Hill.

Peacock: 11 Apr – Laura Hackett, Cosby. 13 Apr – Matthew Harpin, 5 near Ravenstone. 13 Apr – David Foulds, 2 at Oadby. 13 Apr – Bill Bacon, 6 at Bottesford to Redmile old railway line. 17 Apr – Matthew Harpin, 5 at Cloud Wood.

Comma: 10 Apr – David Foulds, Oadby.

Small White: 11 Apr – Laura Hackett, 2 at Victory Park, Cosby.

Brimstone: 11 Apr – David Foulds, 2 at Oadby. 11 Apr – Laura Hackett, 2 at Victory Park, Cosby and 2 at Knighton Park, Leicester. 13 Apr – David Foulds, 2 at Botcheston. 13 Apr – Bill Bacon, 2 at Bottesford to Redmile old railway line. 13 Apr – Matthew Harpin, 15 at Jubilee Wood.

Orange Tip: 13 Apr – Sarah Proud, Lyndon, Rutland Water. 13 Apr – David Foulds, Oadby. 17 Apr – Matthew Harpin, Cloud Wood. 17 Apr – Paul Ruddoch, Memorial Garden, Melton Mowbray. 17 Apr – Steve Lee, Croft Hill.

Large White: 19 Apr – Richard Jeffery, Earl Shilton.

Holly Blue: 19 Apr – Steve Lee, Enderby. 19 Apr – Lyn Bull, Kirby Muxloe.


Please continue to send in your sightings information, and feel free to share any photographs you may have on our Facebook page (Butterflies and Moths of Leicestershire and Rutland).






Posted in Leicestershire and Rutland Butterfly Line.