A Spring in the Step.

Update Number 2

Brimstone on Hyacinth. Photograph by Richard M. Jeffery

The past two weeks have been a period of ‘first’ sightings for many of us, and as a result, I can now confirm that all 5 of our overwintering butterflies have been recorded in the county. What a difference a little sunshine makes.

Species number 3 for the year was reported by Paul Ruddoch when he spotted a Peacock in Scalford Road, Melton on the 4th of March. Further sightings of Peacocks have been noted by Toby Carter who saw 2 individuals at Melton Country Park on the 9th, Graham Bowers with his first butterfly of the year at Donisthorpe Woodland Park, and on the 13th March by Paul Ruddoch at Melton C.P, Sarah Proud at Lyndon Reserve, Rutland Water and by yours truly in our Earl Shilton garden.

The Comma became species number 4 to put in an appearance with Adey Baker’s sighting at Burbage Outwoods on the 6th of March. Paul Ruddoch recorded a Comma in Melton C.P. on the 9th, as did Steve Lee in his Narborough garden on the 13th.

The Brimstone was certainly the most prolific of all the butterflies over the last couple of weeks, and becomes species number 5 to be recorded in the county. The 9th of March seemed to be the day when the Brimstones emerged, as reported by Lynne Beaumont in Blaby, and by Toby Carter (5 individuals) and Paul Ruddoch, both at Melton C.P. Karen Antcliffe noted 3 at Knossington on the 12th and then a couple more the following day. Also on the 13th sightings were made by David Foulds at Oadby, Craig Howat in Oakham, Steve Lee in Narborough, Sarah Proud at Lyndon Reserve and 3 individuals spotted by Paul Ruddoch at Melton C.P.

Sightings of the Red Admiral were limited to a mere one, as reported by Sarah Proud at Lyndon Reserve, Rutland Water on the 13th.

The Small Tortoiseshell, as reported in Update Number 1, was our first recorded sighting of the year on the 2nd of January, as reported by Rhys Dandy. This sighting has since been confirmed as the first sighting of the species in the UK this year. Since the last Update, further sightings have come in from Paul Ruddoch at the Memorial Gardens, Melton on the 9th, and by Toby Carter at Melton C.P. and Steve Lee at Lower Grange Farm, Hugglescote on the same day. Two more sightings were made on the 13th with David Foulds noting one in Oadby and Craig Howat recording another in Oakham.

I will close with perhaps the most remarkable sighting of the winter so far. Since the first Update, Alison Rhodes has reported a Hummingbird Hawkmoth feeding on Winter Honeysuckle and Sweet Box in her Anstey garden on the 17th February. Early, yes, but welcome, most definitely.

As the Spring season progresses I am sure that more sightings of the above species will come in, but keep your eyes peeled for the Small White, Speckled Wood and even Holly Blue. It can only be a matter of time before these little fellas put in an appearance.

Thank you for your continued input, sightings information and positive comments. This Newsletter is for YOU and simply would not be possible without you. I await your news with baited breath (I really must get out more).

When Skies Are Grey?

Update Number 1.

Small Tortoiseshell.                                     Photograph by Richard M. Jeffery

Sunny skies have been few and far between this winter. Well, they have certainly been outnumbered by the grey ones in my experience. It goes without saying, therefore, that butterfly sightings are a bit of a rarity in the county so far. The honour of reporting the first sighting of the year (to my knowledge) goes to Rhys Dandy who spotted a solitary Small Tortoiseshell sunning itself in the precinct at Coalville on the 2nd of January. What happened to the poor little creature after that is anyone’s guess. Since then, 2 more Small Tortoiseshells have been seen by Pete Leonard in Scalford on the 20th January, and today (7th February) Margaret Adams saw a Red Admiral in her garden in Broughton Astley. We could certainly do with a few more sunny and crisp days to tempt some more out to play.

 

Exciting plans are afoot to create 2 new butterfly banks in the heart of the National Forest. East Midlands Butterfly Conservation, in conjunction with the Black to Green Project and other sponsors hope to have the butterfly banks in position by the end of winter, or early spring at the very latest. One will be situated at Moira Furnace alongside a recently planted wildflower meadow, and the other will be located in nearby Donisthorpe Woodland Park. It is hoped that with the correct siting and suitable planting, the Dingy Skipper may move in. A Dingy Skipper was recorded on the butterfly transect at DWP in 2015 so there is a distinct possibility that this may happen. Work is due to commence over the next two or three weeks and I’ll keep you updated on progress in future posts. If anyone wishes to help ‘hands-on’ then please feel free to get in touch.

 

The new butterfly transect season will soon be upon us. We are actively looking for new volunteers in the county to become part of the recording teams. We may even be able to set up new transects. All visits are carried out on a rota basis so, depending on how many are in a team, your commitment could be to walk your route once every three or four weeks, hopefully in decent spring or summer weather, and counting butterflies as you go. A pleasant way to take a walk in the fresh air and contribute some invaluable information in the process. The season runs from April 1st to September 30th. If you would like to volunteer or would like more information then please contact me.

 

Please continue to keep a look out for early butterflies and let me know as soon as you can, either by using the email link or via our Facebook Page: Butterflies and Moths of Leicestershire and Rutland.

 

 

Better Late Than Never.

White-letter Hairstreak at Ketton Quarry. Photograph by Richard Jeffery

White-letter Hairstreak at Ketton Quarry. Photograph by Richard Jeffery

Update Number 12

 

There are times, I must admit, when I fear for our butterflies. Off I’ll go, full of enthusiasm, thinking ‘This is the day’. The day when I’ll not be able to keep up with the vast numbers of butterflies on the wing; the day when I can actually sit down and feel deeply satisfied that all of the species that ‘should’ be there, are actually there; the day when I can feel sure that future generations will be able to feel the same as I do when I’m surrounded by butterflies. I have to say that ‘That day’ just doesn’t seem to come round anymore.

This year I have been suffering from the fear that we may be on the verge of ‘losing’ some of our most precious butterflies. The Chalkhill Blue, almost certainly has been lost from its only site in the county, namely Bloody Oaks Quarry. There is much debate at the moment as to why they have not appeared this year. Maybe the population was too small over the last three years to be sustainable. Maybe the damp start to summer brought about a premature end to their season. Worryingly, one school of thought is that over zealous naturalists and photographers could have contributed to their demise. I guess we’ll never know the real reason. I also feared that after a late spring emergence of the first brood, the second brood of Wall Brown would fail to appear at Bardon Hill Quarry; and boy did they keep me waiting. Until the 15th of August to be precise, and what a relief I felt when a familiar orange and brown butterfly flew several times around my head and landed on a bare patch of ground in front of me, by a rocky outcrop. I counted 5 in total that day, and whilst not large in numbers, they were most welcome. The following day (16th) Stephen Rawlinson encountered 9 individuals on Warren Hills. On the 24th, Matthew Harpin reported 2 on Beacon Hill, whilst on the same day Andy Smith found a singleton at Thornton Reservoir, a site where it has not been seen for many years. I made a follow up visit to Bardon Hill today (30th) and counted 7 (3 high up on the rocky area on and around the Trig point, and 4 lower down on a path where the new earth relocation is taking place).

The White-letter Hairstreak was seen on the 4th of August by Alan Semper in the Barnsdale gardens of the late Geoff Hamilton at Exton. Iris and Derek Martin found 4 at Cloud Wood on the 6th (a previous visit had yielded 2 on the 21st of July). I found a singleton at Ketton Quarry on the 7th, and this was repeated by Alistair Lawrence the following day. A further sighting was made by David Gray at Cloud Wood on the 13th. The Purple Hairstreak was encountered on 3 consecutive days in August, and no more sightings have been reported since. Iris and Derek Martin reported a single specimen at Cloud Wood on the 6th, whilst Adrian Baker did the same at Croft Quarry Nature Trail on the 7th and Burbage Common on the 8th.

A further two sightings of Silver-washed Fritillary came in from July, when Iris and Derek Martin noted 4 at Cloud Wood on the 21st of July( they also recorded 5 here on the 6th of August), and Martin Grimes spotted one at Clipsham on the 31st. I paid a visit to Bloody Oaks Quarry on the 7th of August and spotted 3 somewhat bedraggled specimens and then moved on to Ketton Quarry where I encountered another 3 individuals (looking much fresher I have to say).

The early part of the month brought a further two sightings of the Marbled White. On the 7th of August I spotted a singleton at Bloody Oaks Quarry, whilst Ruth Moore noted one at the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Woods. The second brood of ‘Blues’ was a welcome sight after a longer than usual gap, and 7 Common Blue were recorded on the Croft Quarry Nature Trail by Steve Lee and Joe Bodycote, on the 5th of August. The only reported sighting of Holly Blue came in from Matthew Harpin who spotted 5 individuals in the hedgerows at Coleorton on the 13th. Sightings of the Brown Argus had been few and far between, but Steve and Joe recorded 3 at Croft Quarry Nature Trail on the 5th, whilst Bill Bacon came across 2 at Grimmer Dyke on the 10th. The Small Copper made a timely return when Sarah Proud noted one on the Lyndon Nature Reserve at Rutland Water on the 30th of July. Matthew Harpin also reported a single specimen from Charnwood Lodge on the 29th of August, and a day later, I encountered a slightly tatty individual high up on Bardon Hill. The only reported sighting of the Small Heath came from Matthew Harpin, again at Charnwood Lodge, and also on the 29th.

The summer migrant, the Painted Lady put in a few appearances, and sightings came in from Bob Sheridan who saw one in his Langham garden on the 5th of August, and on the same day Bill Bacon noted 3 on the Bottesford disused railway. The following day (6th), I found an individual sharing a Buddleia with a few Bumblebees at Goscote Nurseries, not far from Cossington. David Foulds reports a singleton on the 7th at Brocks Hill C.P. and on the same day, I encountered a single male at Ketton Quarry. A few days later (on the 13th) I spotted another solitary specimen, also on a Buddleia, but this time at Sharnford Garden Centre. There have been a couple of sightings of Red Admiral in August, with Bill Bacon reporting two at Plungar on the 5th of August, and a couple of days later (on the 7th) Laura Hackett noted one at Shady Lane Arboretum. There were no signs of the summer stalwarts that are the diminuitive Skippers until Steve Lee spotted his first ever Essex Skipper in his Enderby garden on the 30th of July. Another of our summer migrants, the Hummingbird Hawkmoth, appears to have been somewhat elusive, although Heloise Horton was lucky enough to see one on the 2nd of August in Coleorton.

Maybe we will have an Indian Summer, and if we do, there could still be time for a few interesting sightings. Please continue to send in your information via the usual channels (email or Facebook).

 

Those Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

Update Number 11

Clouded Yellow Colin Green 2015

Clouded Yellow Photograph by Colin Green 2015

I would have to say that this summer has been, to say the least a tad unpredictable…..’crazy days’ indeed. Periods of rain, sometimes heavy, interspersed with gloriously sunny spells, followed by warm days with high humidity (continuing into the night just recently) have meant that finding the ‘right’ time to spot butterflies has been a little haphazard. Lots of records have come in either from casual sightings or through dedicated butterfly transects. I have tried to cover as much as I can from the past couple of weeks or so, but have not been able to include every reported sighting, so if I have missed out your sightings information from this update then please accept my apologies but rest assured your records are still important.

 

Since the last Update, 14 species have been added to the county list, so I will deal with these in chronological order.

Species number 21 for the county was the first reported, or should I say only reported (so far) Clouded Yellow, seen by Colin Green at Brascote Gravel Pits on the 5th of June. A couple of individuals were seen here last year too and I have included one of Colin’s photographs from last year with this Update. One of the stalwarts of summer, namely the Meadow Brown takes position number 22 with the first reported sighting being sent in by Richard Penson on the 5th of June from Ketton Quarry. The diminuitive Skippers began their summer shift with the Large Skipper (23) putting in its first appearance on the 10th of June with sightings coming in from Pick Triangle Wood (Andy Large) and also from Melton Country Park (Paul Ruddoch), and Small Skippers (24) joining in on the 21st of June with the first reported sighting notified by Phil Dyer at Hicks Lodge. Another of summers star performers is the Ringlet (25), one of our most prolific butterflies. The first reported sighting was sent in by Paul Ruddoch on the 25th June from Melton C.P. Ringlets always produce the highest single species numbers on our butterfly transects,. I recorded 88 at Croft Quarry Nature Trail on the 4th of July, and Sallie Corfield noted 77 individuals at Sence Valley on the 13th, but these numbers were eclipsed when Andy Large counted 162 at Pick Triangle Wood on the 18th.

 

The first of the summer Fritillaries was reported by Andrew Harrop on the 18th of June when he saw a couple of fresh Dark Green Fritillaries (species number 26) at Bloody Oaks Quarry (LRWT). Further Dark Green Fritillary sightings came in from David Scott and Rod Baker who saw 5, also at Bloody Oaks Quarry on the 30th of June, Tim Burke with another 4, (also at Bloody Oaks), on the 7th July and by Sarah Proud at Ketton Quarry on the 25th of June, where she also encountered the first of our Marbled Whites (27). On the same day Carl Baggott also encountered Marbled White in Shawell. The Dark Green Fritillary seems to be restricted to a few sites in Rutland, whereas the Marbled White appears to be expanding its range in Leicestershire and Rutland. David and Rod recorded over 40 Marbled White at Bloody Oaks Quarry, one of its strongholds in Rutland, on the 30th of June. On the 3rd of July Adey Baker noted 4 individuals at Croft Quarry Nature Trail, and at the same site on the following day I counted 7. On the 5th of July Eliot Taylor recorded 9 at Bagworth Heath Woods and this was echoed on the 8th of July when 13 were seen at the same spot. Steve Lee and Joe Bodycote encountered another 2  on the transect at Croft the 13th July and, on the same day David Scott recorded a singleton on his transect at Great Glen (a first reported sighting for this site). The last reported sighting was on the 20th of July where one individual was seen at Croft Hill by yours truly (Richard Jeffery). Weather permitting, there should be another 2 or 3 weeks of the flight period of the Marbled White, so please keep your eyes peeled and let us know if you manage to see any more.

 

The last of our Skippers to emerge is the Essex Skipper. The first reported sighting this year was seen at Hicks Lodge during the ‘Wild at Heart’ Bioblitz on the 6th of July, bringing us up to 28 species for the year. The most common comment I am getting from recorders at the moment is that the hot weather has meant that most Skippers are highly active making identification extremely difficult. Essex Skipper numbers are relatively low so far, but this could purely be down to the fact that the little fellas are not settling to allow for a positive I.D. The number of ‘unidentified skippers’, however has gone through the roof. Species number 29 was noted on the 8th of July when Geof and Margaret Adams encountered the first Gatekeeper in their Broughton Astley garden.

 

White-letter Hairstreaks (30) are a summer specialist that tend to concentrate their flight period to the month of July. Andrew Harrop reported the first of the season from Ketton on the 10th of July. Cloud Wood in the North-west of the county has been one of the key sites for these small aerial butterflies who tend to spend most of their time in tree-tops (at least that’s where I’ve always seen them). Matthew Harpin noted 2 individuals here on the 17th of July and when I visited on the 19th, I spotted 3 duelling high up in an Ash tree (making photography a tad difficult). Occupying similar territories to the White-letter Hairstreak is the Silver-washed Fritillary; one of our largest butterflies it is often seen flying down from the tree-tops in an almost ‘lazy’ fashion. I have been hooked on these majestic creatures for several years now and eagerly await my ‘first’ of the season. Our first reported Silver-washed Fritillary (making it species number 31) also comes from Andrew Harrop on the 10th of July, where he encountered 2 in Ketton Quarry. Matthew Harpin noted a singleton in Cloud Wood on the 17th and two days later, when I paid a visit to Cloud Wood, I counted a maximum number of 8 (although there could have been more as the males were constantly on the move). Also on the 19th, Andrew Harrop noted 4 individuals at Pickworth Great Wood. Heloise Horton reports a further 2 at Cloud Wood on the 23rd of July. More ‘woodlanders’ make up the remainder of our new sightings, and I have probably saved the best until last. The Purple Hairstreak (32) was seen on the 19th of July in Stretton Wood and also in Pickworth Great Wood, both by Andrew Harrop. These Oak dwellers are usually on the wing until mid-August so there is still time to catch a glimpse of one. A significant sighting of a Purple Emperor (33) was also made by Andrew whilst in Stretton Wood. I believe more sightings have been made here since then, but I am still awaiting confirmation. The 19th of July has become perhaps the most significant day of our summer with our 34th species being recorded. Geof Adams paid a return visit to Owston Woods (SK795066) in search of the elusive White Admiral. I put out an appeal last year for information on potential sites that could be home to this woodland ‘glider’. Owston Woods holds a record for one of the last reported sightings of the White Admiral several years ago. It favours areas with Wild Honeysuckle and there is a fair amount present here. Geof’s patience was rewarded with a sighting of one individual flitting around the aforementioned Honeysuckle (although not resting long enough for a photo-shoot). Other sites that have historically been frequented by White Admiral or could possibly host them, and that are consequently worth investigating, are Stoke Dry Wood, Wardley Wood, Prior’s Coppice, Launde Big Wood and Great Merrible Wood. If any of you are up to the challenge then please contact me for further information.

 

To bring this Update to a close, information of new broods of Red Admiral, Comma, Holly Blue and Small Copper has started to filter through, so keep your eyes peeled for any of these……and by the way, does anyone else feel that numbers of Small and Large Whites have gone up this year……there’s loads of them around here.

Many thanks for your continued support and for sending in your sightings information, and photographs. Feel free to email me direct (winrich168@btinternet.com) or use our Facebook Group (Butterflies and Moths of Leicestershire and Rutland).

 

 

The Butterfly Floats In Upon The Sunbeam.

Small Heath at Croft Hill Nature Trail. Photograph by Richard M. Jeffery

Small Heath at Croft Hill Nature Trail. Photograph by Richard M. Jeffery

 

Broom out the floor now, lay the fender by,

And plant this bee-sucked bough of woodbine there,

And let the window down. The butterfly 

Floats in upon the sunbeam, and………..

(Taken from June by Francis Ledwidge)

 

The end of May and the beginning of June have heralded the arrival of summer with mixed results for our Lepidoptera. The cold winds of late May and even the heatwave of early June have meant that butterfly numbers have been relatively low, although a few ‘new’ species for the year have finally put in an appearance. You have all been as vigilant as ever, and many thanks go to you all for submitting your sightings. In fact, there have so many records submitted that I will apologise in advance in case I inadvertantly miss out one or two. I will list your sightings by species.

 

Dingy Skipper:

17 May  –  2 @Hicks Lodge – Phil Dyer.  22 May  –  25+ @ Asfordby Hill – Paul Ruddoch.  22 May  –  2 @ Pick Triangle Wood – Andy Large.  22 May  –  4 @ New Lount NR – Matthew Harpin.  23 May  –  1 @ Bardon Hill – Richard Jeffery.  24 May  –  Bloody Oaks Quarry – Steve Lee.  28 May – Bagworth Heath Woods – Eliot Taylor.  29 May  –  Bloody Oaks Quarry – Alan Cann.  30 May  –  Pick Triangle Woods – Sue Howitt & Rob Davis. 02 June  –  2 north of Moira – Bas Forgham.  05 June  –  1 @ New Lount NR – Matthew Harpin.  06 June  –  2 @ Donisthorpe   Woodland Park.

Grizzled Skipper:

22 May  –  Welby – Steven Lewis.  24 May  –  Bloody Oaks Quarry – Steve Lee.  06 June  –  Langar Airfield – Bill Bacon.

Green Hairstreak:

22 May  –  4 @ Asfordby Hill – Paul Ruddoch.

Small Heath:

17 May  –  Ketton Quarry – Stephen Rawlinson & Rod Baker.  30 May  –  1 @ Croft Hill N.T. – Steve Lee.  04 June  –  Warren Hills – Matthew Harpin.  05 June  –  1 @ Croft Hill N.T. – Richard Jeffery.

Common Blue:

24 May  –  Bloody Oaks Quarry – Steve Lee.  27 May  –  Melton C.P. – Paul Ruddoch.  29 May  –  1 @ Bloody Oaks Quarry – Alan Cann.  30 May  –  Croft Hill N.T. – Steve Lee.  04 June  –  4 @ New Lount NR – Matthew Harpin.

Painted Lady:

17 May  –  Burrough Hill – Michael Betts (record courtesy of NatureSpot).  04 June  –  Coleorton garden – Matthew Harpin.  05 June  –  1 @ Croft Hill N.T. & 1 @ Earl Shilton garden – Richard Jeffery.  05 June  –  1 @ Broughton Astley garden – Geof Adams.  05 June  –  1 @ Kirby Muxloe garden, feeding on Choisya (Mexican Orange Blossom) – Lyn Bull.  05 June  –  2 @ Staunton Harold  – Matthew Harpin. 07 June  –  Kirby Muxloe library – Lyn Bull.

Wall Brown:

04 June  –  2 @ Warren Hills – Matthew Harpin.  06 June  –  3 @ Bardon Hill  –  Richard Jeffery.

Orange Tip:

22 May  –  1 @ Pick Triangle Wood – Andy Large.  29 May  –  1 @ Bloody Oaks Quarry – Alan Cann.  05 June  –  1 @ Croft Hill N.T. – Richard Jeffery.

Small Copper:

22 May  –  1 @ Bardon Hill – Matthew Harpin.

 

Day flying moth reports have been very few and far between so far this season, but Matthew Harpin recorded 2 Burnet Companion at New Lount Nature Reserve on the 22nd of May.

 

Sarah Proud (of Rutland Water NR) led a guided walk around Ketton Quarry on the 28th of May. Here the group recorded Green Hairstreak, Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper, Small Heath, and the first reported Brown Argus.

 

The East Midlands Butterfly Conservation field trip to Warren Hills and Charnwood Lodge took place on Tuesday the 7th of June. The target species for the group were Wall Brown, Small Heath and Green Hairstreak. The latter failed to appear, prompting fears that the recent heatwave had brought about a premature end to the flight period, but Small Heath were present in good numbers with 10 being seen on Warren Hills and 13 at Charnwood Lodge. The Wall Brown was also fairly abundant with 11 individuals recorded on Warren Hills and 4 at Charnwood Lodge. Also at Charnwood, the group stumbled across a rather bedraggled Small Copper. Day flying moths were noted on both sites, with 10 Brown Silver-line recorded over the 2 sites, and singletons of Silver-ground Carpet, Green Carpet and the first reported (so far) Silver Y moth.

 

With the weather about to become changeable once more it will be interesting to see what appears over the coming days. Please continue to send in your sightings either directly by email or via our Facebook page – Butterflies and Moths of Leicestershire and Rutland.

For anyone taking part in the National Moth Night(s) between the 9th and 11th of June, please feel free to submit your sightings and I will compile a report for the next update.

Happy butterflying…….and mothing.

Aye, Aye Skipper !

Update Number 9

Dingy Skipper. M.Harpin May 16

Dingy Skipper at New Lount LNR.        Photograph by Matthew Harpin

 

Spring has finally settled into a ‘normal’ pattern and we’ve enjoyed some lovely sunshine, although there has been a keen breeze to accompany it. As I write this Update, we are forecast a few days of wind and rain (I don’t mind a drop of rain as the garden is very dry at present) and then a settled spell of warm spring sunshine. Hopefully this will lead to the emergence of some of our late spring and early summer butterflies such as the Wall Brown, Small Heath and Common Blue (no reports of any of these have come through, yet).

There have been very few reports of day-flying moths so far, but AJ Cann noted both Latticed Heath and Common Heath at Holwell NR on the 7th of May. The Star Performer of early May has been the Dingy Skipper. Sarah Proud counted 12 at Bloody Oaks Quarry on the 12th of May, along with a solitary Grizzled Skipper. Matthew Harpin spotted 3 Dingy Skipper at New Lount LNR on the 15th and Ben Devine saw 2 at Sarah’s Wood on the same day (this could be a first for this site, and hopefully this can be repeated on our butterfly transect here). On the following day (16th) I recorded 3 (possibly the same individuals as Matthew) Dingy Skipper at New Lount LNR. I have been monitoring New Lount for the last 3 years as a potential site for this diminutive brown butterfly as there is plenty of Bird’s Foot Trefoil and Wild Strawberry present. A singleton was spotted last spring and, with 3 noted this spring there is every chance that it could become a permanent resident here.

Our 15th reported species of the year came in from Matthew Harpin, also at New Lount LNR when he spotted a Small Copper, along with a Red Admiral, Orange Tip and Small White on the 14th of May. On the same day he also saw 3 Speckled Wood at Bardon Hill. Martin Grimes reported a Red Admiral at Lyndon NR at Rutland Water on the 15th.

The Green Hairstreak is coming under closer scrutiny in the county this year, and further to records listed in Update number 8, Carol Arrowsmith reports 2 individuals seen at Asfordby Hill on the 9th of May, along with 3 Orange Tip and 2 Peacock.

Pauline Goodsell recorded 3 Holly Blue, 3 Orange Tip and a Green-veined White in her Stoke Golding garden on the 9th, and on the same day Laura Hackett spotted 2 Holly Blue in her Whetsone garden, 2 Orange Tip in Southey Road Park, and then a further 2 Orange Tip and 2 Holly Blue in Victory Park, Cosby.

Please continue to send in your sightings information and any other Lepidoptera news you may have for inclusion in the next update either via this email address or our Facebook page, Butterflies and Moths of Leicestershire and Rutland. Enjoy your butterflies.

The Darling Buds of May

Update Number 8

Orange Tip on Bluebell. Photograph by Richard Jeffery

The weather, as usual, is a key player in determining what happens to our local wildlife, and the fate of Lepidoptera is probably more weather dependant than most. There was a flurry of butterfly sightings on the 20th and 21st of April, before the weather turned cold, wet (including sleet and hail, I must add) and windy, and nothing was then reported until the first week of May. The sudden rise in temperatures over a couple of days encouraged butterflies and recorders out into the open. The leaves on the trees have come forth in forty shades of green and the flower buds have burst open to gladden the heart of any nature lover.

 

Helen Ingall reported a Brimstone in her Loughborough garden on the 19th of April, and a Comma the following day. The 20th of April also brought forth a Peacock at Stuart Court, Kibworth, as seen by Brian Thompson, and also, on a busy day for Laura Hackett, a Small Tortoiseshell in Enderby, 2 Brimstone and a Peacock in Victory Park, Cosby, 3 Small Tortoiseshell in Shady Lane Arboretum, Evington and finally another 12 Small Tortoiseshell in Willow Park, Wigston. On the same day, I noted 5 Peacock braving a strong breeze on Warren Hills. On the 21st of April, Matthew Harpin recorded a Speckled Wood, a Comma and 7 Peacock at Charnwood Lodge, and then 3 Orange Tip and 8 Small Tortoiseshell at Coleorton.

As the temperatures warmed up in early May, Paul Ruddoch encountered a Green-veined White at Melton Country Park on the 3rd of May. The following day (4th) I saw the first reported Green Hairstreak (species number 12) of the season, with 4 individuals on the wing at Bittesby Wood. On the same day, Bill Bacon recorded 5 Green-veined White, an Orange Tip, a Peacock and 4 Brimstone at Plungar. On the 5th of May Tim Burke photographed a pair of Green-veined White at Lucas Marsh, Oadby.

The 7th of May turned out to be a key day for some of our rarer species, with the first Grizzled Skipper (species 13) being seen by Sarah Proud at Ketton Quarry, the first Dingy Skipper (species 14) recorded by AJ Cann at Holwell and 10 Green Hairstreak noted by John Haddon at Bittesby Wood. On the 8th of May AJ Cann also visited Ketton Quarry where he noted a pristine Grizzled Skipper and 5 Green Hairstreak. The 8th also yielded a Holly Blue in the Melton Mowbray garden of Karen Antcliffe, a Speckled Wood in Lyn Bull’s Kirby Muxloe garden, and 4 Orange Tip, a Red Admiral and a Speckled Wood on the bluebells in Burrough’s Wood, Ratby.

The 9th of May proved to be the hottest day of the year so far, and brought forth numerous butterflies. John Eaton’s visit to the Croft Hill Nature Trail produced many Orange Tip, Holly Blue, Green-veined White, Small Tortoiseshell, Brimstone and Peacock. I walked the butterfly transect at Croft on the same day and noted all of the species recorded by John. Holly Blue, Green-veined White and Small White were photographed in the Enderby garden of Steve Lee. Helen Ingall reported Holly Blue, Orange Tip and Green-veined White along the Grand Union Canal, and Tim Burke recorded Green-veined White, Brimstone, Orange Tip and Speckled Wood on his walk from Saddington to Smeeton Westerby.

As temperatures are due to drop under the influence of North-Easterly winds later this week, it will be interesting to see how these newly emerged butterflies will fare. Please keep your sightings information coming in, and as the season progresses, for those of you with an interest in moths, also send in any sightings of day-flying moths.

Remember that information can be submitted directly to me by email or via our Facebook page (Butterflies and Moths of Leicestershire and Rutland).

 

Here is a provisional list of the ‘First Sightings’ of each of the 14 species reported for Leicestershire and Rutland so far:

1 – Peacock – Ibstock – Graham Bowers – 09 January

2 – Brimstone – Moira – Graham Bowers – 16 January

3 – Small Tortoiseshell – South Kilworth – Derek Spicer – 11 February

4 – Red Admiral – Sapcote Garden Centre – Richard Jeffery – 25 March

5 – Comma – various – various – 25 March

6 – Small White – various – various – 02 April

7 – Large White – Wigston – Laura Hackett – 02 April

8 – Green-veined White – Pick Triangle Wood – Sue Howitt & Rob Davis – 10 April

9 – Orange Tip – various – various – 13 April

10 – Holly Blue – Stoke Golding – Pauline Goodsell – 13 April

11 – Speckled Wood – Pick Triangle Wood – Andy Large – 19 April

12 – Green Hairstreak – Bittesby Wood – Richard Jeffery – 04 May

13 – Grizzled Skipper – Ketton Quarry – Sarah Proud – 07 May

14 – Dingy Skipper – Holwell – AJ Cann – 07 May