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).


Posted in Leicestershire and Rutland Butterfly Line.