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.

 

 

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.

Cancelation of Weekend Away to Isle of Wight

The East Midlands Branch regrets that due to a sudden family bereavement, Richard Penson is unable to lead this trip. Consequently we have decided to cancel this years weekend away.

Please check our other events listings as we still have a packed program of field trips for the rest of the summer.

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.

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).

 

 

 

 

 

Leicestershire & Rutland Green Hairstreak Project 2016

The State of the UK Butterflies Report for 2015 shows that the Green Hairstreak has suffered a 40% decline nationally since 1976. We would like to ascertain the status of this delightful butterfly in the county in 2016 and request your help in recording its whereabouts and highlighting any potential new sites where it could be found. Last year the butterfly was recorded in Charnwood Lodge (Timberwood Hill and Colony reservoir), Warren Hills, Ullesthorpe Stewardship Farm, Bittesby Wood, Ketton Quarry and Asfordby Hill. It was also seen on the Butterfly Transect in Sence Valley. It is hoped that the Green Hairstreak will be seen again at these locations this season, but it is highly probable that the butterfly is present elsewhere in the county.

Green Hairstreak 02

Photograph by Richard M. Jeffery

This is where you come in. On your walks, cycle rides and butterfly treks could you please look out for sites that could potentially host populations of Green Hairstreak. It is a butterfly of various habitats, but look out for its larval food plants which include Bilberry, Gorse, Rockrose, Bird’s Foot Trefoil, and even Dogwood and Buckthorn. The adults can be found nectaring on Thistles and Knapweeds. Any butterfly sightings during the flight period, which is usually throughout May and June, but can be earlier, should be reported either directly to my email address at winrich168@btinternet.com or via our Facebook group, Butterflies and Moths of Leicestershire and Rutland, where any photographs you may have can be shared too. The first reported sighting in 2015 was on the 18th of April at Warren Hills (SK45821519), so, depending on weather conditions, we may shortly see our first Green Hairstreak for this year. Results will be collated throughout the summer months and will be reported in the East Midland Butterfly Conservation Autumn Newsletter, and also on these pages.

This will be one of our key projects for 2016 and any information you can provide, however great or small, will be greatly appreciated, will be instrumental in helping to monitor this delightful butterfly and in planning for its future requirements by determining whether any conservation actions are necessary.

Thank you.