Ne’er Cast a Clout ’til May Is Out…

Update Number 7.

 

Well, who could have predicted how the month of May would have turned out after such a dry March and April. Sunny days, chilly nights (with the odd frost or two) and eventually, some welcomed rain (although June, so far, has provided perhaps a tad more than expected….). I have been inundated with records over the last few weeks, and having been away for a while and had other commitments too, sorting through them has been somewhat of a challenge. The only way I get through them was to focus on the key sightings and to eliminate some records of the most common species (White’s, Peacocks etc.), otherwise this update would have gone into three volumes. Please accept my apologies if you’ve submitted information and it doesn’t appear here (please keep sending your data in though..).

I’ll list them by species and in chronological order.

Small Copper: (species number 14 for the year).

04 May:  Saharima Roenisch at Beacon Hill C.P., Adey Baker (6) at Croft Quarry N.T.  11 May: Ben Devine at Bath Yard, Moira. 20 May: Alan Cann at Lea Meadows.

Green Hairstreak:

04 May: Eliot Taylor (4) at Warren Hills. 10 May: Matthew Harpin at Bardon Hill (not knowingly recorded at this site before). 11 May: Ron Stevens (7) at Ullesthorpe Stewardship Farm. 14 May: Matthew Harpin (3) at Warren Hills. 21 May: Dave Griffin (5) at Ketton Quarry. 22 May: Richard Jeffery at Bardon Hill (confirmation of the above record?). 23 May: Geof & Margaret Adams (6) at Bittesby Wood. 24 May: Richard Jeffery (7) at Bittesby Wood. 26 May: Martin Russell at Asfordby Sidings. 31 May: Martin Russell at Asfordby Sidings.

Dingy Skipper: (species number 15 for the year).

04 May: Matthew Harpin at Bagworth Heath C.P. 07 May: Eliot Taylor (2) at Bagworth Heath C.P. 10 May: Richard Jeffery (5) at Bardon Hill. Richard Jeffery (2) New Lount Nature Reserve. 11 May: Ben Devine (15) at Bath Yard, Moira. Pete Leonard (12) at Brown’s Hill Quarry. 14 May: Matthew Harpin (7) at Bardon Hill. Sarah Proud (12) at Bloody Oaks Quarry. 18 May: Bill Bacon (11) at Clipsham Quarry. 22 May: Richard Jeffery (8) at Bardon Hill. 26 May: Eliot Taylor (9) at Bagworth Heath C.P. Sarah Proud at Bloody Oaks Quarry. Martin Russell (5) at Asfordby Sidings. 27 May: Geoff Cave (2) at Bardon Hill. 28 May: Bill Bacon (2) at Stonesby Quarry. 31 May: Martin Russell (5) at Asfordby Sidings.

Wall Brown: (species number 16 for the year).

10 May: Richard Jeffery at Bardon Hill. 14 May: Matthew Harpin (4) at Bardon Hill. 22 May: Richard Jeffery (4) at Bardon Hill. 23 May: Richard Jeffery (2) at Warren Hills. 27 May: Geoff Cave (10) at Bardon Hill.

Speckled Wood:

03 May: Margaret Volunteer at Charnwood Lodge. 07 May: Eliot Taylor (4) at Bagworth Heath C.P. 30 May: Lyn Bull at Kirby Muxloe.

Common Blue: (species number 17 for the year).

14 May: Matthew Harpin at Bardon Hill. 15 May: Steve Lee at Croft Quarry N.T. 21 May: Dave Griffin (3) at Ketton Quarry. 23 May: Geof & Margaret Adams (5) at Bittesby Wood. 24 May: Richard Jeffery (14) at Bittesby Wood. 26 May: Sarah Proud (6) at Bloody Oaks Quarry. Eliot Taylor (20+) at Bagworth Heath C.P. Martin Russell (20+) at Asfordby Sidings. 28 May: Bill Bacon (3) at Stonesby Quarry. 31 May: Martin Russell (30+) at Asfordby Sidings.

Grizzled Skipper: (species number 18 for the year).

18 May: Bill Bacon (3) at Edith Weston Quarry Farm. Bill Bacon (4) at Geeston Quarry. Bill Bacon (2) at Clipsham Quarry. 21 May: Dave Griffin at Ketton Quarry.

Brown Argus: (species number 19 for the year).

18 May: Bill Bacon at Edith Weston Quarry Farm. 21 May: Dave Griffin (2) at Ketton Quarry. 26 May: Sarah Proud at Bloody Oaks Quarry.

Small Heath: (species number 20 for the year).

21 May: Dave Griffin (4) at Ketton Quarry. 24 May: Richard Jeffery (4) at Croft Quarry Nature Trail. 26 May: Sarah Proud (2) at Bloody Oaks Quarry. Eliot Taylor (5) at Bagworth Heath C.P. Martin Russell at Asfordby Sidings. 27 May: Geoff Cave at Bardon Hill. 31 May: Martin Russell (3) at Asfordby Sidings. Steve Lee at Croft Quarry N.T.

Painted Lady:

23 May: Richard Jeffery at Warren Hills. Sarah Proud (2) at Somerby. 27 May: Geoff Cave at Bardon Hill. 28 May: Pete Leonard at Plungar. 30 May: AJ Cann in Leicester.

Red Admiral:

14 May: Matthew Harpin at Bardon Hill. 15 May: Steve Lee at Croft Quarry N.T. 22 May: Lyn Bull at Kirby Muxloe. 31 May: Richard Jeffery (2) at Croft Glebe Meadow.

Holly Blue:

03 May: Stuart Sinclair at Ketton Quarry. 04 May: Adey Baker (2) at Croft Hill.

Large Skipper: (species number 21 for the year).

31 May: Richard Jeffery at Croft Glebe Meadow.

 

 

 

 

 

An Icy Blast From The Past….

Update Number 6

Male Orange Tip showing underwing markings…
Photo by Richard M. Jeffery

Just when you thought winter had retreated and gone into dormancy, it has awoken from its slumbers and reminded us that it’s not quite time for bed yet. Needless to say, butterfly sightings have been non-existant over the last couple of days. The back end of last week and the weekend did prove fruitful to those who ventured out. Sunny days accompanied by a keen northerly wind meant numbers were low, but a few sightings did come in.

Lyn Bull reported 3 Green-veined White from Blaby on the 18th, and the following day she was ‘buzzed’ by a low-flying Holly Blue. On the same day (19th) Toby Carter encountered his first Holly Blue of the year whilst on ‘Peregrine Watch’ at Leicester Cathedral (not a bad afternoon in my humble opinion…). Also on the 19th, Matthew Harpin paid a visit to Cloud Wood and noted a couple each of Orange Tip and Peacock.

Steve Lee ventured out onto Croft Quarry Nature Trail on the 19th where he recorded 6 different species…..namely, Speckled Wood, Green-veined White, Holly Blue, Orange Tip, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell.

Up until the last few days, it has been a good spring for Orange Tip butterflies. Lady’s Smock (or Cuckoo Flower) seems to be fairly abundant this spring, and the Orange Tip seem to be taking full advantage. Croft Quarry has good numbers of Lady’s Smock this year, and over 50 Orange Tip have been recorded in the last 3 weeks on the butterfly transect (I counted 24 this Sunday 23rd)……especially lower down by the boardwalks. It appears that it is not just Leicestershire that is experiencing this…..having checked with the County Recorder for Northamptonshire, it would seem that they are getting similar numbers. I just hope that this cold snap doesn’t bring about a premature  end to their flight period. I’ll keep you posted.

It would appear that Green Hairstreaks have been enjoying the early spring sunshine too, with over 10 individuals being recorded by Matthew Harpin on Warren Hills on the 22nd. This site has always been a stronghold for this delightful butterfly, but there must be other sites in the county where the butterfly is (or should be….) present. Please keep an eye out on sites where Bird’s Foot Trefoil is abundant, and also where there is plenty of Gorse. You never know, you may spot one of these little emerald jewels.

I looks like the cold spell will be with us for a few more days and then temperatures will gradually become more ‘spring-like’. Please continue to send in your butterfly sightings through the usual channels, either directly by email (to winrich168@btinternet.com) or via the Facebook page (Butterflies and Moths of Leicestershire and Rutland), and I’ll keep you posted on what’s happening.

Until then, wrap up warm…..

 

Butterfly Bank at Moira Furnace

Update Number 5.

Moira Furnace lies in the heart of the new National Forest, in the west of the county, bordering Derbyshire. Monitoring flora and fauna is one of the keystones to the development of the National Forest and will directly influence future action plans as and when the need arises. As far as Lepidoptera are concerned, we already have butterfly transects set up at Hicks Lodge, Sarah’s Wood, Pick Triangle, Donisthorpe Woodland Park and Willesley Wood, so we should be able to build up an accurate picture of the status of our butterflies and moths in the Leicestershire section of the Forest. So why, then, do we need a Butterfly Bank?

Butterfly Banks can be regarded as an ‘all-in-one’ butterfly habitat, providing places to bask in the sunshine, and to provide both nectar and larval food plants. Stepping stones in the natural landscape. Moira Furnace adjoins the site of one of our existing transects, namely the one at Donisthorpe. One of the key species we hope to attract to the Butterfly Bank is the Dingy Skipper, and this has been recorded on the transect at Donisthorpe, a mere half a kilometre away. It is no great leap of faith to expect the Dingy Skipper to appear at Moira Furnace.

The Project was a joint venture between East Midlands Butterfly Conservation, the National Forest (Black to Green Project), OPAL (Open Air Laboratories) of Nottingham and the Ashby and Coalville Lions. Work began in March when the construction process took place.

Removal of the existing Topsoil

I would say the simplest way to describe the process of constructing the Butterfly Bank is to think of gardening ‘in reverse’. Normally you would expect to have the nutrient rich soil on the top and poorer subsoil below. To give the wildflower plants the conditions they need to grow in, these have to be reversed. Too much nutrient would give lush, rich growth that would succumb to pest and disease attack, and also result in fewer flowers. Low nutrient levels mean tighter, more compact plants and greater flower production and seed set. Once the topsoil had been removed and stacked, a trench in the shape of a large ‘C’ or ‘armchair’ was taken out and the subsoil set to one side.

Topsoil being placed in the bottom of the trench

The topsoil that had been removed was then placed in the bottom of the trench and covered with the subsoil forming a ridge approximately 75 cms (30 inches) high. The ridge was higher in the centre (forming the back of the ‘armchair’) and tapering to about 40 cms (16 inches) on the ‘arms’. Once the soil had been shaped the whole Bank was covered with TWO layers of stone. The first layer was of crushed limestone (similar to Type 1 roadstone). Calcareous stone is most suitable for Butterfly Bank construction, but in this case there was far too much fine material (almost dust) and the fear was that under heavy rains this would compact and become impenetrable to plant roots. It was also a concern that the action of winter rains and frosts would cause further fragmentation. The decision was taken to add a layer of harder ‘drainage’ stone (granite) to cover this layer, giving protection from the harsher elements whilst still allowing moisture through to the plant roots below, and to provide a rough surface for plants like Bird’s Foot Trefoil and Creeping Cinquefoil to scramble through. This layer was also more aesthetically pleasing, taking into consideration that the site will be subject to considerable passing foot-flow.

Calcareous sub-layer  

 

Granite Top layer     

Once the bank was covered it was left for a couple of weeks to allow for settlement prior to planting.

The completed Bank prior to planting.

The wildflower plug plants duly arrived and with the help of the Lions and the local Scout group, planting took place on an overcast but dry morning (perfect conditions, I’d say….). The areas adjoining the bank and directly opposite were also to be planted to create wildflower meadows to compliment the Bank. Plant species were selected to attract some key species of butterfly. Bird’s Foot Trefoil was planted specifically for the Dingy Skipper; Sheeps Sorrell for the Small Copper and Common Rock Rose for the Brown Argus. Perhaps more ambitiously, or even optimistically, Creeping Cinquefoil was planted to attract the elusive Grizzled Skipper. The latter species may never appear here, but ‘you never know’. The meadows were planted with a host of nectar and larval food plants for butterflies and moths, and also by default, bumblebees.

Healthy wildflower plug plants sourced locally from Naturescape in Notts.

 

Local Scouts planting on and around the Bank.

 

….and in the Wildflower meadow…

The measure of success of the Butterfly Bank will only become clear as we monitor the butterflies and moths that move in over the coming months and years. To ascertain this, a program has been set up to record the Bank throughout the season. Visits will be made on a fortnightly basis to record species using the bank and neighbouring meadows. Should the Bank prove successful, plans are afoot to create another in neighbouring Donisthorpe Woodland Park, and subsequently in other key sites in the National Forest, creating ‘stepping-stones’ for our region’s butterflies and moths and aiding their survival and potential expansion of territory.

I will keep you updated on the progress of the Bank and on the species recorded on and around it……..and should a Dingy Skipper appear, you’ll be the first to know.

 

A Wonderful Weekend……

Update Number 4

Speckled Wood  Photo by Richard M. Jeffery

I don’t know about you, but I am finding it increasingly more difficult to understand and predict our weather patterns. The weekend of the 8th and 9th of April brought us almost summer-like conditions with warm sunshine and blue skies, albeit accompanied by keen cool breezes, yet a few days later temperatures had dropped by almost 10 degrees, reminding us that we have only just left winter behind us. Looking ahead, we can expect a few sunny days and maybe even a few frosty nights. How the county Lepidoptera cope with these fluctuations is beyond me………but cope they certainly do.

Saturday 8th April:

Orange Tip butterflies took advantage of this sunny spell and were reported by Adey Baker (Burbage), Alison Rhodes (Anstey), Eliot Taylor (4 @ Glenfield), David Scott (3 @ Great Glen) and Toby Carter (Leicester). More Holly Blues took to the wing as recorded by Adey Baker (4@ Burbage), Alison Rhodes (Anstey), Eliot Taylor (Glenfield) and Craig Howat (Oakham). Speckled Wood sightings are beginning to increase, and Adey Baker trumped everyone with over 20 specimens noted on his Burbage visit. Other sightings came in from Eliot Taylor (3@ Glenfield) and from David Scott (Great Glen).

This day also brought sightings of Peacock (Adey Baker, Alison Rhodes, Lyn Bull (Barnsdale Gardens), and David Scott (5)), Brimstone (Adey Baker, Alison Rhodes (2), Lyn Bull, Eliot Taylor and David Scott (6)) and Small Tortoiseshell (Adey Baker, Alison Rhodes and David Scott (5)). A solitary Comma was noted by Adey Baker at Burbage.

Sunday 9th April:

A glorious day that wouldn’t have been out of place in early summer, and a day that encouraged more of us out into the great outdoors. Orange Tips were noted by Vanessa Parkinson (Leicester), Claire Install (2@ Mountsorrel), Toby Carter (2@ Leicester), Lyn Bull (Kirby Muxloe) and Stephen Rawlinson (Aylestone Meadows). Brimstones continued to be seen as reported by Claire Install, Toby Carter (3), Lyn Bull and Paul Walsh (2@ Huncote). Holly Blue were seen by Claire Install, Lyn Bull (2), Mark Tricker (Wigston) and Stephen Rawlinson. Small Tortoiseshell sightings came in from Claire Install, Toby Carter (3) and Mark Tricker. Only a couple of Peacocks were reported on this day, by Claire Install and Toby Carter.

This day also brought more ‘firsts’ for the county. Stephen Rawlinson noted the full set of ‘whites’, including the first reported Large White (species number 12), along with 4 Green-veined White and a solitary Small White. Matthew Harpin reported the first Green Hairstreak (13) of the season, with 4 individuals being seen on Warren Hills.

Only one more report of Brimstone has come in since this weekend and this came from Adey Baker who spotted several at Croft Hill on the 10th. Speckled Wood were noted by Ben Devine on the 11th (Moira Furnace) and John Hopkins on the 13th (Burroughs Wood). AJ Cann recorded an Orange Tip on the 13th at Lucas’ Marsh.

Steve Lee visited a Narborough garden on the 14th and recorded Orange Tip, Speckled Wood, Peacock and Holly Blue.

Only a single Red Admiral sighting has been reported, and that came in this morning (16th) when Derek Spicer spotted a solitary specimen on his nursery in South Kilworth.

 

The latest ‘First Sightings’ list is as follows (and includes a slight amendment to last weeks list):

10. Small White – David Foulds – Brocks Hill C.P. – 3rd April

11. Speckled Wood  – Various  – Various  – 5th April

12. Large White – Stephen Rawlinson – Aylestone Meadow – 9th April

13. Green Hairstreak – Matthew Harpin – Warren Hills – 9th April

 

Please continue to send in your sightings information via the usual channels (either directly by email or the Facebook page ‘Butterflies and Moths of Leicestershire and Rutland’), and I’ll keep you posted. Watch this space……

 

 

 

Here Comes The Sun…

Update Number 3.

Since passing through the Vernal Equinox, we have enjoyed some lovely days blessed with warm spring sunshine (although one or two days have been accompanied by a rather chilly northerly breeze). Needless to say, our butterflies have taken full advantage of the increase in temperatures and the lengthening days. Five new species have been added to our ‘First Sightings’ list, bringing us up to 10 for the year so far.

I have to say, you’ve all been very busy sending in your sightings information over the last couple of weeks and I’ll try to list as many as possible below. It’s probably best to list them by species (single specimens, unless quantity is shown in brackets) and in chronological order.

Peacock: 17 Mar. Ben Devine, Hicks Lodge; 25 Mar. David Foulds, Newton Harcourt Church; 26 Mar. David Foulds, Oadby, Matthew Harpin, Jubilee Woods nr. Heather; 30 Mar. David Foulds, Oadby; 31 Mar. Lyn Bull, Kirby Muxloe; 02 Apr. Matthew Harpin (2), Cloud Wood, Helen Ingall (2), Grand Union Canal, Loughborough, Adey Baker (2) Fosse Meadows; 03 Apr. Martin Woolley (2), Cossington Meadows; 05 Apr. Matthew Harpin (2), Coleorton.

Comma: 17 Mar. Ben Devine (4), Hicks Lodge; 26 Mar. David Foulds, Oadby, Matthew Harpin (2), Jubilee Woods; 31 Mar. David Foulds, Oadby; 02 Apr. Matthew Harpin (3), Cloud Wood, Helen Ingall (5), Grand Union Canal, L’boro.

Brimstone: 17 Mar. Ben Devine (10), Hicks Lodge; 25 Mar. David Foulds, Newton Harcourt, Roy Edwards, Oakham; 26 Mar. Matthew Harpin, Jubilee Woods, David Foulds, Oadby; 30 Mar. David Foulds, Oadby, Heloise Harpin (3), Hough Mill, Swannington; 31 Mar. AJ Cann, Victoria Park, Leicester, David Foulds (2), Oadby; 02 Apr. Adey Baker (4), Fosse Meadows, Helen Ingall (2), Grand Union Canal, L’boro. Matthew Harpin, Cloud Wood; 03 Apr. Martin Woolley (2), Cossington Meadow.

Small Tortoiseshell: 26 Mar. Matthew Harpin (5), Jubilee Woods, David Foulds, Oadby; 30 Mar. Heloise Harpin (2), Swannington; 02 Apr. Matthew Harpin (3), Coleorton, Helen Ingall (6), Grand Union Canal, L’boro; 03 Apr. Martin Woolley, Cossington Meadows; 05 Apr. Matthew Harpin (5), Coleorton.

Sightings of Red Admiral were limited to just one and this was reported by Adey baker at Fosse Meadows on the 2nd April.

Species number 6 of the year, and surprisingly early is a Painted Lady, spotted by David Stock in Sileby on the 26th of March. The species had already been recorded further to the south and to the east, and the warmer weather has clearly encouraged some of them (or maybe just this one?) to venture further north. The much anticipated harbinger of spring, namely the Orange Tip became species number 7 to be reported. Ann Gleave recorded the first one in her Leicester garden on the 31st of March. On the 2nd of April, Lesley Doubleday spotted another in Watermead Country Park and Helen Ingall rounded off a very fruitful day by the Grand Union Canal in Loughborough with 6 Orange Tips (5 males and a female). On the 3rd of April Martin Woolley encountered 2 more at Cossington Meadows.

The Holly Blue is species number 8 on our list, and comes courtesy of a single specimen in the garden of Karen Antcliffe in Melton Mowbray on the 31st of March. Karen also spotted another (or maybe the same one?) on the 5th of April. The only other reported sighting of a Holly Blue was by Stephen Rawlinson on the 3rd of April in St. Marys Church in Knighton. NatureSpot provides us with details of species number 9…….a solitary Green-veined White spotted by Saharima Roenisch in Welford Road cemetery on the 2nd of April.

We reach double figures for the season with the arrival of the Speckled Wood (10), with a couple of sightings noted on the 5th of April. Derek Spicer spotted one on his nursery in South Kilworth, and Matthew Harpin another in Coleorton.

Just for the record, the list of reported ‘first sightings’ for 2017 in the county is as follows:

  1. Small Tortoiseshell – Rhys Dandy – Coalville – 2nd Jan
  2. Red Admiral – Margaret Adams – Broughton Astley – 7th Feb
  3. Peacock – Paul Ruddoch – Melton Mowbray – 4th Mar
  4. Comma – Adey Baker – Burbage – 6th Mar
  5. Brimstone – various – various – 9th Mar
  6. Painted Lady – David Stock – Sileby – 26th Mar
  7. Orange Tip – Ann Gleave – Leicester – 31st Mar
  8. Holly Blue – Karen Antcliffe – Melton Mowbray – 31st mar
  9. Green-veined White – Saharima Roenisch – Leicester – 2nd Apr
  10. Speckled Wood – various – various – 5th Apr

 

Please continue to submit your sightings, especially as the forecast over the coming days is for warm, sunny days and clear skies. Keep a look out for the ‘Whites’, and also for Green Hairstreak, and Dingy and Grizzled Skippers…..it won’t be long before they put in appearance. Please email me direct or use the Facebook page (‘Butterflies and Moths of Leicestershire and Rutland’). Many thanks to each and every one of you for making this happen.

Happy butterflying!!

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.