Out of hibernation…..or not?

Update Number 3.

 

Roosting Peacock Butterfly.                            Photo by Richard M. Jeffery

The winter of 2017/18 may well go down as one of the coldest and wettest for some time, and with the arrival of the Spring Equinox on the 20th of March (at 16.15 pm to be precise) and forecasts of a possible ‘white Easter’ it doesn’t show many signs of retiring gracefully. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that only two further butterfly sightings have been reported since the last update. A single Brimstone was reported by Tony Teperek in his Congerstone garden on the 11th of March, and another Brimstone was seen flying by Derek Spicer’s office window in South Kilworth on the 16th of March.

It has been left to the dedicated moth-ers in the county to provide us with information of species attracted to light traps. There have been fewer numbers recorded in comparison to this time last year, but a few of the hardier moths have taken advantage of brief gaps in the cold to visit garden traps. March Moth, Common Quaker, Hebrew Character, Clouded Drab and Oak Beauty have made up the bulk of the numbers recorded. Jools Partridge noted a Grey Shoulder-Knot in Melton Mowbray on the 14th of March. Graham Finch reported Yellow Horned and Oak Beauty in addition to some of the above on the night of the 14th of March at Charnwood Lodge, and on the following night he recorded Yellow Horned, Pale Brindled Beauty and the first Brindled Pug of the year at Stoneywell Wood.

It is interesting to see how our butterflies survive the ravages of winter, and I am sure that this winter will have tested their endurance to the very limit. Five of our resident butterflies over-winter as adults, although one, the Red Admiral is technically classed as a migrant, and those that do manage to survive the autumn and winter months (and most of them do not) can be seen early in the year on calm, sunny days. The Brimstone, usually one of the first to put in an appearance as the warmer days of spring arrive hibernates deep among evergreens such as Holly and Ivy, usually in wooded areas, especially where Buckthorn is present, but also in our gardens. Ivy, although it has been much maligned in gardens, is definitely worth planting where space allows, and it is not as harmful as myth would have us believe. The Small Tortoiseshell is one of man’s true companions and will usually hibernate in and around our homes, favouring garages, sheds and out-buildings, and even our local churches to keep out of the chilly northerly or easterly winds. Both Peacocks and Commas prefer to overwinter in woods and spinneys, or larger gardens, usually seeking out hollow trees or even holes in the ground (see photo above) to hibernate.

As and when the weather warms up, and it will, any of the above species may be seen to emerge both in the woods and hedgerows, and our gardens. Keep your eyes open and remember to submit your sightings for inclusion in future updates, either via our Facebook page (Butterflies and Moths of Leicestershire & Rutland) or using my email address which is on the Committee page of the East Midlands Butterfly Conservation website.

The Importance of Recording….

Update Number 2:

Another cold and damp couple of weeks meant that very few sightings have been made since the first Update of the year. A further Red Admiral was seen on the 28th of January (see Update Number 1 for the other two) by Jake Bull in Glebelands, Leicester, and the first reported sighting of a Small Tortoiseshell came in from Susan Bates who spotted one high up on the wall of her Coalville home on the 16th of February. A Brimstone, the first reported of the season, was seen in an Empingham garden on the 17th of February.

We are currently experiencing a mild but wet spell, which may not be good for butterfly sightings, but a cold snap is due by the end of the week, and if this is accompanied by bright sunshine then maybe a few hardy butterflies may show themselves.

I have been looking at the results of the 2017 butterfly transect season and have a few facts and figures to share with you. Last year, we carried out 12 butterfly transects over the season (running from the 1st of April to the 30th of September) and a total of 10,541 butterflies were recorded overall. The top 4 species, as a total recorded in all 12 transects were as follows:

Ringlet                  3585

Meadow Brown   1537

Speckled Wood   1189

Gatekeeper            924

The most prolific transect was the one carried out a Croft Quarry Nature Trail with an average of 93.4 butterflies recorded per visit of a total of 22 species. The highest number of any one particular species was recorded at Sence Valley where a total of 869 Ringlet were noted. Incidentally, the Ringlet was the most popular species in 11 out of the 12 transects, with the only exception being at Cover Cloud, Sandhill’s Lodge where the Meadow Brown took the top slot.

Dingy Skipper are now recorded on 4 of our transects (namely Bardon Hill (3 individuals), Donisthorpe Woodland Park (1), Hick’s Lodge (9) and Pick Triangle Wood (1)).

Marbled White have continued their expansion and are now recorded at Croft Quarry Nature Trail (15) and Great Glen (14). There is every possibility that they could appear on other transects in the near future.

Another exciting find this season was the discovery of a solitary Green Hairstreak on the transect at Bardon Hill Quarry. It has long been suspected that the species ‘should’ be present here as there is an abundance of Gorse, Bird’s Foot Trefoil and a reasonable quantity of Bilberry present. It is hoped that this sighting will be repeated in the coming season (if it does, it will be reported in a future Update).

A transect (walking a fixed route on a regular basis) helps to build up a picture of the fauna (and flora) present on a particular site over a period of time, and by comparing the data recorded over several years, a reasonable assumption can be concluded on the status of each individual species, highlighting those that are prospering and those that are showing signs of decline. This in turn helps to develop future conservation programs on a local and national level. Occasionally, as in the case of the Green Hairstreak at Bardon Hill, an outstanding find makes the effort of carrying out a particular survey even more worth while and most enjoyable.

I know I have requested this many times before, but if anyone wishes to become part of an existing transect team, or would like to help set up a new transect, then please feel free to get in touch. My contact details can be found on the Committee Page of the East Midland Butterfly Conservation website (Butterfly Recorder for Leicestershire and Rutland) or you can reach me via our Facebook page (Butterflies and Moths of Leicestershire and Rutland). If you’ve never been involved in any form of recording before then do not worry as full training can be given.

I would also like to point out here that while we are talking about recording butterflies ‘in the field’, it is just as important to record butterflies in our own particular space, and by that I mean our gardens. Gardens used to be full of butterflies, but even here we are starting to see declines in numbers of some of the more common species. My Butterfly Bush (Buddleia) was virtually devoid of butterflies last summer, and this is worrying. In the next Update I will share a list of key plants that will hopefully encourage butterflies (and moths) to visit your garden. In the meantime, please keep looking for any adventurous butterflies that may make an appearance and please let me know.

 

 

 

 

 

First Butterfly Sightings of the Year

Update Number 1

Red Admiral Photo by Richard M. Jeffery

After what seems a very long, cold and wet winter so far, it is encouraging to be able to report the first butterfly sighting in the county. On the 28th of January the sunshine returned and Georgina Bland reported a sighting of a Red Admiral in her Burbage garden, and on the same day, Steve Lee also noted a Red Admiral in his garden in Narborough.

I am not aware of any other sightings as yet, and I am still awaiting my first, but if you have seen a butterfly, or you do over the coming days, then please let me know. You can use my email link on the EMBC Committee Page (Leicestershire Butterfly Recorder) or you can post your sighting on the ‘Butterflies and Moths of Leicestershire and Rutland’ Facebook page. The weather forecast for the next few days predicts another cold snap, but with the occasional sunny spells like today, you never know what may put in an appearance.

The new Butterfly Transect season is only a few weeks away, so if anyone would like to join us in helping to record butterflies on an existing transect in the county, or would like to help set up a new transect, then please feel free to get in touch. They are normally carried out on a rota basis so you’ll only need to commit to an hour or so once every two or three weeks, and the season runs from the first week of April to the end of September. Many volunteers work in pairs, so it can also be a shared experience.  It’s a good way to see and study butterflies in their natural habitat, it gets you out and about in the fresh air and provides invaluable information to help us ascertain the status of our county butterflies.

Remember, these Updates are only possible because of nature lovers like you. It is your information that forms the basis of all the Updates, otherwise, without it, it’ll end up being my personal Blog and that is not what this Blog was set up for.

Enjoy your butterflying.

Nottinghamshire Flutterings 1st November 2017

Seven species species on the wing over the last two weeks:

Small White Grantham Canal 1 Chris Cooper
Warsop Vale 1 David Shaw
Sandy Banks LNR 1 Toni Lachetta
Small Copper Sandy Banks LNR 1 Toni Lachetta
Calverton Pit heathland 1 Martyn Anderson
Red Admiral Thirty records, 67 individuals including
Potwell Dyke Grasslands 9 Robin & Kay Old
Nether Langwith 5 David Shaw
Sandy Banks LNR 4 Toni Lachetta
Southwell 4 Robin & Kay Old
Bennerley 3 Marion Bryce
Wollaton 3 Dave Gilbert
Warsop Vale 3 David Shaw
Cuckney Hay Wood 3 David Shaw
Attenborough NR 3 Richard Rogers
Small Tortoiseshell Southwell 1 Marie Bunting
Peacock Southwell 1 Robin & Kay Old
Skegby 1 David Shaw
Comma Bennerley 2 Marion Bryce
Chilwell 1 Esther Pawley
Warsop Vale 1 David Shaw
Cotgrave Country Park 1 Chris Cooper
Speckled Wood Sandy Banks LNR 1 Toni Lachetta

 

 

Nottinghamshire Flutterings update 16th October 2017

Ten species on the wing over the last two weeks:

Large White Eight records including twos at Toton Fields, Bingham Linear Park, Newstead Abbey Park and Carlton-in-Lindrick
Small White Ten records, all singletons from Kirton, Ollerton, Sandy Banks LNR, Bingham Linear Park, Caunton, Bennerley Viaduct Lagoons, Bilsthorpe, Carlton-in-Lindrick
Green-veined White Two singletons, Carlton-in-Lindrick and Worksop
Small Copper Nine on Calverton Pit Heathland 9/10/17 (Martin Anderson) and a singleton at Sandy Banks LNR
Common Blue One seen in Bestwood by Toni Lachetta on 10/10/17
Red Admiral 149 individuals seen at 37 sites including Kirton 30 (David Shaw), Linby 29 (Phil Burnham), Newstead Abbey Park 23 (Phil Burnham), Sibthorpe Church car park 11 (Bill Bacon) and Ollerton 8 (David Shaw)
Small Tortoiseshell Singletons in Kirton, Bingham, Bingham Linear Park and Sibthorpe Church car park
Peacock One seen at Bramcote Hills Landfill
Comma Twenty-six individuals at 15 sites with a max of 5 at  Newstead Abbey Park (Phil Burnham)
Speckled Wood Eleven individuals from 8 sites, all singletons but for 3 at Sandy Banks LNR (Toni Lachetta)

 

 

RR

Nottinghamshire Flutterings 2nd October 2017 Small Copper ab. radiata

Nottinghamshire Flutterings 2nd October 2017 Small Copper ab. radiata

Must congratulate Mark Searle for his perfect images of a ‘usual’ Small Copper and a Small Copper aberration (ab. radiata).

Taken at Beeston Sidings on the outskirts of Nottingham.

Thank you Mark.

 

Here are a summary of some of the records from the last couple of weeks of September:

Brimstone Five records including
Grantham Canal 3 Cooper; Chris
Newstead & Annesley CP – S8 1 Burnham; Philip
Newstead & Annesley CP – S2 1 Burnham; Philip
Radcliffe Wood – S9 1 Goodwin, Paul
Large White 48 records of ones and two except
Bingham Linear Park – S5 4 Craig, Jenny
Sandy Banks LNR Bestwood – S1 3 Lachetta; Antoni
Small White 59 records putting it in top spot
Welbeck Estate 8 Frost; Roy
Bingham Linear Park – S6 6 Craig, Jenny
Shireoaks Woodlands 5 Pearson; Paul
Green-veined White 16 records all singletons except
Bennerley Marsh 4 Jones, Dave
Bingham Linear Park – S6 2 Craig, Jenny
Grantham Canal 2 Cooper; Chris
Small Copper Six records including
Beeston Sidings – S3 2 Birkett, Graham
Compton Acres 1 Archibald; Laurence
Sandy Banks LNR Bestwood – S1 1 Lachetta; Antoni
Beeston Sidings – S3 1 Birkett, Graham
Bennerley Marsh 1 Jones, Dave
Brown Argus One record
Calverton Colliery 1 Anderson; Martyn
Common Blue Two records
Newstead & Annesley CP – S6 1 Philip Burnham
Mansfield pit tip 1 Shaw; David
Red Admiral 50 (yes fifty) records including
Welbeck Estate 80 Frost; Roy
Beeston Sidings 14 Birkett; Graham
Beeston Sidings – S2 12 Birkett, Graham
Compton Acres 10 Archibald; Laurence
Sherwood Nottingham City 9 Dennison; Jacqueline
Beeston Sidings – S2 8 Birkett, Graham
Painted Lady Two records
Keyworth 1 McConnell; June
Hoveringham 1 Shaw; David
Small Tortoiseshell 9 records, singletons except for
Bestwood 2 Lachetta; Antoni
Keyworth 2 Fairchild, Sarah
Peacock Two records
Calverton 3 Anderson; Martyn
Keyworth 1 McConnell; June
Comma 23 records including
Grantham Canal 5 Cooper; Chris
Welbeck Estate 5 Frost; Roy
Grantham Canal 4 Cooper; Chris
Compton Acres 3 Archibald; Laurence
Radcliffe Wood – S10 3 Goodwin, Paul
Speckled Wood 52 records including
Compton Acres 5 Archibald; Laurence
Bennerley Viaduct – S5 4 Bryce, Marion
Bingham Linear Park – S7 4 Craig, Jenny
Beeston Sidings – S2 4 Birkett, Graham
Sandy Banks LNR Bestwood – S1 4 Lachetta; Antoni
Meadow Brown One record (which was double checked)
Netherfield Lagoons – S3 1 Cowlishaw; Sue
Small Heath Two records
Calverton Colliery 1 Anderson; Martyn
Budby Common 1 Dennison; Jacqueline

 

RR