Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Visiting My Favourite Island Sites.

The prospect of a warm and sunny spring day encouraged me to visit a few of my favourite locations on the Island.First stop the National Trust owned Whiteways Quarry now a Viewpoint Carpark, commanding majestic views over our south-western coast.Here at the old quarry, a fantastic assortment of spring butterflies are protected by the shelter of Afton Down and today there was another new species to see.The Small Blue is our smallest butterfly and lives in very compact colonies.The males are usually the first to emerge and can be recognized by the dusting of blue scales on their upper wings.At least three were present today.Also here were a pair of mating Wall Brown butterflies.This species has declined in the UK over the years but can still be seen in good numbers on the Isle of Wight.
Leaving the carpark for a drive south along the coast to Wheelers Bay at Bonchurch, for another look at our Glanville Fritillaries which are the first in the country to appear at this location.Although at times the cloud shaded the sun today I counted four individuals.Many more will emerge along our southern coast during May.
Finally a steep walk up to Bonchurch Down that overlooks the village of Bonchuch and  the town of Ventnor.This south facing Down is one of the prime places on the Island for the spectacular Adonis Blue butterfly and a walk along the Downs' steep sides produced a first male Adonis.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Busy in my Local Copse.

A good selection of butterflies today at my local copse,all enjoying the spring flowers.Very belatedly I have seen an Orange Tip for the first time this year.In fact they were out in good numbers although the males were always in a hurry and never seemed to settle close by.However the females had egg laying on their minds and I observed them fluttering from plant to plant getting on with the business.


Thursday, 7 May 2015

Our Special One on the Wing.

Following several days of gale force winds along our Island coast,today we had just a lively breeze with plenty of sunshine.An ideal opportunity to see the newly emerged Glanville Fritillaries and an early start this morning produced one very new butterfly seeking a sheltered sunny spot away from the breeze.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Glanville Fritillary Pupae.

The first adult Glanville Fritillary butterfly of 2015 was seen on the Isle of Wight yesterday, the 4th May and hopefully during this month many more will emerge along our southern coast.
A sight that is not normally seen however is the fritillaries' pupa stage,particularly in the wild. Of course like other species of butterfly some are reared in captivity and sadly we have collectors from the mainland visiting our Glanville sites in the early spring to take caterpillars.So to discover pupae in their natural habitat is very satisfying and uncommon.
Once the full grown caterpillars have dispersed from their communal nest in April each will find a suitable place to pupate.The three pupae found today were attached by their pads of silk to the underside of small stones.Pupa length 13-14mm. This stage will last about three weeks.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Yet Another New Arrival.

Now that May is here new species are appearing at a fast rate and today at Whiteways a Brown Argus made a first showing.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Another Spring Skipper.

The Dingy Skipper is our second spring skipper and I saw this one at Whiteways today.It is often seen in the company of the Grizzled Skipper.However it is slightly larger than the Grizzled,and the latter has a clearly more chequered pattern on its wings, which is obvious when at rest. There are eight resident skipper species in the UK although only five are found on the Isle of Wight.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Another New Arrival.

New species seem to be emerging at a fast rate now as the warm weather continues.A visit to Whiteways this afternoon produced several Green Hairstreaks and Grizzled Skippers as well as my first sight of a Small Heath.There are still more new species to see at this site and hopefully most will be out in the next few days.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015


The sunny weather is still here and a visit to Wheelers Bay was a must today.The brisk breeze of the morning abated in the afternoon warmth and I was pleased to come upon two Common Blue butterflies.The first  a very bright blue male that I had already heard was on the wing at the Bay.The second a beautiful blue variety female with orange margins, rather than the normal brown colour of most females. The undersides of both sexes are similar but the female underside is slightly browner than the male.
As usual the Clouded Yellows were evident by their swift flight along the base of the cliff and I was lucky to be treated to the sight of a female helice form briefly flitting from dandelion to dandelion, before it flew on.

There are numerous references to Wheelers Bay on my blog with photographs of this coastal stretch between the town of Ventnor and the village of Bonchurch.
It is perhaps the best spot on the Island for butterflies as many species can be seen here throughout the season.With the Bays south facing position continental species do fly in over the Channel given favourable conditions.
The piece de resistance of this site however is the presence of the Glanville Fritillary that was encouraged to colonize here in the early 1990s because of a suitable habitat in which to breed.Although numbers at the Bay have fallen over the years due to some habitat loss it is the first place to see newly emerged Glanvilles in the UK. 

Saturday, 18 April 2015

A Pristine Small Copper.

Despite a stiff wind today the sun was shining and another new species was added to my springtime list at Whiteways Quarry.A pristine Small Copper was enjoying the warm at this sheltered spot along with a couple of basking Peacock butterflies and the Green Hairstreak that has been at the site for several days now.
Other species likely to be here soon are Dingy Skipper,Small Blue,Brown Argus, Wall Brown,and next month, the Glanville Fritillary.

Extensive areas of the Isle of Wight and in particular the south-west coast and the Downs  are owned by the National Trust in order to preserve the natural beauty of our Island.
Whiteways Quarry,now locally known as Afton Down Carpark or Chalkpit is part of this,located at the base of Afton Down itself.The shelter of the Down and its south-westerly position provide an ideal habitat for these spring butterflies.
My entry of the 7th April 2012 entitled More Spring Butterflies shows a photograph of this seemingly innocuous carpark Please click on the following link to known more about the Natural Trust in the area.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Closely Followed by a Green Hairstreak.

After the emergence of the first Grizzled Skipper at Whiteways last Tuesday,today it was the turn of the Green Hairstreak to make its appearance at the same spot.