Friday, 3 July 2015

A Red-letter Day.

The White-letter Hairstreak is a secretive butterfly and relies on the elm tree for its life cycle.Therefore disaster struck when in the 1970s Dutch Elm Disease decimated millions of British elms.Fortunately,the caterpillar can survive on new sucker growth and their recovery has been helped too by the dedicated work of local wildlife and butterfly conservation volunteers who have planted disease resistant elms.
So it was a great day today when I had the opportunity, for the first time, to see these lovely little butterflies.An eagle-eyed friend of mine had seen butterfly activity around such a resistant elm and as they tend to spend much of their time towards the top of the tree obtaining good views of this Hairstreak is difficult.However my luck was in today as several individuals descended to the lower branches to seemingly investigate the elm tree buds.



Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Up on the Downs.

On the chalk downs that overlook our south-west coastal stretch there are several species of butterfly that find this habitat to their liking.One such species is the Dark Green Fritillary and now is the time to see the first individuals.This morning I could see them as they rushed around at great speed on the hunt for nectar-rich flowers.One of their favourite plants is the giant thistle although at present there seem to be very few in flower.As they are very partial to this thistle it will be perhaps the best way to get a good look at these fast fliers 
On the subject of thistles this is also a important plant for the Painted Lady on which they lay their eggs.While up on the down today I was lucky enough to see this rather mature female go about her business.


  

Monday, 29 June 2015

It's Hotting UpI

With the promise of a heatwave this week the weather today was warm and sunny,and just right to prepare us for soaring temperatures by Wednesday.The butterflies certainly responded to the heat and there were plenty to see in my local copse.From just one Silver-washed Fritillary at the weekend,their numbers had increased to at least six.Also on show are the first White Admirals on the season and whereas the Fritillaries are happy to feed on the bramble and thistle flowers,the Admirals prefer at present to fly around the trees only occasionally coming down to land on the sunny spot.
More Marbled Whites are now in the wood and a real treat was to see a female Purple Hairstreak  leave the upper branches of an oak tree to bask in the sun almost at ground level.Many thanks to Andy Butler for the use of his photograph of this hairstreak.





Saturday, 27 June 2015

Not Just Another Brown.

Butterfly sightings were somewhat disappointing today along my local forest rides.Plenty of Meadow Browns and Speckled Woods but none of the larger woodland butterflies to see.However the Ringlet is now fluttering about and when in the company of the Meadow Browns it can be tricky to separate the two. In flight the upperside of the Ringlet is a tasty chocolate brown whereas the Meadow Brown is a lighter brown.The Ringlet has no orange on the underside unlike the Brown,just a collection of attractive tri-coloured rings.

  

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Silver-washed Now Back in Our Woodland.

Walking around my local copse this morning on a very sunny and warm start to the day when I saw a solitary male Silver-washed Fritillary on the lookout for the new bramble flowers.Despite several attempts to land it was constantly shooed away by the Meadow Browns.Eventually he managed to evade their attentions and briefly feed from the flowers.



Sunday, 21 June 2015

First of the Real Summer Butterflies.

  Now that summer is almost upon us the first of the 'summer' butterflies are appearing.That means the Meadow Brown is now on the wing and becoming  a common sight in our meadows,woods,and on the downs.In fact why this species is so numerous is because of the diverse habitats this butterfly occupies.Perhaps it is often ignored or taken for granted due to its rather dull colouring and high populations in the countryside.However it is a welcome sign of summertime.                                                          


Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Glanvilles All Over.

Shepherds Chine near to the beach as the
 stream cuts through the sandstone cliffs.


The Glanville Fritillary flight season is not all over as the title may suggest but they are all over our coastal cliffs.So it seemed today when I visited one of the Islands' several 'Chines.' This is the natural habitat for our Glanvilles, as these coastal cliffs stretch along the south-west coast of the Isle of Wight. It is here that erosion by the sea and wind  cause the sandstone to slip and create different levels of land as the cliffs slide towards the beach.On this landslip, pools and ponds form which in turn provide a home for dragonflies,such as the Keeled Skimmer.
The Glanville Fritillary will be on the wing throughout June.Some individuals are still emerging and can be seen in the company of many 'worn' adults.    












Friday, 12 June 2015

A New Skipper.

I have been struggling to find newly emerging species so far this year although many have been  reported in Southern England and on the Isle of Wight.So today I was pleased to see a male Large Skipper in my garden.It was happily posing for me in the flower border near to the back door and despite this overcast,humid,and thundery weather too.




Tuesday, 2 June 2015

More from Lefkada.

The common butterflies of Lefkada are always a treat to see although numbers of particular species seem to vary from year to year.Several seasons ago Black-veined Whites were very numerous, but during my last two visits to the Island I have seen just the odd one or two.
This year the Clouded Yellow is enjoying high numbers with quite a few helice form females on show together with many conventional coloured individuals.So too the Cleopatra,a very spectacular butterfly and always a common sight.It is seen in the villages and towns feeding from most garden blooms,and also in hill and mountain meadows and olive groves nectaring on the wild flowers.  
  
Spotted Fritillary male.


Spotted Fritillary female.

Black-veined White.

Cleopatra.

Clouded Yellow helice female.

Ilex Hairstreak.

Back to Lefkada.

A favourite Greek Island of mine and a visit at this time of year is perfect to enjoy what Lefkada has to offer in the way of butterflies.
Just three kilometres inland from the coastal town of Nidri is the local waterfall.The waters from the Islands' mountains cascade over this pretty waterfall into a rocky ravine.The base of the fall is easily reached from the approach road  by a donkey track and here in places the sun can penetrate to the floor of the ravine.In these sunny spots butterflies gather to take the salts and moisture and I was pleased to see several species including Wood White,Nettle Tree Butterflies,Ilex Hairstreak,and Southern White Admiral.
However the prize butterfly was a male Iolas Blue,the largest 'blue' in Europe,and as it turns out not a species recorded on Lefkada or indeed any Greek Ionian Island before.So this sighting is now quoted by Butterfly Conservation,European Interests Group on their Facebook page.


A male Iolas Blue