Butterfly Diary 2011

February & March
25th Feb - single Brimstone Great Chishill.  Temperature 14C.  Grid Ref TL 425 390

12th Mar - Brimstone in garden Great Chishill.  Temperature 12C.  Photo
Two more seen elsewhere South Cambridgeshire

14th March - single Comma Great Chishill in usual hollow.  Temperature 12C and 10 knots wind.  Grid Ref TL 426 395
Photo it almost looks like the summer form hutchinsonii but that is no doubt the effect of the light

19th March - one hour  local walk, clear skies, 12C.  Approx eight Brimstones.  Two Commas sparring in usual hollow.

23 March - gardening took a lot of time but I managed a one hour local walk. Scattered cloud 15C. First Peacock of 2011
Comma photo
 - usual hollow

24 March - again gardening was priority but managed a local walk.  Possible Small Tortoiseshell but not confirmed.  In one hour, approx 10 Brimstones, seven Peacocks and five Commas.  Unbroken sun, 16C but brisk wind.

31 March - positive sighting Small Tortoiseshell in the hollow.  
Scattered cloud, 16C with strong wind.  Nothing else seen.

1 April - local walk.  Nothing new.  Photo

3 April - Local 75 minute walk late morning.  One particular Brimstone was interesting.  When cloud covered the sun, within a few moments it stopped patrolling – no surprise there.  But it chose to rest on the ground between tussocks of grass.  I had not before seen them take temporary rest other than in shrubs.
No new species for year until I got back into the garden.  A newly emerged Small White flopped onto a plant and could hardly fly.  But after a few minutes it warmed up and then chose a delightfully scenic place to land.   Photo

6 April - morning visit to Saffron Walden where I saw a Marsh Tit in the middle of town.  On return at Elmdon, egg-laying Brimstone.
Then to Wood Walton Marsh TL212911
First Orange Tip of year on my earliest date ever.  Also Green Veined White. plus five Brimstones, three Peacocks and a Tortie
Amazing summer weather with temperatures widely 22 and locally 23C

8 April - local walk. First Orange Tips this locality in 2011.  Plenty of Brimstones, a few Peacocks and a single Comma.
Then 3 x Holly Blue and one Speckled Wood

9 April - Arranged a Green Hairstreak hunt with Nick Ballard (NickB) at Devils Dyke Cambridgeshire where the old railway cutting crosses the Dyke near Burwell TL575652.  Just to the southeast of the five-barred gate in the bottom of the dyke was fantastic for Green Hairstreaks.  In a 100 metre stretch, we reckoned there were some 15 individuals.  In initially, while still coolish at 0930 hours, they stayed low and liked perching on small nettles.  But as it warmed, the butterflies became move active and then preferred bushes, eg hawthorn.  But they remained very approachable.
Photo 1  Photo 2
On return home, by Heydon Grange Barns
TL424420 four male Orange Tips

10 April - local.  Approx 3 x Orange Tip, 3 x GV White, 5 x Brimstone, 3 x Peacock, 1 x Tortoiseshell, 3 x Speckled Wood
Photo 1  Photo 2

17 April - Woodwalton Marsh with Nick Ballard.  No Grizzled Skippers.  But a few Orange Tips, GV Whites, Peacocks, Tortoiseshells, Single Comma, Holly Blue, Speckled Wood.  Then to Mepal Engine Bank for Wall Browns but nil.  Weather ideal throughout.

18 April - after taking daughter Felicity to Surrey, went to Denbies Hillside near Dorking where I met a fellow butterflyer, Susie Milbank.
Plenty of Brimstones, good showing of Green Hairstreaks Photo and three Grizzled Skippers, first seen by Susie

23 April - Mepal and again no luck.  Then Woodwalton Marsh and just one Grizzled Skipper

24  April - Suggested a locality seen on satellite pics for Phil Bromley and Rosalyn Payne to investigate for Grizzlies.  They were in luck.

25 April - Joined Phil and Rosalyn at TL206823 and TL207822.  Grizzled Skippers in good numbers = 20+ Picture

26 April - Remarkably easy drive from home in Cambridgeshire to Haugh Wood, Herefordshire (just 3.30 hours)
Then a long walk following the green trail to the reported hotspot for Pearl-bordered Fritillaries.  A two hour wait for the sun to break through produced some reward with two seen.

27 April - After an overnight stay in a hotel in Great Malvern, again to Haugh Wood in much sunnier weather.  At the "hotspot" some 20+ PB Fritillaries seen.  They were less lively than usual perhaps because temperature was just 15C.   Photo   Also first Small Copper of the year.
About six Wood Whites favouring much more open habitat than the Surrey Colonies with which I am more familiar.  Photo

28 April - Bitterly cold morning with brisk NE wind although sunny.  Return home was via Prestbury Hill, Cheltenham.  I found a promising  sheltered spot on the lee slope of the hill and despite only 11C, immediately found two Duke of Burgundy  Photo
2 May - Mepal Engine Bank but no Wall Browns.  But the meadow at TL43981 just to the southwest of "The Three Pickerels" pub at was productive for other species.  Here found first Common Blue of year (1, perhaps 2), first Brown Argus (1/2) Holly Blue (1), Small Copper (2) plus the usual whites.  Photos:   Orange Tip     The Meadow     Brown Argus

5 May - on way to Somerset, visited Seven Barrows, Lambourn.  No luck with this fragile colony of Marsh Fritillaries.  (too early?)
Year ticks Dingy Skipper (plentiful) and Small Heath.  No luck Sand Point Weston super Mare.

6 May - after staying overnight in the excellent Commodore Hotel in nearby Kewstoke, arrived Sand Point for 0930 to meet two others.
Countless Common Blues (all male) and Brown Argus.  Eventually the agile "mountain goat" (Chris) found our quarry at the bottom of the hill.  Half a dozen or more very fresh Glanville Fritillaries, clearly newly emerged as we had checked out the exact spot an hour and a half earlier without success.   Year ticks Painted Lady (but I might have seen one in-off the sea near hotel the evening before) and Wall Brown.

8 May -
Had a splendid 1.30 hours this in my local meadows in South Cambridgeshire. The trivial amount of overnight rain had clearly triggered a mass emergence. At one point I was almost tripping over Small Heaths (but this is always a good locality). Brown Argus in excellent number for the species. Two Common Blues seen (clearly a little later emerging here than elsewhere) and two sparring Small Coppers – normally quite a scarce butterfly in the meadows and orchards and not seen every year.
Photo Small Copper    Photo Brown Argus    Photo Small Heath

9 & 10 May - stayed in garden. 3 or 4 Holly Blues, one Red Admiral, one fast fly-by Painted Lady.  Orange Tip photo

12 May - Norfolk.  Howe Hill one Swallowtail, Strumpshaw circa 10

up to 21 May - stayed local.  Still plenty of Small Heath and Brown Argus but Orange Tip almost gone by end of period

31 May - Black Hairstreak (first ever in May) Monks Wood ~ 4
3 June - Clouded Yellow through garden flying SE to NW.
Large Skipper and Meadow Brown locally.   Still plenty of Small Heaths, Common Blues, Brown Argus