Butterfly Diary - field notes by Adrian Hoskins
my earliest sightings of each brood are highlighted in bold type
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Saturday 6th March


A Painted Lady, presumably an inbound migrant, was recorded at Bolderwood in the New Forest, Hampshire yesterday. Today singletons of Small Tortoiseshell were reported from Berkshire and Oxfodshire.


Tuesday 2nd March


The website of the Hampshire branch of Butterfly Conservation today reported a Red Admiral seen in Portsmouth, and 3 records of Brimstones, seen at Alresford, Swanmore and Staunton Country Park respectively. Small Tortoiseshells were reported from 3 sites on the Sussex coast; and the first Comma of the year was reported from Frieth in Buckinghamshire.


Monday 1st March


There were 3 reports of Red Admiral singletons seen in various parts of Hampshire today, also a Small Tortoiseshell and a Peacock, both seen at Winchester. Further east, in Sussex, no less than 3 Peacocks were reported from different sites, in addition to 2 Red Admirals and a single Brimstone. Another Brimstone, a female, was also recorded at Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire.


Saturday 27th February


Milder weather this week has so far failed to produce any further butterfly records, but I fully expect to hear of more sightings of post-hibernation adults of Brimstones, Peacocks and Commas in the next few days. Further sightings of Red Admirals are also likely, and hopefully Small Tortoiseshells. The latter showed good signs of recovery last year, and will almost certainly have benefited from the harsh winter, which will have reduced adult mortality caused by bird predation and pathogens. With luck we should also have a few reports of freshly emerged Speckled Woods and Small Whites during early-mid March.
The recent damp cloudy nights have brought further records of Mottled Umber, Pale Brindled Beauty, Spring Usher and Dotted Border, together with the first Angle Shades of the year, reported from West Sussex. I've also just received a late report of a Pale Pinion, caught in a moth trap in Dorset on 16th February.
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Saturday 20th February


Despite heavy overnight frosts there was enough sunshine to tempt one or two butterflies to take to the wing today. A Peacock was seen basking on a wall in Bucks, and at least 3 Red Admirals were recorded in southern Hampshire.


Friday 19th February


The website of the Sussex branch of Butterfly Conservation today reported a very early record of a Speckled Wood, a species not normally seen until late March. This is still a long way from beating the earliest UK record - 16th January 2007, and it must be borne in mind that often such very early sightings are the result of insects that have emerged, unbeknown to the recorder, in glasshouses or nurseries. Nevertheless it is worth keeping an eye open the next time you visit a woodland glade on a sunny day !


Saturday 6th February


Mild sunny conditions yesterday produced several butterfly sightings in southern England, including a Red Admiral at Mill Hill, and a male Brimstone at Ashdown Forest, both reported on the website of the Sussex branch of Butterfly Conservation. While checking out other websites I also came across a record of a Peacock, seen yesterday at Oxford.


Monday 1st February


There have been no reports of butterflies ( apart from hibernating ones which have awoken inside houses ) since 24th January when the first Peacock of the year was seen, at Lewes. Other species recorded in January included a Red Admiral seen on 22nd at Bevendean Down in Sussex, a freshly emerged Small White seen on 21st in Gosport, Hampshire, and a male Brimstone on 17th at Alresford. Moths recorded so far this year include an Early moth caught at Aylesbury on 20th, and a Spring Usher caught at Finemere Wood on 19th. The first major moth night of the year was 2 days earlier on 17th, when Chestnut, Satellite, Mottled Umber, Pale Brindled Beauty, December moth and Winter moth were recorded at various sites in central southern England.


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