Sunday 2 January 2022

Wildlife Review 2021 - Butterflies

It was a year of quality if not quantity, with low numbers of many species. Welcomed returns included the first Grayling since 2015 found on Warren Point on the 4-5 September, only the second record in the last 60 years. There was also a reappearance of Dark Green Fritillary with the first confirmed sighting since 2012, in Dead Dolphin Wood on 11 August.

Grayling - Guy Freeman

A Green Hairstreak on 16 June, the fifth record since 2010, suggests that the species may have a continuing foothold on site. However, after records in 2018 and 2019, there were no sightings of Purple Hairstreak, although this treetop butterfly could have easily avoided detection. 
A single summer sighting of a Silver-washed Fritillary is in line with a recent increase in records. It was a poor year for Holly Blue with the first record not until 28 August. Painted Lady also had a poor year with just five scattered records of ones and twos, and after an excellent year in 2020, Clouded Yellow were down to a handful of sightings in September and early October. Other migratory species - Red Admiral and Small White fared better, but numbers weren’t exceptional.

Painted Lady - Alan Keatley
The first butterflies where seen at the end of March with Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, which saw a welcome increase during the year, Speckled Wood, Comma and Red Admiral, although earlier sightings may have been missed during lockdown. Small Copper and Orange-tip made April appearances, with the latter's eggs found on Cuckooflower in May. Brimstone made it’s one and only appearance on 1 May and the two Wall Brown sightings on 5 May and 29 September did nothing to ease concerns over this species seemingly terminal decline on site. Common Blue, Green-veined and Small White were on the wing by the end of May.

Green-veined White - Alan Keatley

Small Copper, Speckled Wood and, to a lesser extent, Brown Argus, were seen in usual numbers across generations, with mild weather enabling an exceptional third generation Common Blue on 30 October.
Summer butterflies started with Meadow Brown, Large and Small Skipper in June, and Gatekeeper, Ringlet and Large White in July. A Marbled White on 17 July was the only record received this year.

Marbled White - Alan Keatley
With mild autumn weather continuing various butterflies were on the wing until the end of October and into November with a Speckled Wood on 5th, Painted Lady and Small White on 18th and a final Red Admiral on 28th.

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