Chasing the British Butterflies - Part 2

The Blog

Brief over-view:

This year we are targeting the 7 subspecies missed during 2010 - namely Small Heath rhoumensis, Speckled Wood oblita, Meadow Brown cassiteridum, Large Heath polydama (Seth only), Mountain Ringlets scotica and mnemon and Scotch Argus caledonia. Plus Sam still needs White-letter Hairstreak. We both missed Clouded Yellow in 2010 so it would be very pleasing to secure a few in 2011. Added to these we are heading across to Ireland for the endemic Irish subspecies of Dingy Skipper, Orange-tip, Green-veined White, Wood White, Brimstone, Small Copper, Common Blue, Meadow Brown and Graylings (2). Plus the endemic Real's Wood White and Marsh Fritillary form hibernica, giving a  grand total of 21 taxa.  

This results in the following trips:-

Ireland 21-24 May for Dingy Skipper baynesi, Wood White sinapis, Real's Wood White, Brimstone gravesi, Green-veined White britannica, Orange-tip hibernica, Small Copper hibernica, Common Blue mariscolore, and Marsh Fritillary form hibernica EDIT: Due to financial constraints and an imminent house-move we were unable to justify the expense of this Irish trip. We plan to try for the July trip, even if it's only a bloody day trip, lol!!! 

Norfolk in mid-June for photographable Swallowtails (very poor record shots only in 2010).

Western and Central Scotland mid/late of June (Small Heath rhoumensis and Mountain Ringlet scotica) via Cumbria (Mountain Ringlet mnemon) with an early Large Heath polydama hoped for somewhere along the way!

Surrey/Hampshire day trips in end June/early July for Sam's White-letter Hairstreak and a bit of Purple Emperor baiting!

Ireland in mid-July for Graylings clarensis and hibernica plus Meadow Brown iernes. EDIT: And Real's Wood White!

Isles of Scilly in mid-July for Meadow Brown cassiteridum and hopefully Clouded Yellow. Sami's friend Nobby lives on Scilly and we're invited to her mean party on 10th which will rather crowd the early July proceedings. Oh well, we'll see what happens, lol!

Our Big Walk from Land's End to John o' Groats begins in mid-July. Clouded Yellow is possible almost anywhere along the South West Coast Path in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset. We hope to be in Scotch Argus caledonia territory by late August, hopefully catching a few late-flyers (or hire a car and zip up to see them before they stop flying!) and into Speckled Wood oblita territory by mid-September. We hope to finish our Big Walk before the end of September.

A change of plan - Sam started a new job in March. She loves it. But there's NO WAY they'll let her take three months out for LEJOG. So the walk is being rescheduled to next spring (which is the recommended season anyway). We are both disappointed and relieved at the same time. Financially things could be better (and will be now that Sam's in a better paying job!) and we haven't exactly bust a gut with the training regime (or lack of!) LEJOG absolutely WILL happen, but not until April next year. Sigh...


January - 

1st - Full day birding for Seth, Sam stays at home with heavy cough and a weary head. 

6th - Barnes WWT birding together. Self-found Bittern the highlight. Nothing lepidopterous seen.

7th - Birding locally. Infurctinea argentimaculella and Narycia monilifera also noted. 

11th - Sam spots a male Epiphyas postvittana in our kitchen - an adult moth at last!! 

15th and 16th - Birding at Portland and Hants. Taleporia tubulosa case found in the New Forest. 

21st - Birding in Norfolk. Failed attempt at locating White-letter Hairstreak eggs at Holkham.

27th - Walked 16 miles to Bookham and back (!) noting Phyllonorycter leucographella mines on Firethorn.

28th - Chessington Woods yielded Luffia ferchaultella, Proutia betulina, Psyche casta, Nemapogon clematella, Bucculatrix ulmella and a single BROWN HAIRSTREAK EGG. Failed WLH egg hunt at Jubilee Wood though...

29th - return visit to Jubilee Wood resulted in 2 BROWN HAIRSTREAK EGGS but still no evidence of WLH. 

February -  

3rd - Seth finds the first Coleophora laricella, Psychoides filicivora and Spring Usher of the year in Surrey.

6th - Emmelina monodactyla found on a curry house window in Surbiton. 

8th - PURPLE HAIRSTREAK EGGS found on Pedunculate Oak at Bookham Common. 

11th - Birding in Bushy Park. First Harlequin Ladybird of the year on a sign board. Nothing lepidopterous.

14th - mad twitch to Chipping Norton (88miles) for an Oriental Turtle Dove...we missed it... 

16th - 197 Waxwings at Sunbury Cross. Very niiiiiice!

18th - Return to Chipping Norton and got the Oriental Turtle Dove...happy days!

24th - Small Quaker at home. Acleris notana/ferrugana at Thursley Common.

25th - Epsom Common, Purple Hairstreak eggs and a Tortricodes alternella flying


5th - long search for WLH eggs at Howell Hill - unsuccessfully.

10thColeophora calycotomella cases discovered near Hambledon. GROSSLY RARE SPECIES!!!

11th - Ectoedemia septembrella mines noted at Barnes WWT

17th - SMALL COPPER LARVA found in Horton CP

19th - 2 COMMA, 2 SMALL TORTOISESHELL, 1 BRIMSTONE on Epsom Common. Yeah, Baby!!!

20th - heard of yesterday's shocking news of a Camberwell Beauty at Rainham RSPB in Kent. Boo!

22nd - Seth has a PEACOCK at Erith Training Academy.

27th - Sam claws back PEACOCK on Epsom Common. 

28th - HOLLY BLUE in Ashford for Seth, whilst Sam bags a SPECKLED WOOD en route to work!


1st - Seth goes to Barnes finding a few bird yearticks but nothing lepidopterous.

2nd - Sam bags her own HOLLY BLUE for the year. 

3rd - Sam adds 2 male ORANGE-TIPS to her yearlist. Seth is now seriously lagging behind!!!

4th - Seth finally claws back ORANGE-TIP!

5th to 12th - SPAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   Highlights included Green-striped White, Western Dappled White, Green-underside Blue, Black-eyed Blue, Spanish Festoon, Cleopatra, Spanish Marbled White, Swallowtail, Nettle Tree Butterfly and heaps of stuff we commonly see in Britain too.

17th - Seth sees several SMALL WHITES whilst driving the work's lorry around Middx/Bucks. 

18th - Sam secures SMALL WHITE for her year.  

20th - Seth finally adds RED ADMIRAL to the yearlist, then - in a solo venture - GRIZZLED SKIPPER near Guildford   

21st - PEARL-BORDERED FRITILLARIES at Bentley Wood, along with GREEN-VEINED WHITE. Next up was Noar Hill which gave us 13 DUKE OF BURGUNDY and 11 DINGY SKIPPERS. A superb day! 

24th - outskirts of Chiddingfold gave WOOD WHITE and a GRIZZLED SKIPPER

25th - Oaken Wood gave us 36 WOOD WHITES, 4 GRIZZLED SKIPPERS and a GREEN HAIRSTREAK as highlights

28th - Esher Common had Four-spot Chaser and Broad-bodied Chasers, first dragonflies of the year!


4th - day at Dungeness which added SMALL COPPER (10), COMMON BLUE and BROWN ARGUS for Seth as well as a 90% Vagrant Emperor, but not good enough...curses!

5th - SMALL BLUES for both of us, plus Sam's first COMMON BLUE and SMALL COPPER. Seth went to Newlands Corner adding BROWN ARGUS, DINGY and GRIZZLED SKIPPERS and the first LARGE WHITE and SMALL HEATHS of his year. Daylist = 13 species. Also Common Blue Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly and Red-eyed Damselfly seen at Papercourt.

8th - Newdigate area at night, lamping for Alpine Newts with Danny The Pirate!!! No luck, but plenty of other stuff.


10th - Denbies had ADONIS BLUES (some exhibiting aberrant markings) and a splendid  Micropterix tunburgella!

12th - Strumpshaw Fen gave us 7+ SWALLOWTAILS, an Alder Moth, Pebble Prominent & 5 Poplar Hawkmoths

13th - GREEN HAIRSTREAKS, SMALL COPPER & BROWN ARGUS at Fairmile Heath but no early Silver-studs yet.

21st - With Lee Hurrell into Sussex seeing 15+ SMALL PEARL-BORDERED FRITILLARIES and GRIZZLED SKIPPER ab taras at Park Corner Wood then Windover Hill which gave us c30 SMALL BLUES, 10 ADONIS BLUES, 5 DINGY SKIPPERS and a fly over Honey Buzzard too. A sweet day!

22nd - Denbies for aberrant ADONIS BLUES plus LARGE SKIPPER, then East Blean Woods for HEATH FRITILLARIES.

23rd - 7 mile walk around Surrey noting various common species.

27th - Trip to Isle of Wight where we saw GLANVILLE FRITILLARY, SMALL BLUE, SMALL TORTOISESHELL, RED ADMIRAL, LARGE WHITE LARVA and several others. A brilliant day, must go on a warm day though next time! 

28th - Seth visits Fairmile Heath and is rewarded with 7 early SILVER-STUDDED BLUES.

29th - Seth goes back to Fairmile finding 19 SILVER-STUDDED BLUES, then Bookham Common which was almost butterfly-less! Tawny Cockroaches were decent though and Tortrix viridana was abundant in the oak canopy.


2nd - Bookham Common with Sam and The Pirate, found our first Red Admiral larva (green form) of the year.

3rd - Thursley Common for dragonflies with UKB member JohnR. Managed Common Blue Damsel, Large Red Damsel, Small Red Damsel, Red-eyed Damsel, Four-spotted Chaser, Broad-bodied Chaser, Keeled Skimmer, Downy Emerald plus Raft Spider and a possible (but very lost) Wood White

11th - Sam returns to Isle of Wight with a friend and sees the first MEADOW BROWNS of our year.

20th - Seth finishes 17 consecutive days at work. Butterflies last!!!

21st - Jubilee Woods provides us with MEADOW BROWN (for Seth), WHITE ADMIRALS and a clutch of Peacock larva. Bookham Common treats us well with PURPLE HAIRSTREAK, a PURPLE EMPEROR, SMALL SKIPPERS, SILVER-WASHED FRITILLARIES and a few RINGLETS. An Orange-tip pupa was found on Garlic Mustard! Nearby Fairmile Heath added Silver-studded Blue to Sam's yearlist. Our first Hutchinson Commas and Southern Hawkers of 2011 were seen too. 

26th - Bookham Common with 2 UKB members. 3 PURPLE EMPERORS over the master trees and 2 more elsewhere. 


1st - Howell Hill had MARBLED WHITES, ESSEX SKIPPERS and two male GATEKEEPERS plus 2 2nd generation Small Blues. Jubilee Woods finally gave us a single WHITE-LETTER HAIRSTREAK, a lifer for Sam!!!

10th - Mitcham Common in search of WLH but failed. Did manage 18 species including 2 Marbled Whites and hundreds of Essex Skippers. First of the new generation of Peacock, Brown Argus and Small Coppers noted too. Nice!

11th - failed twitch for Southern Emerald Damselflies at Cliffe Pools RSPB, then missed a Lesser Emperor at New Hythe Pits. Went to Denbies where found lots of CHALKHILL BLUES, 5 DARK-GREEN FRITILLARIES and a knackered looking female Adonis Blue. First 2nd generation Common Blue noted, a pristine male.

12th - back to Denbies with Sam. Lots of Chalkhill Blues and Sam's first Essex Skippers of the year. A PAINTED LADY was a lovely bonus as we were about to leave the site.