Here’s Ken Orpes latest Butterfly report for Derbyshire.
It looks as though the rest of the summer is going to consist of a combination of the occasional 10 day ‘superheat’ followed by a return to showers and ‘normal’ temperatures, but at least the latest hot spell has certainly helped second brood butterflies to emerge. In lowland Derbyshire, sightings of the ‘blue’ family have just commenced with Common Blues at Drakelow NR (Tom Cockburn), migrating Brown Argus at North Wingfield (Roy Frost) and Drakelow NR (Tom Cockburn), Small Copper at Wirksworth
(Pat & Ken Orpe ) and Findern (Brian & Jean Hallam), and Holly Blues at Cotmanhay (Jim Steele), Hatton (Pat & Ken Orpe ), Chaddesden (Pauline Mycock) and Findern (Brian & Jean Hallam). Also seen recently were fresh Peacock butterflies at Hopton (Maggie Campbell) and Drakelow NR (Tom Cockburn). Further north in the Peak District, a second brood Wall Brown was noted in Monsal Dale by Sandra Douglas on the 28th July 2012, so let’s hope that this species recovers some of its status within the County. Unfortunately, the Brown Argus in the Peak District is still in very low numbers with the highest count of 33 on the 23rd July 2012 coming from the Long Dale/Grattan Dale areas (Robert & Margaret Davies), where also present were reasonable numbers of up to 50 Dark Green Fritillary butterflies (also seen by Charles Palmer on the 22nd July 2012). The most remarkable sighting for this species was on the 24th July 2012 when Martin Hall was about to enter the main shopping mall in Derby when he noticed a DGF on flowers outside the main entrance. (Hm, I must think about going there more often!!).
Moving on to the ‘Brown’ family, the Ringlet has appeared in good numbers on the transect in Millers Dale Quarry NR ( Peter Faulkner & Rol Hawksworth), and it has also been noted in the far N W of the County at Whaley Bridge (Angie & Alan Seymour).After a very slow start, the Gatekeeper is now about at its peak numbers with over 100 noted at Woodside NR, Shipley (Max & Christine Maughan).
Of particular interest with this species is the occurrence of individuals seen without any ‘eyes’ on the lower wings – this has been noted at the Jim Mart NR (Nikki Mahadevan) and also at Whaley Bridge
(Angie & Alan Seymour).
The Essex Skipper has now become fairly widespread in the south of the County with records from Long Eaton Railway Sidings, Foston, Breadsall Cutting, Stanton Ironworks, Drakelow NR, Gresley Wood, Findern, West Hallam Tip and Aston Brickyards. Any sightings for this species from the Peak District would be appreciated as it is, like the Ringlet, poised to become resident there. I have attached a photo of the underside of the tips of the antennae of this species, which are glossy black as opposed to brown in the case of the Small Skipper, (photo kindly provided by Christine Maughan).
The summer hairstreaks are still very much at a low level with observers noting only singletons, with a maximum of 4, of both the Purple Hairstreak and also the White Letter Hairstreak. The former species has been seen at Kedleston Park (John Barker), Allestree Park (Colin Bowler), Chatsworth Park (Roy Frost) and Fernilee Reservoir (Frank Bell). Mike Williams noted further individuals at Mercia Marina near to Findern recently when some were seen inspecting the buds of ash trees, perhaps for either chemicals or honeydew because the leaves of their larval foodplant (oak) had been washed clean by heavy showers. Meanwhile, the White Letter Hairstreak is faring no better with many known sites failing to show this species so far – records to date only coming from Baslow (Roy Frost), Mackworth Castle (Nick Brown), and in the garden of Peter Faulkner in Two Dales, near to Darley Dale. Fortunately, most of the recorders who turned up at Chapel Street Car Park, Derby on the 21st/22nd July 2012 managed to see this rare species, some for the very first time in their lives, so thanks to the 40 or so people who came over the 2 mornings. In this connection, I have produced a register of sites within the County where this BAP species has been seen during the last 15 years, so if you would like a copy (in Excel), then please send me an email and I will send one to you. Any help in confirming or not that the species is still present at these sites would be greatly appreciated.
Another positive from the recent spell of hot and sunny weather was the recording of a few Painted Lady butterflies together with a singleton Clouded Yellow. This latter species was noted by Malcolm Giles in his garden at Botany Bay , near to Linton, whist the Painted Lady sightings came from Duffield
( Mick Ball ), Mickleover (Simon Beavis), Kedleston (John Barker), West Hallam (Martin Hall) and also at Shirland where Nikki Mahadevan saw 2 on the buddleias in her garden.
Finally, just a reminder that the Big Butterfly Count continues until Sunday 5th August 2012 so please make every effort to participate and put Derbyshire firmly ‘on the map’!!! Many thanks to those of you who have already contributed to the project. Details are at (www.bigbutterflycount.org)
Don’t forget to contact Ken with your sightings.