Many thanks go to all the 100+ recorders who have kindly sent me their butterfly sightings and transect forms over the last 2 weeks whilst Pat and I have been away on holiday – I will be answering all queries as soon as possible. From the details received it is clear that many areas of the County are still quite devoid of butterflies, although there are now more Whites and Orange-tips on the wing in certain parts, together with the occasional Holly Blue. Mind you, the situation in Holland is even worse than here in the UK – we saw millions of dandelions in flower, along both the grass verges of roadsides and the banks of the dykes, but hardly any butterflies were taking advantage of the supply of nectar. We failed to connect with a ‘Grand Surprise’ (Camberwell Beauty) but we were pleased to see red squirrels in the many woodlands to the north of Arnhem (site of the ‘Bridge Too Far’).
Here in this region, 4 new butterfly species have managed to emerge during the warm and sunny conditions that were enjoyed by all – these being the Speckled Wood; Green Hairstreak, Dingy Skipper and the Grizzled Skipper, which was seen over the County border in South Nottinghamshire
The first Speckled Wood was noted in the Whaley Bridge garden of Angie & Alan Seymour on the 27th of April 2013 and then followed sightings at Chaddesden, Derby (Pauline Mycock), Allestree, Derby (Steve Plant), Aston Brickyards (Colin Bowler), Woodside NR, Shipley (Kelvin Lawrence & John Green), Stanton Ironworks & Loscoe Dam (Maggie Campbell), Jim Mart NR, Press (Nikki Mahadevan & Paul Beard) and Lathkill Dale on the 7th of May 2013 (Ian Weatherley).
The first Green Hairstreak was seen by Frank Bell on the 30th of April 2013 at Lantern Pike NR in the High Peak and this was followed by individuals noted at Monsal Dale (Frank Bell), Lathkill Dale
(Simon Roddis) and Hopton Quarry (John Barker), and single figure sightings at Coombs Dale (Phil Gilbert), Lightwood, Buxton (Steve Orridge), Bamford Edge (Nikki Mahadevan) and Longstone Edge (Dave Mallon), whilst over the border in Staffordshire, at Cannock Chase, 20 individuals were seen on the 6th of May 2013 (Brian & Jean Hallam). The most surprising record for this species was an individual that appeared in the Whaley Bridge garden of Angie & Alan Seymour on the 6th of May 2013 – I would imagine that there are not many garden lists that contain Green Hairstreak amongst the species recorded, either in Derbyshire or even the UK!!
The annual survey organised by Butterfly Conservation East Midlands for the spring ‘skipper’ butterflies is about to commence so if you would like to help then please send me an email and I will send you a list of the sites where the Dingy Skipper was noted in the County last year. The first sighting of this species for 2013 was made by Jim Steele on the 6th of May at the local ‘hotspot’ of Stanton Ironworks, which is under threat from a massive development. Meetings have taken place with the site owner’s ecologists and Butterfly Conservation has made representations to the Local Authority in an effort to try and save at least part of the site for this BAP butterfly species and the very interesting other wildlife that occurs there.
The other ‘spring’ skipper butterfly, the Grizzled Skipper, is somewhat of an enigma here in Derbyshire and is possibly extinct in the County. It used to occur at Ticknall Limeyards in the south of the County but unfortunately disappeared from that site many years ago. Since the new millennium there have been a few confirmed sightings at old quarries both in the N E of the County and also in the S W of Derbyshire, but this butterfly is easily confused with certain day flying moths, including the Latticed Heath and the Common Heath. As it is at its northern most range here in the East Midlands, the sites that still contain small colonies are to be found in South Nottinghamshire and North East Leicestershire and Rutland. Indeed, Butterfly Conservation has organised visits to sites this coming weekend – please see the details on the list that was attached to the last Update. Additionally, Chris Jackson of the Notts Biodiversity Action Group has arranged for a couple of free training events on the subject of this BAP species. Chris has confirmed that this species has emerged this year when he saw an individual at Saxondale, South Nottinghamshire on the 1st of May 2013 so hopefully there will be more individuals around this coming weekend
Finally, Patrick Barkham (the author of ‘Butterfly Isles’) has emailed me to say that a new butterfly identification DVD ‘Guide to British Butterflies’ is being released later this month. It contains five hours of professionally shot footage with short films on all 58 mainland British species from many butterfly locations around the UK. If you would like details then please send me an email and I will forward a link for you to check it out!!!