Summer Butterflies

Yesterday, after collecting my son from nursery, we went for a short walk down a single ride in Beckley Woods. It’s a lovely, narrow ride that’s only really useable in the summer as horseriders make it too muddy the rest of the year. It’s also the best place to see White Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillary in the whole wood.

As we got out of the car we saw Speckled Wood and Red Admiral in the little pools of sunlight near the entrance. Rides like this one, that have been allowed to close in, leaving some sunny areas, are just perfect for White Admiral. This butterfly has really thrived since the general cessation of coppicing, in stark contrast to many others which have seen a big decline for the same reason.

As we came to the first of the scalloped areas, we came across this White Admiral on the track.

_MG_8023Then, within a few moments, two Silver-washed Fritillaries appeared to our left, along with a Comma. The SWF flies quite quickly and doesn’t have the graceful gliding flight of the White Admiral which is instantly recogniseable in flight when you’ve seen it once.

As we walked further down the ride we saw more of both species feeding on Bramble flowers and patrolling up and down the ride – a total of six Silver-washed Fritillaries and four White Admirals – our first of the year.

_MG_8028

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Beckley Woods Update

It’s been a while since my last post, but much has been going on in East Sussex and the Rother Woods Project has achieved a great deal with Steve Wheatley at the helm. Indeed, a walk in a local wood could well result in your bumping into him and possibly other butterfly enthusiasts!

Personally, I’ve been investing some time on recording methods using my recently acquired Blackberry Bold, whilst visiting a number of local woodlands.

With the aid of its inbuilt GPS and a newly customised version of GPSLogger (grateful thanks are due to Matthias at www.emacberry.com/gpslogger.html) I can record the exact locations of butterfly sightings and export them to a CSV format. Even more useful, is the ability to upload to Google Maps.

Today, in Beckley Woods I recorded a few Silver-washed Fritillary, including several in a ride widened by Butterfly Conservation volunteers, numerous Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Comma, Large and Small White, Peacock, Gatekeeper and a single White Admiral – the locations of all these can be seen on Google Maps.

Grizzled Skippers at Beckley Woods

A visit to Beckley Woods today to see Grizzled Skippers was well worthwhile. I’d visited the previous evening, but a little late to see more than one individual that disappeared almost immediately. We had encountered a Slow Worm however, which was missing part of its tail.

Grizzled Skipper (ab. intermedia)

On a lovely warm morning, there were a number of Grizzled Skippers meandering about the entrance area to the woods. This particular type is an aberration (ab. intermedia); a variety determined by environmental conditions and heredity which only appears in a few locations. Examples of this and other aberrations can be seen on the Natural History Museum website.

This butterfly flies quickly close to the ground and changes direction rapidly, making it quite difficult to spot and to see where it has settled. A factsheet on the Grizzled Skipper can be obtained from the Butterfly Conservation website.

Butterfly Recording Workshop at Great Dixter

From Michael Blencowe:

“I spent an enjoyable morning today delivering a butterfly recording workshop to 15 peopleĀ at Great Dixter house. The owners of this amazing building kindly allowed us use of a rather grand room and I gave a presentation (while sat amid the antiques and giant rubber plants) about the importance of recording butterflies in this area of the county.

After the presentation it was time to put our i.d skills to the test and we took a walk around Great Dixter House and nearby Weights Wood where I talked about the panic that sets in when I see a white butterfly in the distance, the love life of the Peacock and the importance of woodland management for butterflies.

It was great to meet an enthusiastic bunch of folk who were all very keen on getting out and recording butterflies.”

Guided Walk around Brede High Woods

On Saturday 26th April, Patrick Roper led a fascinating walk around parts of Brede High Woods, organised and co-led by BC’s Steve Wheatley and accompanied by Dave Bonsall from the Woodland Trust.

This walk was an introduction both to this marvellous woodland complex, recently acquired by The Woodland Trust, and more importantly the first butterfly surveying walk for people interested in recording as part of the Rother Woods Project.

The walk was very well attended and thankfully the weather was perfect. As always, Patrick was enthusiastic and informative, with Steve managing the assembled participants and enthusing them all along the way.

Butterfies seen included Brimstone, Holly Blue, Orange Tip, Peacock, Speckled Wood, Comma and three suspected (though unconfirmed) Clouded Yellows. More details and a few pictures at the Sussex Butterflies Sightings page.

We also stumbled upon a surprisingly active Slowworm!

Butterfly Conservation’s Rother Woods Project… in the Brede and Tillingham Valleys

May as well begin with the longest titled post ever!

The purpose of this blog is to record sightings, propagate news and generally raise awareness of the Butterfly Conservation Rother Woods Project – with specific emphasis on the area spanning the Brede and Tillingham Valleys. These two valleys are separated by a ridge which runs from Rye (in East Sussex), through Udimore and along towards Sedlescombe.

There are plenty of sites – links provided here where possible – that are excellent resources for identification of butterflies and moths as well as recording, so there is no intention to compete with those sites. However, I intend to record my personal sightings in the area on this blog (as well as properly for BC) and post anything else of interest or potential usefulness.