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News Archive for Dec 2023

21 Dec 2023

Brown Hairstreak on Portsdown Hill. I had a cursory search of some Blackthorn hedges where I had seen Brown Hairstreak in the summer and turned up a pleasing 22 ova. In previous years I have only managed single figures so this is a significant increase and hopefully shows that this once uncommon Hampshire butterfly has gained a firm foothold in the area. There is certainly plenty of suitable habitat that seems to be sympathetically managed. I will go back and carry out a more detailed search. Lots of Blue-bordered Carpet eggs too - some out of focus top left in the pair photo. [Posted by Mark Tutton]

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Single egg in classic location
Photo © Mark Tutton
A pair
Photo © Mark Tutton

11 Dec 2023

Red Admiral at Hardway, Gosport. I was pleasantly surprised to see not one but three Red Admiral on a neighbour's Mahonia just after 2pm this afternoon. The sun was out and temperature a balmy 11.5 degrees Celsius so a sighting today was probable. By the time I had got hold of my camera the bush held but one butterfly and here he is! [Posted by Francis Plowman]

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Photo © Francis PlowmanPhoto © Francis Plowman

06 Dec 2023

Successful Brown Hairstreak egg searches. After a BC and HIWWT volunteer spotted a lone adult Brown Hairstreak whilst walking a transect in September, a small posse of volunteers and HIWWT staff organised by Ben Pickup, Asst Reserves Officer, undertook an egg search at St Clair's Meadow Nature Reserve, just south of Soberton. The Brown Hairstreak had not been recorded on the site before this year but a pair of eggs were found within seconds of starting the survey. Beginners luck or what! A promising clump of blackthorn scrub revealed around 25 eggs and all told around 40 eggs were recorded on the site. This further confirms the Soberton area as a local hotspot for the species.

Buoyed by this success, the posse moved south to Hookheath Meadow near Southwick. This is a restricted access HIWWT site where neither adults nor eggs had been recorded for two successive years. A quick search found 14 eggs but also no eggs in several areas of suitable-looking blackthorn. Photos to follow. [Posted by Clive Wood]

Purple Emperor larvae in West Wood. After my initial success at Whitely Pastures I have been looking for Purple Emperor larvae in other woods where I see adults most years but without much success. Today I thought I would try West Wood near Winchester. I concentrated my search on a couple of sheltered north facing paths where I had previously seen females inspecting the sallows. Very quickly I spotted two dangly leaves that were firmly attached to their twig with silk, and though very dead, both appeared to have had the distinctive feeding pattern of Emperor larvae. Carefully I pulled the branch down and diligently searched the whole spray, checking the buds, forks, growth scars and remaining leaves. After going boss eyed for about ten minutes I finally tracked the caterpillar to a nice fork about a meter away where it had settled to spend the winter. During the course of fours hours or so I managed to track down two more, both by searching for ‘dangle leaves’ another one in a fork and the other aligned alongside a bud, both fantastically camouflaged. [Posted by Mark Tutton]

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Photo © Mark TuttonPhoto © Mark TuttonPhoto © Mark Tutton