For previous years' lists and commentaries, often incomplete, click 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009; 2008;
2007; 2006; 2005; 2004; 2003; 2002; 2001. I seem to have
lost the file for 2000.
Some of my friends also keep, or have kept, online year-lists. Tim
living in the Monts du Lyonnais, publishes his list HERE
and Matthew Rowlings, who lives not far from me in Vevey, Switzerland,
has his HERE.
friend, Robin Fox, in Italy, keeps a regularly updated sightings diary HERE.
SCROLL DOWN for the 2020 CHECKLIST or use the menu below to jump to the
COMMENTARY for each month.
NOTE TO MY REGULAR READERS:
Following the death of my mother on 15th March 2018 I have moved to
England to keep my father company. My 2020 and 2019 diaries are therefore very
different from all my previous ones. No longer do I have alpine
species on my doorstep and purple emperor caterpillars in my local
woods. No more midwinter visits to Queen of Spain fritillaries in the
Rhône Valley or spring trips to nettle tree habitat in Italy! Thank you
to everyone who has followed the Swiss butterfly years with me. I will
try to keep some interest in these pages and hope to get some holidays
abroad, but in the short term my diary will record mostly the creatures
in and around Woodbridge, Suffolk. I will try to include at least one
photo, of nature or scenery, every day.
FOR THE YEAR 2020
Peacock (Aglais io) - 6th February - Suffolk, UK
Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta) - 10th February - Suffolk, UK
Comma (Polygonia c-album) - 8th March - Suffolk, UK
Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) - 8th March - Suffolk, UK
Small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) - 11th March - Suffolk, UK
Holly blue (Celastrina argiolus) - 23rd March - Suffolk, UK
Small white (Pieris rapae) - 26th March - Suffolk, UK
Speckled wood (Pararge aegeria - 31st March - Suffolk, UK
Orange tip (Anthocharis cardamines) - 4th April - Suffolk, UK
Green-veined white (Pieris napi) - 11th April - Suffolk, UK
Small copper (Lycaena phlaeas) - 21st April - Suffolk, UK
Green hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) - 23rd April - Suffolk, UK
Large white (Pieris brassicae) - 23rd April - Suffolk, UK
Small heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) - 18th May - Suffolk, UK
Common blue (Polyommatus icarus) - 20th May - Suffolk, UK
Little blue (Cupido minimus) - 25th May - Suffolk, UK
Brown argus (Aricia agestis) - 25th May - Suffolk, UK
Meadow brown (Maniola jurtina) - 13th June - Suffolk, UK
White-letter hairstreak (Satyrium w-album) - 18th June - Suffolk, UK
Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus) - 20th June - Suffolk, UK
Silver-studded blue (Plebejus argus) - 25th June - Suffolk, UK
Small skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) - 25th June - Suffolk, UK
Marbled white (Melanargia galathea) - 26th June - Suffolk, UK
Essex skipper (Thymelicus lineola) - 26th June - Suffolk, UK
Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) - 3rd July - Suffolk, UK
Grayling (Hipparchia semele) - 4th July - Suffolk, UK
Large skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus) - 4th July - Suffolk, UK
Purple hairstreak (Favonius quercus) - 5th July - Suffolk, UK
Commentary (Links in the
commentary are to pictures of the particular butterflies referred to)
January 1st: The year dawned hazy but bright. By mid-morning flies
were sunning themselves in the garden and it was not ridiculous to
wonder if a red admiral might take to the wing. But by lunchtime it was
cloudy and the sun never returned. Here is a robin bravely singing in the new year through the gloom.
2nd: Grey and cold all day. Here is a bar-tailed godwit on the Deben and here a little group of bar-tailed godwits. These are black-tailed godwits. An avocet was wading with them (and here). There were plenty of redshanks, dunlin, wigeon, teal, lapwings and all the usual winter estuary birds lurking in the gloom.
3rd: Grey and cold
most of the day, with rain early. It cleared up a little in the
afternoon and by night was quite clear, with just a little haze. Here
is Orion rising over the houses, and here the half-moon.
4th: A brighter morning but still cold. Here is a ruff on the Deben in the afternoon.
5th: Cloudy, sometimes wet and generally cold all day.
6th: A cloudy start gave way to a pleasant but cold afternoon and a beautifully clear night. Here is Orion again (and here) and here the moon.
7th: In a reverse of yesterday, a beautiful morning turned to a mostly cloudy afternoon. Here is a grey plover, here a ruff (and here) and here a black-tailed godwit, all on the Deben.
8th: Cloudy all day, though warm.
9th: A beautiful morning, leading to a beautiful but very windy afternoon. Minnnie and I went out to wooded heathland in the afternoon. The gorse
was in full blossom but seemed strangely unscented all the same. There
were no insects on the gorse, though in places I could see swarms of
flies or moths over the heath. This photo was taken at a great distance, almost directly into the sun. Despite the sun and these insects, the heath seemed barren
- this is midwinter after all ... Later it rained, then by our late dog
walk the sky was perfectly clear again, illuminated by a brilliant almost full moon. Full moon is tomorrow at 19h21, when there will be a penumbral eclipse (maximum at 19h10).
10th: A beautiful day. Flies
were around in the garden, though unsurprisingly no butterflies woke
up. Took a walk with the dogs along the Deben in the afternoon. Here is
a grey plover (and here) I took for a golden plover until examining the photos. The golden light deceived me! Here is a ruff and here he is again with a redshank. The clear skies continued into the evening. This is the rising moon just at the beginning of penumbral eclipse. The colour is an effect of its low altitude in the sky. This photograph
was taken at 19h10, just when the penumbral eclipse was at its maximum.
The umbra is passing (out in space) to the bottom right of the moon.
Finally, this photo was taken on our evening dog-walk, after the eclipse was completely over and the moon was back to its normal brilliance.
11th: A grey day, all day. Here is Minnie trotting along Martlesham Creek. The usual ducks and waders were out in the mud but the light was awful, even though we weren't late. Here are some teal and here a group of godwits.
12th: Alternately cloudy (and here), rainy and sunny today, leading to a beautifully clear night. Here is the moon.
13th: The day began cold but bright (and here), becoming really warm and sunny by mid-morning before descending into gloom in the afternoon and rain before evening.
15th: A cloudy morning gave way to a beautiful afternoon. Here is the river Deben in full flood in the afternoon. Here are assorted waders in the fields on the other side of the river, and here a close-up of the flying ones - which I think are dunlin.
16th: Fen meadow in the morning.
17th: The weather is now getting colder and brighter. Here is Fen meadow in the morning, with Minnie.
18th: A beautiful day from morning till evening, though cold, with frost still on the ground when I took Boo for her morning run. Here is a buzzard on Sutton heath (and here). On the way back from the heath I took a walk along a reeded stretch of the Deben, where this female kingfisher (and here) was fishing, following the last of the sun as it moved upstream.
19th: A beautiful day. Busy for most of it, so couldn't get out to the woods or river.
20th: Mixed cloud and sunshine during the day, leading to a beautiful, clear night. Here is the evening skyline with Venus.
21st: A lovely day, clouding over later. Here is the view at low tide on the Deben. Plenty of avocets (and here) were wading in the mud. Here are some brent geese on the water. Godwits were grazing with a few pigeons in the meadows. Here is a godwit with a pigeon. A seal was swimming at Kyson Point but spent almost all his time underwater.
22nd: A grey and misty day all day.
23rd: Morning today.
24th: Another cloudy day ...
25th: A particularly dark day! It was the Great Garden Birdwatch, so my
father and I duly sat outside in the afternoon and counted, but few
birds were around. Here is a jaunty robin trying to make the most of the weather and here a couple of blue tits.
27th: Morning walk. No opportunites to get out into nature today.
28th: The weather has turned cold but was brighter, at least, today. Here is an oystercatcher on a post (it was full, spring tide), pretending to sleep. Here are waders in flight on the other side of the river and here a rock pipit on this side. In the evening, the old moon lay in the new moon's arms, not far away in the sky from Venus.
29th: A bright morning, leading to cold and grey by late afternoon. Here are snowdrops in the cemetery at lunchtime. This is a great spotted woodpecker in an oak on the heath and here is a rook.
31st: A grey day, and windy.
1st: Recent winds have brought a tree down across the path near Kyson point. Godwits were scattered all around the water's edge, including this ringed bird. Here is a turnstone, rushing around on the mud and flipping over clumps of seaweed. This duck teal was hotly followed by her drake. They then dabbled together for a bit. Here is the view towards the church across the school playing fields.
2nd: Another grey day!
3rd: A beautiful morning, progressively becoming cloudier during the day but followed by a clear night.
4th: Overcast all day. Here are some dunlin on the grey estuary.
5th: A brightish morning gave way to a cloudy afternoon. Here is a local heath towards sundown, and here a robin in the bordering woods.
6th: Very cold at daybreak, 0-1°C, but a gloriously sunny day. In the early afternoon this peacock (and here) was sunning in my garden, apparently scouting for nettles, and I found a second peacock in local woods. We're off!
7th: Another cold day, with an increasing, bitter wind. But it was sunny until after 15h00 and a single peacock flew in the garden in the morning. This was a different individual from the one I saw yesterday. Here is an early bumble bee, Bombus pratorum, and here a group of rooks in the morning, deciding how they will spend this lovely day.
8th: A clear but cold day. Here is a little egret fishing on the Deben (and here). A kestrel was resting up on overhead wires not far away while this greenshank was wading in the water's edge. I saw a couple of kingfishers but only in flight. Here is an infinitely long train.
9th: Storm Ciara struck. This poplar in Fen Meadow was blown over.
10th: Winds all day. The morning was sunny but it was cloudy by
lunchtime and rained in the early afternoon. Despite the weather, this red admiral got trapped in our porch. I popped it in a cardboard box
and took it into the garden, intending to let it climb deep into ivy.
Instead, it few up and off. I hope it has found somewhere to shelter
from the weather.
11th: Beautifully clear in the morning, but storm Ciara is still blowing and it was very windy all day. This tree was freshly blown over across a track by the Deben. It was high tide and the kingfisher was fishing at one of her usual spots. Here she is hovering, and here trying to counter the swaying movements of the branch in the wind.
12th: Cold, sometimes windy, and bright.
I couldn't get out properly until the late afternoon. On my afternoon
walk I saw a peacock caught in the wind. It nearly landed twice but
eventually flew off over the meadow and I got no picture. This is the river Deben then - for once I saw no kingfishers. Here is a proud teal on the water and here a passing buzzard.
13th: Sun and showers. Here is a rainbow in the afternoon.
14th: A beautiful morning but cold. Again, I rescued a red admiral from
our porch and let it fly off - no photo, so I don't know if it was the
same one as last time (10th February). In late morning I went to a local track
where butterflies fly early in the year, but there were no nectar
plants and no butterflies. By the afternoon it had turned cloudy. I
managed to relocate one of the white-letter hairstreak eggs I found
last August. They are much harder to get at now, as the branches have
risen up, relieved of the weight of leaves. I managed to get a few poor
photos showing that the egg has hatched (and here). It is the same egg I photographed on 19th August last year (photo here).The
elm flowers are out, so if the caterpillar made it to one it would have
been able to feed. In the conditions, and with two dogs, I wasn't able
to locate it.
15th: A grey day, with wind again.
16th: My birthday, but it turns out I didn't take a single picture today!
17th: The day began beautiful but continued with mixed sun and cloud, with some rain.
18th: It looked promising in the morning but descended into grey again.
Here is an avocet on our river walk, and here a godwit. On the far side
of the river were two cormorants, one with more grey around the head than normal and one with very much more - like the race sinensis. This is a closer crop of the whiter one (and here).
19th: Bright but cold (and here)
20th: Rain almost all day.
21st: Very grey all day. Here is an avocet
wading out deep. Passing one of the elms where I have found
white-letter hairstreak eggs, I saw a branch dangling by a thread. I
detached it and examined it for eggs. There was indeed one - hatched.
I couldn't find the larva. I took the spray home and put it in a vase
of water, in the hope that before long I can spot the caterpillar - if
there is one there - and return it to a safe part of the tree.
22nd: Bright, windy and noticeably warmer today. Here is a view along the river Deben. Waders were plodding around in the mud. This is an oystercatcher and this a grey plover with a lapwing. The grey plover spent quite a lot of time keeping himself clean,
though feeding in the mud like that it must have been an uphill battle.
Following advice from members of UK Butterflies, I am keeping the elm
spray with the hatched white-letter hairstreak egg in a vase of water,
over white paper. The paper is so I can tell where the caterpillar is -
if indeed there is one - by the frass beneath. When I find him, I will
return him to a living elm.
23rd: Mostly a grey day with some sun. Here is a bumble bee in the garden. The elm leaves are beginning to sprout.
25th: Grey and windy in the morning but with some blue sky in the afternoon.
26th: The dogs on a bright but windy morning. In the evening, Venus lay above the old moon in the new moon's arms.
27th: The first snow of the year fell briefly in the morning, without settling. Here is an animated gif of it.
March 1st: March began bright but cold. In the afternoon I visited a reedy stretch of the Deben (and here) but saw very little.
3rd: Heavily overcast much of the day. Here is a blue tit making the most of it and here a black-headed gull, in almost full breeding finery now.
4th: The elm leaf sprouts are fuller now - there will be leaves on the trees soon.
6th: A much brighter day - it suddenly feels as if spring has arrived. Here is a robin in the meadow on our morning walk.
7th: Mild, but after a bright start mostly cloudy today. Here is a male kestrel.
8th: Much warmer today. In the morning, this peacock
was nectaring on hyacinths in the shade, briefly sparring with my first
comma of the year before disappearing. In the afternoon, before cloud
and rain set in, a male brimstone wandered through the garden and
another comma - or more probably the same one - settled briefly in the back garden.
9th: Occasionally sunny, mostly cloudy and raining by the end of the day. Here is a great spotted woodpecker (and here) right at the top of a tree in a local meadow and here a curlew feeding in the mud of the Deben.
10th: A green shield bug in the garden.
11th: Intermittent cloud and sun during the morning. My father saw a
brimstone in the garden while I was inside working. When I was able to
get out, I quickly saw my first small tortoiseshell of the year and three different commas (and here, and here).
Walking the dogs after lunch I spotted a red admiral flying across the
road and then a peacock in the meadow. I saw another peacock in the
road while walking home. In the afternoon I took a trip out to woods
but clouds came over and there were no butterflies.
12th: Cold and windy, but often sunny. The only butterfly seen today was this comma, bravely sunbathing in the garden.
13th: Cold and rather windy again. No butterflies flew. Although full moon was a few days ago now, the tide on the Deben was as full as I have ever seen it. This is the view across the Deben. All the birds were gathered on the green field on the far side. For the first time this year, I think, there were no brent geese among them.
14th: Arum italicum growing by the wayside in Woodbridge. Sunset at Tesco.
17th: An unexpectedly sunny morning. This brimstone was roding through the garden, regularly stopping to nectar or take warmth. He frequently had intimate company (and here). Here is a peacock and here a comma.
21st: Bright and cold, with a stiff breeze. In the garden, only commas were braving the chill. There were at least three individuals: here and here
are the other two. In the afternoon I visited some woods where peacocks
were on the wing. Mostly, they were on the move, looking for sun and
nectar spots, but I saw one stop. I also saw two small tortoiseshells, getting just this record shot of one of them.
22nd: A very similar day to yesterday. In the garden, again, commas were flying (here is another and here an underside) but I didn't get out today and saw no other species.
23rd: Bright and cold again, with a stiff wind. In the morning, my first holly blue of the year - a female - was flying in the garden. Also in the garden were a couple of commas and a peacock. An afternoon walk to a local green hairstreak site (to see its current state) produced a further comma. Buzzards were flirting in the sky and this fox was having a scratch far down the track - he didn't hang around with Minnie at my heels.
24th: Still bright but cold. At least three different commas (and here) in the garden, and a peacock.
25th: Same weather. Again, commas in the garden, as well as at least two male brimstones and at least one peacock.
26th: Still bright, and feeling warmer. In the garden the usual commas were defending their spots (here and here are two different individuals), a couple of peacocks were present and this female holly blue
- the same individual as on 23rd - paused on the Lawson's cypress. I
saw a brimstone pass through on several occasions and spotted my first
female of the year. In the late afternoon, my first small white of the
year passed through and over the fence.
27th: In the morning, several small whites were passing through the garden and occasionally stopping. I also saw brimstones, peacocks and commas. It was warm and sunny, with little wind, all day.
28th: Colder, and cloudy much of the day. It seemed to clear up in the
evening, when Venus and the moon were beautiful together, but then
freezing rain fell.
29th: Cold, with snow in the morning.
30th: The small whites were on the wing again (and here) and I saw a single comma.
31st: Clear but cold. Nothing flew until the afternoon, when first small whites - still only males - and then this single, fresh, male speckled wood appeared.
1st: Cloud all day, and no butterflies. I took my single, legally
authorised walk in the evening. Minnie was wearing her luminous collar,
much to the fascination of this young fox, who stood and stared! I took that photo with my iPhone.
2nd: Only butterflies seen were some small whites in the garden during the occasional sunny spells. Here is a buzzard.
4th: First orange tips on the wing in the garden (and here). Also flying were the occasional brimstone, at least half a dozen peacocks, small whites and a few commas. A hot day.
5th: Another hot day. In the morning, I took Minnie for our
government-authorised exercise/walkies to one of my best local green
hairstreak spots. None are flying yet - I didn't find any last year
until May - but the site looked very good. We saw a couple of commas
and several peacocks. Here is a chiff-chaff (and here), also looking for green hairstreaks. Back home in the garden, orange tips, small whites, male and female brimstones, peacocks and commas were all flying.
6th: In the garden today: brimstones (males and a female), orange tip
(not sure how many - at least one ...), peacocks, small whites and commas. Leaves on the elm trees have sprouted and some have been nibbled but I found no white-letter hairstreak caterpillars today.
7th: A glorious, warm day today, with brimstones, peacocks, commas,
small whites and orange tips flying in the garden. On my evening
dog-walk I searched for white-letter hairstreak caterpillars in my
local meadow and found this freshly moulted third instar (and here). I will try and relocate it during the day, when I might be able to get better pictures. Here is the supermoon rising in early evening, and here she is later in the night.
8th: Again, just brimstones, peacocks, commas, small whites and orange tips in the garden - no holly blues or speckled woods. This small white
was photographed on our afternoon dog-walk, when I also probably saw
green-veined white but it didn't stop for confirmation. Here is an orange underwing, also on our afternoon walk. Here is the now waning supermoon through trees, over the trees, and with some dark clouds across her face.
9th: An orange tip in the garden, on greater celandine (and here). In the afternoon we checked a green hairstreak site, without expecting to see any as they didn't fly there last year until May. In the evening I photographed this white-letter hairstreak caterpillar under UV light - it was very easy to find, as the picture shows.
10th: The usual species in the garden - brimstone, comma (and here),
small white, orange tip and peacock. In the evening I relocated the
white-letter hairstreak caterpillar - if indeed it is the same one that
moulted on 7th April - and took some photos.
It seems to have some black markings at the tail end - I hope it isn't
parasitised or diseased. It is certainly eating well - many of the
leaves around it are munched through.
11th: First confirmed green-veined whites of the year seen on our afternoon dog-walk. In the garden, orange tips, commas, peacocks and brimstones, and commas and peacocks (and here) also seen on our walk. Here is a swan against an impressionistic background of reeds reflected in water. After dark I located three white-letter hairstreak caterpillars (and here and here) in local elms, using a UV flashlight to locate them.
12th: A sunny Easter day until late afternoon, when the storms struck. Here is a kestrel in the early afternoon. Riding back from our walk I saw a single speckled wood in the woods. After dark, I found more white-letter hairstreak caterpillars (and here).
13th: Very cold, and although it was sunny occasionally, no butterflies
flew. After dark another cursory search produced more hitherto unfound white-letter hairstreak caterpillars (and here).
14th: Very cold but sometimes sunny. On our exercise walk we saw small
whites, peacocks and a comma, as well as white-letter hairstreak
caterpillars on the usual trees (and here, and here). In the garden, orange tips,
small whites, peacocks and a brimstone all flew.
15th: In the garden, a gravid female comma feeding up on the Ceanothus,
plenty of small whites and orange tips, a few peacocks and a brimstone.
My first male holly blue of the year, though it only stopped once, briefly, a long way away. In the woods lots of peacocks and
a couple of speckled woods. In the evening, four white-letter
hairstreak cats quickly located low in the elms. This one, I believe, has just moulted into 4th instar, after spending a few days laid up.
16th: In the garden in the morning, peacocks, brimstones, a single male
holly blue, lots of male orange tips and small whites. In the afternoon
I took Minnie for a walk in woods I considered good for possible large
tortoiseshells. We didn't see any large tortoiseshells but did see lots
of peacocks and orange tips and a single comma. On the way, while cycling, we saw a fair number of female orange tips and I photographed this female orange tip
in the woods. The fourth instar white-letter hairstreak caterpillar has
zoomed off - probably higher up the tree. I found two third instar
caterpillars tonight in exactly the same places they were yesterday - I
think laid up for moulting (here is one of them). I found another caterpillar I don't think I've seen before. I only took this one shot of him under UV illumination.
17th: Saw at least three male holly blues in the garden (and here), as well as my first green-veined white for the garden (a female). Also in the garden: smalle whites, orange tips and peacocks. In local woods on our afternoon walk, peacocks and commas were competing for top sun and nectar spots and I found a single speckled wood.
There are no small coppers yet - nor any large tortoiseshells, the
species I have been looking for this last couple of days! In the
evening, I (re-)located three white-letter hairstreak caterpillars.
One, first seen on 10th April and identifiable by his wonky tail end,
remains in exactly the place I found him on 12th April. Either he
hasn't moved or he returns to the same spot. I'm surprised if he spends
this long laid up for his moult but it is possible, as he had done a
lot of eating prior to this rest. I'll check his position again
tomorrow. I didn't take any photos, so as not to disturb them every
18th: Here and here
are two different white-letter hairstreak caterpillars, laid up for
their moult from 3rd to 4th instar. In both cases you can see the silk
they have used to bind themselves to the leaves and stems. The second
one is the one I call 'Willy Wonka' as he has a damaged or diseased
tail. He has been laid up since 12th April.
19th: Here is a male holly blue in the garden. Numbers of this species are growing, with up to five being visible at once around our holly tree. This one
was taking minerals at damp earth in the morning, where my father had
watered the potatoes yesterday. In the evening, I found Willy Wonka -
the white-admiral caterpillar with the wonky tail - just after he had
moulted, now turned round so his head was where his tail had been, and
where his shed skin was. This very poor photo
was taken by iPhone light. I can't tell whether his tail is still wonky
- but I didn't want to disturb him, as at the time I wasn't quite sure
if he had finished moulting. Here is another photo, also by iPhone light, of a different 4th instar caterpillar.
20th: The holly blue females in the garden are getting broody! Here is one checking out suitable holly flowers. Here is a male lurking near flowers in the hope of catching a female, and here is another male sunning himself. Other species in the garden are orange tips, including females,
small whites, green-veined whites, brimstones and still the odd
peacock. During the day I went to check on Willy Wonka, the
white-letter hairstreak caterpillar who moulted into 4th instar last
night. He was looking good (and here, and here) - no wonky tail any more! He is about 8mm long and will grow to double this length by the time he is ready to pupate.
21st: The female holly blues are now laying eggs. Here is one in the act of laying and here is the egg she laid (and here, with more context). On the heath, small coppers are now flying (and here). Here is a 4th instar white-letter hairstreak caterpillar - now c. 12mm long.
22nd: Cycled to the Tunstall/Snape region to look for walls. I found a
site that looked absolutely perfect for them but saw no walls - perhaps
it is still too early. Instead, I saw comma, peacock, small white, green-veined white, orange tip, holly blue and small tortoiseshell. On the way home a red admiral crossed my path.
23rd: On the heath, saw my first green hairstreaks of the year - two
(or possibly three) males, occasionally sparring high in a hawthorn
tree (I saw them appear three times), but only settling out of view.
Other species seen on the walk: peacock, speckled wood, comma. In the
garden, the first orange tip eggs are on the garlic mustard. Some were
white, so laid today (and here) while others were orange. Other species
flying in the garden: green-veined white, holly blue, brimstone and my first large white of the year. The largest white-letter hairstreak caterpillars are now 13-14mm.
24th: Visited a different heath in the afternoon, where again the first green hairstreaks of the year were flying. Here is a more distant shot of one showing a little of the all-brown upperside.
Little else was flying on the heath, though a red admiral passed me at
speed and I saw a male brimstone too. I didn't expressly look for small
coppers because I was hunting hairstreaks, but nor did I see any. In
the garden, holly blues, orange tips
(lots of eggs now) and green-veined whites were prominent, and a single
speckled wood flew through. I haven't seen a comma in the garden for a
while now. The holly blue egg
I photographed three days ago is now surrounded by what looks like a
spider's snare. I hope it is not there to catch the larva on emergence.
Here is a male holly blue higher up the tree, feeding on holly flowers.
25th: I relocated Willy Wonka, the white-letter hairstreak caterpillar, during the day. He is exquisitely camouflaged, as this picture
shows, and has no signs of the damage or disease apparent when he was
in 3rd instar. I couldn't hunt for others, or dwell long with him, as
there were many people about in the meadow. Holly blues and orange tips in the garden, and a single peacock. Here are the moon and Venus, with Aldebaran to the left, in the evening. Orange tip eggs laid on 23rd April, and still white on 24th, are now orange.
26th: On a heathland walk in the afternoon, to the site where green
hairstreaks were flying on 23rd, I saw no green hairstreaks. Their
numbers are evidently still low. Small coppers were flying, as well as speckled woods, peacocks and a red admiral. This is a maiden's blush moth. Back home, I photographed the spider in attendance on my holly blue egg (and here). Here is a male holly blue - males still outnumber females - and here a female orange tip, supping between bouts of egg-laying, I hope. This is a dock bug (Coreus marginatus) on the wall of the house. In the evening, the moon and Venus were again prominent in the sky (and here).
27th: Willy Wonka, the white-letter hairstreak caterpillar,
had packed up his bags and was on the move when I found him tonight in
the meadow. For the first time, he was on a stem instead of a leaf, and
obviously going somewhere. In the past, I have found 4th instar
caterpillars to wander widely. While I was there I recorded both
serotine and common pipistrelle flying around the trees. Here is an orange tip egg in the garden, earlier in the day.
28th: It rained today. The holly blue egg is still unhatched, though largely obscured by the spider's web.
The spider itself was nowhere to be seen. If it doesn't return to the
egg I will probably clear some of its web, so I can observe the
caterpillar when it hatches.
29th: Another rainy day, though orange tips flew briefly during the
rare spells when the clouds parted. The spider guarding the holly blue
egg was again nowhere to be seen so I did clear some of its web from
the holly flowers, revealing the egg
and I hope allowing it the opportunity to emerge and live. I don't know
if the spider had deliberately ensnared it - but it does seem a long
time to wait for a very, very tiny meal ...
30th: Mostly a cloudy day, with short, sunny breaks. Here is a beautiful greenshank in the Deben. A few green-veined whites flew along the banks during warmer spells, even when the sun didn't shine. Here is an orange tip in the garden. The holly blue egg still hasn't hatched.
May 1st: A mixture of cloudy and bright. Here and here are views along the Deben in the afternoon. Little was on the wing. Here is a speckled wood from near the river. Orange tips were about the only thing flying in the garden. Here and here are a couple of photos of a white-letter hairstreak caterpillar taken after dark. The holly blue egg still hasn't hatched.
2nd: Bright and breezy, with a lot of cloud at times. In the afternoon
I had a look for green hairstreaks on the sandlings. I saw just one, at
some distance, nectaring on hawthorn. Lots of peacocks
were skulking down among the dead bracken and only speckled woods were
flying normally, as if it were a warm day. In the garden, the holly blue egg still hasn't hatched. Finally, here is an orange tip in the garden.
3rd: A cool and windy day. In the early morning I found this orange tip
on a garlic mustard in the garden. It had evidently roosted there and
was far from being ready to fly. In the afternoon I headed out to a
site near Tunstall where I thought walls might fly. It was cloudy and
windy and in the end I saw just whites, speckled woods and a peacock.
Here is a whitethroat singing from a telegraph wire (and here).
4th: A beautiful day
but I didn't go far. Butterflies seen included small white,
green-veined white, orange tip, speckled wood and holly blue (lots of
these in the garden).
5th: Took a new walk in the afternoon, hoping to find honeysuckle and
white admiral caterpillars. I found just a little honeysuckle and no
caterpillars. It was warm and sunny but a little windy. The only
butterflies flying were speckled wood and peacock, and a single comma.
I had hoped for green hairstreaks too at this site, but saw none. In
the morning, one of my orange tip eggs looked as if it would hatch soon. By the evening, the caterpillar was visible inside, fully formed, with his head at the pointy end of the egg.
6th: When I checked in the morning, the orange tip caterpillar still hadn't hatched. But after lunch, there he was, munching away on his egg. By the time I returned from my afternoon walk he had eaten all he wanted and moved to the tip of a fruit body. Here is what remains of the egg. I have named him Nachiketas. Our afternoon walk was on the sandlings, where we found just one green hairstreak (and here), as well as plenty of peacocks and speckled woods.
7th: Just a quick afternoon walk round the local meadow, when I saw my
first broad-bodied chaser of the year - a female. I popped into some
local woods, though, on my way to the shops later, and found a small
colony of green hairstreaks. They weren't very amenable, but here and here are proof shots. Otherwise, the only notable species were speckled wood and small copper, which now seems to be out everywhere. In the garden, another orange tip egg looks close to hatching.
8th: In the garden, two more orange tips hatched. One,
I found too late, after he had left his egg and migrated to a
fruit-body (the egg is near the bottom of the picture, on the left). He
is henceforth called Yama. The other was busy eating his egg when I found him. His name is Śvetaketu. Nachiketas
has been moving around during the day, trying different fruit bodies -
or perhaps keeping out of the sun. He is now two days old. In the
afternoon Minnie and I went to a local heath, where we saw at least 7 green hairstreaks at several different points around our walk (and here, and here). Little else was flying, despite the lovely weather, but I did see a very few small coppers. This is a viviparous female Thelaxes dryophila under an oak leaf with her babies.
9th: Trip to a local little blue site, as one had apparently been
sighted. Despite it being a lovely day, I saw none - only a holly blue
and assorted whites. On the cycled ride, however, I did see a couple of
green hairstreaks sparring above bramble by the side of the road (near
heathland). The holly blue egg hatched today. I didn't get good photos,
as at first, when I looked at the camera screen, I thought my naked eye
had been mistaken and that what I had taken for a caterpillar was just
a bit of plant. But on examining the photos I realised I had been right
at the start. Here is about the best picture I got of him. There is very little for this caterpillar to eat. I hope
it feeds up and moves on to a better flower head. Here is an orange tip caterpillar.
12th: A goldfinch by the Deben, and a copper underwing caterpillar nearby (and here).
15th: A local heathy clearing where bramble grows beneath hawthorn
produced several green hairstreaks this afternoon. They were very
inaccessible but here is a proof shot of one. There are still orange tip eggs in the garden.
17th: Brimstone and peacock in the garden, as well as the usual holly blues and orange tips. Here is an orange tip caterpillar freshly moulted into 2nd instar. His old skin is behind him and his old head in front.
18th: First small heaths of the year at two sites near Tunstall. A
single small tortoiseshell on the wing, as well as a few peacocks.
Holly blues common, as were small and green-veined whites.
19th: Only time for a quick trip out to a local heath. Small coppers are now common there, some looking rather worn.
It was a little too windy for the green hairstreaks, though I didn't
stay long so they might have flown. A red admiral was my first for a
while. Here is a female broad-bodied chaser (and here).
20th: Trip to the coast in the afternoon, where the first common blues
of the year were flying, in the company of holly blues. I also saw
small heaths, small coppers, small and green-veined whites and
peacocks, though on the whole little was on the wing. In the garden I
am following 8 orange tip caterpillars now. This is the biggest of them and this one of the younger ones - recently 2nd instar. Just one is still 1st instar.
25th: A hot, sunny day. I the morning, I cycled to a local little blue site, where I saw at least half a dozen individuals, including one female. Here is another male.
There is no doubt these insects were introduced, but they are
apparently thriving and a delight to see. Also flying were common
blues, brimstones, my first brown argus of the year and small and green-veined whites.
29th: Three orange tip caterpillars in the garden.
31st: An afternoon trip to local heathland. Surprisingly little was
flying but I did see several green hairstreaks, including at least
three females apparently looking for places to lay on bramble. I?m not
sure, though, as I didn't find any eggs and they were poking the
unopened bramble flowers with their probosces. Here is one, who soon flew away, and here another. I think this is a male
(his proboscis is visible in other pictures - it only appears to be
missing here!). Other species seen on the heath were a single holly
blue and a couple of small coppers. Earlier in the day I found this brown argus in the garden.
1st: A 7-spot ladybird pupa in the garden.
2nd: A 7-spot ladybird pupa (and here) on nettles in the garden. There are dozens of these all over the nettle patch.
4th: The moon over the meadow on our evening walk. It is still daylight after 21h00.
5th: I have installed a cage for the only orange tip caterpillar still surviving (Śvetaketu). So far, he doesn't seem to have noticed what I have done for him and has just carried on eating on his newly potted garlic mustard. 8th: Śvetaketu was still feeding this morning. By afternoon he had begun wandering in his new environment, I hope looking for a place to pupate. Here is a female emperor dragonfly, photographed in the woods this afternoon.
spent all day silking up a place on a dry twig I had put in his cage
with the garlic mustard. By 17h30 he had done the hard work and let
himself go, suspended around his midriff by silk. His embryonic wings are already clearly visible, as shown in this closer crop. I hope he will pupate tonight or tomorrow.
10th: Śvetaketu this morning, and this afternoon (with a close-up of his future wings). By evening he still hadn't pupated, so I think he is waiting for cover of darkness. This is the latest picture I took of him, at about 17h00.
11th: A wet night. Shvetaketu was still a (very wet) caterpillar this morning and remained so all day.
12th: In the morning, Shvetaketu
was still a caterpillar, though noticeably different from before. His
wing buds had glassed over, his prolegs had retracted and he had begun
to split at the tail end. A little after midday, he shed his skin. In this photograph the skin is half-way down his body and in this one it is dangling off his tail end by a silk thread. After the skin had dropped off completely, a small, red-banded insect (and here)
crawled onto the pupa. I blew it off in case it was a parasite but
later learnt it was a thrips nymph and quite harmless to him. By 13h30
the transformation was complete and Shvetaketu was a fully formed pupa.
13th: Shvetaketu today. The first meadow browns were on the wing in the garden and there were small coppers on the heath - no green hairstreaks, nor yet any silver-studded blues. This red admiral was in the garden at lunchtime.
14th: A meadow brown in the meadow.
15th: Shvetaketu today, now subtly but noticeably a different colour.
18th: I've had glimpses of probable white-letter hairstreaks darting
around with the flies and beetles at the top of the local elms for the
last couple of days, but today I saw two unmistakable males briefly
sparring. They landed out of sight in the canopy and I couldn't locate
them on photos. I can at least confirm they are on the wing.
19th: Śvetaketu has now turned completely beige. The transformation has been taking place incrementally over the last few days.
20th First ringlet of the year, in Woodbridge. My bicycle is being serviced so I am unable to travel for the time being.
22nd: Meadow browns are now common. Here is a female.
23rd: Fresh, hutchinsoni commas are suddenly everywhere. It has been hot and sunny every day for a while. Here is the new moon this evening.
24th: Every time I pass the master elm in the meadow, I look for
white-letter hairstreaks in the canopy - and invariably see between one
and four. They always seem to land out of sight. I point the camera and
shoot, but until today nothing was visible in the picture. Today, by a
similar blind point-and-shoot, I photographed a male white-letter hairstreak.
25th: In late morning, about 4 white-letter hairstreaks were sparring for sunspots in the canopy of this elm. The arrow in that last picture shows where one landed, sufficiently visibly for me to get this shot.
It is a male. I have yet to see a female. In the afternoon, I walked to
Martlesham to pick up my bicycle, continuing on to the heath, where I
looked for silver-studded blues. I saw at least half a dozen males. All of them, like that one, had very narrow borders on the forewings. Here is a different individual - much more worn. Also flying were my first small skippers of the year.
26th: The day began with rain but this cleared and I cycled to Ipswich to see marbled whites at site where although introduced they are now breeding naturally. Here is a female.
This has not been a Suffolk butterfly since the 19th century, for no
obvious reason, but I suspect this colony will thrive and spread more
widely. Here is another with an Essex skipper. Essex skippers were locally abundant at the site, buzzing around many of the concentrations of wildflowers. Here and here are two shots of a different individual, and here another one. Other species seen included large white, small white, meadow brown, small skipper,
ringlet and small copper. I saw another lycaenid disappear into a low
bush but the view was too brief and not good enough to identify it. In
the garden, at least two hutchinsoni commas. July
1st: Small skipper in the local meadow.
3rd: Windy but mostly sunny. My first gatekeeper of the year flew through the garden in the afternoon, without stopping.
4th: A walk on local heathland/woods. Although it was overcast and
windy - even raining as I left home - plenty of species were on the
wing. These included my first grayling of the year (and here), spotted high in an oak tree (it never came down) and my first large skipper - which had evidently been on the wing a while. Other butterflies were small white, green-veined white, red admiral, peacock, comma (at least four hutchinsoni individuals), small skipper, Essex skipper, meadow brown, ringlet
and small copper. I saw a holly blue flying as I cycled to the woods
and a large white in the front garden in the morning making this a
fourteen-species day, despite the awful weather. Cinnabar moth caterpillars were abundant on the ragwort.
5th: Sunny but mostly very windy on the heath today. I saw several
purple hairstreaks high in oaks - at least half a dozen and probably
more - but photography was very difficult with the branches blowing all
over the place. Here
is the only half-decent record shot I got. I was surprised to see just
one silver-studded blue. It was a female, skulking around low in
undergrowth, near heather - but not laying (nor ever opening her wings
very much). She was strikingly blue on the upperside hindwing. The colour extended to both sides in the same way, and her body was quite blue too. Other butterflies flying were small skippers, large skippers, lots of small coppers and some meadow browns.
6th: Poor weather has now settled in.
8th: Here is a female, second generation holly blue, settled on ivy near the river. It was cloudy and she never opened her wings. Here is a ringlet from the same walk.
10th: Mostly cloudy with sunny intervals. In the afternoon I took
Minnie to the Deben. High in an ash tree near elms (where I had been
looking for white-letter hairstreak caterpillars earlier in the year) I
could see hairstreaks, some of which looked from their flight and
behaviour to be white-letter. Lots of 60x photos later, more or less
pointing and clicking at where I saw things land, I confirmed female white-letter hairstreak
(that was the best proof shot). I saw probably half a dozen in total,
as well as several purple hairstreaks and holly blues. There, as well
as a little closer to the river, lots of commas, large skippers,
red admirals, large whites, ringlets, meadow browns and gatekeepers
were on the wing, despite the very iffy weather. Walking back to where
I had left the bike I found another place where about half a dozen
purple hairstreaks were flying. This is a spot I have found eggs in
previous years (2010 and 2011) but not recently. This is a female (and here)
full of eggs, who seemed to be intent on laying, though she was far
away and it was very windy, so it was difficult to study her.