Saturday, 1 October 2011

The Monarch Butterfly.

'Sweet freedom whispered in my're a butterfly....and butterflies are free to fly, fly away, high away bye bye'....Someone Saved My Life Tonight. Elton John/Bernie Taupin 1975.

Monarch. Kenneth Dwain Harrelson.

In the past few weeks many rare vagrants from North America have been arriving in the UK mainly as a result of the hurricane season. But by way of a diversion from birds on Birds2blog, a rare butterfly from the other side of the Atlantic has been found on the south coast. The Monarch butterfly is a spectacular creature and was discovered in Dorset on Thursday 29 September, nobody will ever know whether this was the result of the late summer weather we are currently experiencing in the UK, or whether it is the result of the winds from America.

The majority of Monarch butterflies are to be found in North America, but small populations survive in Southern Spain and the Canary Islands. They migrate a truly amazing 3,000 and winter in the Mexican mountains. The last good Monarch year was in 1999 when 'scores' turned up in the UK, this butterfly is regarded as one of the natural wonders of the world, and I wouldn't dispute that. 

Gatekeeper. Steven Cheshire

As a result of the coldest summer for 18 years UK butterflies have suffered badly and the Common Blue ranks as the top loser in the worlds biggest count in 2011, but the Gatekeeper came out as the winner with 52,368 seen in this survey, and an interesting set of figures revealed that three times as many Small Tortoiseshell were recorded in Scotland than in England, though numbers generally stabilised this year after a recent severe decline. Another good result was that of the Red Admiral which enjoyed an excellent summer with numbers up by 98%.

Parts of the UK had a record breaking warm dry spring, but these conditions gave way to chilly temperatures and prolonged spells of rain, and the summer of 2011 became the coldest since 1993 resulting in butterflies being unable to feed, fly, find mates, or lay eggs throughout the bad weather.   

Painted Lady. Steven Cheshire

I saw the record of a Painted Lady butterfly on the LDBWS website recently and reckon this takes the total in our recording area in 2011 to nothing much more than can be counted on one hand and includes just one individual which I  found at Cockersands on Thursday 7 July.


1 comment:

Warren Baker said...

I reckon the flutters have stratagies to deal with blips in the weather Pete. I more afraid for them when it comes to our destruction of their habitats :-(