Saturday, 24 December 2011

With Best Wishes.

By way of a change from the birds, I've been looking back on 2011 with regard to butterflies and have discovered how the hot dry spring and the warmest autumn on record had many species appearing much earlier and much later than in a typical year with some on the wing from early March to December.

Black Hairstreak. Steven Cheshire. 

The endangered Black Hairstreak was recorded this spring in May, a month ahead of the norm for the species.... 

Lulworth Skipper. Copyright Steven Cheshire.

....and the Lulworth Skipper - which is restricted to the south in Dorset - was also seen on the wing several weeks earlier than is usual, as was the Pearl-bordered Fritillary.

Grizzled Skipper. Copyright Steven Cheshire.

And my personal favourite of the three is the Grizzled Skipper - a little beauty - also emerged weeks ahead of the normal date in the warm spring weather. Red Admirals were still being recorded on the wing in the mid-December run-up to Christmas, and a rare Marsh Fritillary was seen in mid-September almost two months after the butterfly should have disappeared for the year.

The warm autumn weather also saw a large influx of migrant moths from Southern Europe with species such as the Crimson Speckled and the Vestal being seen into October. Other moths - including one with the bizarre name for December of Spring Usher - have been recorded regularly since November, months earlier than you would expect to have them appear, and the Humming-bird Hawk Moth is thought to have had its best ever year in the UK with in excess of 9,000 records submitted beating the previous one of 6,500 in 2006....intriguing stuff! 

Painted Lady. Copyright Steven Cheshire.

On a personal note void of a records search I rate my self lucky to recall finding one Painted Lady this summer on 7 July at Cockersands and don't remember seeing more than a couple of records from other observers in our area in the entire year. Thanks to Steven Cheshire for four excellent butterfly images.

Well....I still can't get to see these views of Conder Green. These were taken at high tide one day during the freeze of last year as seen from the viewing platform at Conder Pool, a couple of photo efforts by yours truly. But don't worry, I know all about the influx of large numbers of White-Fronted Geese into the UK and a good many more Bean Geese than is the norm, and the comings and goings of all the rare and scarce birds both nationally and locally like the....

Glossy Ibis. Colin Bushell 

Glossy Ibis at Leighton Moss above - thanks for the image CB, much appreciated - and the Glaucous Gull, Snow Geese, Snow Buntings, Shore Larks, and Great White Egret to mention but a few.

Greater Yellowlegs. Gary Jenkinson

And the Greater Yellowlegs which GJ saw in Northhumberland last month is almost certainly the very same bird now present in the Highlands of Scotland, its wintering grounds being in the southern coastal areas of the USA. It's interesting that given both the Lesser Yellowlegs and Greater Yellowlegs  are long distance migrants the number of records in the UK are something in the order of up to 300 of the LY yet little more than c.30 of the GY. Incidentally, the first record for the Greater Yellowlegs in Britain was of a bird at Tresco on the Isles of Scilly in September 1906, and the Lesser Yellowlegs 52 years earlier in Nottinghamshire in 1854. Thanks for the image Gary, much appreciated.

Thanks for the comments in 'At it again!' they are much appreciated, and....I'd like to wish everyone who supports/visits Birds2blog and reads this post despite the continuing attempts to keep it afloat until normal service is resumed....A VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS and many hours of excellent birding in 2012....I'm sure I will....eventually!

And finally....I'd like to pass on another Christmas Wish sent to me by one of my ardent supporters and good friend who - like so many others - obviously knows me well....


Warren Baker said...

Hi Pete,
I needed that colourful post! A real shot in the arm :-)

Enjoy the festivities mate :-)

Christian said...

Merry Christmas to you too Pete and like you say - here's to plenty of birding in 2012!

Richard Shilling said...

Happy Christmas to you Pete.

I went for the traditional yomp up Clougha today and was surprised to see a male Stonechat at Birk Bank near the tower. I didn't linger long as it was so bloomin' windy so I didn't see if he was solitary or not. I guess because we haven't really had a prolonged cold snap that some are staying in upland areas? Anyway, thought I'd pass it on.

Rich said...

Merry christmas...and lovely insects have many specialities :-)
Saludos from Spain.

Pete Woodruff said...

I really must reply to these comments this time, though I've remained silent re comments in my posts since my last birding day on 14 October which has resulted in Birds2blog becoming a 'skeleton' with occasional 'gap fillers' but have made thank you comments on the front page of recent posts.

Thanks this time to Warren/Christian/Richard and

Richard, brilliant you picked up the male Stonechat on Birk Bank, I promise myself a few hours up there - and elsewhere- at the very first opportunity.

Happy New Year to you all.