Sunday, 23 June 2013

Butterflies....More Or Less!

There's a distinct possibility that fewer butterflies flew in British skies during the miserable summer of 2012 than ever before, leaving several species in danger of extinction from parts of the country when 300,000 fewer butterflies were recorded on the wing compared with 2011, and the way things are going 2013 is heading for more of the same.

Of 56 species of butterflies monitored last year 52 suffered declines including the High Brown Fritillary which was down 46%. This butterfly is now confined to a few sites in Britain including Arnside Knott which is where the video above was filmed. The Black Hairstreak is one of our most recently discovered butterflies and also one of the rarest, it has a very restricted distribution between Oxfordshire in the south-west and Cambridgeshire in the north-east, it suffered a staggering 98% decline.

Orange Tip Geoff Gradwell

Based on all this, its not difficult to believe, that having spent over 17 hours and covered areas over 15 miles on foot in the countryside over three average sunny and warm June days last week, I found just seven individual butterflies of seven species. At Barbondale I found just two of these, being a solitary Orange Tip and a Small Heath

Common Blue Warren Baker 

The following day between Conder Green and Cockersands I found another three species, being singles of Common Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, and Peacock, no other butterflies were see in the five hours I searched this area. On Friday to make up the seven species I found a single Speckled Wood and a Small Skipper.  

Washout 2012 was the worst year on record for UK butterflies....Welcome to the butterflies of 2013! 

On a lighter note....I've got the bug!

Hawthorn Shield Bug Laurence Counter

On last Tuesdays walk I took a closer look at a Hawthorn bush to discover a pretty smart Hawthorn Shield Bug on one of its leaves. Shield Bugs are also known as 'stink bugs' because of their ability to produce an acrid discharge. There are over 4,700 different species of these insects, many of which are vividly coloured, whilst this makes them stand out to potential predators, it is a stark visual warning that they contain unpalatable chemicals which is ejected as a foul-smelling liquid which usually deters a would be attacker.

I was really pleased to find my first Hawthorn Shield Bug, and thanks to Laurence Counter for allowing me to post his excellent image on Birds2blog. Also thanks to GG and WB for their respective butterfly photographs.  


Warren Baker said...

Not looking good for the Flutters is it pete.
I'll have to put some stats up on my blog for them. Though it's not much better here :-(

Noushka said...

Lovely post Pete!
I see much less butterflies this year than before.
I will post a few though in the following days starting tonight!
Great choice of pics congrats to the photographers!

Findlay Wilde said...

I have only seen a few butterflies so far this year and only one dragonfly. I found another blog with a Stonechat in it and thought you might like to read it
From Findlay

Pete Woodruff said...

Warren/Noushka....Not looking good for the butterflies as you have agreed.

Findlay....Thanks for the link to the 'Stonechat Blog' I'll take a look soon.

Thanks to all for looking in and comments.

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Hi Peter .. Someday I would love to photograph this species .. They are truly beautiful .. Greetings.