The earlier pictures were taken on my wee compact Canon ixus 970IS, which involved sneaking up on the butterflies. This can be very frustrating when they fly off, but very rewarding when they don't!
Since 2012 I have been using a Panasonic Lumix FZ150, which allows me to zoom in to the butterflies from a couple of metres away.
Thursday, 25 October 2012
East Lothian Butterflies 2012
The weather in East Lothian in 2012 was terrible. It started off quite well and we had two glorious weeks in March when butterflies started to appear, but from April onwards we had a ridiculous amount of rain. There were barely two days without rain right through to August. September was a little better, much to the relief of the farmers, who were able to harvest their crops, but we also had some periods of very heavy rain. We twice suffered fairly serious flooding in July and September, with rivers bursting their banks and fields being flooded.
The weather certainly had an impact on butterfly numbers earlier in the year, but species that appear later in the season didn’t suffer so badly. We had a few sightings of Red Admirals, Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells in late February/early March, but things really took off on 21 March. For the next ten days I had records of various butterflies coming in and it looked like we were going to have an amazing year. April, however, was a complete wash out and I received very few records of butterflies that month! After that numbers picked up a bit, but were generally very disappointing.
Red Admiral, Vanessa atalanta
The first record I received this year was a Red Admiral on the 15th March. We had a really good year for them in 2011, but it is not considered that they survive the winter in Scotland. There was another record on 21st February, but then no more were seen until June. Possibly Red Admirals can survive the cold of a Scottish winter, but they wake up in a period when there are no flowering plants for them to feed on.
The Red Admirals that turn up later in the year have most likely worked their way up here from southern England or the continent. A few individuals were seen in the early summer, but like last year, numbers really picked up in September when they were commonly seen furiously feeding on buddleia. Hopefully, many of them will have flown south where they will be able to make it through to next spring.
Peacock, Aglais io
Small Tortoiseshell, Aglais urticae
Despite the poor weather Small Tortoiseshells were frequently recorded here. The first record was on 1st March and they were seen throughout the year until early October.
Comma, Polygonia c-album
Small White, Pieris rapae
Green-veined White, Pieris napi
Orange Tip, Anthocharis cardamines
Large White, Pieris brassicae
Small Copper, Lycaena phlaeas
Speckled Wood, Pararge aegeria tircis