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.



Tuesday, 29 March 2016

East Lothian Butterflies 2015 (2)

Continuing on from my previous post ...

Green Hairstreak, Callophrys rubi
We only discovered Green Hairstreaks for the first time in East Lothian in 2014, although I am sure they were probably hiding away in their remote locations for several years before that. This year the first record was on 20th May and they were recorded until 7th June. They were mostly recorded in the Lammermuir Hills, but also in an area of lowland woodland.


Wall Brown, Lasiommata megera
There were two distinct generations of Wall Browns between 30th May - 2nd July and 16th August - 19th September. They seemed to be quite abundant this year and I have been told that they were particularly abundant on the coast in the Scottish Borders. This is good news as they are struggling in southern England, possibly as a result of climate change.


Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui
I had thought that 2015 was a poor year for Painted Ladies, as I only saw one all year! However, I received quite a few records from other enthusiasts. Considering the number of Red Admirals that arrived here in July, I was surprised there weren't more Painted Ladies, though. The first record I received was on 11th June and the last one seen was on 26th October.

Common Blue, Polyommatus icarus
The first Common Blue recorded in 2015 was on 11th June and they were recorded through to 29th September in good numbers. There was no clear division between the two generations. For some reason there was a much higher proportion than normal of females reported than in previous years.

Northern Brown Argus, Aricia artaxeres
I am only aware of four sites in East Lothian where Northern Brown Argus occur. Three of these sites are smaller than the average sitting room. This year I only received records from two sites with the earliest being 20th June and the latest was on 7th August.

Ringlet, Aphantpopus hyperantus
Ringlets were seen in their usual good numbers between 24th June and 16th August. They seemed to have a longer season than in previous years, possibly because the weather was so poor.


Meadow Brown, Maniola jurtina
As usual Meadow Browns were very numerous in 2015. The first record was on 27th June and they were seen through to 3rd September, with a peak in numbers in early August.

Dark Green Fritillary, Argynnis aglaja
The Dark Green Fritillary is mostly found on the coast of East Lothian, but there are a few inland sites where they are also found. The first record in 2015 was on 27th June and they were seen until the 15th August.

Small Skipper, Thymelicus sylvestris
The Small Skipper was first recorded in East Lothian in 2011 at Aberlady Local Nature Reserve. It has since done incredibly well and spread along the coast and is also found at a couple of inland sites. In 2015 it was recorded between 28th June and 29 August.

Grayling, Hypparchia semele
I am only aware of three sites where Grayling occur in East Lothian. One of those sites is in an area that is due to have houses built on it and we are currently unable to access it. All of the records I received in 2015 were from a nearby site, which is an old mining spoil heap. The first Grayling was recorded on 3rd July and they were seen till 6th August.

Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary, Clossiana selene

The only record of a Small Pearl Border Fritillary this year was on 3rd July when I briefly saw one at a site in the Lammermuir Hills. This is the only place I am aware of them occurring in East Lothian, so I hope they are able to hang on there.

The only butterfly that I was hoping to see in East Lothian that we didn't record in 2015 was the Large Skipper. They had been seen just inside the East Lothian boundary in 2014 and we had high hopes that they would increase in number or progress along the coast as so many other species have done. They may have been there, but due to the lousy weather no one was there to spot them!  With a bit of luck we will find them again in 2016.

It is fantastic having so many people contributing to the butterfly records in East Lothian. We are building up a really good picture of what is going on during a very interesting period in the distribution of butterflies here. I wonder if we will have any new butterflies in 2016?



26 comments:

  1. Your photos are so crisp in its sharpness. I love the uncommon (at least in my part of the world) colours of the Green Hairstreak and the Common Blue.

    While browsing through another blog, I read about your loss. So sorry about that. It must have felt like the wind has gone out of the sails.

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    1. Thank you Elsie. We may not have many butterflies here, but they are a nice variety of different colours!
      Yes, a very sad time. However, we hope to move to Dad's house in the future and continue his vision for the land. Hopefully much wildlife will benefit in the future!

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    2. I agree with what Stiletto said above about your photos. They are really so beautiful, giving justice to the beauty of the butterflies. I haven't read about what happened, what is the loss about? Whatever that is I am so sorry.

      It took a while for me to comment because this page didn't want me to, at least today it opened the comment window. Best regards, take care.

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    3. Hi Andrea,
      Sadly it was my father who died at the end of February. He was a scientist - limnology - and he worked in Scotland, France and Africa setting up research programmes and nature reserves. It is good to think that there are a lot of areas that are now protected for wildlife as a legacy of his working life. We hope to continue his legacy when we move to his house in the future and continue to look after the area for the benefit of nature.

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  2. Hello Nick, I am so sorry for your loss. My heartfelt sympathy to you and your family. Sorting out belongings of deceased parents, that are often the accumulation of a lifetime is never easy. I’ve been through it myself, and know how painful it can be.

    I just wanted to pay my respects, and will comment another time on your post.
    Take care Nick. Warm Regards


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    1. Thank you Sonjia. Yes, it has been tough sorting through all of his belongings and there certainly are a lot! We are about half way through and we are hoping to find good homes for his extensive collection of scientific books and other items. Knowing that his belongings will be appreciated by others is comforting. It all makes me question the belongings that I have accumulated so far and already I have been throwing some of my stuff away!

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  3. Hello Nick!:)We truely don't need so much stuff cluttering our homes, I have been having a spring clean out too. Lovely photos of all the butterflies. I can imagine your excitment at seeing the Green Hairstreak, and it's a great capture. They are so small, and difficult to see amongst the greenery. When I first saw one, I thought I was following one of the small blue butterflies. I have only seen two in the last five years.It's great that sightings of the butterflies of East Lothian are being recorded in such detail by other butterfly enthusiasts, and you can compare notes.
    It will be wonderful to explore the possibilities afforded by your fathers estate, and I will watch this space with anticipation.:)

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    1. Hi Sonjia,
      The Green Hairstreaks are great little butterflies, and really difficult to spot. I am sure they have probably been around for years, but just not been noticed. We discovered that they always occur next to conifer plantations. I thought it was because they offered shelter to the butterflies, but we discovered that they always fly up into the trees to mate.
      It is wonderful having so many people recording butterflies here. Luckily there is a similar group of enthusiasts down the the Borders where my father's house is, so we are able to compare notes!

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  4. Hi Nick,
    I gather from the comments that your father has recently passed away. I'm so sorry for your loss. Ironically, I am aboard Peregrine now after a year and a half absence due to caring for my Mom and dealing with selling the house and following the wishes of her trust as I was trustee. We came back to Peregrine for a little R&R. I opened my blog (almost didn't remember my sign in!)to start writing a post and saw you had just posted, so I popped in to read. Your photos are really beautiful. When I saw the photo of the Orange-tip it struck me how odd it is that you have the same butterflies there that I have at my place in San Diego County. I know that there are Painted Ladies and other butterflies that are the same, but I never really thought about that. Strange that the two continents have such different bird species, yet share butterflies. Birds fly better and live longer, right? Anyway, I was recently out at the wild place in San Diego and the most common butterfly there was the Orange-tip. I had not noticed them before. I have big areas of a plant called Fiddle-neck and they were drawn to it. I'm happy to find you are still here teaching us with your great blog.
    Sue

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    1. Hi Sue,
      Thank you. I am sorry to hear that you have also been going through a difficult time. It is good to hear from you again. I was a little concerned when you appeared to disappear off the radar!
      Yes, it fascinates me that some butterflies appear in different parts of the word, with big gaps in their distribution. I love how isolated islands such as Mauritius have butterflies from both Africa and Asia. I wonder how many of them arrived there. Of course recent ones have been accidentally introduced by man, but before that, who knows?
      I will have to Google Fiddle-neck to see if it is close to the foodplants for Orange Tips over here.

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    2. Sue, I just Googled Fiddleneck and it looks very similar to a plant I have seen in southern Europe which is also attractive to butterflies. One of the pictures showed a Sara Orange Tip feeding on it. It seems that your Orange Tips are subtly different to those we have here. The same genus, but different species. It is interesting to think that they probably had a common ancestor thousands of years ago. Further searching reveals that you have seven species of Anthocharis in the USA. It is interesting for me to see the subtle differences between them all.

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  5. Hello Nick,
    From Susan's comment, I understand you too are going through a tough time.
    Loosing some close is very difficult to deal with but fortunately time does a fair job at healing these wounds somewhat...
    The Green Hairstreaks mating is a fantastic shot, I see them seldom here.
    Best wishes.

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    1. Hi Noushka,
      Thank you for your comments. My father was in decline for a couple of years and then in hospital for two months, so when he died it wasn't a great shock. However, I still keep finding myself saying I'll ask Dad when I see him. I remind myself that he had an amazing life and couldn't really have asked for more. We will be taking over his house and small piece of land, so it is nice to think we can continue to look after the place for wildlife. He set up nature reserves around the world, so has left a great legacy, too.

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    2. Well yes, when one is prepared it is much easier; I was not as "lucky" when I lost my husband.
      Great to learn he set up reserves, nature needs it badly...
      Thanks for your reply and your comment on my blog :)

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  6. Beautiful series of captures!

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  7. such lovely photos and butterflies
    i have never seen green ones
    i did see my first butterflies of the year this past weekend
    mostly they were flying and i did not get a good photo
    but such a joy to know that they will be around now

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    1. Thanks Tammie Lee, I love the Green Hairstreak. I think it is unusual to find a green butterfly. Yes, it is always a thrill when the first butterflies appear. They bring with them the promise of better weather!

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    2. Hi Nick,
      I doubt that was me from Pineale Wy., that is pretty far from here. I have noticed when i visit people's blog who have the thing on the sidebar showing where their visitors are from, that it says Columbia Falls, MT. when I am visiting. That is an adjacent town to Whitefish where i am from.

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    3. Thanks Tammie Lee. Never mind. I would love to make contact with the ranch again some day.

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  8. Hi Nick, thanks for commenting on the raptors and my friend the vixen!
    It's been a while since you published... Still no butterflies in the UK??
    Enjoy your weekend :)

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    1. Hi Noushka. I am conscious of being rather quiet as I have been busy looking after my father's affairs and sorting out his house. The grounds are reasonably wild, but still take quite a bit of looking after. And no, there have been hardly any butterflies so far this year. It was all looking very promising in March, but then became cold again for all of April. The forecasters say it will warm up on Sunday, so I hope they are right.

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  9. Hello Nick!:) Thanks for visiting!:) I just called by to say hello really, and hope all is progressing as it should.
    Warm Regards.

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    1. Hi Sonjia,
      All going well, thank you, but just really busy at the moment. The weather improved three days ago, so I have seen some butterflies. I will add some pictures to my blog soon!

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  10. These are just fabulous!

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    1. Thank you Maria. I am lucky to be living in a period when so many species are occurring here.

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