Friday, 29 April 2016


The weather this week has continued in the same vein as last week with a persistent cool edge to the breeze adding a significant wind chill factor. This does appear to be depressing butterfly numbers at the moment but nature can only hold back for so long and eventually they must emerge in order to continue the life cycle for the next generation.
The week started with another walk through my local woods; the Early Purple Orchids are coming into full flower and the Bluebell carpet is being rolled out.


Early Purple Orchid (Orchis mascula)

Slow-worm (Anguis fragilis) (male)

On Wednesday I met up with Bob for our weekly walkabout. Both of us were still in search of our first Orange-tip of the season and in less than ideal weather conditions we managed to find one each. I also found my first Speckled Wood of the spring which did not settle for a photograph but the Orange-tip was much more obliging.
Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines) (male)

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Large Red Damselfly

Although there have been some good spells of sunshine during this last week, a nagging north-easterly breeze has given a cool nip to the air. It has therefore been a week of searching out sheltered south facing corners for signs of further spring emergence. On Monday I visited a favourite Wealden wood to check on the local Adder population.

Adders (Vipera berus). This photograph illustrates just how variable they can be.

On Wednesday I met up with Bob for a wander along some woodland edges. Neither of us had seen an Orange-tip yet and I was still in search of my first Speckled Wood of the year; both species were to remain elusive. Later in the day however, Bob would find our first Green Hairstreak of the season.

Peacock (Inachis io) nectaring on blackthorn flowers.

Large White (Pieris brassicae) (female)

On Thursday, Carol and I walked one of our regular routes on Pevensey Levels and I was pleased to spot two freshly emerged Large Red Damselflies.

Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) (male)

Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) (teneral female)

Friday, 15 April 2016

Back to the Woods

 Yesterday, I decided on a walk through the local woods in the hope of seeing my first Speckled Wood or Orange-tip of the such luck but there are always other things to look out for. Since my last visit a couple of weeks ago, the flowering Bluebells are starting to fill the woodland floor with their colour and the Early Purple Orchids have come on apace.

Early Purple Orchids (Orchis mascula)

Beeflies are now abundant along the hedgerows. They have a rigid proboscis and they seem to hover at the nectar source and use their legs to help manoeuvre it into position.

Dark-edged Beefly (Bombylius major) nectaring at willow flower. 

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Magical Metamorphosis (part 2)

During the last couple of weeks I have been monitoring the development of a Green-veined White pupa (Pieris napi) that has seen out the winter in my garden. When I got up this morning it was intact but by the time I had finished my breakfast the freshly emerged butterfly was expanding its wings beside the empty pupa case. I had first seen the larva preparing to pupate back in October 2015 (click on 'Metamorphosis' label).

The pupa on 2nd April.

 On 5th April the thorax and abdomen are starting to darken.

By 7th April the wing markings are showing. 

By 9th April it is clear that a female will emerge.

Emergence on 10th April.

Green-veined White (Pieris napi) (female)

The following morning she was ready to take her first flight.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Whirligig Jig

This last week has seen an increase in insect activity on Pevensey Levels. Butterflies that have hibernated over winter are now becoming numerous, clouds of midges are starting to appear and tiny Whirligig Beetles are gathering to perform their frantic whirling displays on the water surface of ditches and pools.
Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)

Whirligig Beetles (Gyrinus substriatus)

Midge sp. emerging from its pupa in a muddy puddle.

Small numbers of moths are being attracted to the trap at home and the Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta) is another common early season species.