Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Herts & Middx data 2012 season

Attached to this post is a chart that Andrew has created using our all time data compared with this season's...........Our first signting this year was 4th July 2012 and last 22nd August 2012

correction to last sighting Upper Thames

The last sighting was on August 17th. A female was seen feeding on leakage from a rubbish bin outside the pro's shop at Temple golf club near Hurley, Berks. This is about 1/4 mile from the nearest wood.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Summary 0f 2012 season in Upper Thames [berks/bucks/oxon]

Matthew hates statistics, but how else can you summarize a season so that others can have a comparison with their region?? Started 2 to 3 weeks later than usual. I had a fleeting glimpse of a high flier with Wendy Campbell in Naphill Common on July 4th, but it didn't really start properly until July 8th. The peak was during the 5 days from July 22nd till July 26th, when 123[44%!] of the total sightings [276] were made. This is about 17 days later than the normal peak. Six new habitats were identified including two interesting ones: Wildmoor Heath and Decoy Heath in Berkshire: both heathland BBOWT reserves. The last was seen [tired old lady in Doddershall Wood] on August 14th, making it a 5 week season: fairly normal. But 28 sightings in August was a record for this month. This was in fact the second best season [393 sightings in 2010] during the last 9 nine years. So, iris is a very British animal: lousy weather to start with may put it off for a while, but it gets over it and triumphs in the end.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Gentlemen, the attached junk American art is deeply offensive.  We are, consequently, now at war with the United States (we should never have lost the Americas in the first place) -


Autumn Tints

His Imperial Majesty, The Monarch of all the Butterflies, the Emperor of the Woods (etc. the rest simply don't count) is preparing for winter - somewhat earlier than usual.  Two wild larvae were in hibernation yesterday (20th Oct, joint earliest wild hibernation date in 4 years recording), and nearly all other larvae were well coloured up.  This isn't surprising as tree leaves are changing colour and falling earlier than normal this year (not surprising after such a rotten summer...).

Here's a larva starting to change colour on a fading leaf.  Unusually, it's not on the leaf tip -

And here's an autumn larva actually doing something - spinning up the stem of his seat / feeding leaf to the twig.  As autumn advances larvae regularly strengthen the join of their leaf, for obvious reasons.  Not the best shot of a larva but the silk is quite obvious.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

2012 Egg Lay

It looks very much as though the number of ova laid this year in and around Savernake Forest, Wiltshire, is slightly lower than in 2011 - which itself was a very poor egg lay year.  I haven't finished the task of searching yet but doubt that I'll match last year's tally.  The distribution of eggs and larvae in the forest is very different this time round, with several being found outside the forest. 

Eight days of hot sunny weather from 22nd July, when the butterfly was at peak season, should perhaps have led to a better egg lay than this.  But adults were in miserably low numbers here this season and the females do not actually like excessively hot weather.

Larval development is currently behind on the previous three years, which is hardly surprising given the late flight season.  However, the sallow trees are turning autumnal unusually early.  These guys need to hurry up!  Here's a larva from today -

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Autumn Larvae

Brief report.  I'm two-thirds through my annual survey of eggs and larvae in / around Savernake Forest.  The egg lay there looks as poor as last year's, probably even worse, but I live in hope of finding a major concentration.  To date, I've found more outside the forest than inside it... 

There's a lot of Sallow Mildew around this autumn, due to the wet summer.  It's not good for the larvae at all. 

This poor larva was on a badly infected spray, and was promptly rescued...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Purple Emperor Chiffon Scarfe

What to buy him / her / us for Christmas.  It's quite nice.  

Beating the odds

Any elephants in the Empire will remember I found just one iris egg this year, which hatched into a tiny person I named Tiberius. I lost Tiberius in his second instar, in September, despite examining every single accessible leaf on his sallow tree on three different occasions. Today I found him again, now in his third instar:

I speculate he spent much of his second instar higher up the tree where I couldn't see him and has now been driven lower again either by the leaves dying off sooner up there or by the lousy weather we've had recently.

Whatever, it's good to see him. What are the odds of finding a single egg, just after it was laid, and for the caterpillar still to be around two months later?