Best to make hay while the sun shineth, so this morning was the Middle Field transect. 35 butterflies were recorded with Brown Argus topping the charts on six, followed by Small White, Small Copper, Meadow Brown and Small Heath on five apiece. It appears that my fears for Lycaena phlaeas may have been misplaced – I certainly hope so!
Week 22 on the BMS and another hot and sunny day, enliven by a brisk ENE breeze which provided some relief to the counter but swept the butterflies from exposed areas. Still 170 butterflies was a decent count with Small Heath taking top spot with an excellent 55 followed by Common Blue and Brown Argus with 31 and 20, respectively. Only a single skipper and no Gatekeepers but Small Copper showed some improvement on five.
Another even hotter day. The Middle Field transect totalled 48 butterflies with Common Blue and Brown Argus sharing gold with 12 each, Meadow Brown and Small Heath fighting over the bronze with 5 apiece and Meadow Brown and Small Copper just outside the medals on 4 each. It makes you proud to be British!
In 100% sun, hot and desiccating conditions, with only an easterly breeze for comfort, today’s BMS transect totalled 217 butterflies. Small Heaths continue their comeback at 40, second only to Common Blues on 48. However Small Coppers appear to be really struggling with only 2 individuals seen; surprisingly as the August brood is usually the best. Small/Essex Skipper (6) and Gatekeeper (7) are now almost at the end of their flight season while 12 Speckled Wood was a decent count.
Small Heaths and Small Coppers are noticeably more evident among excellent numbers of Common Blues and Brown Argus on the reserves. 6 Clouded Yellows were charging about on the coastal footpath section of the new sea defences out on New Downs.
This morning BMS transect totalled 286 butterflies, including 80 Common Blues, 13 Brown Argus and a slightly resurgent 10 Small Heaths. The recent spell of hot weather has had a remarkable effect on numbers, putting the 2016 season in second place in the last ten years, bettered only by the Painted Lady year of 2009. While the grassland generalists remain the most abundant, the recovery in numbers of Common Blue and Brown Argus has been a big relief from the depressing situation that existed only a few weeks ago.
The transect walk was another good one, particularly as it included a welcome upsurge in Common Blue numbers, which amounted to 53 of the 353 butterflies recorded, while around 15 Painted Ladies, 30 or so Red Admirals and 15 Peacocks were dotted about and 2 Wall Browns were good to see. On the negative side, just one Marbled White and only 2 Small Heaths were recorded.