In terms of weather, last Friday’s remarks applied equally to today, so although it was not perfect for the butterfly transect, it looked like the best day of the coming week. The total of 29 butterflies was a tad better than last week, but included 11 Small Heaths and the first Common Blue to have been seen on the Estate so far. Outside the confines of the transect, the season’s first Brown Argus was on the wing.
Numbers and variety continue to struggle, though the spring’s first Common Blue was on New Downs this morning.
With cold winds forecast, it looked like today’s bright sunshine might be the last for a while and despite a cool NE breeze the BMS transect resulted in an improved total of 28 butterflies, including nine Small Coppers, four Red Admirals and four Small Heaths.
Our first Wall Brown of the year was seen along the roadside verge just south of Restharrow Scrape this morning.
Rather late for a first record for the season and despite damp, misty conditions, our first Small Heath of the year was fluttering around the Oasis.
The Mediterranean weather is beginning to have an effect at last and this morning brought a significant increase in variety, with the scarcest butterfly a Brimstone on the Estate, where it is a good deal less than annual. Several Red Admirals were also seen.
The BMS transect in sunshine with the edge of the warmth slightly taken off by a light onshore breeze confirmed the slow start to the season with just 8 butterflies, 5 of which were Small Coppers. This brings the cumulative total for the transect to only 23 and only 2012 (20) and 2013 (18) were poorer at this stage of the season, with 100-150 having been recorded by now in three of the last ten years.
Some long-awaited warm weather encouraged the appearance of the first Red Admiral since early April, though there was nothing new for the season and numbers of all species remain low.