Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Large Tortoiseshell Butterfly In Rother

I have often bemoaned the fact that all the prestigious butterfly flagship species, Purple Emperors, (Apatura iris), Duke of Burgandy (Hamearis lucina) and Silver-spotted Skippers (Hesperia comma) are all located in the west of Sussex.

Though Purple Emperors are making their way north-eastwards (now being recorded in Wadhurst), they have yet to reach the Rother district, though one was recorded in Peasmarsh in 1980.

Purple Emperor Distribution Map (MapMate)

So it came as a great surprise when Stuart Cooper found a Large Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros) butterfly in Beckley Woods on 12th March 2014.  Butterflies and Moths in the Brede Valley

Large Tortoiseshell Butterfly (c)Neil Hulme 2007
 Prior to Stuart’s sighting the previous records for Large Tortoiseshell butterflies in East Sussex were in 2011 when they were recorded in Falmer. Inspection of the distribution map below shows that this is a rare sighting indeed.

Large Tortoiseshell Distribution Map (MapMate)
Large Tortoiseshell butterflies were once generally distributed in England and Wales but are now thought to be extinct as permanent residents. However they are still recorded as migrants from the continent and may become temporarily resident in some areas such as the Isle of Wight.

This butterfly has the added bonus that it is often observed in early spring, so check those early Tortoiseshell sightings, you never know.

So, well done Stuart. Rother now has a flagship species as we patiently wait for the Purple Emperors to make their way south-eastwards.

Monday, 10 March 2014

It suddenly looks and feels like Spring!

An Article by Heather Martin

According to the Met Office Sunday 9th March was the warmest day in our region since last October and what a beautiful day it was.

Rodney and I went to our wood to carry out a bit of maintenance on the dormouse nest boxes.
The stream has retreated back to where it belongs and the ground is significantly drier.

Primroses are flowering profusely and the first of the Wood Anemones are blooming.

Brimstone, Comma and Peacock butterflies were out in force.

We also saw the first hoverflies of the year. This Eristalis sp. landed momentarily on the sleeve of Rodney's boiler-suit.

I was thrilled to hear croaking coming from the far side of the pond and although the frogs dived for cover as we approached they had already deposited clouds of spawn at the water's edge.

All pictures by Heather Martin 10/03/2014