from Ken Orpe
Update no 16 as at the 22nd of April 2022 - including first Dingy Skipper and Small Copper sightings in the County this year.
A very unusual phenomenon occurred last weekend when a spell of sunny and warm weather coincided with the Easter Bank Holiday and fortunately the sunny weather has continued into Week 3 of the transect season – that is not to say that large numbers of butterflies have been seen County wide but a total of 60 individuals in 6 species on the 15th of April 2022 in Lathkill Dale NNR (Debbie Worland) is very encouraging – this was followed by 45 in 6 species seen at Norbriggs on the same day (Sid Morris), then 42 at both Doe Lea on the 17th of April 2022 (6 species – Mike & Mavis Allen) and at Toyota Ponds (5 species – John Malpas) on the 20th of April 2022.
Pleasingly a couple of new species appeared this week when a Small Copper was noted on the 20th of April 2022 at
Creswell Crags (Jim Anderson – see attached photo), the County record being the 12th of April (2003), and this was followed by another Small Copper in Monsal Dale on the 21st of April 2022 (Ian & Joy White), who also saw a couple of Dingy Skippers there on the same day. Then a couple of Dingy Skippers were seen by Anita Aked at Pleasley Pit on the 21st of April 2022, the County record being the 14th of April (2007). Recently the Holly Blue
has been doing well with at least 100 individuals noted from 60 sites across Derbyshire including sightings in the dales at Tideswell Dale (Esther Weir and Ian & Joy White) and in Lathkill Dale NNR (Dave & Sue Evans) and further north at Taxal (Sheila Stubbs) and Furness Vale (Patrick Anderson), with up to 7 individuals noted in Draycott village on the 20th of April 2022 and 7 in Long Eaton on the 21st of April 2022 (both Roger Martin). At last, the Speckled Wood is becoming slightly more common with sightings from 50 sites including 11 noted in Goseley Cutting, Overseal on the 18th of April 2022 (Ruth Frudd).
Other recent sightings of note include :-
Brimstone :- Highest recent counts of 14 from Lathkill Dale NNR (Debbie Worland) and 11 at Scarcliffe Park (Roy Frost).
Orange Tip :- Quite widespread across the County now with the highest counts coming from Lathkill Dale NNR (63 No – Dave & Sue Evans), Clowne Linear Park Line (40 No – Neil & Lorraine Jones) and at Markham Pit South (33 No – Sid Morris)
Green Hairstreak :- Only a few sightings of this Peak District speciality species recently with at least 20 on gorse at Whaley Moor on the 15th of April 2022 (Christine Bowen), 10 in the Hall Dale/Dovedale area (Ian & Joy White and Derek Brownlee), 4 noted high on Longstone Edge on the 16th of April 2022 (Angela Bird) and a singleton on bilberry at Highoredish on the 17th of April 2022 (Peter Kidd).
Red Admiral :- Very scarce at the moment with just a couple of records – an individual noted at Northwood on the 15th of April 2022 (Christine Gregory) and 2 seen at Rosliston Forestry Centre on the 19th of April 2022 (Andrew Gumb)
Small Tortoiseshell :- Still showing at a number of sites in the County with the highest count of 12 coming from Scarcliffe Park on the 17th of April 2022 (Roy Frost).
Peacock :- Again still showing across the County with the highest count of 20 coming from Scarcliffe Park on the 17th of April 2022 (Roy Frost).
Comma :- Less common than the last 2 species but the maximum recent count of 10 came from Cinderhill, Shipley Country Park (George & Tamsin Cox) on the 16th of April 2022.
Wall Brown :- This iconic Derbyshire butterfly has failed to respond to the recent warm and sunny spell with just one sighting of an individual noted on Alport Heights above the Ecclesbourne Valley on the 15th of April 2022 (Dave & Sue Evans) – still no sightings of the species from the ‘hot spots’ of Hoe Grange Quarry and Longstone Edge.
With the Dingy Skipper season now in progress, I have recently received a copy of a Report for the species for 2021 in Lowland Derbyshire – if you would like a copy then please send me an email.
Update no 15 as at the 15th of April 2022 - including Painted Lady sightings in the County
The current weather patterns appear to be similar to what happened in March/April 2021 with a few days of warmth and sun in March followed by a cold April (last year there were 18 days with frost in Derby and this April there have already been 6 frosts) – consequently butterfly sightings have been at a premium in week 2 of the transect season, despite an increase in the temperature during the last few days. Counts of double figures on transects have come from Toyota Meadows (13 butterflies – Brian & Jean Hallam), Belper Parks (12 butterflies - Adrian & Rebecca Rochford), Toyota Pond ( 11 butterflies – Brian & Jean Hallam), Poolsbrook Country Park (11 butterflies – Sid Morris) and in Coombsdale ( 10 butterflies – Andrew Woodhouse).
There was however a couple of sightings of the Painted Lady butterfly in the County since the start of the southerly airflow
with an individual seen at Bolsover on the 10th of April 2022 (Paul Townsend & Norman Jones) and another at Biggin by Hulland on the 11th of April 2022 (Janet Grindy) but no more sightings since then. Pleasingly the Holly Blue has started to appear at a few more sites in the County recently with records from Littleover (Dave Oulsnam), Barlborough (Neil & Lorraine Jones), Hollinhill (Jim Russell), Darley Dale (Rod Dunn) with a maximum of 5 seen on the 11th of April 2022 in the village of Draycott (Roger Martin). Just a few more recent sightings of the Speckled Wood with records from Hilton Gravel Pits (Marion Bryce), Poolsbrook Country Park (Sid Morris), the National Stone Centre in Wirksworth (India Milward) and at Belper Parks (Adrian & Rebecca Rochford).
Recently UKBMS issued the early results from the 2021 season which proved to be the worst since 2017 and 33rd out of 46 years since the project started back in 1976 ( I’m proud to say that I have completed 40 years during that time doing my transects!), despite them receiving 476,000 records from 2,900 sites across the UK during 2021. The following information gives you a feel for the changes in the Regions butterfly species during that time :-
Losers :- Wall Brown (- 87%); Small Tortoiseshell ( - 79%) ; White Letter Hairstreak (-78%) and Small Skipper (-73%)
Winners :- Ringlet (+ 335%); Red Admiral (+279%); Dark Green Fritillary (+279%); Silver Washed Fritillary (+278%); the Comma (+185%); and in recent years the Purple Emperor (+136%) – not quite in Derbyshire but only a question of time!
Finally I have just completed a comparison of the transect data for Derbyshire covering 2020 and 2021 with some very interesting information being forthcoming
Despite the poor weather of 2021, 20 species increased in their abundance whilst 12 species decreased in abundance, with the Meadow Brown being the most common butterfly on transects. The Ringlet had the biggest increase in numbers over 2020 followed by the Gatekeeper and surprisingly the Small Skipper – the biggest decreases in numbers over 2020 were the Small White followed by the Small Tortoiseshell and the Large White.
So fingers crossed for a period of sun and sustained heat so as to help our butterflies recover somewhat.
Update no 14 as at the 8th of April 2022 - including Week 1 transect results
Now that the transect season has started the weather has taken a decidedly turn for the worse, but thanks very much to the intrepid early volunteers who carried out their Week 1 transects on 60 out of 130 sites in the County (for those 48 sites that were walked but without any sightings, it was good to receive a record sheet even though it was a zero result as it all goes into the data at the end of the season), and in fact butterfly sightings in the first week of April have been limited to only the following :-
The 12 transects with sightings produced 14 Small Tortoiseshells, 4 Small Whites, 2 Peacocks,1 Brimstone and 1
Orange Tip. In addition to these records, a Speckled Wood was noted on the 2nd of April 2022 at Creswell Crags (Jim Anderson) and another Orange Tip was seen in Staveley on the 7th of April 2022 (Sid Morris) which was quite a stormy day!
Whilst we may have had the earliest records ever for 5 species this year - the Red Admiral (1st January 2022), Small Tortoiseshell (1st January 2022), Small White (30th January 2022), Wall Brown (25th March 2022) and the Green Hairstreak (27th of March 2022) the overall numbers of the hibernating butterflies seen in the County during the first 3 months of 2022 were nearly 50% down on the same period in 2021 – Reason? Undoubtedly the poor weather of 2021 resulted in fewer butterflies emerging and consequently fewer were able to enter hibernation! Interestingly the biggest decline was in the Peacock (76%) ,the Small Tortoiseshell (46%), and the Brimstone (23%), whilst the Comma had a 134% increase and the Red Admiral a 82% increase on 2021 early sightings. Perhaps the last 2 species, which mainly survive in crevices in trees, were not predated like the other species which spend the winter in man-made structures and/or within ivy coverings?
In the meantime, if you want to do a worthwhile project in your garden or site then why not follow the efforts of Pete Clark of Ironville who decided he wanted to create something special in his garden for butterflies and after a great deal of hard work he created a Garden Butterfly Wall complete with gravel microclimate for basking. Have a look at the attached photos – it really looks great and Pete was rewarded last month with the appearance of both the Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell checking out his Spring flowers and his handy work! Looks like an ideal habitat for a pair of Wall Browns to me!
Update no 13 as at the 31st of March 2022 - including sightings of 4 new species in the County this week
After a great period of early Spring weather during the last week, it comes as no surprise that a cold spell of weather is now upon us as we enter a new month. Thanks to the many recorders who managed to get out and about into the Derbyshire countryside, as well as their gardens and parks, to record over 700 butterflies during this period, including 4 new species this year!
First of all the Holly Blue appeared on the 23rd of March 2022 in the Mickleover garden of Max & Christine Maughan - further sightings of this species have since come from Chesterfield (Jim Alder), Creswell Railway Station (Neil Jones), Aston on Trent (Rob Waldron), Swarkestone (Roger Martin) and Willington (Andy Large). Then on the 25th of March 2022 the first confirmed sighting of the Green Veined White was recorded in the County at Pleasley Pit (Ian Hurst) which was then followed by other sightings at Linton
(Chris Leverington) and at Lady Lane, Denby (Jane Rogers). The real surprise was the appearance of a couple of Wall Browns in Derbyshire on the high ground above Matlock in the Starkholmes/Riber area – these being the earliest sightings of the species ever which was on the 25th of March 2022 and noted by Dave & Sue Evans. It is in complete contrast to the situation a mere 10 years ago when the first Wall Brown was seen on the 22nd of May 2012, a difference of virtually 2 months. What is concerning is that now that the weather has changed for the worst, it is highly unlikely that these butterflies will find a mate before they perish – we already have a ‘kamikaze brood’ noted sometimes in October so a ‘reconnaissance brood’ in March is not what we really want . Just to finish off the new arrivals this week, a Green Hairstreak was seen on bilberry on Bray Clough near Glossop on the 27th of March 2022 (per Dave Mallon), this being 1 day earlier than the previous record of the 28th of March (2012).
Species that have been reported earlier in March such as the Orange Tip have been seen now at a dozen sites across the County in mainly ones and twos but Paul Townsend saw 3 individuals on Hassop Common on the 28th of March 2022 so the species has now appeared in the Peak District as well as Lowland Derbyshire. Sightings of the Small White are certainly becoming far more widespread but the only additional sighting of the Large White came from the Elvaston garden of Mike Tong on the 25th of March 2022. The previously recorded Speckled Wood has now been noted at 6 new sites including Glapwell (David Elliott), Staveley (Mark Radford), Loundsley Green, Chesterfield ( Andrew Woodhouse), Linton ( Chris Leverington), Swadlincote (Ron Lane) and in Allestree Park (Steve Plant).
Moving on to the winter hibernators, there has been an increase of sightings recently in the order of
321 Small Tortoiseshells seen at 103 locations in the County with the highest count of 37 coming from Holme Brook, Loundsley Green in Chesterfield on the 24th of March 2022 (Andrew Woodhouse). This was followed by 141 Peacocks noted at 80 locations in Derbyshire with the highest count being 11 on the 26th of March 2022 at Linton ( Chris Leverington). Then there were120 sightings of the Brimstone from a total of 72 sites with the highest count being 15 seen on the 22nd of March 2022 at Creswell Crags (Jim Anderson). The Comma was seen at 52 sites with a total of 93 butterflies seen with the highest count of 8 seen on the 26th of March 2022 by Andrew Woodhouse at Holme Brook in Loundsley Green, Chesterfield. Only 2 recent sightings of the Red Admiral in the County with records on the 20th of March 2022 from both Swadlincote (Ron Lane) and at Forbes Hole, Long Eaton (Marion Bryce).
In a bid to cut down the amount of time that I spend on my computer, I will not be acknowledging receipt of butterfly casual and/or transect records this year but you can get an automatic acknowledgement from me if you carry out the following simple task – when you go into Outllook, go to Options on the top line, click on 2 boxes (Request a Delivery Receipt and Request a Read Receipt) This will then automatically confirm my receipt of your email as soon as I open it – simples! Naturally I will respond to any of your queries, especially to I D, in the usual way or if I have any queries on your recording forms.
Please find attached an example of the Casual Recording Sheet in excel which I would be pleased if you could use a copy of this for your casual sightings, in the same format – some recorders email this to me every week whilst others email it to me monthly, dependant on how many records they have. Again this will help tremendously in the inputting of data into the National Database.
Finally if you are still wanting to get involved in butterfly surveys this year there are vacancies for the Wider Countryside Butterfly Scheme at both Abney in the Peak District and at Radbourne in South Derbyshire – the commitment is to walk a set route once a month during the period May to August inclusive. Alternatively, you might want to join a team of volunteers on a rota – vacancies exist in the Hope Woodlands in the High Peak and in the nearby Upper Derwent Valley - please let me know if you are interested.
Update no 12 as at the 24th of March 2022 - including first sightings of the Large White, Speckled Wood and the Orange Tip in the County this year.
Just a quick update to let you all know that the following new species have been recorded in the County during this last week:-
Large White :- Singletons seen at Chesterfield Railway Station on the 17th of March 2022 (Karl Proctor) and on the 22nd of March 2022 in the Allestree garden of Ken & Pat Orpe
Orange Tip :- First sighting of a male was today in Allestree (Steve Plant)
Speckled Wood :- Today also saw the first sightings of this species at both Ball Eye Quarry (Dave & Sue Evans) and also at Linton (Chris Leverington)
Hopefully many of you will be able to see some of these species before the weather takes a turn for the worst next week – oh to be in England during the Spring. Unfortunately I had my first sighting of mower man this week in Allestree – not one but 3 of them came out to cut down the dandelions! No wonder our Council Tax bill has gone up again.
Update no 11 as at the 21st of March 2022 - some great Spring sightings at last!
After a week of decent sunny weather and now the arrival of the Spring Equinox, it was inevitable that my Inbox would be busy with emails containing your excellent sightings for which I am very pleased to receive!
With a total of 378 butterflies seen in 6 species during this period (including a massive 106 in Linton by Chris Leverington) it is fair to say that the winter hibernators have well and truly emerged from their slumber to delight us all after a long winter! This week’s sightings include :-
Brimstone :- 80 butterflies noted from 50 localities including 8 at Linton on the 19th of March 2022 (Chris Leverington) and 7 at Markham Vale on the 18th of March 2022 ( Mark Radford)
Small Tortoiseshell :- 178 butterflies noted at 60 locations including 21 at Linton on the 19th of March 2022 (Chris Leverington) and 15 at Loundsley Green, Chesterfield on the 18th of March 2022 (Andrew Woodhouse)
Peacock :- 28 butterflies noted at 14 locations including 9 at Linton on the 19th of March 2022 (Chris Leverington)
Comma :- 86 butterflies noted at 30 locations including 12 at Mayfield Grove, Long Eaton on the 15th of March 2022 (Marion Bryce) and 11 at Linton on the 18th of March 2022 (Chris Leverington)
Red Admiral :- Just 3 sightings of this species recently with 2 on the Blackwell Trail at Hilcote on the 18th of March 2022 (Ian Wilson) and another in Bradford Dale on the 15th of March 2022 (Ian Wilson)
Small White :- Just 3 records of this species during the last 7 days with sightings from Fenny Bentley (Derek Brownlee), at Morley Church (John & Sylvia Green) and at Linton (Chris Leverington)
With the High Pressure likely to persist over the UK for the next week, hopefully the first sightings of the following species might be expected within the County :- Large White; Green Veined White; Orange Tip; Holly Blue and possibly the Speckled Wood.
At the moment there have been a couple of sightings of the Orange Underwing moth in the County
with records from The Forge site, Ironville (Sally Fisher) and at West Hallam Ash Tip (Ken Orpe) – this day flying moth is usually associated with birch woodland but it can be confused with an early Small Copper when in flight.
Pat and I were sorry to miss the AGM of the East Midlands Branch of Butterfly Conservation yesterday as Pat has suffered a nasty fall which resulted in broken ribs, a fractured foot as well as concussion – hopefully she will be mobile again soon so thanks very much for the kind thoughts and emails that I have received in the last 24 hours. I hope to reproduce a brief Report on the 2021 transect results on my next Update so that you are all aware of your efforts during a pretty awful year for our butterflies – let’s hope that 2022 is much better and we certainly can’t complain about the weather at the moment!
Please find attached a list of the most butterfly species recorded on transects during 2021 – no surprises that 12 of the top 15 sites were in the Peak District. The highest number of species seen in South East Derbyshire during last year was 23 at West Hallam Ash Tip, at nearby Woodside NR, Shipley and at the Forge 1 site in Ironville. Similarly the highest number of species seen on transects in South Derbyshire last year was again 23 at Drakelow North NR.
Update no 10 as at the 14th of March 2022 - including early March 2022 sightings in the County
At last a few warmish and sunny days during the last week enabled both recorders and butterflies alike to come out of hibernation and enjoy the weather – even dandelions have been seen on some grass verges which will probably mean that mower man will be up to his usual tricks soon unless enlightened Organisations and Local Authorities decide to leave them alone this Spring (fingers crossed!). I recently read an article on how important the humble dandelion is to insects emerging from their hibernation – they also give humans a lift with their striking colour and they can’t be a safety hazard surely?
So pleasingly I can report that 20 butterflies were seen in the last week here in Derbyshire which is about on cue for the time of the year. The sightings consisted of 7 Small Tortoiseshells with records from Kirk Hallam (Brian & Margaret Hobby), Glapwell (David Elliott), Barlborough (Neil & Lorraine Jones), Overseal (Ruth Moore), Linton (Chris Leverington), Bradwell (Paul Townsend), and at Duffield (Emma Bungay). Also Peacocks were noted at Shirebrook (Ian Hunt), Willington Village (Chris Burnett) and Barlborough (Neil & Lorraine Jones), with just 1 sighting of a mint Red Admiral at Allestree Hall (Ken Orpe & Felicity Jackson), The Comma was noted at just 2 locations – Calke Park (Tony Bates) and at Calow (Anita Moore) It is always good to see the Brimstone in Derbyshire and there were 7 sightings of the species during the last week with records from Willington Village (Chris Burnett) , Chellaston (John & Sue Wood), Langley Common (Kath Patrick & Nick Brown), Aston on Trent (Rob Waldron), Creswell Crags (Jim Anderson) at Parwich (Ray Walker) and along Tamworth Road in Long Eaton ( Paul Mortimer).
Thanks to all the recorders who have responded to the call to carry on with the butterfly transects this year – there are a few sites where additional help would be appreciated – these include Tideswell Dale, Cressbrook Dale, Chee Dale and Longstone Edge in the White Peak, Old House Farm and Nether North Grain in the High Peak, Pleasley Pit and Williamthorpe in N E Derbyshire and Hilton Gravel Pit NR in South Derbyshire.
I have attached a list of the top 12 sites for butterfly numbers on transects in 2021 and unsurprisingly half of the sites are situated in the Peak District. The highest number seen in South Derbyshire was 1603 butterflies on the newly created transect at Staunton Harold Reservoir meadows.
Finally there was a good turnout of people at yesterday’s transect training session at the Evergreen Club in Allestree with volunteers from groups including the National Trust and Weleda – they like the rest of us are now chomping at the bit to get out in the field!
Update no 9 as at the 7th of March 2022 - including late February 2022 sightings
Not the best start to March 2022 with no sightings for the first time in a week this year so it looks like Spring could be another late version. There were a few late February 2022 records with sightings of Small Tortoiseshells from Glossop (Jean & Colin Ashcroft), Buxworth (Vicki Leng) and Nether Heage (Tim Brooks). Also there were late sightings of a Comma at Wirksworth (Dave Armitt) together with a Peacock high up on Withens Moor (Dave Mallon) so overall the month of February 2022 was a big disappointment especially when compared to February 2021. The figures for the individual species for February 2022 were as follows (2021 in brackets) :- Small Tortoiseshell – 7 (57); Peacock – 3 (24); Brimstone – 2 (14); Comma - 2 (3); Red Admiral – 5 (1) so an overall total of 19 butterflies for February 2022 compares with 99 butterflies for February 2021.Reason for this demise is probably as a result of both the wet and windy month of February 2022 together with the poor weather in 2021 whereby fewer of the nymphalidae species emerged in the Autumn and thus consequently fewer numbers managed to hibernate through the winter of 2021/2022. Let’s hope that from now on there will be an increase in both warm and sunny days during the remainder of March 2022.
Attached are yet more great photos together with a note re the meeting in Matlock on the 21st of March 2022 at which Max and Christine Maughan will show their results in the quest to see and photograph all the 58 butterfly species breeding in the UK.
Update no 8 as at the 28th of February 2022 - including late Winter Red Admiral sightings in the County
As the weather finally starts to settle down it looks like the over – wintering Red Admirals have decided that in any sunshine it is worth taking to the wing in their desire to get sustenance from early flowering plants such as mahonia and heather and indeed this was the case during the last week here in Derbyshire. There were 4 sightings of the Red Admiral during this period with individuals seen at Glapwell (David Elliott), at Oakwood (Maggie Golson), at Creswell Crags ( Richard Hand) and finally
on the 25th of February 2022 outside Allestree Hall ( Bill Grange & Felicity Jackson). Interestingly the total Red Admirals seen in the County during the first 2 months of 2022 amounts to 13 individuals – the highest ever, with the previous highest for January and February being 10 in 2019. It was not too long ago when the appearance of the Red Admiral in this part of the UK was a rarity in the winter months and it was until 2007 that their appearance became more regular during this time of the year. Then on a Sunny 27th of February 2022 a few other species were seen including a Brimstone in the Darley garden of Alf Bousie together with a couple of Small Tortoiseshells one at Willington (Tony Bates) an another at Chesterfield ( Guy Badham)
March is a busy month for organising the transect rotas and hopefully most of the volunteers from last year will have received their invitation to help again this year – if not, then please contact your local Organiser and express your interest to them in helping again.
Update no 7 as at the 21st of February 2022 - including first Brimstone sighting in the County this year.
After a very stormy period following the arrival of ‘Dudley’ ‘Eunice’ and now ‘Franklin’ you would think that our butterflies would be staying firmly in hibernation but no, on the 17th of February 2022 during a period of sun and warmth between the above named storms, it allowed a couple of butterflies to make an appearance in the County. First a somewhat tatty Peacock was seen in the Darley garden of Alf Bousie and then Sue Davies saw a Brimstone basking on brambles at the North Wingfield
Nature Reserve. which means that all the hibernating butterflies have now put in an appearance in Derbyshire during 2022. It looks like the Small Tortoiseshell seen on the 14th of February 2022 in the Sawley house of Lesley Wright had got the right idea – stay put and enjoy St Valentines day!.
However, it looks like the weather forecast for the end of February is at last more favourable with the next expected species likely to be the either the Green Veined White (earliest date being the 24th February (2019)), the Large White (earliest date being the 26th of March (2019) or even the Orange Tip (earliest date being the 4th of March (2021)) – only your sightings will confirm the situation.
Update no 6 as at the 14th of February 2022 - including transect training and on line data entry.
Just a couple of butterfly sightings in Derbyshire this last week due to smaller amounts of sunshine appearing, as follows :-
Felicity Jackson saw a Small Tortoiseshell flying across Allestree Park on the 9th of February 2022 (was the butterfly checking out how the re-wilding of the park was progressing?!) and then David Elliott tells me that he saw a Peacock flying past his south facing window in Glapwell on the 12th of February 2022. Jenny Emerson recently checked on the hibernators within the tunnel at Calke Park recently but only a couple of Herald moths were present, no doubt, like ourselves, patiently waiting for the Spring to arrive!
Pat and I have organised a couple of half-day transect training sessions next month which will include a slide show of our local butterflies together with the Derbyshire transect results for 2021. The venue is the Evergreen Club, Cornhill, Allestree, Derby DE22 2FT and we will be having 2 sessions on one day, so that volunteers can choose one of them to attend, Sunday the 13th of March 2022, with a morning session from 10.30 am to 12.45 pm, which includes a 15 minute break, and an afternoon session from 1.45 pm till 4pm, with again a 15 minute break for tea and coffee. The sessions are open to volunteers from other Counties in the Region as well as Derbyshire so please let me know if you are interested, especially, but not necessarily confined to, those of you who are proposing to carry out a transect for the first time in 2022. Hopefully these sessions will be an ideal reminder of the pleasure of being involved in this great way of volunteering whilst at the same time contributing to our greater knowledge of the local lepidoptera. For those of you who do not know the venue, the Evergreen Club is a large hall with high ceilings and there are large external doors which will provide a good flow of fresh air. There is ample room for 30 chairs in the Hall in order to allow safe distances between attendees. Hand wash dispensers will be provided and if you feel the need to wear a face mask, then please do so! We look forward to seeing both new and existing volunteers before the new transect season starts on the 1st of April 2022.
Butterfly Conservation and UKBMS are keen for transect data to be entered on line so here in Derbyshire I am looking for a team leader for each site to take on this role.(a copy of instructions to get started is attached) Volunteers should complete their usual record sheets (blank copy for 2022 is attached) and copy it to everyone in the team plus myself so that any queries can be resolved quickly before the data is entered – at the end of the transect season each leader should then email me the file for their site so that all records can be included in the National database for butterfly sightings. The new website is now live at https://ukbms.org and Peter Faulkner has used this site to enter the Clough Wood data in 2021 – he is prepared to help team leaders with any queries that they might have whilst carrying out this important work.
Looking back at 2021, with just the Leicestershire transect data yet to be submitted to UKBMS, the East Midlands Branch has completed more transects than any other Branch in the UK – the overall numbers being :-
East Midlands - 183 sites (Derbyshire – 134 sites; Notts – 29 sites; Leics – 20 sites)
Hants & I of W – 177 sites
Surrey - 127 sites
West Midlands – 85 sites
Upper Thames – 84 sites
Yet again another fantastic performance by over 600 volunteers in the Region, many of whom are chomping at the bit to get in the field recording again hopefully with warm sunshine on their backs! I will be sending out invitations to many of the Derbyshire volunteers in early March 2022 when hopefully many holiday dates will have been sorted – once that information is received then I will be able to issue the relevant 2022 rotas. If you are part of a team that is covered by another Local Coordinator, then please make contact with them direct. Let’s get the show on the road again - Pat and I can’t wait!
Finally if you would like a free copy of the excellent Longcliffe Quarries Wildlife Calendar for 2022 then pay a visit to the National Stone Centre near Wirksworth where there are a few copies available free in the sales shop there. The new web page for Hoe Grange Quarry NR that has been set up by Longcliffe Quarries is nearing completion at www.hoegrangequarry.co.uk so if you have any further contributions for the site then please let me know as soon as possible.
Update no 5 as at the 7th of February 2022 - including Small White sighting in the County
I received a couple of late January 2022 sightings recently including a Small Tortoiseshell flying through the Melbourne garden of Richard Winspear on the 30th of the month together with a surprising Small White which appeared on the kitchen window of Anita Moore’s house in Calow, Chesterfield on the same day (see attached photo). This month has already produced a couple of butterfly sightings in the County with a pristine Comma seen on the 1st of February 2022 in the Aston garden of Marilyn Horner and a Red Admiral seen on the 3rd of February 2022 at a garden in Sawley (Roger Martin).
February can often be the coldest month of the year but better days are on the horizon as in recent years the middle of March usually stirs many butterflies out of hibernation and the humble dandelion becomes an important nectar plant for them as well as the first of the Spring butterflies that emerge from chrysalis form, such as those species that were photographed in past years and which were seen mainly on dandelions (see the
Finally if you think that a visit to Scotland is a long trip to see and photograph the Chequered Skipper then hope is now available. A project to re-introduce the species into its former habitats in the Midlands was commenced by Butterfly Conservation and Forestry England back in 2018 and now Butterfly Conservation has revealed the location of the site in Northants – see the link below:-
Update no 4 as at the 31st of January 2022 - including Comma sighting in the County.
As January 2022 comes to a close we can reflect on the variable weather conditions that the month had in store for us and which culminated in 2 named storms over the last weekend. Prior to that, a huge High Pressure system remained stationery over the southern half of the UK and which resulted in some fine but cold days which allowed some butterflies to come out of hibernation to soak up the rays of the sun around lunch time. The total number of butterflies seen in Derbyshire outside during January 2022 were as follows :- Red Admiral – 8 no (0 no in January 2021); Small Tortoiseshell – 4 no (3 no); Peacock– 3 no (4 no) ; Comma – 1 no (1 no); Brimstone – 0 no (1 no) making a total of 16 butterflies seen in 4 species against 9 butterflies seen in January 2021 in 5 species. The Comma was seen on the 13th of January 2022 at Furness Vale, near New Mills (Nick Rowsley per Steve Orridge) and the latest butterfly sighting for this month came on the 26th of January 2022 when Marilyn Horner saw a Red Admiral feeding on mahonia in Thulston village.
Eric & Fiona Easom decided to seek out some warmer weather in mid-January 2022 when they visited the Island of
Madeira for a week of sunshine and with a temperature of around 18c and 19c they were pleased to see a number of butterfly species on the wing there including the local Speckled Wood which appears orange compared to ours. Also noted were Clouded Yellows and Monarchs (see the attached photo montage)
As we enter February 2022 it will be interesting to see whether climate change brings any more surprises in not only the weather but also the appearance of other butterfly species in this part of the UK.
Update no 3 as at the 19th of January 2022 - including yet more January 2022
Despite a spell of cold and frosty weather, as soon as the sun generates some heat around lunch time, it is the chance of a butterfly sighting in the County with flowering mahonia bushes being a good bet. This last week has certainly produced yet more butterfly sightings in Derbyshire including :-
Red Admiral :- 3 more records of this species with a sighting on the 12th of January 2022 in the Wakebridge garden of Fred & Gill Dyson and further records on the 13th of January 2022 from Longstone Edge ( Frank Gallagher) and also Allestree Hall (Felicity Jackson).
Small Tortoiseshell :- A few more outdoor
sightings of this species recently with records from Ashbourne on the 12th of January 2022 (Rosie Hamilton), from Linton on the 13th of January 2022 (Chris Leverington) and from Yokecliffe, Wirksworth on the 17th of January 2022 ( Graham Durbin)
Peacock :- First sightings of the year for this species have come from Littleover on the 12th of January 2022 ( Dave Oulsnam), together with another at Ambergate on the 13th of January 2022 ( Graham Durbin) and finally one seen on Eldon Hill near Sparrowpit on the 18th of January 2022 by Vic Pearson at a height of 440 metres above sea level with frost on the ground and icy puddles as well – they really are much more robust than what many people think!
A number of you will know that Derby City Council are planning to re-wild Allestree Park now that the golf club there has been shut – you can have your say at https://letstalk.derby.gov.uk/allestree-rewilding
Looking forward to warmer sunny days in the Spring and Summer, I have attached some photos of the blue family of butterflies that were taken by visitors to Hoe Grange Quarry in recent years together with a photo of the Wood Tiger day flying moth – Longcliffe Quarries have organised an Open Day at the site for this year, details as the attached leaflet – all subject to covid rules at the time of course. Let’s look forward to the possibility of a good outdoor meeting!
Finally if you would like a free copy of the excellent Longcliffe Quarries Wildlife Calendar for 2022 then pay a visit to the National Stone Centre near Wirksworth where the staff in the sales shop will be pleased to let you have one at no cost. What a bargain!
Update no 2 as at the 12th of January 2022 - including further butterfly sightings this month.
Despite the cold but bright start to the New Year, it was not long before additional outdoor butterfly sightings were made in the County thanks to eagle eyed recorders! The list to date includes the following records :-
Red Admiral :- Paul Beard tells me that he saw this species in his Wingerworth garden at 9.40 am on the 1st of January 2022 – could this be the first butterfly sighting in the UK in the New Year? Then followed another sighting of the Red Admiral on the 5th of January 2022 when Felicity Jackson saw an individual taking nectar from a flowering mahonia shrub outside Allestree Hall.
Small Tortoiseshell :- Dave Evans of Belper saw an individual in his garden on the 1st of January 2022 (equalling the earliest sighting in 2021) and Gordon Shaw noted another individual on the 2nd of January 2022 which again was seen taking nectar from a mahonia plant in his West Hallam garden.
As well as the excellent butterfly photos taken by Derek Brownlee during his tour of the UK in 2021, I have also attached a blank transect rota form for 2022 – this year the transect weeks start on a Friday so hopefully this document will help you in planning your availability during this year. Thanks to all of you who responded for my request for photos taken at Hoe Grange Quarry in recent years – we hope to have the web page up and running by the end of this month.
Finally, thanks also for all your emails in support of Pat and me – it is really appreciated knowing what a great team of volunteers that we have here in Derbyshire.
Update no 1 as at the 5th of January 2022 - including first outdoor butterfly sighting of the year in the County
Not a great start to the New Year for the both of us with Pat testing positive for covid and I have been told to self isolate although I have tested negative, but at least on the positive side for butterflies the first outdoor sightings of butterflies have already been made this year with a sighting of a Red Admiral in a Walton, Chesterfield garden on the 1st of January 2022 by David Lunn (per Sid Morris), the earliest sighting of the species in the County, whilst another sighting was made on the 2nd of January 2022 when Marilyn Horner saw a Red Admiral flying between houses in Thulston village. The last 2021 outdoor butterfly sighting was on the 31st of December when Dave & Sue Evans saw a Peacock flying along a roadside verge at Gilkin near Wirksworth (this equals the latest sighting for this species which is the same day in 2020)
Speaking of Peacocks, this species has a bizarre method of warning away potential predators when disturbed from their hibernation by not only flashing their wings to expose its ‘eyes’ but also by making a distinct hissing noise by rubbing its wings together as well – have a look at the video sent to me by Nick Brown.
Longcliffe Quarries are creating a new web page for our first butterfly NR in Derbyshire at Hoe Grange Quarry near Brassington so if you have some photos taken at the site over the years which you would like to share with us then please email them to me – they could be general site views, wildflowers, birds, dragonflies, butterflies or any other insect order – due recognition will be given.
Yet again I have had some more great photos emailed to me from sites across the UK and I have attached a selection of them to remind you all of warmer days ahead!