To have even a slim chance of succesfully seeing ALL of the British butterflies AND their various subspecies we need some sort of a plan to put us in the right spot at the right time. Certain species are easy and don't require too much effort or luck to connect with. Brimstone, Small White and Meadow Brown fall into the Gimme category. Others such as selected fritillaries, Chequered Skipper and Mountain Ringlet are going to require rather more detailed planning!
We decided to divide the year into workable sections concentrating on the flight times of trickier species and the long distance trips we'll be undertaking to find them. We bought a Year Planner wallchart and began scribbling various notes across the months...and soon realised that we needed a bigger chart! The purchase of Adrian Riley's book led to several revisions regards subspecific flight times and locations.
This is The Plan we figured would work best for us on our Butterfly Blitz 2010 - subject to change due to unforseen freak weather conditions, Foot & Mouth restrictions, swine-bird-butterfly flu outbreaks, holiday allowance, work/family/money/transport requirements and obligations...heck, we'll be lucky to even make it through to Spring!!
JANUARY TO MARCH - search out eggs of Brown, Purple and White-letter Hairstreaks. Tag those found for ease of relocation later in the season so we can photograph the immature stages. Also look out for any hibernators flying on warm sunny days.
Successfully found a Brown Hairstreak egg (Ashtead Common) and lots of Purple Hairstreak eggs (Epsom Common). Also saw Brimstones, Commas and Peacocks whilst Sam additionally saw a Small Tortoiseshell.
What was missed? Red Admiral is the only obvious absentee from the hibernating species. Didn't search for WLH eggs.
2010 Blitz List - 4
LATE MARCH THROUGH APRIL - clear up on locally occuring spring species.
Numerous visits to Epsom and Ashtead Commons has brought the totals up a touch! Additions have been Orange-tip, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Green-veined White, Purple Hairstreak larvae and Large White. Elsewhere Seth has added Small White and Holly Blue.
What was missed? We still need to look for White-letter Hairstreak eggs. We also still need Green Hairstreak.
2010 Blitz List - 12 (to 24th April)
LATE APRIL AND MAY - Target Pearl-bordered and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, Wood White, Duke of Burgundy, Grizzled and Dingy Skippers locally, plus commoner stuff like blues, Small Heath etc.
A brilliant trip to Headley Warren on 28th April gave us both Dingy and Grizzled Skippers, Green Hairstreak and a Small Copper. On 9th May we skored several stunning Pearl-bordered Fritillaries at Bentley Wood. On 16th May a quick trip to Noar Hill in poor weather added a single male Duke of Burgundy. Seth had 2 Small Blues at Howell Hill on 18th whilst Sam had 2 Small Heaths at Norbury Park on 19th. Sam caught up with the Small Blues on 20th. A highly successful trip to Denbies Hillside on 23rd added Small Heath for Seth and Large White for Sam, plus Common Blue and Adonis Blue followed by a trip into the Chiddingfold region where we enjoyed upwards of 20 Wood Whites at a secret site. Simply splendid!
2010 Blitz List - 23 (to the end of May)
What was missed? By the end of the month we have pretty much seen everything we could have without travelling further afield apart from SPBF which we ought to have secured on the last weekend of May but were busy playing hosts to Sam's sister and friend. Still plenty of time for them at Bentley Wood though. Other species on the wing that we still need are Chequered Skipper (next week!), Marsh Fritillary, Heath Fritillary, Glanville Fritillary and Wall. ALL of these species are due to be searched for next month (actually, Heath Frit is scheduled for July but we may bring this forward into June). So, no need to panic yet, things are still ticking over to plan. We should be well into the 30s by the end of June! Fingers crossed for sunshine in Scotland next week!!!!!
END MAY/EARLY JUNE - Chequered Skipper trip into Scotland.
Visited Spean Bridge in the Scottish Highlands and successfully found Chequered Skippers in two areas and plenty of Scottish Green-veined Whites all over the place! Other species noted in Scotland were Large White, Peacock, Green Hairstreak and Orange-tip.
2010 Blitz List - 25 (to 4th June)
What was missed? No sign of the Northern Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (we were just a tiny bit too early) and no Scottish Speckled Woods either. Both will (hopefully) be picked up on subsequent trips.
EARLY JUNE - Keyhaven area for Glanville Fritillary and Wall.
Visited the Keyhaven area of Hampshire on the 9th June and managed to locate a single ragged Glanville Fritillary at the very tail-end of the flight season...just a bit too close for comfort! Tip: next time don't leave it so bloody late! Also had a Painted Lady for the Blitz List.
2010 Blitz List - 28 (to June 9th)
What was missed? No sign of Wall, which was a bit odd. No worries though, with three generations we'll get one later.
EARLY JUNE - Bentley Wood again for Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Martin Down or Hod Hill for Marsh Fritillary.
Returned on 9th June and had instant success with maybe 40 Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries as well as three Large Skippers and another Duke of Burgundy.
2010 Blitz List - 30 (to 9th June)
What was missed? Due to combining the above two outings into one daytrip we didn't have time to attempt any known Marsh Fritillary sites.
EARLY/MID JUNE - Blean Woods for Heath Fritillary.
Visited Blean Woods on 13th and had at least a dozen Heath Fritillaries including two pairs in cop. Also saw Silver-studded Blues at Fairmile Heath in Surrey.
2010 Blitz List - 32 (to 13th June)
EARLY/MID JUNE - Martin Down or Hod Hill for Marsh Fritillary.
Visited Hod Hill on 15th when we saw 7 Marsh Fritillaries along with 10+ Meadow Browns.
2010 Blitz List - 34 (to June 15th)
MID JUNE - Norfolk Broads for Swallowtail and Norfolk Hawker.
Visited Hickling Broad on 20th and managed 2 or 3 Swallowtails
2010 Blitz List - 35 (to June 20th)
What was missed? Absolutely no sign of the "Norfolk Orca"
MID/END JUNE - Northamptonshire and/or Cambridgeshire for Black Hairstreak.
Went to Brampton Woods in Cambs on 21st and managed 12+ Black Hairstreaks plus 2 Ringlets
2010 Blitz List - 37 (to June 21st)
MID/END JUNE - Trip into Devon and Somerset for Dark Green and High Brown Fritillaries plus Large Blue.
Headed west on 28th June and saw about 10 or 12 Large Blues at Collard Hill alongside 50-60 Marbled Whites before zipping into Devon where Heddon's Mouth gave us numerous Silver-washed Fritillaries, a single well-photographed High Brown Fritillary and Small Skipper. Our first hutchinsoni Comma of the year was also seen here. Excellent!
2010 Blitz List - 43 (to June 28th)
What was missed? No sign of any Dark Green Fritillaries which was a touch disappointing.
END JUNE - Great Orme for thyone Grayling and caernensis Silver-studded Blue.
We hit the Orme on 29th June and had instant success at one site with Great Orme thyone Grayling (on my leg!!!) and Dark Green Fritillary side by side. A mere thirty metres later we found a colony of 40+ caernensis Silver-studded Blues. Magnificent! En route into Wales we visited the Prees Heath population of masseyi Silver-studded Blues finding c100 present. Lovely!
2010 Blitz List - 47 (to June 29th)
What was missed? We tried nearby Cors Goch for Large Heath polydama but failed.
EARLY JULY - Portland Bill for cretaceus Silver-studded Blue.
Visited Portland on 5th July, rather windy, but managed several cretaceus Silver-studded Blues in one quarried area.
2010 Blitz List - 48 (to July 5th)
EARLY/MID JULY - major trip into Scotland via the Lake District for artaxerxes and salmacis Northern Brown Argus, mnemon and scotica Mountain Ringlets, scotica Dark Green Fritillary, splendida Meadow Brown, insularum Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, polydama and scotica Large Heaths plus Azure Hawker, Northern Emerald, Highland Darter & Northern Damselfly. Almost all of the above species/forms will be entirely new for us!!!
We headed into Cumbria on 12th July and had Grayling semele and Northern Brown Argus salmacis at Arneside Knott plus Large Heath davus at Meathopp Moss. On 13th we had Meadow Brown splendida, SPBF insularum and Dark Green Fritillary scotica at Ariundle Oakwoods. Ardnamurchan Point had Grayling atlantica (stunning!) and at nearby Kilchoan we found Large Heath scotica. On 14th we headed to Rhum, but mistakenly and stupidly ended up on a rainswept Canna. On 15th we connected with Northern Brown Argus artaxerxes at Grantown-on-Spey.
2010 Blitz List - 60 (to July 15th)
What was missed? Failed to locate Mountain Ringlets mnemon and scotica and Large Heath polydama at known sites. We somehow missed Rhum and ended up on Canna in poor conditions, hence no Small Heath rhoumensis. Maybe next time...
END JULY - Shropshire for masseyi Silver-studded Blue and davus Large Heath (permit needed for site)
We've already hit Prees Heath, Shropshire on 29th June and found 100+ masseyi Silver-studded Blues. Large Heath davus was found at Meathopp Moss on 12th July.
2010 Blitz List - 64 (to July 20th)
(LATE JULY) - Scotland Clear-up Trip
This trip was thrown together at the last minute in a desperate attempt to add the two forms of Mountain Ringlet, Large Heath polydama and, to a lesser extent, Grayling scota and Small Heath rhoumensis.
We connected with Grayling scota at Castlehill Point fairly easily. Sam saw two Large Heath polydama at Kirkconnell Flow but Seth missed them entirely.
2010 Blitz List - 66 (to July 28th)
What was missed? We utterly and completely failed to find Mountain Ringlet despite ideal conditions. I guess we left it too late into the flight season? We had no time to attempt Rhum for the endemic race of Small Heath. All three are now unattainable this year, thus heralding the failure of our BlitzList Clear-up.
EARLY AUGUST - Lulworth Cove for Lulworth Skipper. (Postponed until 3rd week of August due to low emergence rates thus far)
We visited 3 sites in Dorset on 19th August, finally connecting with Lulworth Skippers at Durlston CP. Also 15+ Wall Browns at Lulworth Cove.
MID AUGUST - SW Scotland for caledonia Scotch Argus, northern Scotland for aethiops Scotch Argus and western Scotland for oblita Speckled Wood, atlantica and scota Graylings. (Postponed until 4th week of August due to Sam neglecting to book time off work!!!)
We successfully located the Atlantic and Scottish Graylings in July, so just the Speckled Wood and both Scotch Argus forms to try for. On 24th we find 97 Scotch Argus aethiops in the Speyside region.
What was missed? Thanks to poor weather we failed to locate oblita Speckled Wood and it seems we were too late for caledonia Scotch Argus
MID SEPTEMBER - Isles of Scilly for insula Speckled Wood and cassiteridum Meadow Brown (plus a few of the earlier rare birds????)
We arrived on St Marys on 17th and found insula Speckled Woods to be very common throughout. On 19th we visited Bryher where they were again common. Also a Small Copper ab obsoleta.
What was missed? No sign at all of cassiteridum Meadow Brown. Too late in the season, it seems. Yet another missed race
OCTOBER - chasing whatever's still flying whilst hoping for Monarchs!
What was missed? Well, somehow Clouded Yellow has managed to elude us all year. That's TWO species we should have had - but haven't! (Mountain Ringlet being the other one)
NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER - back to the early stages (we still need White-letter Hairstreak eggs!) and hibernating adults for last dates whilst hoping for Winter Damselfly and strange Emperor dragonflies to turn up!