Over the last six years I have enjoyed looking at butterflies within a number of selected sites on the Common and surrounding area - The Bulwarks, Pinfarthings, the Knapp etc. The first sightings of the season are usually in my garden and this will spur me on to look further afield.
Small Tortoiseshell and Peacocks that have over wintered as adults, possible in my wood shed, appeared first in early April followed by Large White, Brimstone, Orange Tip and the beautiful Holly Blue.
On the Common the equally attractive Adonis Blue, more an electric blue than the paler Holly Blue, could be found from the end of May. Common Blue, Dingy Skipper and Meadow Brown were also present in reasonable numbers. The Bulwarks, Jacob's Knowle and Pinfarthings are good places to search for these species. By early June Small Blue, Brown Argus, and Marbled White were to be seen along with a few Painted Lady, Large Skipper, Ringlet, Speckled Wood and Brimstone adding to the mix.
The end of June provided an explosion of activity with Meadow Brown (40+), Marbled White (100+) and Ringlets at Jacob's Knowle, but the first brood of Adonis Blue ephemeral life was over. This trend continued over the next few weeks and by the end of July the first pale chalky blue flashes of the Chalkhill Blue flittered on the sunny banks at Jacob's Knowle and Swells Hill. The population soon soared at these sites with number exceeding 70 or more. Smaller numbers could be seen on favourable sites, old quarries, throughout the Common. Also observed during visits were good numbers of Gatekeeper, Small Heath, Small Skipper and a few Green-veined White.
The counts of the second brood of Adonis Blue during August were disappointing over the survey area; the best count achieved was on The Bulwarks with a total of 23. Other years would have seen double that.
The highlight of the year had to be the White-lettered Hairstreak seen in my garden on a number of occasions in early July. A rare little butterfly now that their caterpillars' main food source, the elm tree, has declined due to disease. See photograph above.