2010 Butterfly Sightings

I've compiled a review of my butterfly sightings for 2010, reflecting on 'the what, the where and the when' of local sightings and those further afield. They're listed in no particular order and I've included a pic to accompany each butterfly.

Kicking off with a common local butterfly, the Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) this one was resting on a Beech leaf in the woodland of Queens Wood, Headingley. My first glimpse was in St Chad's Churchyard 16 April, and the first species to appear in my garden at the end of the month.  The Speckled Wood wasn't present in the West Leeds area until about 15 years ago, and is now present throughout lowland West Yorkshire. I continued to see them up to the end of September on the woody margins of Beckett Park.

I encountered my very first Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) in the grounds of Adel Churchyard on a warm Sunday at the end of May which proved a reliable spot thereafter. Other sightings of this cheerful looking diminutive butterfly included Rodley Nature Reserve, Fairburn Ings RSPB and further afield Dersingham Bog, Norfolk.

One of the early butterflies, the distinctive ragged outline of a Comma (Polygonia c-album) first spotted 9 April during a lunchtime wander through Churchwood near St Chad's churchyard, and a week later in a grassy clearing in Queens Wood, an allotment appearance at the beginning of July, and Gallows Hill in Otley proved a popular spot. 

Another visitor to the allotment in early July was this Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), the vast majority of them seen in spring and early summer are immigrants. Goldenacre Park was a good place to see them, although overall fewer sightings than previous.

My first Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus) of the year appeared 29 June at YWT's Bishop Monkton Railway cutting , an allotment sighting in the first week of July, locally there were lots on the wing amongst tall grassy areas until the end of July, especially at St Chad's, Golden Acre Park, and a little further afield at YWT's Saltmarsh Delph.

Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina), first appeared near Bolton Percy Station on 20 June, 8 Meadow Brown at Staveley on 3 July, various sightings especially around long grasses up at St Chad's and Beckett Park.

One of our commonest butterflies, the Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) early sightings at St Chad's on 9 April, Rodley on 11 April, regular sightings at the allotment, Staveley early July.

Easy to identify Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) with their distinctive double eye spot on the forewing, good shows at Rodley Nature Reserve on 8 August,  further afield in large numbers at Hickling Broad, Norfolk at the end of August.

Enjoyed my first visit to YWT Brockadale Nature Reserve, 1 August in an attempt to catch a glimpse of the beautiful Marbled White (Melanargia galathea). Despite overcast skies it turned out to be a successful trip with 6 sightings and a few reasonable pics to show for it.

Common Blues, (Polyommatus icarus) a handful at Fairburn Ings mid June on birds foot trefoil, near Bolton Percy end of June on purple vetch and bramble flowers, well in excess of 50 at Priors Coppice in Leicestershire at the end of August, this one taken at Brockadale Nature Reserve.  

Another early butterfly, Peacock (Inachis io) were spotted on 12 April St Chad's which was a popular spot during lunchtime visits throughout the summer, and 3 a few days later on 17 April at Adel Dam settled in a Willow, 6 at Askham Bog 26 April.

Another first, during our trip to Norfolk we spotted two Grayling (Hipparchia simele) at Cley Marshes Nature Reserve, this one remained motionless for ages, sheltering from strong winds.

A long awaited sighting of my first Wall Brown, (Lasiommata megera) at Cley Marshes, Norfolk, at the end of August.

The rarest sighting of the year was this Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) at Hickling Broad, Norfolk, August. One of the few places left to see Swallowtails in the British Isles, so we were chuffed to bits when we saw this splendid butterfly descend into view to settle on flowerheads of Hemp Agrimony.

My first Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) of the year at Askham Bog on 26 April, this one at Fairburn in June and my last sighting at Hickling Broad in August.

Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) at Fairburn on 13 June and just over a week later at Askham Bog on 22 June. One on the outskirts of the university campus at the end of July. The nearest sighting to home was in August when I spotted one on the grassy embankment near the railway underpass.

A Large Skipper on the allotment in July, distinguishable from the Small Skipper because of its mottled wings.

Another unexpected sighting, the first and only of the year Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) on a wilted daffodil flowerhead in the grounds of Adel Churchyard at the end of May. This butterfly made me realise that paying a little more attention really does pay off.

Green Veined Whites (Pieris napi) were everywhere in abundance as were Small and Large Whites, so much so that I seem to have neglected them on the blog, this one was taken at Ilkey Gravel Pits.

At BrockadaleHolly Blue (Celastrina argiolus), not a great pic but worth a mention.

An Orange Tip, (Anthocharis cardamines) this is the only half decent photo I managed to take of an Orange Tip all year despite seeing them out and about in numbers.

In stark contrast to last years Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) bonanza, I saw merely a handful this year, the first at Cley Marshes Nature Reserve and then Spout Hills in Norfolk in August, then a few more mostly feeding on the nectar rich flowerheads of Buddleia. This one was taken in the dunes at Seahouses the previous year. 

The year's first Small Heath ( Coenonympha pamphilus) near Bolton Percy Station in June and closer to home we discovered a small colony of Small Heath in a grassy woodland clearing at Goldenacre Park on 27 July. It always rests with its wings closed so I was lucky to catch it open winged. 

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