Goings On In Upper Thames

Hi All

Are many of you like me suffering a first sports injury? It's 'Arboreal butterfly neck' and indeed goes with the territory following an amazing Purple Emperor flight season surpassed by a sumglorious if late start, to the Brown hairstreak ash-party.

My BrH recording had a wonderful kick-off on the 8th of August with my first sighting being a pair in cop high on a regularly visit ash assembly tree here in Bucks. A singleton male at site B was the prelude to a further pair in cop high on another annually visited assembly tree at site C, a 3 minute's drive away. B and C were just over the border in Oxfordshire.

Many Ash Brownies may be familiar with the excellent piece of work carried out my Andrew Middleton, Liz Goodyear et al on 'Territorial Activity of Brown Hairstreak, in particular its timing' in 2008. A recent reread inspired me to do an early morning visit to the sites above. Wednesday 14th August was the awaited day with blue skies and unbridled sunshine at 7am in hometown Aylesbury Ducks.

I quickly set off with friend and butterfly authority Alan Wingrove arriving on site at 8.25am to local dappled sunshine. Air temperature perhaps 16 deg C? First sighting was a female which flew to a nearby hawthorn where it alighted sunning itself for 10 minutes. It made several flights around this hawthorn before moving to the ash assembly tree nearby where a second BrH was located by us at 8.47 am. Until 8.55 the light dappled cloud continued to dominate then cleared to trigger near constant BrH activity on the assembly tree. Being careful never to over-count we recorded at least 3 males and one female participating in this activity. A 100% view of the tree would perhaps have evidenced significantly more?

A return to site B above by 9.20 am was a further joy - 3 BrH immediately apparent on assembly tree. A further male clearly identified to total 4 individuals. We felt there were probably more than 4 but we were unable to substantiate this. There were several clashes carried out by varied combinations of the 4 males - no females identified.

The penultimate sentence of Andrew and Liz's paper states: "It is hoped that this short note will encourage observers to start recording earlier in the morning". I have finally managed to put these word of wisdom into practice - at least for one early start being a night-owl!


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