Butterfly Visit to Ireland 17th to 26th August 2013

Brown Hairstreak
Visits to a wide range of butterfly sites across the isle included four with specific Brown Hairstreak targets where success was achieved. The BrH stronghold is in the west - counties Clare, Galway and the most easterly location across the Shannon in Tipperary.
Dromore Nature Reserve and Gortlecka are two known BrH sites. Dromore NR  is a well-managed lakeside habitat of suitable blackthorn, ash and nectar sources on the edge of Dromore Wood. We were fortunate to locate one female briefly showing itself at ground level before disappearing into the hedgerow.
Gortlecka is typical Burren location on limestone pavement. The literature states that BrH behaviour here is not similar to their UK cousins in that sightings of males are more frequently seen on the ground. Our late visit, 5 to 6.30pm, didn't provide time to fully test this idea but our three sightings were indeed all at ground level including two males with none visible on the one or two ashes.
Carney Commons is the Tipperary easterly site and has regular BrH sightings. The management here is excellent providing many likely spots for Brown Hairstreak brethren. Soon after arrival we found an ash with at least three resident and highly active males competing for the territory. A joy to behold!
We returned to this area, Clare on the west coast, the following day despite less favourable weather with hopes of further BrH action. En route to Lake Bunny, a known BrH site, I was inspired to stop off at a side road I spied from the journeying car. It proved to hold magical Brown Hairstreak hedgerows accompanied by an initial half hour burst of warm sunshine. The resulting female sighting was quickly joined by a second some inches away. Disappearance of the sunshine enabled us to survey for suitable habitat for a mile or so down this quiet road before making a turn-about-heel (u-turn?). The Little People must have been our Guardian Angels for on return to our earlier sightings spot the sun broke out again highlighting a perfect female ovipositing in camera range on the blackthorn hedgerow, presumably one of the earlier individuals.
My visit to Ireland exceeded expectations in managing to see BrH on four sites leaving me feeling confident that this could be built on should I make further Brown Hairstreak visits to the Emerald Isle.
Should you wish to visit the Little People some recommendations:

Ireland's Butterflies - a review
Nash, Boyd and Hardiman

Discovering Irish Butterflies & their Habitats
Jesmond Harding


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