Sussex Off, But Slow Start

The Brown Hairstreak season in Sussex is now fully underway, but we are still in the very early stages, as the butterfly calendar continues to run late.

The best Sussex sites have always been very poor at providing low-level males, although they make amends by producing such high numbers of obliging females. After getting a nice male at Cissbury Ring (8 August) I was even more pleased to get my best ever shot of a male at Steyning on Wednesday afternoon (12 August, top left), when the clouds suddenly cleared and the temperature increased rapidly. 'Pleased' turned to 'delighted' when I subsequently flushed a female from low in a bramble patch - but she didn't go far. 'Delighted' then gave way to excitement, as I noticed the irregular patterning on her hind wing (bottom left). This ab. uncilinea is apparently a first for Sussex!

Today (15 August) started well, as I returned to the same site at Steyning, which is about 1 Km from the famous Rifle Range. I found two females, one of which remained stationary for 45 minutes, despite the warm, sunny weather (top right).

I later moved on to the Range, where quite a few hopefuls were staring up at the Ash trees. Unfortunately, that's where the hairstreaks stayed. I saw ones and twos scattered around the site, including females, but the big descent to start egg laying is still (eagerly) awaited. None of the females I have found to date has shown any interest in ovipositing.

We are still in that period when the Brown Hairstreak is hard to locate, but they are all in mint condition and fairly inactive. A week from now they will be down in numbers, but fidgeting in and out of the thorn and rapidly collecting nicks and scratches.

The main course is yet to come.


Post a Comment