The big descent has started out west

15th August 2015
On day one of the Hairstreak Weekend at the West Williamston WTSWW Reserve in Pembrokeshire 27 Brown Hairstreaks were observed - a record for the site in one day - we see Matthew's 76 as a challenge for the 2016 event.
Our 27 were also mainly males spread across two sets of ashes and an isolated ash but 5 were low level females of which 3 were observed egg laying. After they had disappeared 15 bright white shiners were discovered including one triplet and one doublet.
One set of ashes were under surveillance from 07:30am and the first male flight was observed at 08:05am. For the next two hours things were pretty hectic with three dog fights observed when a pair of males spiralled high above the ashes. Things began to quieten down after 10am and the last male flight was observed at 10:40am. The first female descended just before midday but it was just over an hour before egg laying was observed. All went quite when clouds rolled over the sun about 2pm.

16th August 2015

Day 2 was a shadow of Day 1 - only 10 Brown Hairstreaks seen - all up in ashes and relatively lethargic and definitely no more egg laying. The weather on the two days was similar. Typical betulae behaviour - one day all guns blazing, the next spent in harbour refuelling.

17th August 2015
Another visitor reported a total lack of action at West Williamston but meanwhile they were putting on a show at the Teifi Marshes WTSWW reserve in north Pembrokeshire with four sightings. Three low level nectarers on hemp agrimony were seen by Maggie Sproule & Sarah Bebb. From Maggie's photos two were definitely males and the third almost certainly so (only underside seen). The fourth was heading for the hemp agrimony when the two incumbents decided to see it off.

Below is a non-nectaring female at West Williamston photographed by Jerry English on 15th August and a nectaring male at Teifi Marshes phtographed by Maggie Sproule on 17th August.

As far as I can ascertain Teifi Marshes is the only site in Wales where nectaring Brown Hairstreak are seen - can anybody please explain this to me?


Meant to add the first sighting in Pembrokeshire was on 8th August at West Williamston by David Moore - a low level female pretending to lay eggs. However, the first evidence of actual egg laying was as above, 15th August.

Since the 18th August the weather has been appalling and no further sightings reported.

Re nectaring: I have hardly ever seen BH nectaring in North Wilts - though saw one male recently on hemp agrimony. Here, they seem to imbibe moisture from leaves, in hedges and among grasses, early in the morning - and go ash budding of course.

Re Oates's 76: Had I been able to get to Shipton Bellinger early yesterday morning (Sat 22nd, boiling hot) I reckon I could have got the century up... As it was, I was at the Bird Fair.

Had I bothered to go West Williamston early yesterday morning (Sat 22nd) I would have got soaking wet .... as it was I stayed at home sulking.

I think 76 is enough of a challenge!

Ah! the sun has finally reappeared in Pembrokeshire after 4 days of gloom and rain. Within 20 minutes the lepidoptera count in our garden is 13 with 4 Small Tortoiseshell, 3 Small White, 2 Large White, 1 Green-veined White, 1 Peacock, 1 Comma and 1 Hummingbird Hawkmoth.

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