Author Archives: John East

View of a green butterfly resting on the ground by a green plant

Green Hairstreak. Photo: Wren Franklin

Being the only British butterfly with a green underside to the wings can make it difficult to spot amongst the spring foliage but Wren found and photographed this early one (his first this year) at the private Ryewater Nursery in North Dorset on 08/04/2020.

This was seen 7 days earlier than the first one reported to the Dorset BC website last year which was on 15/04/2019.

View of a white butterfly with green and orange markings nectaring on a bluebell flower.

Orange Tip. Photo: Paul Freedman

This lovely photo of an Orange Tip nectaring on a Bluebell was taken by Paul this morning, 09/04/2020 in his Ulwell garden.  Two of natures spring glories in one image  – it doesn’t get much better than this.

View of an orange butterfly with black, yellow and white marking resting on the ground..

Large Tortoiseshell. Photo: Mike Halsall

Following the posting yesterday of the Large Tortoiseshell seen in Bournemouth, Mike has sent us this photo of the one referred to in the text of that posting which he saw at Hambury Tout, West Lulworth on 05/04/2020 – this was also confirmed as being a Large Tortoiseshell by Bill Shreeves.  A real bonus to be able to see photos of two different very recent sightings of this rarely seen butterfly.

View of a greenish yellow butterfly nectaring on a mauve flower.

Brimstone. Photo: Ann Barlow

Ann has sent us this photo taken in her Corfe Mullen Garden telling us that although she has seen a number of Brimstones about in recent days, not one of them was prepared to land and be photographed.  The photographic quest was finally completed when one visited an Erysimum Bowles’ Mauve to feed this morning, 07/04/2020.  A lovely combination of colours.

View of an orange butterfly with black markings resting near some green leaves.

Comma. Photo: Shona Refoy

Shona has sent us this photo, taken on 06/04/2020 of the first Comma of the year she has seen.  She saw it just opposite Corfe Hills School in Broadstone, shortly after she saw her first Orange Tip for this year which only settled briefly on a pile of cut vegetation, before flying off so no photo of that possible.

View of a resting greenish white butterfly with its Chrysalis.

Large White and Chrysalis. Photo: Derek Fowler

Derek has sent us this photo taken in Charminster on 06/04/2020 with the following comments:

We’ve been aware of 2 Large White chrysalises’ in our sun lounge since last Autumn.  One changed colour yesterday and hatched early afternoon today – missed the actual break-out, of course – the price of having a nap after lunch!  I’ll try harder with the remaining one!

View of a resting orange butterfly with black and yellow markings on the wings

Large Tortoiseshell. Photo: Jaquelene Bainbridge

Jacquelene sent us this photo of a butterfly she spotted at about 6:00pm on Monday 06/04/2020 on a south east facing wall of her house in Bournemouth saying that it looks like a rather tatty Large Tortoiseshell?

From my guide books it seemed that she was right but with a sighting of this significance I decided to check with our Dorset Group Butterfly Recorder, Bill Shreeves who responded as follows:

Yes, definitely a Large Tortoiseshell. It has the 4 dark spots on the upper forewing as opposed to the usual 3 of the Small Tortoiseshell & it is the tawny orange colour & not the much more red of the Small Tortoiseshell. It is rather unusual in having much ‘whiter’ marks along the upper edges of the forewing than most Large Tortoiseshells but still doesn’t have the brilliant white spot at the tips of the forewing which Small Tortoiseshells always have. Interestingly the Large Tortoiseshell which has just been recorded at Hambury Tout in Purbeck has the same unusually white marks. However, this last one was in quite good condition & is unlikely to have made the flight to Bournemouth since the 5th April when it was recorded. 

We understand that another Large Tortoiseshell has also been reported in East Sussex which also has the unusually white marks on the forewings. It looks as if something unusual is happening but best to wait until we have more evidence before deciding whether these have hibernated or migrated or been released.

P.S.  MY APOLOGIES FOR SENDING THIS POSTING A FEW MINUTES AGO WITH THE HEADING OF LARGE WHITE – A SENIOR MOMENT DURING MY SOCIAL ISOLATION

View of a resting orange butterfly with some black and yellow markings on the wings.

Large Tortoiseshell. Photo: Jacquelene Bainbridge

Jacquelene sent us this photo of a butterfly she spotted at about 6:00pm on Monday 06/04/2020 on a south east facing wall of her house in Bournemouth saying that it looks like a rather tatty Large Tortoiseshell?

From my guide books it seemed that she was right but with a sighting of this significance I decided to check with our Dorset Group Butterfly Recorder, Bill Shreeves who responded as follows:

Yes, definitely a Large Tortoiseshell. It has the 4 dark spots on the upper forewing as opposed to the usual 3 of the Small Tortoiseshell & it is the tawny orange colour & not the much more red of the Small Tortoiseshell. It is rather unusual in having much ‘whiter’ marks along the upper edges of the forewing than most Large Tortoiseshells but still doesn’t have the brilliant white spot at the tips of the forewing which Small Tortoiseshells always have. Interestingly the Large Tortoiseshell which has just been recorded at Hambury Tout in Purbeck has the same unusually white marks. However, this last one was in quite good condition & is unlikely to have made the flight to Bournemouth since the 5th April when it was recorded. 

We understand that another Large Tortoiseshell has also been reported in East Sussex which also has the unusually white marks on the forewings. It looks as if something unusual is happening but best to wait until we have more evidence before deciding whether these have hibernated or migrated or been released.

View of a white butterfly with green markings and orange tips to the wings nectaring on a blue flower.

Orange Tip. Photo: Mel Bray

Mel like many of us is continuing to keep a close eye on the butterflies in the garden and has sent us this photo of a beautiful Orange Tip taken yesterday morning, 06/04/2020.  Also seen were two Holly Blues that were reluctant to settle and be photographed.

View of a greenish yellow butterfly resting on a timber shed.

Brimstone. Photo: Shona Refoy

View of a greenish yellow butterfly nectaring on a yellow Primrose.

Brimstone. Photo: Shona Refoy          

Shona has sent us these photos of Brimstones with the following comments:

I’ve decided that while I’m spending so much time in my Broadstone garden, a suitable project is to try to get photos of all the species I see here. Last week the Peacocks were very obliging, but the Brimstones were all on a mission!  However yesterday, 05/04/2020 my luck changed, and this male spent some time sitting in the sunshine on my shed, before flying round me several times and disappearing next door. An hour or two later, this female flew around the garden, then nectared on some Primroses. Seeing the photos together makes the colour difference between the male and female quite plain to see.