Sgwarnog: In the Field

By sgwarnog


It was nice to see a few Small Tortoiseshell out at Shipley Glen today, I've seen a few individuals over the past couple of weeks but we're still waiting to see if there will some sort of recovery with the summer emergence, compared to last year's marked decline. This should be one of our familiar butterflies, but it hasn't been that way over the past year.

I've had the day off work, so walked along Baildon Bank to Shipley Glen, taking time to scan oak trees for Purple Hairstreak. This is my main target species for the next month or so, given that I've never seen one. Both the Bank and Glen offer elevated vantage points where you have eye-level access to the canopy, and plenty of oak trees, and I know that the Purple Hairstreaks have been recorded this way, in the Glen at least. No luck for me today though.

I was also paying special attention to the Small Skippers which are out in good numbers. Someone recorded an Essex Skipper on Baildon Bank in 2015 - I'm a bit skeptical about it as it is a long way from any other recorded individuals, plus this is one of my regular spots and I've yet to come across one. However, Butterfly Conservation Yorkshire have asked folk to pay special attention when looking at and recording Small Skippers as there is a possibility that the Essex Skipper has spread more widely in the county without being observed. The two species are more or less identical except Small Skipper has orange spots on the underside of its antennae tips, while Essex Skipper's are ink black. You really be to be beneath the butterfly to see, and helpfully most of those that I saw today were perched atop thistles making it relatively straightforward to get a good photo for close examination. I've looked at around ten along the bank and at the top of the Glen today, and they're all Small Skipper - I've put one in extras where you can see the orange spots clearly.  The Essex do have a later emergence though, so I'll keep checking when I get a chance over the next month or so.

Also seen today: Large White, Ringlet, Red Admiral, Meadow Brown, Comma, Gatekeeper, Speckled Wood and Small Copper.

And not a football in sight.

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