Derbyshire News and Blogs

Update No 9

15th March 2019

Ken Orpe
News from Previous Years
Unidentified butterfly
Unidentified butterfly No 1, Peruvian jungle © Peter Cartlidge

With the jet stream in full blast carrying storms across the Atlantic towards the UK since the start of the month it looks like we are getting winter weather now instead of what should be spring weather, despite the fact that the vernal equinox is only a few days away on the 21st of March 2019. One good effect of all the recent rain is that our reservoirs are filling up nicely with Carsington Water at 90% capacity, Derwent at 99.9% full and Howden at 91% capacity. Even the huge Ladybower Reservoir is now 80% full so the drought of the summer of 2018 seems a long way off now!

What has happened to all the 400 or so butterflies that emerged in February 2019? The hibernators have probably looked for a crevice to hunker down and sit out the poor conditions. So it is unlikely that they have gone back into full hibernation - more likely that they have gone into over-wintering mode like the Red Admiral has done over recent winters. However the other species that emerged in February 2019 would have probably perished as there is a limit to the time that you can sit underneath a leaf in a force 8 gale with teeming rain!

Unidentified butterfly
Unidentified butterfly No 2, Peruvian jungle © Peter Cartlidge

However it was quite a surprise that a Painted Lady was seen taking nectar from a flowering heather on a patio in the Darley Abbey garden of Keith Dodd on the 1th of March 2019 (per Alan Jones). As was proven recently this migrant butterfly returns to North Africa in the autumn as they cannot survive our winters so this individual must have come into the UK during the warm weather of late February when at least a couple of dozen individuals were seen in England as far north as Lancashire and Barnard Castle in County Durham (per Mark Searle).

Unidentified butterfly
Unidentified butterfly No 3, Peruvian jungle © Peter Cartlidge

Not to be outdone, a local Peacock was seen on the same day in the Kinder, Hayfield garden (in the High Peak) of Brian Gee, this after the day began with a temperature of 3°C complete with snow and hail – so they are made of sterner stuff than what we think!

Pleasingly the anticipation of carrying out a butterfly transect in our fantastic county is still on the minds of many of the 300 volunteers who did just that last year. Indeed, following on from the recent transect training sessions across the county which attracted over 100 volunteers including staff from at least 4 local companies, there are new transects being set up in readiness for the start of the walking season on the 1st of April 2019. So if you are interested in being part of one of the teams that cover at least 100 sites in Derbyshire then please send me an email to confirm your interest. Local co-ordinators are now drawing up the rotas so if you haven’t heard anything yet then please contact your local person or alternatively let me know.

Unidentified butterfly
Unidentified butterfly No 4, Peruvian jungle © Peter Cartlidge

Finally I was very interested to receive some more photographs of butterflies from around the world – Peter and Kath Cartlidge visited the rainforests of Peru late last year. I have attached some of the photos taken but unfortunately neither the guide or anyone else in the party knew what butterfly species they were. So here’s a challenge for you – please let me know the names of the butterflies! Meanwhile, Joan Gibson visited Patagonia in November 2018 where she managed to photograph what she thinks is an Andean Foothills White which was seen taking nectar from a native dandelion plant – unless someone else can provide a different I D?

Andean Foothills White
Andean Foothills White, Chile © Joan Gibson
Unidentified butterfly
Unidentified butterfly No 5, Peruvian jungle © Peter Cartlidge

Update No 8

7th March 2019

Ken Orpe
News from Previous Years
Small Orange-tip
Small Orange-tip, South Africa © Norman Jones

Now that Storm Freya has left our shores, it looks like our local lepidoptera have decided to lay low and wait for better conditions to materialise as there have been no butterfly sightings so far this month in the county. I have been informed of a couple more interesting sightings though – another Speckled Wood was seen by Jim Steele on the 26th of February 2019 at Shining Cliff Wood, Ambergate, and just over the county border at Ashby de la Zouch in Leicestershire, Martin Vaughan saw a Humming Bird Hawk moth nectaring on winter honeysuckle in his garden on the 1st of March 2019 – no doubt the species had arrived in Southern England during late February 2019 when the temperature was hitting 18c instead of 8c as of now and the airflow was from the south and not the north west as it is at the moment.

Spotted Jokers
Spotted Jokers, South Africa © Norman Jones

This time of the year is really important for our local toads, frogs and newts and Kelvin Lawrence, Toad Crossing Coordinator for Derbyshire Amphibian and Reptile Group, has asked me to put out a request for help over the next few weeks (please see the attached poster). They would like people to give one or two evenings a week over the next few weeks to rescue toads, frogs and newts from road traffic in their local area. They have sites in most areas of Derbyshire and often struggle to cover them all on busy nights. For info please email

As promised we can look at some more great butterfly photos that have been taken by members of this egroup – this time they have been taken in South Africa by Norman Jones. It would be great to see something like the Yellow Pansy flying in our county!

Vine-leaf Vagrant
Vine-leaf Vagrant, South Africa © Norman Jones

Finally, a quick check with Butterfly Conservation revealed that here in Derbyshire during 2017 we provided 28,434 butterfly records at the 2km resolution for inclusion in the national database – this puts the county in 9th position out of a total of 55 counties that are contributing to the project in the UK, bearing in mind that Derbyshire is 20th in the table of county populations in England. Another fantastic effort by members of this egroup!

Yellow Pansy
Yellow Pansy, South Africa © Norman Jones
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Zebra White
Zebra White, South Africa © Norman Jones

Update No 7

28th February 2019

Ken Orpe
Brimstone, Hopton Hall © Pete Clark

After an amazing spell of Mediterranean style weather recently, with cold nights but very warm and sunny days including a record 18°C here in Derby on the 26th of February 2019, many recorders have emailed me their sightings in the county and a total of 390 butterflies have been seen in February 2019 compared to just 6 in February 2018 when we suffered extreme cold as a result of the ‘Beast from the East’ The overall total for the first 3 months of 2018 was just 184 butterflies seen so we have more than doubled the overall numbers seen during February 2019 alone. As we are about to enter a new month it looks like the Atlantic weather systems will prevail but at least the ‘Pest from the West’ should ensure that we get a few decent sunny days in the near future alternating with wet and windy conditions.

What was really amazing for Pat and me was the fact that we saw all 4 hibernators (Brimstone, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma ) together with an overwintering Red Admiral during the month of February 2019 – the first time that this has happened to us in 40 years of recording in Derbyshire!

Whilst the number of flowers for butterflies to take nectar from was somewhat limited, most species managed to take advantage of early flowering blossom on trees, catkins and also early emerging pussy willows(see some of the attached great photos that I have been sent recently).

Comma, Codnor Park © Pete Clark

As well as the species mentioned above there have been a couple of new county records recently with a Green-veined White seen on the 24th of February 2019 in the Buxton garden of Bob Billing, this being nearly 4 weeks earlier than the previous record of the 19th of March (2003). Similarly a Large White was seen on the 26th of February 2019 in the gardens at Hardwick Hall (Ian Hunt) which again is about 4 weeks earlier than the previous record of the 23rd of March (2003). Additional sightings of the Speckled Wood this year have come from only Forbes Hole LNR, Long Eaton where 2 individuals were noted by Marion Bryce on the 25th of February 2019. Again sightings of the Red Admiral have been scarce so far this year, no doubt as a result of the poor year that the species had in 2018 – recent records have come from Forbes Hole LNR Long Eaton (Marion Bryce) and at Ironville (Pete Clark).

The most common butterfly seen in Derbyshire since the last update was the Small Tortoiseshell with 122 individuals seen across the County at 74 sites with the maximum of 7 coming from Salter Wood, Denby on the 26th of February 2019 (Jane Rogers) and also 7 along the Chesterfield Canal at Staveley on the 27th of February 2019 (Sid Morris). Similarly there were 116 Brimstones noted across the county from 72 sites with the maximum count of 8 coming on the 26th of February 2019 at Markham Pit South (Mark Radford & Sid Morris). Not too far behind was the Comma of which 80 individuals were noted across Derbyshire at 41 sites with the highest count of 11 being seen around the village of Ironville on the 27th of February 2019 (Pete Clark). However not so common was the Peacock of which just 34 were seen from only 31 sites and mainly as singletons – are they scarce now as a result of their decision to enter hibernation early last summer due to the extreme heat which meant that they failed to take enough nectar to sustain them over the winter? Or is it a case that they have been predated heavily by birds and spiders this last winter?

Painted Lady
Painted Lady, Brockholes, Lancs Feb 21st 2019 © Ken Hayes

The recent plume of warm air from the Azores and Canary Isles allowed some Painted Lady butterflies to spread into the UK during February 2019 as far north as Lancashire but unfortunately none were seen in Derbyshire. However Pete Clark sent me a photograph of one of them which was taking nectar from Coltsfoot which, as many of you will know, is a very early flower here in the UK.

Recently Chris Butler kindly sent me a link to an article on the planting of disease-resistant elms in Hampshire for the rare White-letter Hairstreak.

Please see the link below:-

Conservationists fight to save rare butterfly from regional extinction BBC Wildlife Magazine - Two charities are working together to plant elms for White-letter Hairstreak butterflies in Hampshire. Read the full story.

Whilst it is great news that 50 new elm trees are being planted there, we, here in Derbyshire, have been well ahead of the game as over 400 Disease Resistant Elms have been planted across South Derbyshire during the last 8 years and the great news is that after flowering for the first time last year at a couple of sites in the Derby area, the White Letter Hairstreak was seen to be flying around the new elms ready to use them for their life cycle.

Indeed, to increase awareness of this rare resident butterfly, Ruth Rolls has produced a Press Release for Tree Warden Networks across the Region as per the attached document. Recently Mick Ball sent me a photo of one of our planted D R Elms at Eyes Meadow, Duffield which showed the tree in flower on the 14th of February 2019 well in advance of its usual flowering time of late March – does this mean that it was too early for use by the caterpillar of the White Letter Hairstreak? I must admit that we are all out of sync with the recent warm spell of weather and with the lack of plants last summer due to the drought it will certainly be interesting to see what effect all this fine weather will have on our local butterfly populations this year – yet again your sightings will illustrate what is actually happening in our County.

Peacock, Codnor Park © Pete Clark

Important Notice

Due to the continued interest in carrying out butterfly transects in the county and in order to accommodate as many volunteers as possible, it has been decided to change the venue for next week’s training sessions. They will now be held in the Exhibition Hall at the main Cromford Mills complex where there is a large pay and display car park. To remind you, the dates and times are as follows:-

Wednesday the 6th of March 2019 from 1.30 pm to 4.00 pm

Friday the 8th of March 2019 – from 10 am to 12.30 pm

In view of the additional capacity, it is not too late to book these free events - please telephone Elizabeth Woodward on the Reception at the DWT (01773 881188) for details and bookings.

Small Tortoiseshell
Small Tortoiseshell, Salter Wood, Denby & copy Jane Rogers

However if you live in the NE of Derbyshire you might be interested in attending a similar event that is being held on the 14th of March 2019 from 12 noon until 4.30 pm at Poolsbrook Country Park – this free event is being organised by the DWT when local enthusiasts Mark Radford and Sid Morris will be doing the training - please see leaflet for details.

Finally, due to the number of excellent photos of UK butterflies that I have received recently, I have postponed the issue of the promised South African butterflies until the next update.

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Elm in flower
Disease resistant elm in flower 14th Feb 2019

Update No 6

18th February 2019

Ken Orpe
Hobart Brown
Hobart Brown, Tasmania © Chris Cooper

Following on from the recent Atlantic storms, this week has seen a drastic change in the weather with spring like conditions and temperatures up to 14°C here in Derby – ideal weather for butterflies to emerge from their slumber and take to the wing. Pat and I were pleasantly surprised when we saw a Red Admiral taking nectar from snowdrops in Allestree Park on the 11th of February 2019 (see the attached photo). Then followed a week of brilliant sunny and warm days which meant that a number of observers were very pleased to see their first butterflies of the year including another Red Admiral on the 14th of February 2019 in the Little Eaton garden of Brenda Shore.

A total of 9 Small Tortoiseshells have been noted this week, 6 of which were seen in the Peak District at Thorpe (Barbara Wager), Hoe Grange Quarry (Ray Badger Walker), the Main Shopping Street in Buxton (Michael Glendenning), Birchover (Phil Gilbert), Hopton Hall (Anita Aked) and Froggatt (Bryan Barnacle), whilst the others were in the Grassmoor garden of Brian Cuttell, the Belper garden of Dan Martin and at Pleasley Pit NR (Ian Hurst). Similarly a total of 9 Peacocks have been seen recently with all of them noted in the Peak District at Hoe Grange Quarry (Ray Badger Walker), Darley Forest (John & Jessica Barker), the Buxton garden of Shirley Johnson, Biggin Dale (Roger Dennis),the Bakewell garden of Angela Bird, Gang Mine NR (Gary Atkins), Cromford Canal (Angela & Chris Bent) and remarkably at 360 metres above sea level at the top of Kinder Scout where Brian Gee saw 2 individuals enjoying a flypast on the 14th of February 2019!

Just a couple of Commas seen this week on the 14th of February 2019 with an individual noted in the Goyt Valley (David Hatfield) and another at Press Manor on the same day (John & Sandra Kidd). Also 4 Brimstones were noted recently with one seen in a Kirk Hallam garden on the 14th of February 2019 by Alison Devine (per Paul Shaw) and others on the same day in Birchover Way, Allestree (Jenny Emerson) and Ironville (per Pete Clark),which was then followed by a fourth individual in the Overseal garden of Dot & Barry Morson on the 16th of February 2019. This means that 5 butterfly species were noted in the County during the last 7 days which consisted of 26 individuals of which just 10 were noted in lowland Derbyshire compared to 16 in the Peak District and Peak fringe areas– is this the sign of things to come this year as a direct result of the summer of 2018 when the lower temperatures in the higher parts of Derbyshire resulted in more nymphalid butterflies being seen there rather than elsewhere in the county, with the exception of the Brimstone which presumably was able to reflect the heat, similar to the Whites? Only your sightings will indicate what is actually happening here in Derbyshire!

Interestingly the reservoir levels here in Derbyshire are currently about what they ought to be for the time of the year following on from the earlier rainstorms with both the Derwent Valley reservoirs (Derwent; Howden and Ladybower) and Carsington Water running at 84% capacity compared to 74% capacity at the end of 2018, and this despite the driest January for 13 years and the current dry spell of weather.

Butterfly Conservation has advised me that now that all the 2018 transect results are safely gathered in from across the UK, we in the East Midlands have retained our second place behind Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in the overall table of transects completed last year. With Derbyshire on 100 sites, Notts on 28 sites and Leicestershire on 15 sites, the East Midlands total is 143 sites with Hants/I of W on 162 and Surrey in third place on 119 – yet another great result for the 300 or so volunteers who maintain their interest and enjoy the experience of carrying out butterfly transects which helps us all to understand what is happening to our local Lepidoptera in these changing times. Did you know for example that the migrating Brown Argus was seen and photographed by Patricia Sharp on a transect along the Cromford Canal between Ambergate and Whatstandwell in July 2018 – this shows that this species is very close to linking up (again) with the Peak District version of the Brown Argus which was seen on the transect at Rose End Meadows a few kilometres away in Cromford, where the caterpillar uses Rock Rose as its foodplant as opposed to cranesbills for the migrating version.

With the new transect season just 6 weeks away from commencing again, invitations have already been sent out to many volunteers who cover the 100 sites in Derbyshire, and for those of you who organise rotas in the County, other than myself, I have attached a blank rota form together with a blank recording form for use in 2019. Also attached is an example of a casual recording form for use where an observer is making multiple sightings in the County – this can be emailed to me on a regular basis and preferably no longer than once a month so that I am aware as to what is happening in your part of Derbyshire.

Meadow Argus, Tasmania © Chris Cooper

Finally, to whet your appetite further, Chris & Clare Cooper of Nottingham kindly sent me some photos of butterflies seen on a recent trip to Tasmania which has only 39 species present but Chris managed to photograph 3 of them (see the attached photos). More excellent photos to come from Norman Jones who visited South Africa last year, on the next update.

Yellow-banded Dart
Yellow-banded Dart, Tasmania © Chris Cooper
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Red Admiral 11th Feb 2019
Red Admiral 11th Feb 2019, Allestree Park, Ken & Pat Orpe.

Update No 5

4th February 2019

Ken Orpe
Eastern Dappled White
Eastern Dappled White Euchioe ausonia , Lesbos © Ian Hurst

Little did the mass ramblers who trespassed on Kinder Scout in 1932 realise the effect that this would have on British Society and 87 years later we can all enjoy the walks and transects on open land both here in Derbyshire and also in most other parts of the in the UK. It was mainly as the result of the combined efforts of both ‘Mancs’ and ‘Tykes’ that 500 ramblers, led by Benny Rothman, turned up on the 24th of April 1932 at Hayfield.

Kinder Scout Mass Trespass Walk
Kinder Scout Mass Trespass Walk

They wanted to highlight the fact that walkers were denied access to areas of open countryside and the result of their actions eventually led to the passage of the National Parks legislation in 1949 and the first National Park (The Peak District) was established in the year 1951.(there are now 13 National Parks in England & Wales)

A few weeks after the ‘mass trespass’ on Kinder Scout another gathering of ramblers met at Winnats Pass near Castleton – this time there were 10,000 of them – the biggest gathering of walkers in history! Each year the Wardens and Rangers of both the National Trust and the Peak District National Park hold a walking event to mark the anniversary of the ‘mass trespass’ and this year it will be held on Saturday the 27th of April 2019 at Winnats Pass from 2 pm till 4 pm – also included are talks and live music – for details go to the National Trust website :-

Another butterfly themed talk with take place on Wednesday the 17th of April 2019 when Max & Christine Maughan will give a talk on ‘Gardening for Butterflies’ for the Mid Derbyshire Badger Group at the Strutt Centre in Belper at 7.30 pm (£2 for members and £3 for visitors)

With the cold weather of mid to late January 2019 still prevailing into early February 2019 our local butterflies have not been tempted out of hibernation with no sightings at all in recent days. Indeed with 35 mornings of frost here in Derby since the beginning of October 2018 till the 31st of January 2019 the overall figure is similar to the same period during last winter when there were 36 mornings of frost in Derby. Just 10 miles north of Derby, it is a different story with Dave Evans who lives in the Peak Fringe area of Middleton by Wirksworth, who has recorded 46 mornings with frost from the beginning of October 2018 till the 31st of January 2019.

Eastern Marbled White
Eastern Marbled White Melanargia larissa, Lesbos © Ian Hurst

So as to retain interest in butterflies during this current spell of weather, I have attached some photos taken by Ian Hurst in Lesbos, Greece – future Updates will include photos from South Africa, South America and Tasmania – all of which have been sent to me by members of this egroup!

Mallow Skipper
Mallow Skipper Carcharodus aceac, Lesbos © Ian Hurst

Finally with February being the shortest month of the year it won’t be long before March arrives and all the transect rotas will then be sorted, ready to start the new walking season on the 1st of April which this year means that every transect week starts on a Monday. If you have not already done so, could you please contact your local co-ordinator to confirm your availability so that the new rotas can be agreed – to this end I will be including a blank Rota Form and a blank Recording Form for 2019 on the next Update.

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Orbed Red-underwing Skipper
Orbed Red-underwing Skipper Spialia orbifer, Lesbos © Ian Hurst
Turkish Meadow Brown
Turkish Meadow Brown Maniola megala, Lesbos © Ian Hurst

Update No 4

28th January 2019

Ken Orpe
Southern White Admiral
Southern White Admiral, Croatia © Steve Orridge

It is not surprising that there have been no further butterfly sightings in the county during January 2019 given that we have had frosts on 12 mornings so far this month here in Derby (compared to 10 mornings in January 2018), some of them being a hard frost which meant that the maximum daytime temperature didn’t get above 3°C. It was even colder in the Peak District with lying snow adding to the very cold conditions in that part of the county.

However a lack of sightings hasn’t prevented a number of events relating to butterflies being organised for 2019 including the following:-

1. The Annual Transect Training Sessions by Pat & Ken Orpe in the offices of the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (DWT) at Middleton by Wirksworth will take place on the following dates : – Wednesday the 6th of March 2019 from 1.30 pm to 4.00 pm. To book this free event please telephone Elizabeth Woodward on the Reception at the DWT (01773 881188) – places are limited to 30 volunteers for this event and it will be on a first come first reserved basis. If you cannot make the last date, then another has been arranged at the DWT offices at Middleton by Wirksworth – Friday the 8th of March 2019 – from 10 am to 12.30 pm – details all as the last item.

2. Wednesday the 13th of March 2019 – an illustrated talk on ‘The Butterflies of Derbyshire’ by Pete Clark at Riddings Park Community Centre, West Street, Riddings DE55 4EW commencing at 7.30 pm – entrance fee is £2, students and children free.

3. Friday the 12th of April 2019 – an illustrated talk on ‘Monitoring the Changing Status of Butterflies in Derbyshire’ by Ken Orpe at the Evergreen Club, Cornhill, Allestree, commencing at 7.15 pm for Derby Natural History Society - entrance is free to members and guests are charged at £2.

4. Hoe Grange Quarry Open Day – Sunday the 21st of July 2019 from 11 am to 4 pm (see the attached leaflet for details and parking etc). Last year this event attracted over 450 butterfly and wildlife enthusiasts and it has become quite a social event with teas and free ice creams available courtesy of Longcliffe Quarries. Steve Orridge and Ray Walker will be carrying out a moth watch during the previous night (Saturday the 20th of July 2019) so we should have some live moths to show visitors on the following day.

I have been carrying out some research on Hoe Grange Quarry this month with the idea of creating an interpretation board on the history of the site and unbelievably back in the year 1902, the site was found to have bones of 27 animal species present including lion, rhino, elephant, grizzly bear, wolf, wild boar and hyena which could have been located in a den within a sinkhole some 1 million years ago – interesting that some animals still exist in the quarry including badger, rabbit, frog, redwing and robin. There is an exhibition currently at Buxton Museum on the ‘Wonders of the Peak District’ and this contains a display of some of the bones that were found in Hoe Grange Quarry all those years ago. Well worth a visit according to Ray ‘Badger’ Walker, the Warden of Hoe Grange Quarry. I have also had some help from David McPhie of the bookshop at Brierlow Bar near Buxton whereby David has confirmed that there was indeed a railway siding into the quarry off the High Peak Railway and there was also a narrow gauge system within the quarry – I understand that the lines were removed in the 1950’s when road transport became easier.

During this winter Mick Ball, Butterfly Conservation Moth Officer for Derbyshire and Notts, has been compiling a detailed summary of the current status of the ‘Moths of Derbyshire’ – if you would like a copy of his Report then please send me an email and I will forward to you a copy of the document which contains details of the status of approx 500 species of macro moths that have been recorded in the county during the last 30 years.

Southern Gatekeeper
Southern Gatekeeper, Majorca © Tom Aspinall

Finally I have attached some more photos of butterflies that members of this egroup have seen in Europe – this time they are of relatives of species that can also be found in other parts of the UK.

Glanville Fritillary
Glanville Fritillary, Croatia © Steve Orridge

Update No 3

22nd January 2019

Ken Orpe
Cardinal, Crete © Eliot Taylor
Lang's Short-tailed Blue
Lang's Short-tailed Blue, Crete © Eliot Taylor

Now that we are in the midst of ‘General Winter’ with snow on many of the hills in the Peak District, I was quite surprised to receive a couple of additional butterfly sightings in the county recently with a Brimstone noted flying at Pleasley Pit NR on the 15th of January 2019 (Loz Brooks) and a Peacock seen at Clowne on the 18th of January 2019 (Marc Pearson).

As I have finished analysing the transect data for 2018, I have attached a (downloadable) excel sheet which shows the comparison for the results between 2017 and 2018 and again the Ringlet remained in poll position as the most species seen on the 100 transects carried out in Derbyshire during 2018 despite much lower numbers seen overall, no doubt due to the drought conditions on the grasslands (15,604 compared to 21,246 in 2017), whilst the Small White rose to second position from sixth in 2017 (14,385 compared to 4,104 in 2017), mainly as a result that it managed to fly during the hot weather.

Unsurprisingly the Red Admiral was the worst performer with a massive 90% decline in numbers compared to 2017 (285 butterflies against 2,808 in 2017) but the second worst performer, the Comma, was somewhat of a surprise (988 compared to 1548 in 2017 – a decline of 36%). Moving on to individual sites, the Rowthorne Trail had the most butterflies where David Elliott counted a massive 4,801 individuals on the transects there with nearby Pleasley Pit NR in second place having a total count of 3,489 butterflies thanks to Mick Gamble and his enthusiastic team of volunteers. The new transects carried out at Markham South Pit organised by Mark Radford and Sid Morris and their team did really well with a total of 4,835 butterflies seen overall at the 2 sites that are being monitored there on behalf of Derbyshire County Council. The site with the most species seen was Lathkill Dale NNR with 28 species recorded in 2018.Finally it was interesting to note that in lowland Derbyshire 33% of transect sites had fewer butterflies in 2018 whereas in the Peak District the decline was at only 16% of the sites – this being no doubt due to the fact that the higher ground of the Peak was some 4 degrees cooler than sites in lowland Derbyshire which meant that the drought in the Peak had a lesser impact on the ability of butterflies to keep flying, take nectar and hopefully find a mate – it will be interesting to see what effect that the summer of 2018 has on numbers throughout the county in 2019 – only your efforts will again produce this data!

For interest I have also attached the (downloadable) transect data for the 100 active sites in the county during the period of 2013 to 2018 inclusive and which shows that over 400,000 butterflies have been counted during this period on over 10,200 walks which averages at 39 butterflies seen on every transect in Derbyshire during the last 6 years – what a fantastic achievement by over 300 volunteers who find the experience truly rewarding and for which Pat and I thank you all so much – it is great to know that we inspire volunteers to get out and about in our great county!

Yet another set of brilliant photos by members of this egroup are attached for your continued interest in the hope that they will prevent you all from suffering the January ‘blues’ – great to see variations to our Wall Brown and the Comma from Europe!

Large Wall Brown
Large Wall Brown, Nerja - Spain © Peter Eley
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Southern Comma
Southern Comma, Greece © Tom Aspinall

Update No 2

14th January 2019

Ken Orpe
Eastern Large Heath
Eastern Large Heath, Bulgaria © Dave Goddard.
Great Banded Grayling
Great Banded Grayling, Bulgaria © Dave Goddard.

If we wanted further proof that climate change is upon us here in Derbyshire, it was certainly confirmed again on the 8th of January 2019 when amazingly a Speckled Wood was seen nectaring on mahonia in the Smalley garden of Stephen Jackson (per Jim Steele) – this sighting is at least 2 months earlier than the previous record (9th of March (2010)) and was totally unexpected! This could be a spin off from the exceptional summer of 2018 as this species can over winter as either a caterpillar or a pupa, so the New Year message is – expect the unexpected! What makes it all the more interesting is that despite the fact that Derbyshire is the furthest from the coast in any direction (Ordnance Survey), there have been no other sightings yet in the rest of the UK where many counties have a coast line and hence a slightly milder climate than us here in the middle of England.

Other butterfly sightings in the county during the first couple of weeks of this year include an additional Brimstone at Poolsbrook Country Park on the 6th of January 2019 (per Mark Beevers), a Peacock seen flying along the High Peak Trail near the Stone Centre, Wirksworth in poor conditions on the 7th of January 2019 (Nigel Pratley) together with another Peacock seen in the Smalley garden of Stephen Jackson on the 8th of January 2019, and finally a Red Admiral was noted in Shirebrook on the 8th of January 2019 (per Mark Beevers), this taking the species total to 5 already this year!

As we have now passed the half way mark of the close season for transect walking, arrangements have been made for the Annual Transect Training Sessions in the Offices of the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (DWT) at Middleton by Wirksworth – Wednesday the 6th of March 2019 from 1.30 pm to 4.00 pm. To book this free event please telephone Elizabeth Woodward on the Reception at the DWT (01773 881188) – places are limited to 30 volunteers for this event and it will be on a first come first reserved basis. If you cannot make the last date, then another has been arranged at the DWT Offices at Middleton by Wirksworth – Friday the 8th of March 2019 – from 10 am to 12.30 pm – details all as the last item.

With all the data from 100 active transect sites in Derbyshire already submitted to the National Database at Butterfly Conservation and UKBMS (United Kingdom Butterfly Monitoring Scheme), it now gives me a chance to analyse our Derbyshire data – yes there was a 29% increase in butterfly numbers in 2018 compared to 2017 (104,432 butterflies seen compared to 81,030 in 2017) but if you take out the totals of the 3 ‘white’ species for 2018 (33,837 butterflies seen compared to 12,303 in 2017) then the other 29 species recorded increased by only 1,868 butterflies which is only 3%. So as expected the ‘white’ species managed to withstand the high temperatures whilst the coloured butterflies were less fortunate. Full details of how each species fared will be sent out on the next update. So a huge thank you goes out to the 300 volunteers who carried out all 2,410 transects that were walked in Derbyshire during 2018 – this represents a massive 93% total of the possible transects, against 87% in 2017.

Hungarian Glider
Hungarian Glider, Bulgaria © Dave Goddard.

Finally I have attached some more great photos from Dave Goddard of his trip to Bulgaria which hopefully will help you all get over the January ‘blues’.

Queen of Spain Fritillary
Queen of Spain Fritillary, Bulgaria © Dave Goddard.
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Southern White Admiral
Southern White Admiral, Bulgaria © Dave Goddard.
Spotted Fritillary
Spotted Fritillary, Bulgaria © Dave Goddard.

Update No 1

7th January 2019

Ken Orpe
Balkan Copper
Balkan Copper, Bulgaria © Dave Goddard.
Black-veined White
Black-veined White, Bulgaria © Dave Goddard.

With cool overnight temperatures and mainly cloudy skies during the short hours of daylight of late, there were very few opportunities for volunteers to get out and about looking for butterflies but Mark Radford informs me that Kevin Navin saw a Peacock flying along a road in Staveley on Boxing Day 2018, whilst during a sunny spell on new year’s day 2019, Peter Burton saw a Small Tortoiseshell in full flight across the moors at the top of Heyden Clough on the Derbyshire side of Holme Moss at an elevation of 1600 feet above sea level – so the 2019 season has already started on the 1st of January (the same species was also seen on the first day of the New Millennium in the County).

Meanwhile over in North Notts, on the 1st of January 2019 Phil Lee saw a Peacock on the wing at West Stockwith. The next time that the sun briefly appeared in the area was Sunday the 6th of January 2019 but it was sufficient for another Peacock to appear, this time at Brimington, which was seen by Alan Wood (per Sid Morris) and also surprisingly on the same day a Brimstone was seen flying at Markham North Pit by Mark Radford. With more sun forecast for tomorrow (8th of January) it could be that we get further sightings of additional butterflies in the county.

Clouded Apollo
Clouded Apollo, Bulgaria © Dave Goddard.
Eastern Festoon
Eastern Festoon, Bulgaria © Dave Goddard.
Pleasingly yet more amazing photos of butterflies have been sent to me by members of this egroup – many people are pleased to share butterfly photos of their far away trips which include eastern Europe, South Africa and even Tasmania. So limiting the attachments to 6 photos, here are some great shots from Dave Goddard of his trip to Bulgaria – enjoy on these dismal days of January!
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False Eros Blue
False Eros Blue, Bulgaria © Dave Goddard.
Pearly Heath
Pearly Heath, Bulgaria © Dave Goddard.