Sunday, 31 May 2009

Painted Lady immigration - Sun 31 May

Painted Ladies were active from 0704h along the disused railway line between Kilmarnock, Knockentiber and Springside and before it was time to head back for breakfast, 32 had been counted along with 12 Orange-tips plus the other three pierids. In Kilmarnock, Painted Ladies were heading NW at a rate of 2/min around midday but on the coast between Troon and Irvine, no obvious movement was detected. Gailes Marsh only had 7 and a 1.5 km stretch south from Irvine harbour mouth produced just 15. Did anyone record large numbers in the south of the county today?

Large Red, Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselflies noted at a few sites in the Irvine area.

Painted Lady immigration - Sat 30 May

Incredible numbers of Painted Ladies along the south coast on Saturday (31/05/09) - easily surpassing the county's biggest previous invasion in 1996. We stopped counting at 702! In contrast to London earlier this week when most butterflies were urgently flying north without stopping, most of today's individuals were resting and feeding on almost every available nectar source (particularly Brassicaceae, Asteraceae and Trifolium spp.) but a northward movement was still apparent in the fairly strong SE wind. Some numbers: 199 along a 500m stretch from Pinbain Burn south; 234 between Bennane Lea & Port Vad; 209 along a 500m stretch from Ballantrae Pier south; only (!) 36 at Currarie Port. Also noted from the car in every 1km home to Kilmarnock. At a rough estimate, assuming an even distribution of numbers and uniform habitat, there could have been at least 50000 along the Ayrshire coast today. Other highlights: Dingy Skipper & 21 Wall at Pinbain; 48 Wall at Bennane Lea-Port Vad; 8 Wall at Currarie, and large numbers of Silver-Y everywhere. Nine other spp inc Large Skipper, Small Heath & Small Copper.

Fraser & Alistair Simpson

Ardeer Peninsula

Seem to be fewer Painted Ladies around today, with 15 along the sea defences between Stevenston Point and the Robert Burns mural. Also along this stretch were 2 Cinnabar moths and a Small Copper. 7 Small Coppers were sat along a track on the peninsula. Another Cinnabar and a Mother Shipton moth were also present.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Painted Ladies Everywhere

I have seen virtually nothing but Painted Ladies during the past 24 hours, it all started with 4 near Rankinston last night followed by another in Ayr early this morning but that didn't prepare me for what I saw today at Ballantrae. As soon as I walked down towards the beach there were at least 10 flying just in front of me and between Ballantrae and Bennane Head I stopped counting at 200 and all the way up the coast from Balcreuchan Port to Pinbain Burn/Pinbain Hill it was exactly the same so there must have been at least a few thousand Painted Ladies flying in the Ballantrae area today. The other butterflies seen were 160+ Green-veined Whites, 18+ Large Whites, 5 Small Whites (but there may well have been quite a few more), 3 Orange Tips, 6 Small Coppers, 3 Peacocks, 2 Small Tortoiseshells and 50+ Wall Browns (including 23 at Bennane Lea/Bennane Head and 15 at Pinbain Burn) but I found no Dingy Skipper, Large Skipper or Northern Brown Argus although it may be slightly early in the year for the latter 2 species.

Painted Ladies

Painted Ladies everywhere today. Most notable counts were 5 flying through Garnock East and a further 27 nectaring - mainly on Bird's-foot Trefoil. Across the Garnock at the Ardeer Brownfield land, 31 were nectaring in a 40mx40m patch of Bird's-foot Trefoil.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Ardeer Brownfield land

No Painted Ladies yet, but 7 Small Coppers were within a couple of hundred metres of each other. A Cinnabar moth was on a patch of dune heath and a Pyrausta purpuralis pyralid moth was in a wildflower-rich woodland clearing. The scortching temperatures saw hundreds of solitary bees and wasps hovering low over the sandy areas - a lot of Sphecodes cuckoo bees in particular.

(Photos: Pyrausta purpuralis; Sphecodes sp.)

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Waiting for the Painted Lady invasion to hit Ayrshire

With millions of Painted Ladies arriving in Southern England over the past week and the promising forecast for this weekend, it looks like many will be moving through Ayrshire. In central London this morning I observed a steady northerly stream of butterflies flying at speed across some of city's busiest streets!
More here on the BC website:

Monday, 25 May 2009

Green Hairstreaks in Kyle Forest

During a walk through the Kyle Forest from Rankinston to Sinclairston yesterday I discovered Green Hairstreaks in this area for the first time, I found 7 on the edge of the forest near Ewe Hill (NS4512 and NS4511) and another 2 near Knockguldron (NS4813), I also saw 90+ Green-veined Whites and 24 Orange Tips and a large number of these butterflies were seen along the stretch of road between Knockguldron and the northern edge of the forest.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Garnock Estuary Area

On a sandy, wildflower-rich track on the Ardeer Brownfield land across the river from Garnock East, 2 Small Coppers were basking (2 more at Garnock East and 1 at Ardeer Fen). A Cinnabar moth was there - my first this year - and the ground was alive with solitary wasps. A Common Heath moth was nearby.

Yesterday, a BTCV insect netting event at Ardeer Quarry produced only one moth, which they identified as Least Black Arches, a very local moth in Scotland.

(Photos: Small Copper; Cinnabar)

First Small Heath

I saw my first Small Heath of the year this morning near the village of Rankinston (NS444143), other butterflies seen in the area were 24+ Green-veined Whites and 3 Orange Tips.

Saturday, 16 May 2009


Largely overcast and with a cool east wind, I didn't encounter a single butterfly during my walk in the countryside above Stevenston, until I reached Auchenkist Farm. A marshy field, 300m x 40m, dotted with Cuckoo Flowers, had at least 80 Whites dancing about during sunny spells. My best estimate of species composition was 62 Green-veined Whites, 13 Orange Tips, and 5 Small Whites.

(Photos: Small White; sheltered, marshy field)

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Small Tortoiseshell survey

This survey was brought to my attention today:

A few firsts

The warm, sunny weather today produced my first Four-spotted Chaser, Blue-tailed Damselfly, and Azure Damselfly at Garnock East. Single Small Copper and Red Admiral were across the Garnock at the Ardeer Brownfield land.

(Photos: Four-spotted Chaser; Azure Damselfly; Blue-tailed Damselfly)

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Small Copper

My first Small Copper of the year was flushed from a worn track at Garnock East this afternoon.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Green Hairstreaks at Craigdow Loch

During a visit to Craigdow Loch near Kirkoswald this afternoon I saw my first Green Hairstreaks of 2009 (a total of 7 butterflies), other butterflies seen in the Kirkoswald/Craigdow area were 18+ Green-veined Whites, 6 Orange Tips and 2 Small Tortoiseshells.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Red Admiral

My first Red Admiral of the year was at Garnock East today. A Common Carpet was disturbed beside the wood.

(Photos: Red Admiral; Common Carpet)

Friday, 1 May 2009

Holly Blue in Ayrshire (again!)

Following Angus Murray's discovery of a Holly Blue in his garden in Ayr on three dates last August, he has recently sighted a first brood male on 22 April. Observers are encouraged to search out this species throughout the county.

There are a number of interesting questions and possibilities here: is the species holding on at a few undiscovered locations?; has it recently colonised from coastal D&G (and why no records in the large gap between?); has it (as eggs/larvae) been accidentally introduced with holly/ivy/another plant which may have come via garden centre from further south?