Emergence well underway at Grafton Wood

The last two days has seen a flurry of Brownie sightings at Grafton Wood in Worcestershire. These sightings are the first to be recorded since the initial one on Sunday 28th July.

Yesterday yielded a minimum of 4 separate adults/sightings, at least 3 of which were male with the sex of the 4th undetermined. Today I had 8 separate sightings at different places spread across the 4 hours that I was there. All the butterflies I was able to observe closely were male. However, I bumped into John Tilt - reserve manager - at one point, and he reported that 2 females had also been seen (by him) today - these being the first recorded females of the season.

One interesting, and potentially important, fact to come from these sightings is that out of the 12 - assumed male - butterflies observed over the two days, 6 of them were found nectaring on Bramble - all in the afternoon. (Of the other 6 - 1 was feeding on honeydew off a Field Maple leaf, 2 were flying high along the top of a hedge, and 3 were seen in trees, exhibiting typical (male) 'assembly tree behaviour').

There was a theory aired a few weeks ago, during the peak of the Purple Emperor flight period, that one reason for the apparent large number of grounded Emperor sightings this year was due to the absence of aphids, and hence aphid honeydew, up in the trees. At that point we had discussed, if this theory was correct, whether it would have the same impact on Brownies and whether it would lead to an increase in sightings this year, especially of male butterflies, as they were forced lower down into hedgerows in order to search out nectar sources. Maybe it's too early to tell, but the fact that 50% of male sightings here, over the last two days, have been of nectaring butterflies....who knows!!


Post a Comment