Bexley butterfly highlights of 2014 …..

OK, so 2014 seems a long time ago now, but around now’s the time for submitting reports of that year’s wildlife records for the 2015 London Natural History Society Journal (which won’t actually be published until early 2016 ….).

This is what I’ve sent in to the London Butterfly recorder about our local Butterflies:

The main things to report from out here are:

i) A Checklist of the Butterflies of Bexley was published in 2014 (go to http://www.bexleywildlife.org/butterflies-in-bexley/), which details the 26 species currently to be found in the Borough, with White Admiral a possible 27th. The only proven extinction since the mid 20th century is the Wall, but White-letter Hairstreak remains very localised, though the number of known sites for this is now up from 1 to 4.

ii) The apparently rapid range expansion of the Ringlet (see copy of Facebook post below giving details) over the last 3 years, and particularly into 2014, so that it has now been seen at sites scattered across the Borough from north to south and west to east.

The Ringlet butterfly - new to Thames Road Wetland and several other sites in 2014. (Chris Rose).

The Ringlet butterfly – new to Thames Road Wetland and several other sites in 2014. (Chris Rose).

iii) Several sightings of Green Hairstreak at Crossness nature reserve on Erith Marshes, and on a long narrow strip of scrub along the ‘sea wall’ by the Thames between there and Thamesmead. It would appear from a previous sighting at this latter location that there is now an established colony in this area.

iv) Modest numbers of Small Tortoiseshells again. In 2014 this included on my allotment site in Barnehurst. This is suggestive of a minor recovery, as reported elsewhere. 4 were seen along the middle reaches of the River Shuttle on March 12th 2015.

Facebook post of 13/7/2014

RINGLET BUTTERFLY AT YET ANOTHER SITE

I spotted a single Ringlet this morning along Streamway, the small watercourse running from the south side of Belvedere Village down to Brook Street, where it is ignominiously piped under the ground on towards the Thames.

Here are the sites in Bexley where the species has now been recorded. I am not sure when it may have first been seen at East Wickham Open Space, but I only received word of a record there two or three years ago, and all the other sightings have likewise come in the last three years (those asterisked just this year – 2014)

– East Wickham Open Space

– Abandoned allotments by west edge of Bexley Park Woods.

– The Dell, Slade Green

– Long grass area by school near east end of Lamorbey lake, Sidcup

– Lesnes Abbey Woods meadows *

– Thames Road Wetland *

– Crossness (Erith Marshes) *

– Foots Cray Meadows *

– Barnehurst Golf Course *

– Streamway *

In each case there have only been a very few individuals, or just one.

Looking at the GiGL (London Biodiversity Records Centre) data this sudden appearance of the species is either real, as they have no previous records from Bexley, or the species has been thinly scattered and unnoticed all along. It seems unlikely that all these records are simply wandering insects that have come from some as yet undetected larger, long-established population in the Borough that just hasn’t been found yet.

(Chris Rose)

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1 Response to Bexley butterfly highlights of 2014 …..

  1. Purnendu says:

    The Brown argus (Aricia agestis) is still present in East Wikham open space. I observed several individuals in July 2014.
    I found in the past White letter hairstreak adults in Hurst woods and caterpillars at Abbey wood, but never seen the adult there. The caterpillars are easier to find then the adult (sunny side of tree about 6ft from ground), I can find the caterpillars on a elm tree in Wyns Common, Plumstead, regularly, but I have never seen the adult.

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