01 February 2016

January Butterflies

A visit to Whiteford by Stuart Thomas, Micky Maher and I at the weekend (30/01/2016) resulted in relatively little in terms of birds (based on recent sightings).  The sea state was rough and it was difficult to scan offshore, and other than 1-2 great northern divers foraging in the shelter of the Burry Inlet (we didn't see two at once but the birds seemed relatively widely separated), a female merlin hunting across the saltmarsh, some nice mixed flocks of waders and small groups of eider and pintail, our efforts got a modest return.  There was no sign of snow bunting along the strandline or of slavonian grebes off the hide.

We were surprised to see some butterflies on the wing.  A red admiral was nice, but a painted lady was completely unexpected.  Both were basking among the dunes on the leeward side of the plantation, taking advantage of warm sunny patches.  The painted lady was extremely active and fresh, and eventually chased the red admiral over the canopy of an adjacent cypress (we had stopped to try and work out the species of cypress when we saw the butterflies).  As can be see from the photos the painted lady was fresh looking, while the red admiral was more faded and worn.

Having checked with the South East Wales Biological Records Centre, this is the third January record of painted lady for Glamorgan, so a bit of a better day than we thought.

Owain Gabb

Painted lady (Stuart Thomas)

Red admiral (Stuart Thomas)


Barry Stewart said...

That's quite remarkable! I remember Ian Tew seeing a Painted Lady in January at Whiteford (17 Jan 1998), so that's clearly the place for early butterflies. The Cypress stand btw is Monterey (Cupressus macrocarpa) which seems to provide a nice little micro-climate as there is always invertebrate interest in that little area.

Owain Gabb said...

Thanks for the info Barry - Micky thought it could be Monterey