Saturday, December 15, 2012

Brother Quercus

For the last 8 years I've monitored Purple Hairstreak eggs along a section of drooping oak boughs on the south-facing edge of Flisteridge Wood, an ancient woodland site on the Oxford Clay in N Wilts.  Counts have taken place in Dec / Jan.  Habitat conditions have remained stable, with an abundant supply of large thick bud clusters.  Here's the data -

2005     26 eggs in 1 hr 50   (too quick, = ~36)
2006     44             3 hrs
2007     30             3 hrs
2008     42             3 hrs 5 mins
2009     79             3 hrs 5 mins
2010     39             3 hrs 30 mins
2011     38             3 hrs 25 mins
2012       0             3 hrs 5 mins

Clearly, something has gone seriously wrong with Brother Quercus here this year.  I'd anticipated 30-35 eggs, largely on account of the good week we had in late July.  I can only put this collapse down to the impact of the bad early July on the adults.

I did something similar in Hartley Wood, near Selborne in Hampshire, during the mid 70s to late 80s, but never drew a blank, though numbers fell from a massive 226 in 1976 to 12 in 1977. 

Message, don't expect to see hoards of Purple Hairstreaks next year...  The legacy of 2012 is dawning...

1 comment:

Martin said...

Shock horror, Matthew. I wonder how our Dorset species will have fared ? I've only just sent the 2012 Transect data in, to BCHQ !