Friday, August 14, 2015

Late News

The Emperor season must have ended now.  It seems to have been rather a short one, curtailed prematurely by high winds and spells of hot weather.  Indeed, this was the windiest Emperor season I've known (or at least the windiest since 1973).  The flight season in Savernake Forest was remarkably short, commencing just before mid-July and only just lasting into early August - I had expected them to last to mid-August there, but they'd finished by the 8th.  

Apart from at Knepp, in West Sussex, numbers were at best average, and were generally comparable to last year's modest showing.  At Bookham, where Ken Willmott has data on male occupancy in the main territory running back to the late 1970s, it was another average year.  At several sites numbers were even lower than in 2014.  Strangely, the population at mighty Fermyn Woods declined significantly - not due to any obvious habitat deterioration. Knepp bucked the trend wondrously, and is now Britain's premier Emperor site. 

The butterfly was discovered or rediscovered in several new districts, including Hampstead Heath in north London and at Great Chattenden Wood in Kent, where the passion for this the best of all possible butterflies began, back in mid-Victorian times.  Great to have regular news of the Emperor in Notts and Cambs too.  And Gloucestershire has come out again, producing a male in woodland south-east of Stowe-on-the-Wold in mid-July. 

My guess is that the egg lay will prove to be distinctly poor, perhaps even down on last year's dismal figure.  Watch this space. Here's a recent photo of a larva, which has just changed into the second instar - 

Please remember that this blog functions all year round.  Keep posting things on, and follow the progress of larvae through autumn and winter, and into the spring - and next year's a biggie because it's 40 years on from the Long Hot Summer of 1976...

No comments: