Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Poor Season?

Purple Emperor is now at peak at Knepp, where it started ten days ago.

It looks very much as though, as I suspected all along, that this is proving to be a poor - quite possibly very poor - year for the butterfly. Yesterday, the 6th, males were conducting less sallow searching during the mid to late morning period, a clear indication that the season is moving on - without any mass emergence having occurred. Then, males went into deep siesta mode in mid-afternoon heat.

It may be that Tuesday's count of 57 will be the maximum obtained here this year (though today's forecast warm calm cloud may bring an increase).  If 57 is the year's top count, then numbers are less than half of last year's - and the population at Knepp is still in building phase as habitat conditions improve annually.

Sure, Emperorphiles at all other sites (apart from Fermyn) would be ecstatic to count 57.  But, if this halving of numbers is replicated generally then it may prove very difficult to see the butterfly at all in sites supporting smaller populations.

The butterfly may not have started yet at late sites such as Savernake (Sunday there, I reckon).  Also, it's possible that the butterfly will do better in some other regions, so there's still some hope...  

Can we please have some news from Fermyn?

Here's Herself, minxing photographers from within the sallows yesterday, and a classic distant male high up on a lammas spray -

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