Saturday, January 28, 2012

Doings ...

Two of my three hibernating larvae in / around Savernake today (the third is 4m up a tree, out of range!). Rather wondrously, none has been lost to predation since mid November (NB during the 2009-10 winter predation was highest in late winter...).

Friday, January 27, 2012

Prospects for the 2012 Purple Emperor Season

Gentlemen, Lady. The prospects for the 2012 iris season in England are bleak. Certainly, adult numbers are likely to be low, perhaps very low. This cannot be the year to take a long expensive holiday in pursuit of Purple Emperors in the UK.

Evidence: Eggs, late summer and autumn larvae have been systematically monitored on the same trees in and around Savernake Forest for three years (habitat conditions appear to have remained stable). Data: 2009 = 141 found, 2010 = 56, 2011 = 24 (corrected figures, 31/1/12). A similar trend has been noted in other districts where systematic searches have taken place, including Alice Holt Forest (Hants), north Bernwood Forest area (NW Bucks), Fermyn Woods (Northants) & Southwater Forest (W Sussex).

Also, I seem to have recorded higher autumn larval mortality in 2012, but there is considerable difference between the three sample sizes and I'm not sure what constitutes a valid sample here. It appears that larval losses (to assumed predation) are higher in dry autumns, such as that of 2011, as hiding in the rain drop that gathers at the leaf tip seems to be a sound strategy for survival. Predation may be lower in wet autumns.

All shall be revealed... But first we have to get through this pointless winter...

The weather forecasters are predicting a cold first half of February. That makes sense to me as Marsh Fritillary larvae have, surprisingly, yet to come out of hibernation here in S Glos. I've recorded their emergence from hibernation for the last 17 years quite accurately. The running mean for the first appearance date is 23rd Jan. Even in Jan 2011, after the coldest December on record, they were first noted on the 19th. The present winter has so far been the mildest in my 18 year study (and one of the driest). Now, do aurinia larvae know something we don't?????

Monday, January 23, 2012

Disney has a brilliant explanation for Apatura asymetrical aberrations... fairies!

Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue

Monday, January 16, 2012

Twist of faith

This little leaf was moving awkwardly in the wind. I only saw the lazy caterpillar after 20 seconds or so!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Steve Pash

On New Year's Day, I heard the very sad news that Steve Pash had died suddenly on 31st December.

Steve was 100% Purple and his 'patch' was Ruislip Woods - his love and fascination of Purple Emperors was apparent every summer having discovered one of the territories at Ruislip. He will be greatly missed by everyone that knew him, as will his regular contributions throughout the year to the Herts & Middx BC Branch website.

He was a really nice guy!

Spirit of Savernake

Two Mid November photos by Miss Euphrosyne 'Rosy' Oates,

capturing Spirit of Place (which is all & everything in an Emperor site)