Wednesday, April 26, 2017

From Trevor Rapley

Early last July I popped into Tesco for some supplies to take on my first
visit to Chiddingfold forest. Whilst in the shop it occurred to me that it was
possible that the site may not have been baited, better take something fishy.

To cut a long story short, I purchased a tin of their own brand ' Tuna in brine '.
Over three days of that week the liquid from this product tempted 5 out of 7
Emperors seen that week, to sample it's delights.
The other two preferred horse dung.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Early spring in CH too

Like their cousins in the UK, the Swiss emperors started feeding early this year. March was the second warmest on record and some sallows were in leaf almost a month before the usual date.

I've just spent a couple of weeks in the UK, so can't say exactly when Mr Mackey moved up to 4th grade but he was looking smug and well-fed today:

Here is Timmy:

The weather is much cooler now, which will probably hold up their development a little. But in principle, it could be an early season this year.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Proscribed Badge

The Committee of the People of Purple Persuasion has unanimously decided to ban the lousy lapel badge the RSPB has recently brought out, supposedly of a Purple Emperor.  

Anyone found wearing this badge within the Purple Empire will be staked out as bait at Poplar Corner, Lady Wood Head, Fermyn Woods, for the duration of the season. 

We have to maintain standards: only Fosterjohn's badges are permitted within the Empire. There's a good supply of them in the Knepp Wildland's shop - or leave a message here and Fosterjohn or I will help you...  

You have been warned...

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Skin Changing

iris larvae are very advanced.  They are now changing into the 4th instar, in the wild - and camilla larvae are already in the 4th instar. Here's Savernake No 9 skin changing - 

If this mild, dry spring continues iris will be on the wing in early June. However, we've had panics like this before, notably in 2011 - only for the jet stream to jump south in late April / early May, ushering in six to eight weeks of cool wet weather and slowing progress right down.

Watch this space, but you may need to bring your annual Emperoring holiday forward...

Monday, April 3, 2017

Feeding Starts!

I visited Knepp Wildlands yesterday, Sun 2nd.  Two of the three larvae I was following on one tree have got through the winter (the 3rd went missing-presume-crunched during Feb but may yet reappear).  The two have started feeding, probably on Thurs March 30th; and I spotted the silhouette of another larva high up on another leafing sallow.  

My captive larva has also begun feeding, and Brother Denis's boys in Aylesbury are on-leaf, ready to feed.

It is unusual for iris larvae to commence feeding this early.  And if this goes on the butterfly will be out in early June - unless May is foul, again...

Here's Knepp No 2 from yesterday - 

Here's him starting to feed on his second leaf - 

And here's the other larva, ready to move on to a leaf (he's already bitten into an opening leaf bud) - 

Here's a view out over one patch of the (vast acreage of) sallow lands, from a tree platform - 

Here's a couple of the Knepp Wildlands pigs, lazing away the first of summer's hours yesterday -

The pigs are quite important to the future of iris at Knepp, as their diggings (below) get colonised by sallow...