As a follow up to Bob Markham's review of my book about butterflies in Christchurch Park (January 2017 issue), can I ask those visiting the park to let me have any records of butterflies for 2017. The actual butterfly garden is the central point for sightings. This has been supplemented by additional nectar sources though paradoxically six trees have been planted there, all of which with increased length and width will cast shadows on to the nectar sources, making them less productive and of not much use to insects which feed in sunlight. I am particularly interested in sightings of these species:-
Common Blue - there was a colony in the long grass below the tennis courts but there were no 2016 records. This should not be confused with the holly blue, which usually flies much higher and has a different underwing pattern.
Brimstone - there have been additional plants of buckthorn, the only one on which it lays eggs, placed in the orchard and around the northern edges. Already there have been more sightings than for most years and I am particularly interested in egg-laying records for this distinctive yellow coloured butterfly.
Brown Argus - this needs close identification to separate it from a common blue female. There have only been two recent park records and it is likely to be seen in the areas of longer grass.
Grayling - there is only one park record but this butterfly has a powerful flight and tends to seek out new areas in good breeding years. It always settles with its wings closed.
Green hairstreak - this was a late but very welcome addition to the park's total of species. It lays eggs on gorse or broom and will probably be seen below the tennis courts or around the additional areas of gorse and broom planted around the northern edge.
In addition I mentioned several potential sightings in the future and two of these might be seen in the park in 2017:-
Silver-washed fritillary - a large butterfly which is attracted to bramble flowers or buddleia and has colonised many parts of Suffolk in recent years. This at a distance is a vivid orangey colour, much bigger than a comma, with underwing markings resembling waves crashing at an angle onto a beach, hence its name. One visited our garden, about five hundred yards from the park, a few years ago.
White admiral - a beautiful butterfly with chocolate brown markings and white banding, having for me the most elegant flight of any British species. It lays eggs on honeysuckle and will feed on bramble flowers and other nectar sources. One was recently seen and photographed in the Dales, little more than a mile from the park.
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