Scottish Borders Sightings April 2017

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Scottish Borders Sightings April 2017

Postby IAC » Sun 02 Apr 2017 18:38

Hi all,
Lovely sunny day, for a second consecutive Sunday must be a record of some type. I tore off down to Hutton Bridge, a usual spring time haunt to catch the last of the Sallow in flower. The Sallow has been so quick this season that I have missed most of any action there may have been regarding Butterfly visitors. The Hutton Bridge Sallow are small and compact and the catkins hang at eye level and usually if you are lucky, the Comma and Peacock are only inches away. Well..got there, and the Sallow were almost over...almost... from a distance I could see 2 Comma, then a third, and a fourth, and a fifth...well...at that point I am dancing around the tree trying to get an angle for a photo. Only 5 Comma, and I was running this way and that...just great fun. I was not happy with just five naturally and blazed a trail up the Foulden Burn that is sheltered and quite often Comma sit and warm up there. As I made my way up a large Moth flopped down into the grass ahead...at least I thought it was a Moth...it regained flight mode and circled around a patch of Celandine and Few Flowered Leek... ORANGE-TIP!! I shouted...ORANGE-TIP... pointing at it in disbelief..hahaha..I dont know what my over excited exclamations are supposed to achieve. It flew off...and you know the rest.. a good five minutes of running...jogging...tripping....cursing...and finally it dodged me completely and escaped out of sight. What a day this was going to be I thought. Further upriver I was now on high alert. A first Peacock for the day, another few Comma...and bang...another Orange-Tip... I just let this one go..it was far to busy as the sun shone to stop for photos. All in all today I was surprised by Orange-tip, yes..but more surprised I think by the lack of Butterflies in general. Just 27 in total. 18 Peacock, 7 Comma and those 2 Orange-tip. No Tortoiseshells at all...how odd.
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Re: Scottish Borders Sightings April 2017

Postby NickMorgan » Sun 02 Apr 2017 20:50

Fantastic, well done Iain.
I wish I had more time to go out exploring!!
It seems that Commas (and Tortoiseshells here) are back in reasonable numbers after what seemed to be a terrible year last year. I wonder if they all just ducked into hibernation very early with it being such a grey summer?
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Re: Scottish Borders Sightings April 2017

Postby IAC » Sun 02 Apr 2017 20:58

Hi Nick,
Comma doing very well indeed, though they are always difficult to predict at any time and are a law unto themselves. I saw very few later in the year also, but to be honest, when the canopy is on the trees they can just decide to disappear for a good while. The Small Tortoiseshell on the other hand were certainly a little more than threatened last season with some huge gaps between June and September of emerging adults. They do hibernate very early as I have seen them in farm sheds assuming the position a early as late July. Last year though they were all over the place. Hopefully they will do a lot better this year though we wont see any immediate improvement just yet I fear.
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Re: Scottish Borders Sightings April 2017

Postby IAC » Tue 04 Apr 2017 08:34

Hi all,
Not much about yesterday morning while the sun shone by the Whiteadder at Chirnside. Much cooler now with a brisker wind, Butterfly hunting now confined to shelter. Peacock not all that perturbed by the cooler air were out and about quite early at Celandine and Butterbur, Dandelion. A few Small Tortoiseshell broke cover a little later just before the clouds rolled in.
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Re: Scottish Borders Sightings April 2017

Postby IAC » Sat 08 Apr 2017 20:28

Hi all,
The story so far is that Peacock seem to be reasonable, Comma slightly above average and the perceived larger numbers is probably down to the fact that they have much less competition this year from the bullying Peacocks and Tortoiseshells. Tortoiseshells are certainly a concern with very few sightings indeed. Speckled Wood fired up a few days ago at Burnmouth and Paxton and I dug one out today on the Lambsmill Hawthorn and Cherry Jungle. It was so very good to see. Same place as last several years, like it was the exact same one from previous years...amazing. As I say Comma seem to be everywhere. Today I counted a dozen decorating a riverside Willow. Mud puddling, courting, battling, egg laying...wonderful to watch them without the interference of the larger Vanessids. Found my first few Green Veins today as well. Not many around just yet.
Spot of the last few days was this ( photographed below) Orange Underwing. A bit of a rarity, in fact the first for Berwickshire. This is a Birch, day flying species, and I found it on the coast at Burnmouth a few feet from the tide line,,,,whats the chances. There are probably more of these critters waiting to be found. They fly above Birch in sunny conditions in late March and April.
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Re: Scottish Borders Sightings April 2017

Postby MarkCubitt » Sun 09 Apr 2017 12:10

The Orange Underwing is astonishing. Not just the habitat you found it in beingaway from upland bird woodland, but also being over 50km away from any known record. I had actuallt been looking for them (in vain) in the Lammermuirs the previous weekend and that would have been amazing enough!

Well done! :-)
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Re: Scottish Borders Sightings April 2017

Postby IAC » Sun 09 Apr 2017 15:24

Hi Mark,
Yes, all a bit of a mystery, or is it. The one I found very obviously did not come from any upland Birch wood. And I have since heard that further south colonies can turn up almost anywhere that Birch forms small stands, even one example of an inner city colony at the Metrocentre at Gateshead where an undeveloped industrial plot had become overrun with scrub Birch, and the Moths were found flying around them...how did they get there? Its all anybody's guess Mark. If I was to compare Moths I would go for Bordered White as an example of a day flier with similar habits. The Bordered White can be found almost anywhere that there is a decent strip of pine with an open sunny position. The Burnmouth Orange Underwing has likely come from a nearby colony, and not that far away. At Upper Burnmouth there are no Birch stands, however there are a loosely connected number of garden Birch, mostly Silver, dotted around. It is possible they have come from these. I have still to investigate further. I hope I have some time to do so. It does make it tricky though searching peoples back gardens... I may need to be diplomatic. :)
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Re: Scottish Borders Sightings April 2017

Postby MarkCubitt » Sun 09 Apr 2017 22:12

Hi Iain

There are quite a few traditional sites in South Nortumberland and north Durham that are likely to be the 'feeders', but interesting to see some of the smaller more recent sites in Tyne & Wear of which the Metro centre is an interesting one!

The difference, I felt, for your site is that you are just so far away from traditional locations, well known ones...

The locations that I have seen them and the Tyne & Wear ones as far as I know will have lots of smaller, 'invasive' birches as well as a few larger trees. Worth looking for 'traditional' as well as new 'satellite' ones maybe?

Good luck. I'll continue to look locally here too if we get some decent weather at the weekends.

Mark
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Re: Scottish Borders Sightings April 2017

Postby IAC » Mon 10 Apr 2017 15:41

Hi all,
A better Butterrfly day today with much lower temperatures, though you would never know it in shelter. Headed for Eyemouth, followed the Eye up too Ale Bridge and followed the Ale about a half mile and back to Eyemouth. 10 Peacock, 9 Comma, 3 Orange-tip, 2 Green-veined White, 2 Speckled Wood, 1 Small Tortoiseshell. This Speckled Wood was one of two on a sunny corner of the Eye banks at Eyemouth on the way back. So Tortoiseshells remain a concern.

Iain.
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Re: Scottish Borders Sightings April 2017

Postby IAC » Wed 12 Apr 2017 22:07

Hi all,
Large White about today, just the one male at Ninewells on the Cherry. Thats all the early Butterflies recorded and present for the Scottish Borders in 2017. Only the bonkers bets of Brimstone and Holly Blue unaccounted for. Holly Blue are worth keeping an eye out for. Last seen in the Borders in the vicinity of Eyemouth-Coldingham. Brimstone seen last year at Selkirk...its not impossible either....but still a bonkers bet.

Iain
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