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Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 32 1995 - A RECORD YEAR FOR RARE BUTTERFLIES IN SUFFOLK R. G. STEWART

1995 was a record year for sightings of two butterflies, the Camberwell Beauty, Nymphalis antiopa, and the Queen of Spain Fritillary, Argynnis lathonia. The Camberwell Beauty, although a rare migrant, is difficult to confuse with any other European species and consequently several records came from observers readily confessing not to be naturalists. Records for the Camberwell Beauty (39) far outnumbered those for the Queen of Spain Fritillary (6), which is definitely the rarer of the two in Suffolk. Since 1990 only one specimen of the Queen of Spain Fritillary has been recorded, on August 16th 1991, when a male was captured as it fed on Buddleia in a garden at Gorleston-on-Sea (Watsonian Suffolk), as reported in White Admiral (Piotrowski, 1992). Queen of Spain Fritillary The six Suffolk records are part of a national total of 14, the other eight being in the Essex/Cambridgeshire branch of Butterfly Conservation (6) and a singleton in Lincolnshire and in Kent. This national figure falls well short of the 1945 national total of 37 (Mendel & Piotrowski, 1986). The Suffolk records are as follows:

Figure 1: The Queen of Spain Fritillary, Argynnis lathonia, in Suffolk 1995: 6 records from 6 tetrads. August 6th: Scots Hall Cottages, Minsmere, TM462673 - recorded by David Fairhurst (Warden). This was seen by about 25 people, mainly RSPB staff, from

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4.30 pm for about 20-25 minutes. It fed mainly on Buddleia and 'bathed' on the earth several times. A füll description was given and drawings were included. August 6th: Disused railway line in the country park at Cläre, TL7745 recorded by Ralph Cordey. This was a late record, identification Coming from the two slides taken. (See Plate 2) August 12th: Hyams House, Hyams Lane, Holbrook, TM 165363 - recorded by Mark Steer and also seen by Suzanne Steer. This was noted on the garden wall and later on Buddleia. The evening visit was fully described with accompanying drawings. It eventually flew off in a northerly direction. August 21 st: Bradfield Woods NNR, TL935581 - reported by Stephen Hunt (Warden). This was noted feeding on devil's bit scabious, Succisa pratensis, for about 10-15 minutes from approximately 1.45 pm, returning for another five minutes to the same spot about an hour later, A check was made the next day in the same area but it was not present. A füll description was given. September lOth: Near Westwood Marshes, TM451727 - reported by Mark Curley and Sheila Davey from London. This was seen at 10.30 am for about five minutes, initially on rabbit-cropped turf in an area containing grayling, small heath, small copper, red admiral and small tortoiseshell butterflies. Mark remarked on the 'underwing pattern of clear, silvery white pearls, larger and more numerous than on any other fritillary found in the U.K.'. Given the prominence of the brownish patches on the inner upper hind wings it was suggested that this was a female. A füll description was given, with drawings. September 16th: Minsmere, TM4668 - reported by Charlotte Anderson (Warden). This specimen was found dead in a pitfall trap not checked since September Ist so the date is uncertain. It was mounted by Roger Kendrick, the Conservation Officer (Moths) for the Suffolk Branch of Butterfly Conversation and exhibited, along with füll details of the other 1995 records, at the British Entomological and Natural History Society's annual exhibition on October 28th at Imperial College, London. The specimen has subsequently been presented to the Ipswich Museum. It will be noted that three of the six records came from coastal sites and three were identified by Wardens. Four of the six were recorded on 'Rare Butterfly Forms' which requested the following information: name, address, telephone number of the recorder, name and address of others present, grid reference and location, date, time of day and duration of the sighting. A füll description was also requested and information about what happened to the butterfly. These were also issued for Camberwell Beauty sightings and the total of 46 records produced a wealth of information including many photos and detailed drawings. The other two Queen of Spain sightings were, as indicated above, verified by slides (Cläre) and the dead specimen (Minsmere). The first Minsmere specimen was seen by about 25 people and several of the Camberwell Beauty sightings, notably those at Landguard BO, Minsmere and Hopton Garden Centre, were also witnessed by many people.

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Camberwell Beauty This butterfly, known as the 'Mourning Cloak' in America and given the alternative name of 'The Grand Surprise' by nineteenth Century naturalists because of its irregulär appearance in Britain, has been the subject of much discussion in butterfly literature in respect of possible 'assisted passage' - one typical comment is as follows: 'There is a theory that most of the specimens seen here are brought over in the holds of timber ships crossing the North Sea and when the pit props are unloaded at Hull, Harwich and other East coast ports the butterflies fly inland' (Newman, 1968). Howard Mendel, co-author of 'The Butterflies of Suffolk' kindly provided me with duplicates of all past Suffolk records of this species and one from D. A. Young in 1969 adds an eye-witness account to the above theory: 'specimen seen flying from the hold of a Norwegian timber ship discharging at Felixstowe Docks'. There is, however, no doubt that these migrants represented a genuine migration since their arrival coincided with that of other rare moths and dragonflies, a phenomenon reported not just by local media but also in the national press (Highfield, 1995). It has now been suggested that these Camberwell Beauty butterflies came not from Scandinavia, which experienced relatively low breeding numbers in the Spring of 1995, but from further East, possibly Finland, Russia and Poland, all of these countries experiencing good breeding conditions early in 1995. The suggested route to Britain was via Holland (where it is usually a rare butterfly but was recorded about 600 times in 1995) and Denmark (which in 1995 recorded approximately 200 more specimens than its usual resident population) (Bowles, 1995). Records for August 1995 indicate that it was the hottest and sunniest ever chronicled and the main migratory passage was linked to a steady series of easterly breezes, particularly during the first half of August (Branson, 1995). The Suffolk total of 39 is well in excess of the previous maximum of 17 recorded in 1976 (Mendel & Piotrowski, 1986) but at the time of writing (March 1996) the final national total is uncertain. Records were sent not just to the County Recorders but also to Nick Bowles of Butterfly Conservation, who runs the 'Butterfly Line' telephone Service, Doctor Jim Asher who is coordinating the national Millennium Butterfly Survey and Bernard Skinner, who organises the national collation of records for migrant butterflies and moths in Great Britain and Ireland. At present Doctor Asher's national list is approximately 390, which exceeds the total of 'around 300 for 1976' which was the previous best year. (Maitland, Emmet & Heath, 1990). Sightings came from areas as widely apart as the Republic of Ireland, the Shetlands, Norfolk, Wales, Strathclyde and Cornwall. These records span from 4th July (Westacre in Norfolk and Southend in Essex) to October 28th (Reading in Berkshire), the Suffolk comparisons being August 3rd (Theberton and Ipswich) and September 30th (Fressingfield). In addition one has been discovered hibernating at Chesterton Road, Cambridge (January 15th 1996) while in the second week of March 1996 a Camberwell Beauty, which had obviously come out if hibernation, was seen flying at Coombe Hay, near Bath. There are previous records of successful hibernation in this country but no proven evidence of successful breeding. Suffolk's total of 39 was only exceeded by Norfolk, with 78 records, though

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there is duplication of the Hopton sighting which was geographically in Norfolk but also Watsonian Suffolk for recording purposes. Twelve of the 39 were recorded at coastal sites and 24 were in gardens. The maximum number recorded on one day was six on August 22nd. The Suffolk records were as follows: August 3rd: Theberton, TM438660 - recorded by Mrs. Cobb. It was seen on hebe, privet and japonica in the back garden of Theberton post office. There were two other observers. August 3rd: Holywells Park, Ipswich, TM 176435 - recorded by Gary Lowe. This was observed at 9.30 am Aying west near the stable block. It didn't settle but was described as a 'dark winged butterfly with a pale creamy border on the wing margins'. August 3rd: Linksfield, Ipswich boundary, TM205453 - recorded by Mrs. Jones. Bearing in mind the direction of flight observed by Gary Lowe, this was probably a different specimen. It was kept overnight at Martlesham and observed by myself and others the next morning. It was later taken to the garden of Jean and Ken Garrod in Foxhall Road. There, after being seen by more observers, it was safely released. Many photos were taken. August 4th: Felixstowe, Nayland Road, TM2934 - recorded by Sandra Reynolds, feeding on garden Buddleia. It flew off in a Northerly direction. August lOth: The Fairway, Aldeburgh, TM4557 - recorded by Miss Mahoney. This was observed on garden Buddleia with one other witness. It was described as 'a light brown with wide creamy white edges to its wings and large purple spots around the creamy border'. August 12th: Bridgewater Road, Ipswich, TM 137428 - recorded by June Summerfield. I was contacted about this at the time of sighting but it flew out of the garden in a Northerly direction and did not return. There was one other observer and the specimen, viewed from 3-4 ft. distance, was described as in good condition with an 'erratic flapping flight'. August 18th: The Rose Garden at Bury St. Edmunds Abbey, TL8564 - recorded by Andrew and Gillian Clarke. This was observed at 5.30 pm with notes on the 'overall dark colouration, the striking cream-yellow trailing edge to the wing and the line of vivid blue spots just inside the border'. August 18th: The Phoenix Trail at Tangham, TM362477 - recorded by Andrew Toomey. This was observed at the woodlark conservation area, in flight at a distance of about 3 ft. The white wing border was clearly visible throughout the sighting and the butterfly flew on in the direction of the caravan site. August I9th: Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket, TM043581 - recorded by John Walshe. This settled on cricket bat willow (Salix alba var. caerulea) and was described as in pristine condition. It flew into scrub and was not seen again. It was described as having a 'powerful flight action made up of deep wing beats and long glides'. August 19th: The Glebe, Herringswell, TL718699 - recorded by Valerie Wallis. Seen feeding on rotten apples in the garden. There were two other observers and two photos were included with the details. It eventually flew off in a northerly direction.

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August 19th: London Road, Haiesworth, TM386773 - recorded by Pauline Cancellor. This garden specimen was observed on a Pyracantha bush and Elaeagnus bush. It was caught and compared for identification, at a distance of 3 ft., with the illustration in 'A Complete Pocket Guide to British Butterflies' by Brooks and Knight. It was then released and left the garden in a northerly direction. There was one other observer. August 19th: Landguard B.O., TM285320 - recorded by Paul Holmes, the Warden. This was trapped in a mist net, placed in a large specimen box, and put in a fridge for a short period to calm it down. It was subsequently seen by many people and photographs were taken, two of which accompanied the record sheet. After release it flew North and settled on a poplar tree, remaining there for 30-40 minutes before flying off. What was probably the same specimen was seen in flight for a brief period the next day. August 20th: North Warren RSPB Reserve, TM453592 - recorded by David Fairhurst (Warden). This specimen flew past his tractor and was observed for about 30 secs. but, despite pursuit, it was not seen again. A detailed drawing was included with the report form. August 22nd: Chaplin Road, East Bergholt, TM074352 - recorded by Mike Gowar. Fortunately this butterfly was noted by a photographer and Mr. Gowar allowed me to select and duplicate slides from the many photos taken. One of these appeared in the 'White Admiral' Newsletter No. 32, Autumn 1995 p. 37. There were three other witnesses and the butterfly was observed feeding on windfall apples and damaged ones still on the tree. It also flapped its wings to dispute feeding positions with nearby wasps and it was 'sunbathing' on a first floor window frame and settling on brightly coloured garden furniture. It was present, with occasional disappearances, for about 5 hrs. August 22nd: Hall Street, Long Melford, TL865456 - recorded by Darren Underwood. This was noted at 7.20 am. A fĂźll description was accompanied by two detailed drawings. The recorder had previously seen this species in Ontario, Canada. Although the butterfly came down and fluttered around hanging baskets on the front of a shop, it did not alight, and eventually disappeared over the roof of an adjacent building. August 22nd: Levington Lane, Bucklesham, TM2441 - recorded by David Goddard. This was observed by the recorder and four friends. It eventually flew off in a North-easterly direction. A small painting was enclosed and the Observation was featured, with an illustration, on page 25 of the 'Evening Star' dated August 3Ist 1995. August 22nd: Conyers Green, TL889678 - recorded by Mrs. Gregory. This garden sighting was described as in 'good condition' and witnessed by one other observer as it flew in and out of the conservatory and then flew off in a westerly direction. August 22nd: Minsmere RSPB Reserve, TM479674 - recorded by Graham Fellows. The butterfly was first sighted by the recorder and two others as it flew up the dune system from the direction of the sluice gates. It flew right up to the observers and then veered away to the right, 'floating' over the high bank boundary of the reserve and was lost from view. It did not settle at all, and the

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description included a 'strong purposeful flight, frequently gliding gracefully between lazy flapping, similar to a red admiral'. August 22nd: Barham Court, TM 142511 - recorded by H. Parcell. This appeared in a farmyard. It doubled back in flight, which allowed two periods of Observation. The white fringe was clearly visible in the bright sunshine. August 23rd: Linden Road, Aldeburgh, TM455575 - recorded by Wilfrid George. Seven observers watched this specimen on white garden Buddleia and when sunning itself on roof tiles. It was also seen the next day and the details included a 'very spectacular white flashing effect as it circled round'. August 23rd: Mere Close, Great Barton, TL9068 - recorded by Leonard Balls, with two others present. It was first located on hebe and a photograph was taken later as it rested on a conifer. Part of this photo appeared in a short article in the Bury Free Press dated September 15th 1995. It was also seen on August the 25th and 28th. August 24th: Fairfield Road, Ipswich, TM 185425 - recorded by Mr. Earrey. This was a garden Observation for about 15 mins, though a note on the form stated: 'unfortunate to have business caller when spotted-only managed hurried photograph with closed wings'. It flew off in a South-easterly direction. August 25th: Richards Drive, Little Bealings, TM228480 - recorded by Mr. H. Searle and three other observers. It was noted on a garden plum and drinking from a bird bath. It flew off in a northerly direction. Two photographs were included. August 28th: Vincents Farm House, Hundon, TL745478 - recorded by Mr. J. Rowlett. This was also seen on the following day. It was feeding on a rotten apple and photographed with wings closed on the second day. On the first day it landed on Mrs. Smith, one of the two other observers. Beginning of September: Church Street, Eye, TM 1473 - recorded by Mrs. E. Vulliamy. Identification was confirmed by comparison with an illustration in a butterfly book. It landed for a few seconds on a low brick wall. A fĂźll description was given with the comment: 'It was all so very short but a truly wonderful sight'. September 3rd: School Cottages, Barsham, TM394896 - recorded by Mr. and Mrs. Bradford. What was probably the same specimen was noted before and after this date in the same location. There was one further observer and a photograph was sent with the recording form. September 3rd: Garden at Otley, TM205552 - recorded by Arthur Watchman, the County Moth Recorder, who now has the specimen. It was found by Mike Wood in his garden in a very weak condition and subsequently died. September 3rd: Hopton Garden Centre, TM524998 - recorded by Ricky Fairhead and Dave Riley, on separate forms. This is Watsonian Suffolk for recording purposes. The Norfolk list of sightings indicated the presence of a Camberwell Beauty at this location from August 3Ist to September 18th. This butterfly was observed by many people and though no damage was noted initially it later became trapped behind some glass and was slightly damaged. Ricky Fairhead described it as 'wine red with an iridescent sheen' and Dave Riley's video recording of this specimen was included in the Anglia TV Evening News bulletin on October 2nd 1995.

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Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 32

Figure 2: The Camberwell Beauty, Nymphalis antiopa in Suffolk 1995: 39 records from 36 tetrads. September 5th: Trust Farm, Great Glemham, TM330615 - recorded by Mrs. Morford. The identity was checked in a butterfly identification book. It was observed as being in the garden for about 1 ] h hrs., feeding on the soft plums in the orchard. September 6th: Beccles Road, Bungay, TM349897 - recorded by Margaret Ling. There were two other observers. It was feeding on over-ripe garden fruit and was also seen on September 9th and lOth. September 9th: Minsmere RSPB Reserve, TM474672 - recorded by Charlotte Anderson (Warden). Mark Curley and Sheila Davey also reported a Camberwell Beauty from here on the same date. Many observers saw this specimen, which was noted to have a fragment missing from the upper left forewing. It basked on a hawthorn bush then flew East towards the sea. One drawing was enclosed. September 9th: Kingsway, Mildenhall, TL719748 - recorded by Mrs. Bentley and two other observers. It was seen for 5 mins. in the garden before it flew off in an easterly direction. September lOth: Minsmere RSPB Reserve, TM461677 - recorded by Geoff Welch, the Reserve Manager. This was seen at the Westleton end of the reserve as visitors were being taken on a guided walk. The sighting was brief but this individual appeared to lack the wing damage of the specimen noted at Minsmere the day before, and it has been recorded separately. September lOth: Fagbury Cliff, TM272345 - recorded by Mr. D. Fisher. There

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were five other observers. It flew past and up over the cliff in a northerly direction. September 12th: Pakefield Industrial Site, TM531897 - recorded by Mr. R. Martin Grimwood. It was observed in flight from a distance of 3 ft. Aying Northwards towards Lowestoft. The observer added that, "There were no plants or flowering shrubs to attract a butterfly. It was merely passing, carried on a light southerly breeze". September 17th: Disused railway line at Corton, TM537978 - recorded by Ricky Fairhead. This was seen by three other observers for 4 mins. It landed on nearby hawthorn and blackthorn before flying off in a South-west direction. It was also observed feeding on brambles. September 23rd: The Old School, Dunwich, TM476706 - recorded by John Rose. Two photographs accompanied a very fĂźll description and this specimen was witnessed by two other observers. It flew into the front garden and eventually rested on the sunny wall of the porch, close to winter jasmine. Damage was noted to the side edge of the right-hand forewing and 'trailing edge of the left lower wing'. At one point the butterfly was caught by one foot in a spider's web and a piece of light Vegetation was used to release it. It was observed for at least 95 mins. and the observer recorded his appreciation in a letter published on page 30 of the Suffolk Wildlife Magazine, Winter 1995/6. September 30th: New Street, Fressingfield, TM2577 - recorded by Mr. and Mrs. Sawyer. This butterfly was observed in the garden for approximately 15 mins. and eventually flew off in a South-easterly direction. The record form was accompanied by a photograph. Ackowledgements To compile these detailed records it was necessary to contact the Recorders in the neighbouring Butterfly Conservation branches of Norfolk and Essex and Cambridgeshire and I record my thanks to Brian Mcllwrath and Val Perrin. I am also grateful for information supplied by Michael Seago from Norfolk and Dr. Irwin at the Castle Museum, Norwich. In Suffolk Adrian Chalkley provided weather information for the relevant months and Howard Mendel, Martin Sanford, Norma Chapman, Steve Goddard and Derek Moore are thanked for information which enabled me to trace additional records. Finally, I would like to record my thanks to Nick Bowles and Dr. Jim Asher for providing me with national data about both species. References Bowles, N. (1995). Wildlife Reports - Butterflies. British Wildlife, 7, No. 2, 119. Branson, A. (1995). Wildlife Reports - Weather Reports for July and August 1995, British Wildlife, 7, No. 1, 44. Highfield, R. (1995). Beauty and not so lovely beasties invade tropical Britain - Daily Telegraph 14.8.95, 30. Maitland Emmet, A. & Heath, J. (1990). The Moths and Butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland 7, part I, 207. Colchester, Harley Books. Mendel, H. & Piotrowski, S. H. (1986). The Butterflies of Suffolk. Ipswich, Suffolk Naturalists' Society.

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Newman, L. H. (1968). The Complete British Butterflies in Colour. London, Ebury Press and Michael Joseph. Piotrowski, S. H. (1992). Butterfly News 1991, White Admiral, 21, 10. Shreeves, W. (1996). The Amazing Migrants of 1995, Dorset Branch of Butterfly Conservation Newsletter, 22, 7. Stewart, R. G. (1995) Of Queens and Beauties, White Admiral, 32, 16. Stewart! R. G. (1996) Rare Butterflies in Suffolk 1995, Suffolk Argus, 7, 14. Thomas, J. & Lewington, R. (1991). The Butterflies of Britain and Ireland. London, Dorling Kindersley. CORRECTIONS Two corrections to the 1995 'Suffolk Natural History': 1. Suffolk Garden Butterfly Survey 1994: page 10 - Egg Laying - delete the following: Allium flowers (Garlic Chives) (Amaryllidaceae) Small White; Small Tortoiseshell; Small Copper. This refers to nectaring only. 2. Field Meeting June 26th 1994: page 69 - line 7 - for 'Small blue' read 'Common blue'. Richard Stewart (County Butterfly Recorder), 'Valezina', 112 Westerfield Road, Ipswich IP4 2XW Butterflies at Framlingham July 30th-August 5th Our observations in 1995 were as follows: Small Skipper 30,31,1,2,3,4,5 Red Admiral 30,31,1,2,3,4,5 LargeSkipper 30,2 Painted Lady 1,2,3,4 Brimstone 1 Small Tortoiseshell 30,31,1,2,3,4,5 Large White 30,31,1,2,3,4,5 Peacock 30,31,1,2,3,4,5 Small White 30,31,1,2,3,4,5 Comma 30,1,2,4,5 Green Veined 30,31,1,2,3,4,5 SilverWashed 4 White Fritillary Small Copper 30,1,2,3,4,5 Wall Brown 1,4,5 Brown Argus 2 Gatekeeper 30,31,1,2,3,4,5 Common Blue 30,31,1,2,5 Meadow Brown 30,31,1,2,3,4,5 Holly Blue 30,31,4 Ringlet 31,5 Observations were again made on walks in and around Framlingham. It was encouraging to note the reappearance of the Holly Blue after its lowpoint in 1993/4. I had a good clear view of the Silver Washed Fritillary, a species I had not seen in Suffolk since 1954. It is also very pleasing to be able to record the Brown Argus from a comparatively secure site. The warm season permitted us to see more species (20) this year and no doubt helped to increase our species days count by 50% over 1994. The Silver-washed Fritillary was almost certainly a released specimen. Several known 'releasers' live not far from Framlingham and the species has unfortunately been released for some years in Bradfield Woods N.N.R R. Stewart, Butterfly Recorder.

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References Aston, A. (1994). Butterflies at Framlingham in early August, 1991-3. Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc., 30, 53. Aston, A. (1995). Butterflies at Framlingham in early August. Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc., 31, 2. Alasdair Aston

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 32 (1996)


Plate 2: Queen of Spain Fritillary, Argynnis lathonia L., disused railway line at Cläre, August 6th 1995 (p. 7).

1995 - A record year for rare butterflies in Suffolk  

Stewart, R. G.

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