a somewhat occasional blog

September’s butterflies – the end of the year

September’s butterflies on the butterfly bank have dwindled over the month since the end of the big butterfly count. The first week of September saw a few Meadow browns and Gatekeepers hang on and a solo Common blue graced the grassed for a moment (sadly this species has suffered a dramatic decline in 2011).I received my Big Butterfly Count news the other day. It was a shame that the count had to end on 31st August as I had enjoyed the focus the count gave to my walks across the Butterfly bank. I have carried on keeping a eye out even as the butterfly days get leaner. And today I was delighted to see a Small copper (Lycaena phlaeas) feeding on the last remaining flowers of a ragwort, before skipping off to rest on a blade of grass.

September butterflies – Small copper butterfly


Small copper butterfly on ragwort
Small copper on ragwort 2
Small copper resting on a blade of grass

The most numerous butterfly this month has been the Speckled wood (Pararge aegeria). In fact I have seen more in September than I have all year. These delightful and common butterflies can graced our skies well into November apparently if the weather is warm. And it has certainly been a warm September. I had a group of five dancing along the Leylandia on the edge of Blackheath last week and there have been two or three sunny themselves on the Wych elm and Oak scrub on the butterfly bank.

September butterflies – Speckled wood butterfly


Speckled wood butterfly resting on Oak Leaf

The Big Butterfly Count

A review of the data I inputted on the Big Butterfly Count over the summer shows that through July and August I saw: Small, Green-veined & Large white, Red admiral, Meadow brown, Gatekeeper, Common blue, Small copper, Brown argus, Essex skipper, White hairstreak and Speckled wood – a total of 12 species, which is quite a good tally for London. sadly there were no Lesser tortoiseshell or Commas which I have seen in previous years on the butterfly bank.There were also Six-spotted burnet, Jersey tiger, Burnet companion and Campion moths on the bank and the immediate vicinity.

I shall continue to look out for butterflies until the autumn is complete and look forward to next years Big Butterfly Count. Citizen science at its best.


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