Monday, 18 July 2016

White-Letter Hairstreak

I wrote in my last post that I hoped to add white-letter hairstreak and purple hairstreak to the patch-list this summer. More specifically, I hoped to add purple to the year-list (I found one last summer) and white-letter to the all-time-list.

I have searched for white-letter locally many times before without success, but my optimism is fuelled by them being found relatively nearby in Nosterfield and by a one-off sighting Nick Morgan made in his garden a few years ago. Motivated by this I have spent hours and hours staring up blankly in to the tops of elm trees. Today however, I finally found one just a few hundred yards from my house in the bridleway that connects Thrintoft to the Northallerton Equestrian Centre.

I nipped out for twenty minutes before lunch as the sun was beating down hard and I figured it was my best chance. I almost didn't believe my own eyes when my perseverance paid off... a lone butterfly performing its spiral dance high in a wych elm. I was rushed for time so headed home and returned later at 6pm. This time I counted five individuals all along the lane, where wych elm makes up the majority of the canopy. I returned at 8pm and though it was still hot and sunny, counted none. This underlies why they are so poorly recorded; they are elusive in the extreme and fly only when it suits them for just a week or two each year.

I didn't manage any photos today, but here is one I took in Leeds a few years ago...

I also caught up with comma; so often one of the first butterflies I encounter each year, I was beginning to think they wouldn't show up at all. Number 17 on the year-list....

It seems this year that whatever I wish for, I get! So I'll mention right now that I'd quite like to add small skipper, holly blue, clouded yellow and a camberwell beauty would be nice!


  1. Fantastic to find them almost on the doorstep!

    By the way you have a DM on twitter when you get chance to check :)

    1. Hi Pam! I got your message... I've struggled to sit down and write you directions! I will do it soon I promise!!

      Not only have I found them, I think I might have discovered the biggest colony for miles and miles around. I'm over the moon. Going to have a word with the farmer next about how he plans to prune the elm (praying that he doesn't flail it).

    2. Oh no rush, it's great of you to offer :)

      Fantastic, I hope the farmer is able to hold back on the pruning!