Butterfly Conservation - saving butterflies, moths and our environment
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saving butterflies, moths and our environment
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Recording - Previous Years Letters

On this page:-   click heading to go to section

Suffolk Butterflies 2019    Suffolk Butterflies 2018

Suffolk Butterflies 2017    Suffolk Butterflies 2016   Butterfly Records 2015   Suffolk Butterflies 2014  

Recording Forms  

Regular and systematic recording enables us to identify where butterfly numbers and distribution are declining or increasing.  In locations where conservation work has been carried out for a particular species the site is regularly monitored to check whether numbers do increase.  Sometimes a species will spread naturally as has recently been the case with the Silver-washed Fritillary.  Without regular recording across the whole of Suffolk this could have gone unnoticed for many years.

The map and details of areas with few records in 2015-2017, 'Black Holes', can now be seen here or click 'Black Hole Map' in the menu. 

You can download our recording forms here

Suffolk Butterflies 2019 (March 2019)   (to download the letter as a pdf document click here)

Dear Butterfly Recorder, 

Firstly, I’d like to begin by thanking you all for your continued support and for sending in your butterfly records for the 2018 season.  The year saw well over 33,000 records added to the database and this represents another year of solid and determined recording in the county.  It was good to see many of you on field trips and supporting Butterfly Conservation (BC) Suffolk activities.  Some very good records were received as part of the Big Butterfly Count and it was great to see some additional county coverage being achieved.  It was great to hear from you about your own butterfly sightings and exploits during the year and I am grateful for all your emails, letters and telephone calls.

The “Sightings” page of BC Suffolk’s website again proved incredibly popular in 2018 to send in records and let others know what butterflies were being seen.  A number of visitors to the county made specific reference to this resource and commented how useful it was.  Please continue to support this in 2019 if you can.  Richard Perryman is the “Website Master” and he does a great job keeping this up to date and my thanks go to him for undertaking this important role with such professionalism.

2018 Brief Overview

The year 2018 will be remembered for the significant episodes of extreme weather.  It started with the “false spring” which led to hibernating species such as Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Brimstone and Comma emerging from hibernation early in February & March.  Immediately after, there was the protracted cold spell named by the media as the “beast from the east”.  This effectively meant that many of those butterflies which had emerged early died with a resulting negative impact on their attempts to breed and the next generation was significantly reduced as less eggs were laid than normal.  

This was particularly noted with Small Tortoiseshell which for some was almost a rarity (!) in 2018.  Based on records received this species was only seen in 45% of the surveyed tetrads whereas in 2017 it was seen in 61.5% of surveyed tetrads.  It is a species in serious decline and has lost three-quarters of its UK population since the 1970s.  Its absence was most noticed during the Big Butterfly Count (England) where it suffered its worst count on record being down by 40% on 2017.

However, later emerging Spring species such as Common Blue, Brown Argus, Small Copper, Small Heath and the whites all appear to have benefitted with adults emerging into the warm spring and with access to nectar sources and their larval food plants.  This generated strong first broods and helped with later broods.  However, as the year moved on the prolonged sun and warm temperatures started to have a negative effect on some species with numbers of very small individuals noted.  This has been particularly evident with Common Blue, Small Copper, Small Heath, Holly Blue and Green-veined White.  This is the consequence of both poor development and growth as a caterpillar due to parched food plants and the impact of hot temperatures on pupation.  This negative phenomenon may also account for slight dips in numbers seen grassland species such as Essex Skipper, Small Skipper and particularly Large Skipper along with Ringlet, Gatekeeper and Meadow Brown.

On a positive note, “woodland” species all appear to have done reasonably well and from records received seem to be more widely distributed.  This position seems to have been possible due to the settled late spring and the slow warm up into the summer coinciding positively at key points of life cycles. In particular, both Purple and White-letter Hairstreak were seen in almost twice as many tetrads as in 2017 which reflects recorders comments of seeing these species in a variety of habitats and in large numbers than in 2 previous years.  Silver-washed Fritillary continues its slow colonisation of the county increasing its tetrad count by 9 on 2017.  Of note, however, is the increase in numbers of Purple Emperor seen with this species being seen in an additional 11 tetrads on 2017 levels.

The most abundant species seen were Red Admiral at 5th position this despite a significant fall in numbers on 2017 totals,  Gatekeeper at 4th, Meadow Brown at 3rd, Large White at 2nd and the Small White in 1st position.  Of note, Large and Small White were seen in 75% of the tetrads surveyed.

Summary of Butterflies for the New Millennium in Suffolk 2018

Butterflies for the New Millennium (BNM) remains the key recording scheme for general distribution and numbers of butterflies.  The BNM aims to achieve comprehensive national coverage in successive five-year recording periods.

As such, 2018 was the fourth year in the current five year (2015- 2019) recording period. Looking at the 33,000 records received for 2018 shows that butterflies were recorded from 782 tetrads (2km x 2km squares).  Given that there are 1089 tetrads in Suffolk it means that butterflies were recorded in approximately 71% of Suffolk during the year.

However, as this was the fourth year of the current five-year period it is worth noting the extent of coverage achieved over the longer term of four years. Combining the data from 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 shows that over 130,000 records have been received with butterflies being seen from 1005 county tetrads. This gives us an incredible 92% county coverage which is a brilliant position to be in at the end of year four and places us in a very strong position going forward into the last year.

The Suffolk coverage map for 2015-2018 is shown below:


Suffolk Coverage 2015-2018


Suffolk Butterfly Recording for 2019
In 2019, please continue to record as many butterflies as you can, wherever you are.  If possible, please try and get out and about as much as you can to new areas particularly our western borders with Cambridgeshire and Essex.

In order to assist with any days out you may plan the map below gives a general overview of the under-recorded areas based on records received for the period 2015-2018. The dark-blue spots represent recording “black-holes” which are desperate for recording activity.


Suffolk Black-Holes 2015-2018

I will look to publish a list of the tetrads in the next month that require visiting this year based on the above map.  Although indications are that these will be similar to those targeted in 2018.  Please try and visit as many of them as you can to allow targeted and focussed recording to seek maximum county coverage by the end of 2019.

2019 Target Species- Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species

In Suffolk, 7 species of butterfly fall under the BAP.  Please actively look for Dingy Skipper, Grayling, Silver-studded Blue, Small Heath, Wall, White Admiral and White-letter Hairstreak and submit all records made.  Records received will allow close monitoring to be undertaken and changes in both populations and range to be identified and addressed.

Wall (Brown). Over the last few years we have seen the range of this beautiful butterfly diminish significantly in the county.  It has continued its slide eastwards towards the coast and is now only recorded in two key locations; the area comprising of Orford/ Sudbourne and various sites throughout the Waveney Valley, particularly SWT Carlton Marshes.  In 2018, the Wall was seen in only 18 tetrads, down three tetrads on 2017.

As in recent years the vast majority of records are from the Waveney Valley area. The map below highlights the accepted records received in 2018:


Wall sightings in 2018

Specific surveys are undertaken for the following two species both of which are extremely localised in their range:
Dingy Skipper: Focussed recording effort will again take place in May.  The weather is a significant factor for this species and can impact heavily on when the flight season starts and finishes.  Please see the BC Suffolk Events Card and especially the BC Suffolk Website for details and last-minute survey opportunities.  2018 proved to be another reasonable year for this species although an early flight season combined with difficult weather conditions restricted recording activity.  It is hoped that 2019 will show the species maintaining its hold in the county.  Please try and spend some time in late May/ early June in the Kings Forest and along the Suffolk/ Norfolk border in the Elveden and Barnham areas.  Please get in touch if you would like to explore one of these areas.

Silver-studded Blue: Organised counts will be undertaken at various sites in the Suffolk Sandlings during July particularly in the RSPB Minsmere and Dunwich areas.  As with Dingy Skipper, the weather can impact on the flight season and effect planned surveys so please keep up to date via the BC Suffolk Website.

General recording points
With any sightings made please try and include a grid reference or postcode with your sightings as this saves me a lot of time when all the records are entered into the database.  I would also ask that you try and avoid duplicating submission of your records across the different recording schemes.  A great bulk of my time at the end of each season is spent eliminating duplicated records which could distort records and interpretation.

In respect of your own records, please use the recording sheets supplied with this letter.  It might help to keep one sheet for your garden or most regularly visited site and a separate sheet for your visits to other Suffolk sites, especially the black holes.  If you are likely to make a bulk record submission then a recording spreadsheet can be provided, just get in touch.  Or, you can use an online portal such as iRecord or the BC recording app.

The 2019 season is likely to be too early to measure the real impact of the extreme weather events in 2018 and it will probably be 2020 before the real impact is understood here in Suffolk and the wider UK.  So, it remains as important as ever to accurately record and report the butterflies you do see.
Have a great 2019 watching and recording butterflies!

Bill Stone, Suffolk Butterfly Recorder,
20, Langstons,
Trimley St Mary,
Suffolk IP11 0XL
Tel: 07906 888603 Email: billbutterfly68@yahoo.com 6

Annex 1. General Notes for Butterfly Recorders
All our butterfly records of naturally occurring species are sent off annually to Butterfly Conservation for absorption into the National Database.  Our annual butterfly report is published a year in arrears in Suffolk Natural History, “The Transactions of the Suffolk Naturalists' Society”.  The branch newsletter the “Suffolk Argus” invariably publishes a shortened version much sooner than that along with other recording news and trends.

All regularly occurring county species are listed on our recording sheet (residents and regular migrants). Please note that the sheet now reflects the adoption by Butterfly Conservation of the new Checklist of the Lepidoptera of the British Isles. This has led to some significant changes to the order that our butterfly species are now listed in.

For those not used to submitting records, the basic details needed are the “four Ws”, i.e.:
“What” – i.e. species.
“Where” – preferably an Ordnance Survey grid reference*, though an accurate location name or a post code etc., will do.
*See http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/gi/nationalgrid/nationalgrid.pdf
“When” – self evident!
“by Whom” – name and contact details of recorder.
In addition, a count of minimum numbers seen is useful, with any evidence for breeding (e.g. mating observed, ovipositing females seen or larvae found).
A simple numbers code is useful if you have not been able to keep a precise count:
A One
B 2-9
C 10-29
D 30-100
E 100+

Records come in from over two hundred regular recorders (BC members and non-members alike) and from a variety of National recording schemes:

Transects. This is the highest standard of input, requiring 26 weekly site visits between April and September and using an established scientific methodology.  Some Suffolk transect sites have been running for many years and have contributed significant data to the United Kingdom Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) who oversee this survey. Single-species transects are also used to monitor Silver-studded Blue and Purple Hairstreak in Suffolk.  If you are interested in getting involved in this type of survey or would like to set up a transect site then please contact Suffolk’s UKBMS Co-ordinator Twm Wade at: twm.wade@yahoo.com

Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey. The WCBS is organised and analysed at BC Head Office level and uses volunteers from BC and BTO membership.  It is targeted at the same set of randomly selected squares annually, but as these are visited just in July and again in August, some early species get missed (e.g. Orange-tip and Green Hairstreak).  Essentially transect-like rules are applied, but the walk is done only twice a year instead of 26 times (optional extra visits are not discouraged though with many squares being monitored from May through to September).  Recorders are given a square and they are responsible for recording butterflies and submitting results.  If you would like to join WCBS for 2019; there is still time to enrol with Suffolk’s WCBS Co-ordinator Twm Wade at: twm.wade@yahoo.com 7

Garden Records. Homeowners who send their records annually provide a valuable foundation for most of our common species.  Online recording is available so if the majority of your butterfly recording is centred on sightings made in your garden then this scheme may appeal.  Please add your records by visiting- www.gardenbutterflysurvey.org.
In order to assist recording activity please do not duplicate the same garden butterfly sightings by adding to this national scheme and then additionally to local recording.  At the end of each year Garden Butterfly Survey records are sent to the respective county butterfly recorders for review and inclusion in local data sets.

BTO Garden Birdwatch. Birdwatchers engaged in the British Trust for Ornithology Garden Birdwatch have the option of recording easily-identified butterfly species within their on-line recording scheme.

Casual Sightings or Roving Records. Enthusiastic naturalists and butterfly watchers visit sites of high wildlife value and send in a variety of records – from a single Large White to a detailed specific site survey.  Voluntary wardens of SWT reserves often send dependable records for their sites year after year.  Many BC members and recorders make the effort to visit the tetrads known to be under-recorded, progressively filling the "black holes" in the county distribution maps.  Often visits to the great unknown can be an unexpected delight, sometimes turning up hairstreaks and other valuable records.  These types of records form the bulk of the county’s butterfly records and it is incredibly important to receive them.  Sightings can be submitted by completing record sheets, by email or online via the BC recording “apps” using a mobile device.

Big Butterfly Count (BBC): BC Head Office has put a lot of effort into organizing the Big Butterfly Count as a piece of nationwide citizen science.  Lots of novice recorders have taken part, identifying butterflies for 15 minutes in a site of their own choosing.  Suffolk harvested over 5,000 records of mainly common species flying during July and August 2018.  Although the places visited were mostly within our well recorded areas a few new tetrads were included and therefore, were a positive contribution to addressing Suffolk’s recording black holes. For 2019, the BBC runs from 19 July - 11 August.

Migrant Watch: Each year sightings of Painted Lady can be logged with BC via the national website.  This allows movements of these well-known long-distance migrants to be monitored and any trends identified.  In order to assist recording activity please do not duplicate the same Painted Lady sighting by adding to this national scheme and then additionally to local recording.  At the end of each year Migrant Watch records are sent to the respective county butterfly recorders for review and inclusion in local data sets.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
By submitting information regarding butterfly sightings, you agree that it may be collated and disseminated manually or electronically, including via the Internet, for conservation, environmental decision-making, education, research and other public benefit uses in accordance with Butterfly Conservation’s data access policy.

Names and contact details of recorders will be used for administration and verification purposes only.  Your contact details will not be passed to other parties without your consent, whilst your name will form part of the record that is collated and disseminated in accordance with Butterfly Conservation’s privacy policy.

Suffolk Butterflies 2018  (to download the letter as a pdf document click here)

Dear Butterfly Recorder, April 2018
Firstly, I’d like to begin by thanking you all for your continued support and for sending in your butterfly records for the 2017 season. The year saw well over 37,000 records added to the database and this represents another year of solid and determined recording in the county.  It was good to see many of you on field trips and supporting Butterfly Conservation (BC) Suffolk activities.  Included in the records submitted were many from gardens and which had utilised the BC online garden recording scheme.  Some very good records were received as part of the Big Butterfly Count and it was great to see some additional county coverage being achieved.  It was great to hear from you about your own butterfly sightings and exploits during the year and I am grateful for all your emails, letters and telephone calls.

The “Sightings” page of BC Suffolk’s website again proved incredibly popular in 2017 to send in records and let others know what butterflies were being seen.  A number of visitors to the county made specific reference to this resource and commented how useful it was.  Please continue to support this in 2018 if you can.  Richard Perryman is the “Website Master” and he does a great job keeping this up to date and my thanks go to him for undertaking this important role with such professionalism.

My own time in the field in 2017 was restricted by a busy work year resulting in me working away from home again, often coinciding with peak butterfly watching weather!  However, my European and East African butterfly list did increase slightly!

2017 Brief Overview

The 2017 butterfly season in Suffolk was a very mixed one again.  As usual the weather had a big part to play and is perhaps one of the most significant factors, alongside habitat loss and use of agricultural chemicals, in deciding whether butterflies will succeed or fail.  A mild winter and warm spring meant some of our species emerged earlier than normal resulting in Orange-tip, Brimstone and Comma being seen in good numbers.  Green Hairstreak also seemed to do well when compared to a poor 2016.  The warm spring also helped some of our multi-generation species by delivering a strong first brood and this resulted in a slight but pleasing upturn in records received for Common Blue, Small Copper and Small Heath.  A reasonable early summer allowed several species such as Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and Ringlet to gain a foothold before the wet summer and strong winds arrived, this perhaps being the reason that Grayling numbers were down.  This weather then impacted negatively on our summer fliers and it seems that the flight season was cut short for many.

The whites are always an indicator on how well the season went and for Suffolk, 2017 records of Green-veined White and Small White were lower compared to 2016.  Large White was seen in similar numbers to 2016.  This snap shot of “white” butterfly populations was worryingly replicated in a number of the national recording schemes such as the Big Butterfly Count where sightings of Green-veined White and Large White were down 38% and the Small White down 37%.  In respect of this, one question that was asked of me several times during the 2017 season, was “do I really need to record every butterfly I see, especially if it’s a white one”.  I think the figures quoted speak for themselves and underline how important the recording of all butterflies seen is.  I will now be spending time reviewing our records over the next few weeks in preparation of writing the annual Suffolk Butterfly Report.  It will be interesting to see how Suffolk compared with neighbouring counties, national trends and findings from the key monitoring surveys.

Summary of Butterflies for the New Millennium in Suffolk 2017.
Butterflies for the New Millennium(BNM) remains the key recording scheme for general distribution and numbers of butterflies.  The BNM aims to achieve comprehensive national coverage in successive five-year recording periods.

As such, 2017 was the third year in the current five year (2015- 2019) recording period.  Looking at the 37,000 records received for 2017 shows that butterflies were recorded from 728 tetrads (2km x 2km squares).  Given that there are 1089 tetrads in Suffolk it means that butterflies were recorded in approximately 68% of Suffolk during the year.  However, as this was the third year of the current five-year period it is worth noting the extent of coverage achieved over the longer term of three years.

Combining the data from 2015, 2016 and 2017 shows that almost 100,000 records have been received with butterflies being seen from 924 county tetrads. This gives us an incredible 84% county coverage which is a brilliant position to be in at the end of year three and places us in a very strong position going forward into the last two years.

The Suffolk coverage map for 2015-2017 is shown below:




Suffolk Butterfly Recording for 2018
In 2018, please continue to record as many butterflies as you can, wherever you are. If possible, please try and get out and about as much as you can to new areas particularly our western borders with Cambridgeshire and Essex.
In order to assist with any days out you may plan the map below gives a general overview of the under-recorded areas based on records received for the period 2015-2017. The darker spots represent recording “black-holes” which would welcome recording activity.

Suffolk Black-Holes 2015-2017
I will look to publish a list of the tetrads in the next month that require visiting this year based on the above map.  Although indications are that these will be similar to those targeted in 2017.  Please try and visit as many of them as you can.  I will do the same for 2019 once the results for 2018 have been received and will repeat the process to allow targeted and focussed recording to seek maximum county coverage by the end of 2019.




2018 Target Species- Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species

In Suffolk, 7 species of butterfly fall under the BAP. Please actively look for Dingy Skipper, Grayling, Silver-studded Blue, Small Heath, Wall, White Admiral and White-letter Hairstreak and submit all records made.  Records received will allow close monitoring to be undertaken and changes in both populations and range to be identified and addressed.

Although all the above listed species are of paramount importance the butterfly which continues to be of concern is the Wall (Brown).  Over the last few years we have seen the range of this beautiful butterfly diminish significantly in the county.  It has continued its slide eastwards towards the coast and is now only recorded in two key locations; the area comprising of Orford/ Sudbourne and various sites throughout the Waveney Valley.  In 2017, the Wall was seen in only 21 tetrads with the vast majority of records coming from the Waveney Valley area.  However, and of some significance, some sightings were also made by experienced recorders in the south-west of the county.  This may suggest that small, remote populations still exist in suitable habitat or are indicative of wandering individuals. The map below highlights the accepted records received in 2017:



Wall sightings in 2017


Specific surveys are undertaken for the following two species both of which are extremely localised in their range:
Dingy Skipper: Focussed recording effort will take place in May.  The weather is a significant factor for this species and can impact heavily on when the flight season starts and finishes.  Please see the BC Suffolk Events Card and especially the BC Suffolk Website for details and last-minute survey opportunities.  2017 proved to be a reasonable year for this species although an early flight season combined with difficult weather conditions restricted recording activity.  It is hoped that 2018 will show the species maintaining its hold in the county.  Please try and spend some time in late May/ early June in the Kings Forest and along the Suffolk/ Norfolk border in the Elveden and Barnham areas.  Please get in touch if you would like to explore one of these areas.

Silver-studded Blue
: The habitat restoration at Purdis Heath near Ipswich continued in 2017 with further work being undertaken by some very dedicated volunteers.  Significant progress is being made despite local difficulties but the efforts continue to support the continued survival of this species on this site.  Elsewhere, organised counts will be undertaken at various sites in the Suffolk Sandlings during July particularly in the RSPB Minsmere and Dunwich areas.  As with Dingy Skipper, the weather can impact on the flight season and effect planned surveys so please keep up to date via the BC Suffolk Website.  If you want to participate in the counts, please contact Helen Saunders without delay: helens919@gmail.com.

2018 Target Species- General Interest

Silver-washed Fritillary: 2017 demonstrated that this species increased again in coverage within the county after a small dip last year.  The butterfly was recorded in 47 tetrads in 2017 as opposed to 30 tetrads in 2016.  Of particular interest was that a good number of records were received from gardens where the butterfly was seen nectaring on buddleja.  It goes to show how versatile and adaptable this species is when it comes to habitats.  Please search, in July and August, any woodland with sunny rides and glades especially if the food plant Common Dog-violet is present.

Chalkhill Blue
: This species was again found flying at the west Suffolk site at the end of July and well into September. It’s possible that other un-discovered sites exist in the west of the county. Please look for it from late July to mid-August in suitable areas of chalky grassland in the west of the county where the food plant Horseshoe Vetch can be found. Should you locate any Chalkhill Blue sites then please let me know as soon as possible.

Purple Emperor
: It is entirely feasible that the Purple Emperor can be found in any suitable mature woodland within Suffolk and evidence continues to be seen to show that this species is expanding its range eastwards within East Anglia.  A number of you continued to spend time in 2017 looking for this incredible butterfly and were rewarded with sightings from new woodlands and landscapes.  Key habitat requirements are broadleaved woodland or clusters of smaller woods with a good supply of sallow for the caterpillars.  Remember that as this butterfly spends its day in the tree tops feeding on aphid honeydew and tree sap you may need to spend a lot of time scanning for it.  Expect a sore neck and don’t forget to record other canopy dwellers such as Purple Hairstreak, White Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillary.

Marbled White
- In 2017 in west Suffolk, several Marbled White were reported.  These butterflies appear to reflect the successful breeding season in nearby Cambridgeshire, particularly along the Devils Dyke and may be wanderers from here.  However, it is entirely feasible that small colonies may exist along the Suffolk/ Cambridgeshire borders.  Any nectar rich flower meadows in July may be worth an inspection.

Records for any of the above species are incredibly valuable, particularly if they come from previously unknown locations.   Please include precise location, dates and numbers seen along with any photos or video.

General recording points

With any sightings made please try and include a grid reference or postcode with your sightings as this saves me a lot of time when all the records are entered into the database.
I would also ask that you try and avoid duplicating submission of your records across the different recording schemes.  A great bulk of my time at the end of each season is spent eliminating duplicated records which could distort records and interpretation.
In respect of your own records, please use the recording sheets supplied with this letter.  It might help to keep one sheet for your garden or most regularly visited site and a separate sheet for your visits to other Suffolk sites, especially the black holes.  If you are likely to make a bulk record submission then a recording spreadsheet can be provided, just get in touch.  Or, you can use an online portal such as iRecord or the BC recording app.
Have a great 2018 watching and recording butterflies!

 Bill Stone, Suffolk Butterfly Recorder,

20, Langstons,
Trimley St Mary,
Suffolk IP11 0XL
Tel: 07906 888603 Email: billbutterfly68@yahoo.com 6

Annex 1.
General Notes for Butterfly Recorders
All our butterfly records of naturally occurring species are sent off annually to Butterfly Conservation for absorption into the National Database.  Our annual butterfly report is published a year in arrears in Suffolk Natural History, “The Transactions of the Suffolk Naturalists' Society”.  The branch newsletter the “Suffolk Argus” invariably publishes a shortened version much sooner than that along with other recording news and trends.
All regularly occurring county species are listed on our recording sheet (residents and regular migrants).  Please note that the sheet now reflects the adoption by Butterfly Conservation of the new Checklist of the Lepidoptera of the British Isles.  This has led to some significant changes to the order that our butterfly species are now listed in.

For those not used to submitting records, the basic details needed are the “four Ws”, i.e.:
What” – i.e. species.
Where” – preferably an Ordnance Survey grid reference*, though an accurate location name or a post code etc., will do.
*Use  http://britishnationalgrid.uk/ or https://gridreferencefinder.com/
When” – self evident!
by Whom” – name and contact details of recorder.
In addition, a count of minimum numbers seen is useful, with any evidence for breeding (e.g. mating observed, ovipositing females seen or larvae found).
A simple numbers code is useful if you have not been able to keep a precise count:
A One
B 2-9
C 10-29
D 30-100
E 100+

Records come in from over two hundred regular recorders (BC members and non-members alike) and from a variety of National recording schemes:
Transects. This is the highest standard of input, requiring 26 weekly site visits between April and September and using an established scientific methodology. Some Suffolk transect sites have been running for many years and have contributed significant data to the United Kingdom Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) who oversee this survey. Single-species transects are also used to monitor Silver-studded Blue and Purple Hairstreak in Suffolk.
If you are interested in getting involved in this type of survey or would like to set up a transect site then please contact Suffolk’s UKBMS Co-ordinator Twm Wade at: twm.wade@yahoo.com

Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey.
The WCBS is organised and analysed at BC Head Office level and uses volunteers from BC and BTO membership. It is targeted at the same set of randomly selected squares annually, but as these are visited just in July and again in August, some early species get missed (e.g. Orange-tip and Green Hairstreak). Essentially transect-like rules are applied, but the walk is done only twice a year instead of 26 times (optional extra visits are not discouraged though with many squares being monitored from May through to September). Recorders are given a square and they are responsible for recording butterflies and submitting results.
If you would like to join WCBS for 2018; there is still time to enrol with Suffolk’s WCBS Co-ordinator Twm Wade at: twm.wade@yahoo.com

Garden Records.
Homeowners who send their records annually provide a valuable foundation for most of our common species. Online recording is available so if the majority of your butterfly recording is centred on sightings made in your garden then this scheme may appeal.
Please add your records by visiting- www.gardenbutterflysurvey.org.
In order to assist recording activity please do not duplicate the same garden butterfly sightings by adding to this national scheme and then additionally to local recording. At the end of each year Garden Butterfly Survey records are sent to the respective county butterfly recorders for review and inclusion in local data sets.

BTO
Garden
Birdwatch.
Birdwatchers engaged in the British Trust for Ornithology Garden Birdwatch have the option of recording easily-identified butterfly species within their on-line recording scheme.

Casual Sightings or Roving Records.
Enthusiastic naturalists and butterfly watchers visit sites of high wildlife value and send in a variety of records – from a single Large White to a detailed specific site survey. Voluntary wardens of SWT reserves often send dependable records for their sites year after year. Many BC members and recorders make the effort to visit the tetrads known to be under-recorded, progressively filling the "black holes" in the county distribution maps. Often visits to the great unknown can be an unexpected delight, sometimes turning up hairstreaks and other valuable records. These types of records form the bulk of the county’s butterfly records and it is incredibly important to receive them. Sightings can be submitted by completing record sheets, by email or online via the BC recording “apps” using a mobile device.

Big Butterfly Count (BBC):
BC Head Office has put a lot of effort into organizing the Big Butterfly Count as a piece of nationwide citizen science. Lots of novice recorders have taken part, identifying butterflies for 15 minutes in a site of their own choosing. Suffolk harvested over 4,000 records of mainly common species flying during July and August 2017. Although the places visited were mostly within our well recorded areas a few new tetrads were included and therefore, were a positive contribution to addressing Suffolk’s recording black holes.
For 2018, the BBC runs from Fri 20th July to Sun 12th August.

Migrant Watch:
Each year sightings of Painted Lady can be logged with BC via the national website. This allows movements of these well-known long-distance migrants to be monitored and any trends identified. In order to assist recording activity please do not duplicate the same Painted Lady sighting by adding to this national scheme and then additionally to local recording. At the end of each year Migrant Watch records are sent to the respective county butterfly recorders for review and inclusion in local data sets.

Suffolk Butterflies 2017

Dear Butterfly Recorder,                                                                          01 April 2017

Firstly, I’d like to begin by thanking you all for your continued support and for sending in your butterfly records for the 2016 season. The year saw well over 28,000 records added to the database and this represents another year of solid recording in the county. This amount of records will hopefully rise further as I am still expecting the butterfly results from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Garden Survey.

From my role as County Recorder, 2016 was a year in which there was a noticeable shift to online recording through the numerous wildlife recording “apps”. That said the bulk of records continue to be received from the national surveys and recording schemes.
The “Sightings” page of BC Suffolk’s website again proved incredibly popular in 2016 to send in records and let others know what butterflies were being seen. Please continue to support this in 2017 if you can. Richard Perryman is the “Website Master” and he does a great job keeping this up to date and my thanks go to him for undertaking this role. 

My own time in the field in 2016 was restricted by a busy work year resulting in me working away from home a great deal, often coinciding with peak butterfly watching weather! So, it was great to hear from you about your own butterfly sightings and exploits during the year and I am grateful for all your emails, letters and telephone calls. It was also good to meet a number of you at some of the events and talks during the year.

2016 Overview

The year appears to have been another average butterfly year here in Suffolk with no real major highlights.
From a species perspective, a total of 34 naturally occurring species were recorded in Suffolk in 2016. As well as the usual species annually recorded including the three common migrants we also had three additional scarce species reported in the county. In May 2016, a Large Tortoiseshell was reported in Ipswich, a Swallowtail was seen at SWT Carlton Marshes in June 2016 and then in October 2016 singles of Camberwell Beauty were reported in Ipswich and at Landguard Bird Observatory, Felixstowe.

The Chalkhill Blue was again found in good numbers at the site (SSSI) in the west of the county and monitoring undertaken during the flight season suggested that a healthy and sustainable population exists. Some habitat management will be required and we are in contact with the landowner in respect of this.

Other species reported in the county related to the introduced colonies of Brown Hairstreak and Marbled White at sites in the Ipswich area. Winter Brown Hairstreak egg searches undertaken by a small number of individuals suggest that the population is confined to central Ipswich and has not spread further. The recording position on these two species is that they will not be submitted to Butterfly Conservation for inclusion in national data sets. However, local monitoring will be undertaken and records will be maintained at a county level in order to assess population and range changes.

I will now be spending time number crunching our records over the next few weeks in preparation of writing the annual Suffolk Butterfly Report. It will be interesting to see how Suffolk compared against national trends and the key monitoring surveys. The national Big Butterfly Count results led to headlines such as “Mystery of butterfly disaster summer” and I hope that this does not fully reflect Suffolk’s position. 

Summary of Butterflies for the New Millennium in Suffolk 2016.

Butterflies for the New Millennium(BNM) remains the key recording scheme for general distribution and numbers of butterflies. The BNM aims to achieve comprehensive national coverage in successive five-year recording periods.

As such, 2016 was the second year in the current five year (2015- 2019) recording period. Looking at the 28,000 records received so far for 2016 tells me that butterflies were recorded in 666 tetrads (2km x 2km squares). Given that there are 1089 tetrads in Suffolk it means that butterflies were recorded in approximately 61% of Suffolk. However, as we are now in the second year of the current five-year period it is worth noting the extent of coverage achieved over two years.

Combining the records from 2015 and 2016 shows that butterflies have been seen in 839 county tetrads. This gives us an incredible 77% county coverage which is a brilliant position to be in at the end of year two and places us in a very strong position going forward.

The coverage map for 2015-2016 is shown below:

C:\Users\Bennetts\Dropbox\Butterfly Recorder\2016 Suffolk Butterflies 2016\2016 Year Report\Levana data\Suffolk_2km_2015-16 300317_Species.jpg


Suffolk Butterfly Recording for 2017

In 2017, please continue to record as many butterflies as you can, wherever you are. If possible, please try and get out and about as much as you can to new areas. In order to assist with any trips you may plan the map below gives a general overview of the under recorded areas based on records received for the period 2015-2016.The darker spots represent recording “black-holes” which would welcome scrutiny

C:\Users\Bennetts\Dropbox\Butterfly Recorder\2016 Suffolk Butterflies 2016\2016 Year Report\Levana data\Suffolk_2km_2015-16 300317_Species MT.jpg


I will look to publish a list of the tetrads in the next month or so that require visiting this year based on the above map. Please try and visit as many of them as you can. I will do the same for 2018 once the results for 2017 have been received and will repeat the process for each of the subsequent years. This will allow targeted and focussed recording to seek maximum county coverage by the end of 2019.

2017 Target Species- Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species

In Suffolk, 7 species of butterfly fall under the BAP. Please actively look for Dingy Skipper, Grayling, Silver-studded Blue, Small Heath, Wall, White Admiral and White-letter Hairstreak and submit all records made. Records received will allow close monitoring to be undertaken and changes in both populations and range to be identified and addressed.

Although all the above listed species are paramount importance the butterfly which continues to be of particular concern is the Wall Brown. Over the last few years we have seen the range of this butterfly diminish significantly in the county. It has continued its slide eastwards towards the coast and is now only sporadically recorded in two key locations; Shingle Street/ Butley/ Orford and the Waveney Valley areas.  In 2016, the Wall was seen in only 18 tetrads with the vast majority of records coming from the Waveney Valley area. Sightings in the Brandon area of west Suffolk clearly buck this trend and represent a recording anomaly. The area will need to be re-visited in 2017 to ascertain if the 2016 sightings represent a small isolated colony.  However, it was good to get records from Landguard Common, Felixstowe and these must represent coastal movements of individuals perhaps from the Orford area.  The map below highlights the accepted records received in 2015 and 2016:
 
C:\Users\Bennetts\Dropbox\Butterfly Recorder\2016 Suffolk Butterflies 2016\2016 Year Report\Levana data\Suffolk_2km_2015-16 300317_WB.jpg


Specific surveys are undertaken for the following two species both of which are extremely localised in their range:

Dingy Skipper: A week of focussed recording effort will take place the week commencing 22nd May 2017. The weather is a significant factor for this species and can impact heavily on the flight season. Please see the BC Suffolk Events Card and especially the BC Suffolk Website for details and last minute changes. 2016 proved to be a reasonable year for this species although difficult weather conditions restricted some recording activity. It is hoped that 2017 will show the species maintaining its hold in the county. Please try and spend some time in late May/ early June in the Kings Forest and along the Suffolk/ Norfolk border in the Elveden and Barnham areas. Please get in touch if you would like to explore one of these areas.

Silver-studded Blue
: The habitat restoration at Purdis Heath continued in 2016 with some incredible work being undertaken by some very dedicated volunteers. Significant progress is being made despite local difficulties but the efforts continue to support the continued survival of this species on this site. Elsewhere, organised counts will be undertaken at various sites in the Suffolk Sandlings during July particularly in the RSPB Minsmere and Dunwich areas. As with Dingy Skipper, the weather can impact on the flight season and effect planned surveys so please keep up to date via the BC Suffolk Website. If you want to participate in the counts, please contact Helen Saunders without delay: helens919@gmail.com.




2016 Target Species- General Interest

Silver-washed Fritillary
: 2016 demonstrated that the foothold that this species now has in Suffolk was maintained despite the butterfly being seen in slightly fewer tetrads.  The butterfly was recorded in 30 tetrads as opposed to 37 tetrads in 2015 but some good day counts were received with the flight season running well into early September. Please search, in July and August, any woodland with sunny rides and glades especially if the food plant Common Dog-violet is present.

Chalkhill Blue: This species was again found flying at the west Suffolk site at the end of July and well into September. It’s possible that other un-discovered sites exist in the west of the county. Please look for it from late July to mid-August in suitable areas of chalky grassland in the west of the county where the food plant Horseshoe Vetch can be found. Should you locate any Chalkhill Blue sites then please let me know as soon as possible.

Purple Emperor: A number of you continued to spend time in 2016 looking for this incredible butterfly and were rewarded with sightings from suitable woodlands and landscapes. Importantly, records continued to be made from suitable sites as identified back in 2014 such as Bonny/ Priestley Wood near Needham Market. Of particular was the fact that a Purple Emperor was recorded during a timed transect walk in Ramsey Woods. It is entirely feasible that the Purple Emperor can be found in any suitable mature woodland and there is now growing evidence that this species is expanding its range eastwards within East Anglia. Key habitat requirements are broadleaved woodland or clusters of smaller woods with a good supply of sallow for the caterpillars. Remember that as this butterfly spends its day in the tree tops feeding on aphid honeydew and tree sap you may need to spend a lot of time scanning for it. Expect a sore neck!

Records for any of the above species are incredibly valuable, particularly if they come from previously unknown locations. Please include precise location, dates and numbers seen along with any photos or video. 

General recording points

With any sightings made please try and include a grid reference or postcode with your sightings as this saves me a lot of time when all the records are entered into the database.

I would also ask that you try and avoid duplicating submission of your records across the different recording schemes. A great bulk of my time at the end of each season is spent eliminating duplicated records which could otherwise distort the whole picture.

In respect of your own records, please use the recording sheets supplied with this letter. It might help to keep one sheet for your garden or most regularly visited site and a separate sheet for your visits to other Suffolk sites, especially the black holes. If you are likely to make a bulk record submission then a recording spreadsheet can be provided, just get in touch.

Have a great 2017 watching and recording butterflies!

Bill Stone, Suffolk Butterfly Recorder,
20, Langstons, Trimley St Mary, Suffolk IP11 0XL

Tel: 07906 888603

Email:
billbutterfly68@yahoo.com
Annex 1.

General Notes for Butterfly Recorders

All our butterfly records of naturally occurring species are sent off annually to Butterfly Conservation for absorption into the National Database. Our annual butterfly report is published a year in arrears in Suffolk Natural History, “The Transactions of the Suffolk Naturalists' Society”. The branch newsletter the “Suffolk Argus” invariably publishes a shortened version much sooner than that along with other recording news and trends.

All regularly occurring county species are listed on our recording sheet (residents and regular migrants). Please note that the sheet now reflects the adoption by Butterfly Conservation of the new Checklist of the Lepidoptera of the British Isles. This has led to some significant changes to the order that our butterfly species are now listed in.

For those not used to submitting records, the basic details needed are the “four Ws”, i.e.:

“What” – i.e. species.

“Where” – preferably an Ordnance Survey grid reference*, though an accurate location name or a post code etc., will do. 
 
*See
http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/gi/nationalgrid/nationalgrid.pdf

“When” – self evident!

“by Whom” – name and contact details of recorder.

In addition, a count of minimum numbers seen is useful, with any evidence for breeding (e.g. mating observed, ovipositing females seen or larvae found).

A simple numbers code is useful if you have not been able to keep a precise count:

A        One
B        2-9
C        10-29
D        30-100
E        100+

Records come in from over two hundred regular recorders (BC members and non-members alike) and from a variety of National recording schemes:

Transects.
This is the highest standard of input, requiring 26 weekly site visits between April and September and using an established scientific methodology. Some Suffolk transect sites have been running for many years and have contributed significant data to the United Kingdom Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) who oversee this survey. Single-species transects are also used to monitor Silver-studded Blue and Purple Hairstreak in Suffolk. If you are interested in getting involved in this type of survey or would like to set up a transect site then please contact Suffolk’s UKBMS Co-ordinator Twm Wade at: twm.wade@yahoo.com

Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey. The WCBS is organised and analysed at BC Head Office level, and uses volunteers from BC and BTO membership. It is targeted at the same set of randomly selected squares annually, but as these are visited just in July and again in August, some early species get missed (e.g. Orange-tip and Green Hairstreak). Essentially transect-like rules are applied, but the walk is done only twice a year instead of 26 times (optional extra visits are not discouraged though with many squares being monitored from May through to September). Recorders are given a square and they are responsible for recording butterflies and submitting results. If you would like to join WCBS for 2016; there is still time to enrol with Suffolk’s WCBS Co-ordinator Twm Wade at: twm.wade@yahoo.com

Garden Records.
Homeowners who send their records annually provide a valuable foundation for most of our common species. Online recording is available so if the majority of your butterfly recording is centred on sightings made in your garden then this scheme may appeal. Please add your records by visiting- www.gardenbutterflysurvey.org.

BTO Garden Birdwatch
. Birdwatchers engaged in the British Trust for Ornithology Garden Birdwatch have the option of recording easily-identified butterfly species within their on-line recording scheme.

Casual Sightings or Roving Records.
Enthusiastic naturalists and butterfly watchers visit sites of high wildlife value and send in a variety of records – from a single Large White to a detailed specific site survey. Voluntary wardens of SWT reserves often send dependable records for their sites year after year. Many BC members and recorders make the effort to visit the tetrads known to be under-recorded, progressively filling the "black holes" in the county distribution maps. Often visits to the great unknown can be an unexpected delight, sometimes turning up hairstreaks and other valuable records. These types of records form the bulk of the county’s butterfly records and it is incredibly important to receive them. Sightings can be submitted by completing record sheets, by email or online via the BC recording “apps” using a mobile device.

Big Butterfly Count (BBC):
BC Head Office has put a lot of effort into organizing the Big Butterfly Count as a piece of nationwide citizen science. Lots of novice recorders have taken part, identifying butterflies for 15 minutes in a site of their own choosing. Suffolk harvested over 3,500 records of mainly common species flying during July and August 2016. Although the places visited were mostly within our well recorded areas a few new tetrads were included and therefore, were a positive contribution to addressing Suffolk’s recording black holes. For 2017, the BBC runs from 14th July to 6th August.

Migrant Watch: Each year sightings of Painted Lady (and Humming-bird Hawk-moth) can be logged with BC via their website. This allows movements of these well known long distance migrants to be monitored and any trends identified. At the end of each year records are sent to the respective county butterfly and moth recorders for review and inclusion in data sets.

Suffolk Butterflies 2016

Firstly, I’d like to begin by thanking you all for your continued support and for sending in your butterfly records for the 2015 season. It’s also been great hearing about your butterfly sightings and exploits during the year and I am grateful for all your emails, letters and telephone calls. It was also good to meet a number of you at events and talks during the year.

The year saw another large increase in the records received, with well over 29,000 records already added to the database. This increase is largely down to your hard work exploring under-recorded areas in Suffolk along with more records being provided through online recording using “apps” as well as from the national surveys and recording schemes. As I write I am still expecting the butterfly results from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Garden Survey. These are a significant contribution to our database so I am hopeful that the amount of butterfly records for 2015 will increase further.

The weather in 2015 was largely unremarkable and thankfully avoided the prolonged periods of extreme weather which impacts heavily on butterfly populations. That said, although the spring weather was sunny and warm during the day, cold nights and strong winds did seem to confuse our early butterflies and appears to have prolonged their flight periods. The expected “Painted Lady year” did not happen although the butterfly was present in reasonable numbers during the year and some good double figure counts were made at coastal sites. The summer was a slightly cooler one based on recent trends but rolled seamlessly into a generally warm autumn. This weather pattern seemed to help a number of species especially grassland butterflies such as Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper and particularly woodland butterflies such as White Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillary. Butterfly success of the year perhaps lies with the Holly Blue which seemed to enjoy long flight periods across both generations and with some high counts reported.  

I will now be spending time number crunching our records over the next few weeks in preparation of writing the annual Suffolk Butterfly Report and it will be interesting to see how Suffolk compared against national trends and the key monitoring surveys.

The Butterflies for the New Millennium Report (2010-2014). In 2015, the long awaited results of the latest five year recording period (2010-2014) were released. The headline news was very disappointing with the indices of occurrence for habitat specialists and wider countryside species showing a clear long-term decrease for both groups in the UK (62% and 24% decreases since 1976 respectively). The new report also showed a picture of long-term decline with 70% of species decreasing in distribution since 1976 and 57% of species decreasing in abundance. Overall, 76% of the UK’s resident and regular migrant butterfly species declined in either abundance or distribution (or both) over the past four decades. On a more uplifting note, it was found that where landscape-scale conservation projects run by Butterfly Conservation and other partner agencies were in place positive results were being made and significant impacts were being made on targeted butterfly species.

Butterflies for the New Millennium in Suffolk 2015. 2015 was also the first year in the new five year (2015- 2019) recording period. Given the findings of the previous five year recording period as mentioned above it cannot be stressed enough how important the records gathered through this recording scheme here in Suffolk will be. So, for 2015 and in order to get Suffolk off to a good start I asked you in last year’s letter to all make a big effort to visit under recorded areas within the county and you certainly did not let me down. Looking at the records received tells me that Suffolk recorders visited and recorded butterflies in 695 tetrads (2km x 2km squares). Given that there are 1089 tetrads in Suffolk it means that butterflies were recorded in approximately 64% of Suffolk. This a great position to be in at the end of the first of the five years (See map below for coverage in 2015).



Given the number of tetrads visited and the records received the average number of butterfly species recorded per tetrad for 2015 was 10.8. To put that into context the five year recording period 2010-2014 produced an average of 14.2 species per tetrad.

2015 Species

From a species perspective a total of 38 naturally occurring species were recorded in Suffolk in 2015. As well as the usual county stalwarts and BAP species we also had 3 additional county records of Scarce Tortoiseshell at Felixstowe (1) and North Warren (2). These sightings are highly significant as together with other UK records of this butterfly they represented the first evidence of hibernation and post-hibernation emergence undertaken in this country and continue the amazing story surrounding this species. Other rarities recorded during the year included singles of Queen of Spain Fritillary (Fritton), Long-tailed Blue (Ipswich) and continental Swallowtail (west Suffolk)). The Chalkhill Blue was again found in good numbers at the site (SSSI) in the west of the county and monitoring undertaken during the flight season suggested that a healthy and sustainable population exists. Some habitat management will be required and we are in contact with the landowner in respect of this.

In 2015, news of the existence of a Suffolk Brown Hairstreak colony was received. This location is close to the introduced Marbled Whites in central Ipswich and information received suggests that the colony has existed in small numbers since 2009. It is assumed that the population derives from an unauthorised introduction perhaps undertaken by those responsible for the nearby Marbled Whites. Winter egg searches undertaken by a small number of individuals suggest that the population is confined to central Ipswich and has not spread further. The recording position on these presumed releases is that they will not be submitted to Butterfly Conservation for inclusion in national data sets. However, local monitoring will be undertaken and records will be maintained at a county level in order to assess population and range changes.

As in previous years “odd” species continue to be recorded and in 2015 included a Geranium Bronze which was accidently imported from Italy amongst geranium cuttings. Other species, which are presumed escapes included a Clipper butterfly and at least one Zebra Long-wing!

Suffolk Butterfly Recording for 2016

Please continue to record as many butterflies as you can, wherever you are. If possible, please try and get out and about as much as you can to new areas. Based on the 2015 coverage map (above) I will look to publish a list of the tetrads in the next month or so that require visiting this year. Please try and visit as many of them as you can. I will do the same for 2017 once the results for 2016 have been received and will repeat the process for each of the subsequent years. This will allow targeted and focussed recording to seek maximum county coverage by the end of 2019.

2016 Target Species- Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species

In Suffolk, 7 species of butterfly fall under the BAP. Please actively look for Grayling, Small Heath, White Admiral, White-letter Hairstreak and submit all records made. Records received will allow close monitoring to be undertaken and changes in both populations and range to be identified and addressed.

Of particular concern is the Wall Brown. Over the last few years we have seen the range of this butterfly diminish significantly in the county. It has continued its slide eastwards towards the coast and is now only recorded in three key locations; Bawdsey/Shingle Street, Orford and the Lowestoft/ Waveney Valley areas (see map below).




In 2015, the Wall was seen in only 22 tetrads as opposed to 36 tetrads in 2014 with the vast majority of records coming from the three localities shown above, especially the Waveney Valley area. Pease continue to look for this butterfly during 2016 and let me know of any sightings away from the known locations as soon as you can.

Specific surveys are undertaken for the following two species both of which are extremely localised in their range:

Dingy Skipper: The annual count in the King's Forest area will start on 11th May with a second date in place on the 25th May. The weather is a significant factor for this species and can impact heavily on the flight season. Please see the BC Suffolk Events Card and especially the BC Suffolk Website for details and last minute changes. 2015 proved to be a reasonable year for this species although difficult weather conditions restricted some recording activity. It is hoped that 2016 will show the species maintaining its hold in the county. If you can’t get along to the organised counts then please try and spend some time in late May/ early June in the Kings Forest and along the Suffolk/ Norfolk border in the Elveden and Barnham areas. Please get in touch if you would like to explore one of these areas.

Silver-studded Blue
: The habitat restoration at Purdis Heath continued in 2015 with some incredible work being undertaken by some very dedicated volunteers. Significant progress is being made despite local difficulties but the efforts continue to support the continued survival of this species on this site. Elsewhere, organised counts will be undertaken at various sites during July particularly in the Minsmere and Dunwich areas. As with Dingy Skipper, the weather can impact on the flight season and effect planned surveys so please keep up to date via the BC Suffolk Website.

2016 Target Species- General Interest

Silver-washed Fritillary
: 2015 demonstrated that the foothold that this species now has in Suffolk was maintained and extended. The butterfly was recorded in 37 tetrads as opposed to 33 tetrads in 2014 and again some good counts were received with the flight season running well into early September. Please search, in July and August, any woodland with sunny rides and glades especially if the food plant Common Dog-violet is present.

Chalkhill Blue: This species was again found flying at the west Suffolk site at the end of July and well into September. It’s possible that other un-discovered sites exist in the west of the county. Please look for it from late July to mid-August in suitable areas of chalky grassland in the west of the county where the food plant Horseshoe Vetch can be found. Should you locate any Chalkhill Blue sites then please let me know as soon as possible.

Marbled White: No west-Suffolk records were received in 2015 despite it being another good year for the species on the Devils Dyke close by in neighbouring Cambridgeshire. Despite this, it is a butterfly well worth looking for in the west of the county. It is a strong flyer and known to wander and it is worth exploring any areas of rank grass or meadow containing favoured nectar plants such as Wild Marjoram, Field Scabious, thistles, and knapweeds.

Purple Emperor: A number of you continued to spend time in 2015 looking for this incredible butterfly and were rewarded with sightings from suitable woodlands and landscapes. Importantly, records continued to be made from suitable sites as identified in 2014 such as Bonny/ Priestley Wood near Needham Market. Reports were also received from RSPB Wolves Wood near Hadleigh and in newly established and maturing woodlands close to Ipswich. It is entirely feasible that the Purple Emperor can be found in any suitable mature woodland and there is now growing evidence that this species is expanding its range eastwards within East Anglia. Key habitat requirements are broadleaved woodland or clusters of smaller woods with a good supply of sallow for the caterpillars. Remember that as this butterfly spends its day in the tree tops feeding on aphid honeydew and tree sap you may need to spend a lot of time scanning for it. Expect a sore neck!

Records for any of the above species are incredibly valuable, particularly if they come from previously unknown locations. Please include precise location, dates and numbers seen along with any photos or video.  

The “Sightings” page of BC Suffolk’s website again proved incredibly popular in 2015 to send in records and let others know what butterflies were being seen. Please continue to support this in 2016 if you can. Please include a grid reference or postcode with your sightings as this saves an incredible amount of time when all the records are entered into the database. In respect of your own records, please use the attached recording sheet. It might help to keep one sheet for your garden or most regularly visited site and a separate sheet for your visits to other Suffolk sites, especially black holes. If you are likely to make a bulk record submission then the attached recording spreadsheet may assist you. Remember all records are extremely important.

Have a great 2016 watching and recording butterflies!

Bill Stone, Suffolk Butterfly Recorder,
26 Thomas Crescent, Kesgrave, Ipswich IP5 2HN

Tel: 07906 888603

Email:  or

Suffolk Butterflies 2015

As mentioned above, Butterfly Conservation's general recording scheme is known as Butterflies for the New Millennium or BNM and it operates five-year surveys of Britain and Ireland in order to assess change, inform conservation and stimulate research. In 2015 a new five year period commences and will cover the period 2015- 2019. As it is the first year of the recording it would be great to see you all continue to explore the under-recorded areas as well as getting out to your usual sites and local patches. As mentioned above non-recorded tetrads from the 2010-2015 BNM period will be identified and I will alert you to these to include in your butterfly forays. I cannot stress enough that all of your records are of significant importance so even the single butterfly seen should be reported.

2015 Target Species

Wall Brown: Over the last few years we have seen the range of this butterfly diminish significantly in the county. In 2013, it continued its slide eastwards and was only recorded in 24 tetrads in three key locations; Bawdsey to Shingle Street, Orford and the Lowestoft/ Waveney Valley areas. In 2014, some positive improvement was seen with the butterfly being recorded in 36 tetrads. The vast majority of records came from these three locations, especially the Waveney Valley area. Interestingly and of some significance two sightings were made near Lakenheath Fen in the extreme north-west of the county in July. This is perhaps an indication of the strong Wall year enjoyed in neighbouring east Cambridgeshire. Pease continue to look for this butterfly during 2015 and let me know of all west Suffolk sightings as soon as you can. You may also wish to join Peter Maddison on his Angles Way Wall survey on 11th August, please see the BC Suffolk Events

Silver-washed Fritillary: 2014 demonstrated that the foothold that this species now has in Suffolk was maintained. The butterfly was recorded in 33 squares as opposed to 32 squares in 2013 and again some good counts were received with the flight season running well into August. Of particular note was a second brood individual seen in October near Heveningham. Please search, in July and August, any woodland with sunny rides and glades especially if the food plant Common Dog-violet is present.

Dingy Skipper: The annual count in the King's Forest area will start on 13th May with a second date in place on the 20th May. The weather is a significant factor for this species and can impact heavily on the flight season. Please see the BC Suffolk Events Card and especially the BC Suffolk Website for details and last minute changes. 2014 proved to be another good year for this species and it is hoped that 2015 will show this positive trend continuing. If you can’t get along to the organised counts then please try and spend some time in May in the Kings Forest and along the Suffolk/ Norfolk border in the Elveden and Barnham areas. Please get in touch if you would like to explore one of these areas.

Silver-studded Blue: The habitat restoration at Purdis Heath continued in 2014with some incredible work being undertaken by some very dedicated volunteers. Significant progress is being made despite local difficulties but the efforts continue to support the continued survival of this species on this site. Elsewhere, organised counts will be undertaken at various sites during July. As with Dingy Skipper, the weather can impact on the flight season and effect planned surveys so please keep up to date via the BC Suffolk Website.

Chalkhill Blue: This species was again found flying at the west Suffolk site in mid-July and well into late August. It’s likely that other un-discovered sites exist in the west of the county. Please look for it from late July to mid-August in suitable areas of chalky grassland in the west of the county where the food plant Horseshoe Vetch can be found. Should you locate any Chalkhill Blue sites then please let me know as soon as possible.

Marbled White: Only one west Suffolk record was received and involved a singleton in Denston in July. Despite this, it is a butterfly well worth looking for in the west of the county. It is a strong flyer and known to wander and it is worth exploring any areas of rank grass or meadow containing favoured nectar plants such as Wild Marjoram, Field Scabious, thistles, and knapweeds. Elsewhere, the species was again seen at the central Ipswich site flying from late June into late July but in noticeably lower numbers than last year. The butterfly was also recorded in small numbers at another site close by but it is unknown if this was by natural expansion or by deliberate intervention.

Purple Emperor: Further to exploratory work for this species in Suffolk undertaken in 2013 by Liz Goodyear and Andrew Middleton, the Purple Project was launched in 2014 to encourage awareness of this species together with highlighting its life cycle and behaviour. A number of you did spend time looking for this incredible butterfly and were rewarded with sightings from suitable woodland. Importantly, several records came from new sites such as Bonny Wood near Needham Market and from the Mellfield Wood complex near Bury St Edmunds.  Away from Theberton, the butterfly was reported from the Holton area near Halesworth and from Hartest in the south west of the county. It is entirely feasible that the Purple Emperor can be found in any suitable mature woodland. Key habitat requirements are broadleaved woodland or clusters of smaller woods with a good supply of sallow for the caterpillars. Remember that as this butterfly spends its day in the tree tops feeding on aphid honeydew and tree sap you may need to spend a lot of time scanning for it. Expect a sore neck! You may wish to join Julian Dowding at Bonny Wood on 11th July in his search of these woods for Purple Emperor. Please see the BC Suffolk Event

NB: Casual records for any of the above species are incredibly valuable, particularly if they come from previously unknown locations. Please include precise location, dates and numbers seen. I would also love to receive photographs/video of any Marbled White and Purple Emperor seen in Suffolk (away from the introduced populations). This will help to support evidence that these species are actually occurring in a wild state rather than introduced populations or escapes.

The “Sightings” page of BC Suffolk’s website proved incredibly very popular in 2014 to send in records and let others know what butterflies were being seen. Please continue to support this in 2015 if you can. Please include a grid reference or postcode with your sightings as this saves an incredible amount of time when all the records are entered into the database. In respect of your own records please use the attached sheet. It might help to keep one sheet for your garden or most regularly visited site and a separate sheet for your visits to other Suffolk sites. Remember all records are extremely important. Please note that when sending me records by post that I have a new address as shown below.

Have a great 2015 watching and recording butterflies!
  email or post your records to

Bill Stone, County Butterfly Recorder, Suffolk
26 Thomas Crescent, Kesgrave, Ipswich IP5 2HN
Tel: 07906 888603

Email:  or

Suffolk Butterflies 2014

Firstly, I’d like to begin by thanking you all for sending in your butterfly records for the 2014 season. It’s also been great hearing about your butterfly sightings and exploits during the year and I am grateful for all your emails, letters and telephone calls. The year saw a large increase in the records received, with well over 26,000 records added to the database. This increase is largely down to your hard work exploring under-recorded areas in Suffolk along with more records being provided from the national surveys and recording schemes.


Thankfully, 2014 was a reasonable year in respect of the weather. The only major blip was August with it being the coldest recorded since 1993. This meant, that for the majority of species, the year gave an opportunity for further recovery and stability of numbers after the dreadful 2012. However, published national trends and especially the results from the Big Butterfly Count indicate that overall it was a poor year for butterflies. Species such as the whites (Large, Small and Green-veined) and the single brooded summer species such as Meadow Brown and Ringlet all seem to have had bad years. However, from a Suffolk perspective it was great to see good numbers of Small Tortoiseshells along with Peacocks in our gardens and parks and especially welcome was an increase in the amount of Red Admirals recorded. The progeny of the large numbers of Clouded Yellows seen in 2013 continued the species’ presence in the county throughout 2014 and some impressive counts were again made. I will now be spending time number crunching our records over the next few weeks in preparation of writing the Suffolk Butterfly Report and it will be interesting to see how Suffolk compared against national trends

2014 was the last year in the current five year recording period for the Butterflies for the New Millennium (see below) recording scheme. Given the significance of this I asked you all to make a big effort to visit under recorded areas and black-holes within the county. Looking at the records received tells me that Suffolk recorders visited and recorded butterflies in 738 tetrads (2km x2km squares), see map below for coverage in 2014



This equates to an amazing increase of 101 tetrads on last years total. Given that there are 1089 tetrads in Suffolk it means that butterflies were recorded in approximately 68% of Suffolk during the year. Given the number of tetrads visited and the incredible number of records received the average butterfly species per tetrad for 2014 was 10.8. To put that into context the five year recording period 2010-2014 shows an average of 14.2 species per tetrad. It’s worth noting that in the five year period 2010-2014, butterfly records have been received from a total of 1025 tetrads which equates to an amazing 94% of Suffolk. See map below for 2010-2014 coverage.



To aid future recording efforts, work will be undertaken over the next few months to identify the 64 non-recorded tetrads. These will then become part of a focussed survey effort throughout the five year recording period.

From a species perspective a total of 39 species were recorded in Suffolk in 2014. As well as the usual county stalwarts and BAP species we also had the first county records of Scarce Tortoiseshell (also known as Yellow-legged Tortoiseshell). The arrival of this species in the east of England from central Europe was an incredible Lepidoptera event but it was made even better when the species was at RSPB Minsmere and in Burgh Castle both over the 14th/15th July 2014. Other rarities recorded during the year included singles of Large Tortoiseshell (Felixstowe), Queen of Spain Fritillary (North Warren) and Swallowtail (Walberswick and Crowfield). The Chalkhill Blue was again found in good numbers at the site (SSSI) in the west of the county and regular visits undertaken during the flight season suggested that a healthy and sustainable population exists and is worthy of future close monitoring.

All our butterfly records are sent off annually to Butterfly Conservation for absorption into the National Database. Our annual butterfly report is published a year in arrears in Suffolk Natural History, The Transactions of the Suffolk Naturalists' Society. The Suffolk Argus invariably publishes a shortened version much sooner than that along with other recording news and trends.

Recording Forms - These are Microsoft Excel (.xls)

Casual Recording Form

Recording Form with list of species


Send sightings to

Notes for Butterfly Recorders

There are now 36 species on our recording sheet (residents and regular migrants).  I have added Purple Emperor, Marbled White and Chalkhill Blue to reflect the 2013 season and potential future movement.  In addition, if the weather is kind again in 2014 and the winds catch migratory European and North African species then we could expect to see Camberwell Beauty, Queen of Spain Fritillary and Long-tailed Blue too.  Please note that the sheet now reflects the adoption by Butterfly Conservation of the new Checklist of the Lepidoptera of the British Isles.  This has led to some significant changes to the order that our butterfly species are now listed in
.

For those not used to submitting records, the basic details needed are the “four Ws”, i.e.:
“What” – i.e. species.
“Where” – preferably an Ordnance Survey grid reference*, though an accurate location name or a post code etc., will do. 
“When” – self evident!
“by Whom” – name and contact details of recorder.

In addition, a count of minimum numbers seen is useful, with any evidence for breeding (e.g. mating observed, ovipositing females seen or larvae found). A simple numbers code is useful if you have not been able to keep a precise count:
A        One
B
        2-9
C
        10-29
D
        30-100
E
        100+

Records come in from over two hundred regular recorders (BC members and non-members alike) and from a variety of schemes:

Transects. A new transect at Knettishall Heath brought our total to 19 full transects along with a new single-species transect at Purdis Heath, Ipswich. This is the highest standard of input, as a weekly count has been conducted for more than 10 years at some sites, using an established scientific methodology. Single-species transects are also used to monitor Silver-studded Blue and Purple Hairstreak.

Garden Records. Homeowners who send their records annually provide a valuable foundation for most of our common species. Some are sent to the national BC scheme, others come direct to me.

BTO Garden Birdwatch. Birdwatchers engaged in the British Trust for Ornithology Garden Birdwatch have the option of recording easily-identified butterfly species within their on-line recording scheme. These are recovered and entered to the Suffolk database at least once in each 5-year period.

Casual Sightings or Roving Records. Enthusiastic naturalists and butterfly watchers visit sites of high wildlife value and send in a variety of records – from a single Large White to a detailed specific site survey. Voluntary wardens of SWT reserves often send dependable records for their sites year after year. Many BC members and recorders make the effort to visit the tetrads known to be under-recorded, progressively filling the "black holes" in the county distribution maps. Often visits to the great unknown can be an unexpected delight, sometimes turning up hairstreaks and other valuable records.

Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey. The WCBS is organised and analysed at BC Head Office level, and uses volunteers from BC and BTO membership.  It is targeted at the same set of randomly selected squares annually, but as these are visited just in July and again in August, some early species get missed (e.g. Orange-tip and Green Hairstreak).  The scheme is now entering its 6th season, and results are passed back to County Recorders.  Essentially transect-like rules are applied, but the walk is done only twice a year instead of 26 times (optional extra visits are not discouraged though with many squares being monitored from May through to September).  Recorders are given a square and they are responsible for recording butterflies and submitting results.  We are trying to find recorders for the remaining Suffolk squares so if you would like to join WCBS for 2015; there is still time to enrol with Suffolk Co-ordinator Twm Wade at: twm.wade@yahoo.com

Big Butterfly Count. BC Head Office has put a lot of effort into organizing the Big Butterfly Count as a piece of nationwide citizen science. Lots of novice recorders have taken part, identifying butterflies for 15 minutes in a site of their own choosing. Suffolk harvested over 4000 records of mainly common species flying during July and August 2013. Although the places visited were mostly within our well recorded areas a few new tetrads were included and therefore, were a positive contribution to reducing the amount of Suffolk black holes.

Transects - Methodology

The methodology and development of transect monitoring for butterflies has been reviewed in detail elsewhere (Pollard and Yates, 1993).  In brief, a fixed-route walk (transect) is established at a site and butterflies are recorded along the route on a regular (weekly) basis under reasonable weather conditions for a number of years.  Transect routes are chosen to sample evenly the habitat types and management activity on sites.  Care is taken in choosing a transect route as it must then remain fixed to enable butterfly sightings to be compared from year to year. 

Transects are typically about 2-4km long, taking between 45 minutes and two hours to walk, and are divided into sections corresponding to different habitat or management units.  Butterflies are recorded in a fixed width band (typically 5m wide) along the transect each week from the beginning of April until the end of September yielding, ideally, 26 counts per year.  Transect walks are undertaken between 10.45am and 3.45pm and only when weather conditions are suitable for butterfly activity: dry conditions, wind speed less than Beaufort scale 5, and temperature 13C or greater if there is at least 60% sunshine, or more than 17C if overcast. 

Due to the vagaries of the British and Irish weather, it is rare in practice to achieve a full set of 26 weekly counts. However, a small number of missing values can be estimated using other counts during the season. 

Single species (as opposed to normal 'all species') transects have been increasingly established in recent years.  Whilst such transects must follow the standard methodology and must record populations at least once a week throughout the flight period, the focus on a single (or small number of) species reduces both the time required to walk each transect and, more significantly, the number of weekly counts.  With many demands on the time of site management staff and volunteer recorders, this reduced method has enabled population monitoring of particular threatened butterflies to be undertaken when otherwise it would not have been possible.  By regularly recording a fixed route in standardised conditions, the number of butterflies seen on a transect can be compared from year to year.

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