JULY 2003
EDITORIAL
MARTIN'S MUSINGS
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WELCOME IMMIGRANTS
In July, we hope to see brightly-coloured butterflies visiting the blooms on Butterfly Bushes (Buddleia’s) growing in our gardens.  This year, there should be many Painted Ladies.  Favourable weather conditions in their homelands close to the desert areas of North Africa allow the populations there to build up and trigger mass movements.  Already good numbers of this long-distance migrant have been seen in the Tendring district in sheltered flowery places in our gardens and countryside. 
Early arrivals would have spread quickly northwards through Europe but many more would have settled on the way.  These breed and raise further generations, which will also move on if the weather stays suitable.

DISTINCTIVE APPEARANCE
Swift and strong flyers, they actively defend their chosen territories in sunshine and even until dusk on warm evenings.  They are easy to recognise with their tawny-orange ground colour that becomes paler with age and contrasts with the black and white markings towards the tips of the front wings in particular.

YEARS TO REMEMBER
1980, 1985, 1988 and spectacularly 1996 were extra good years for this species in England.  Although most eggs are laid on various kinds of thistle, mallows and nettles also are suitable food-plants for caterpillars, which spend much of their time protected by their silky webs.

SOME NETTLE FEEDERS MAY BE FEW AGAIN
Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells seemed again to be in poor numbers this spring after hibernating.  The caterpillars of both of these depend on Stinging Nettles and recent searches for their webs on suitable local nettle patches have proved disappointing.  There is increasing concern about the low numbers for several years of Small Tortoiseshell, which has normally been one of England’s commonest butterflies.

MORE HOPE
More encouragingly, there have been frequent sightings recently of Red Admirals in our district.  This is another species whose caterpillars feed on nettles but it is dependent on migrants coming from the south each year.  Their caterpillars shelter in rolled-up leaves on the nettles and may be doing well.  In addition, some of us saw frequent Commas after their local over-wintering. 

Caterpillars of this species are able to feed on Wild Hop in local hedges as well as nettles.  Furthermore, we can hope that Small Tortoiseshells and Peacocks, which are capable of being great wanderers, are doing better elsewhere and will find us in their explorations.  I have seen the Sea Lavender flowers on our saltmarshes alive with Small Tortoiseshells taking nectar after a big arrival in the past.

We shall be pleased to hear of your findings and several volunteers are often available to help with recognition if needed on sunny days.

Reg Arthur

ARE YOU A LOCAL BIRD WATCHER WHY NOT JOIN YOUR LOCAL SOCIETY?

Clacton and St Osyth Bird Watching and Protection Society was founded over 50 years ago.  Our activities include a varied programme of monthly talks and colour slide shows from October to April on varied aspects of bird watching and conservation.  Meetings are held in The Friends Meeting House, Granville Road, Clacton-on-Sea on the second Friday of the month at 7.30pm.
We also enjoy field trips each month throughout the year, both locally and further afield.


We are a friendly bunch and welcome new members of all levels of ability.  So, if you are interested in meeting like-minded local bird watchers, contact either Barbara on 01255 675507, Geoff on 01255 424795, or Reg on 01255 820277.


From the Essex Wildlife Trust’s Local News...

“Listeners to breakfast radio on 25th April heard John Humphreys telephone Reg Arthur about a Manx shearwater that Reg as warden of Bardsey Island rung in 1957.  It received publicity last year having been caught and now again has been re-trapped.  Thought to be over 50 years old it constitutes the oldest recorded British bird.”



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