Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Painted Lady irruption

It appears that we are in the midst of an extraordinary naturalistic event. We are currently witnessing an irruption of the beautiful butterfly above, called the Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui. The Painted Lady is not a British butterfly but arrives here on migration.

We had three of these butterflies nectaring in our garden during the unusual hot weather this past bank holiday weekend. Two arrived on the 23rd May and three were seen on the 24th May.

What was particularly unusual was the flower they appeared to favour - the perennial wallflower Erysimum 'Bowles' Yellow'. I had practically given up with this plant as it does not seem to attract any wildlife, even though it is one of the longest flowering plants that one could ever wish to have.

Here is a list of the first sightings of this butterfly in my garden:
2009 - 23rd May.
2008 - Not observed.
2007 - 15th Sept.
2006 - 26th July.
2005 - Not observed.
2004 - Not observed.
2003 - Not observed.

This year has already broken the record for this species, and for me really gets my pulse racing! One cannot help wondering what on earth is going to happen next.

While we are on the subject of migrants, I also saw my first Silver Y moth in the garden on the 25th May. The earliest I have seen this moth before was on the 22nd July 2006.

For a full report on the irruption please have a look at the links below.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Siskin conundrum

This pair of Siskins Carduelis spinus, arrived in our garden on the 3rd April and were seen together until the 13th April. Since then, and up until today, we have seen on a daily basis just a single Siskin. The male is the more yellower one with the black cap and the other one is presumably the female, or though it could be a juvenile as it is quite difficult to distinguish between the two. The single Siskin still visiting the feeders could be the female/juvenile above, or of course a totally different bird altogether.

Update - 3 seen on 18th May - they all look like juveniles.

2008 - 2 Siskins were seen on the 1st and 24th March, and a single one (female/juvenile) on the 12th and 25th March. 3 Siskins were seen on the 18th May (they all look like juveniles).
2007 - No Siskins recorded.
2006 - 2 Siskins were seen on the 16th April.
2005 - No Siskins recorded.
2004 - 1 Siskin on 28th Feb. 5 Siskins on 15th March.
2003 - 2 Siskins on 2nd Jan.
2002 - 2 Siskins on 24th Feb.

Siskins can be seen in the UK all the year round, as around 350,000 pairs breed here. During the winter we get migrants from Scandinavia and the continent coming over, but these don't necessarily return until late April or even early May. Therefore it is difficult to tell whether the Siskins in my garden are resident or migrants. If anyone has any ideas, then please leave a comment.