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Ayrshire Butterfly Report 1997

W A Davidson


 

Introduction

1997 proved to be yet another good year for Ayrshire's butterflies. Nearly all species improved on their 1996 performances, no doubt aided by the extremely mild early spring conditions. The only notable exceptions to this were Large White (again!) and Painted Lady.

 

The butterfly year seems to start earlier in each Report and 1997 saw a Small Tortoiseshell in a Maybole garden on the ludicrously early date of 6 January. Amazingly another was reported flying in Ardrossan on the 24th of the month. The "real" start to the season however, came in March, when both Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock were reported by the 8th of the month. Fine early April weather prompted a further six species to appear, and of these Small White, Green Veined White, Orange Tip, Green Hairstreak and Painted Lady all broke their previous first record dates. In fact no less than seventeen of the twenty four of the species recorded in the county in 1997 broke their earliest recorded date record. The highlights of the butterfly year came in May. a visit to Lagafater Lodge in the extreme south of Ayrshire (part of the old vice-county 75 which is still used for recording purposes) saw the discovery of an immense colony of Green Hairstreaks, probably numbering thousands or possibly even tens of thousands. All other known colonies in the county pale by comparison. At the end of the month the Dingy Skipper was rediscovered after a four year gap. It seems that the species is hanging on at very low densities as an Ayrshire resident. Many of the June emergent species fared well, especially Meadow Brown and Ringlet which were seen in unprecedented numbers. Northern Brown Argus experienced a resurgence and the Large Skipper's known distribution was greatly expanded. The two fritillaries also did very well. Three new colonies of Grayling were found in July - surely more will turn up in old pit bings and quarries? The Purple Hairstreak was the last butterfly to appear, on the 27th July. There were fewer sightings this year, but a lot of observer time was spent searching for this species in new areas (mainly without success!)

 

August saw huge numbers of Small Tortoiseshells, record totals of Peacocks, but only a trickle of Painted Ladies, and by September Red Admiral numbers increased dramatically. The latter species did not peak in October as is usual, but nevertheless at the end of the first week , no fewer than eight species were still on the wing in the county. Amazingly, five of these species lasted into November, and Small White, Green Veined White and Small Copper were probably the latest ever recorded in Scotland. Red Admiral lingered on in Stewarton until the 10th of the month, and Small Tortoiseshell again closed the butterfly year on the 30th when one was observed basking on bracken in Glen App.

 

The Top Ten Based on the number of different Ordnance Survey 1km squares for which records were received, the 'Top Ten' Ayrshire butterflies of 1997 are listed below with the previous year positions for comparison.

   

    1997

    1996

     Species

    1.

    1.

     Green-veined White

    2.

    2.

     Small Tortoiseshell  

    3.

    5.

     Meadow Brown

    4.

    4.

     Small White

    5.

    6.

     Red Admiral

    6.

    7.

     Small Copper

    7.

    8.

     Small Heath

    8.

    -

     Ringlet

    9.

    10.

     Peacock

    10.

    -

     Orange-tip

 

Systematic List

The systematic list follows the sequence used in Thomson's 'The Butterflies of Scotland'.

 

Large Skipper  Ochlodes venata
STATUS:  Locally common resident in the south of the county - may be spreading northwards.
The Large Skipper experienced a bumper year in the county, and fifteen tetrads were added to its known distribution. This figure equalled the combined number found in the previous four years and has brought about a revision of the species' status in Ayrshire. In common with many other butterflies, the Large Skipper appeared very early in the year when a male was reported from a coastal site south of Lendalfoot on 2nd June. This was quickly followed by another nearer Kennedy's Pass on the 3rd and a further two males south of Lendalfoot on the 6th. The Large Skipper was found to be quite widespread in the afforested areas north of Dailly, although numbers were generally low. A maximum count of eight was reported from the Dailly-Wallacetown area on 21st June. The largest count ever of this species was obtained on the 29th of the month when an incredible 33 were reported from the Muck Water-Clanmore Forest area near Pinwherry. In July, three were noted at Tranew Flushes, 2km SE of Kirkmichael on the 8th. This equals the farthest north that the Large Skipper has been recorded in the county to date and is also the most easterly record. The butterfly was reported in small numbers up to the middle of the month and latest records were of two near Colmonell on the 19th and a final single male south of Lendalfoot on the 22nd.

 

Dingy Skipper  Erynnis tages
STATUS:  Very scarce resident - appears to be exclusively coastal.
One of the undoubted highlights of 1997 was the rediscovery of the Dingy Skipper, after a four year gap, when it was feared that the species was lost to Ayrshire. Indeed, since the report began there has only been one record of a single individual at a site south of Lendalfoot on 29th May 1993.  An incredulous (and diligent!) observer found one at a site north of Lendalfoot on 28th May. The individual was still present on the following day and a search of an adjacent area provided yet another. A second observer visited the site on 31st May and after much frustrated searching finally located a singleton of this elusive species. It may well be that the Dingy Skipper appears earlier than was previously thought and it would seen advisable to look for this species from early May onwards in 1998.

 

Large White  Pieris brassicae
STATUS:  Fairly common resident migrant - abundant in some years.
After a promising start, the Large White suffered yet another rather poor year in the county with records received being down by over 30%. The species dropped out of the 'Top Ten' for the first time since the report began in 1993. The butterfly was first noted on the rather early date of 14th May when a female was seen along the disused railwayline in Newmilns. Another early report concerned a single at Symington on the 15th and further individuals were seen on the 19th at Prestwick and Kilmaurs. Thereafter the Large White was widely reported but numbers were very low. The maximum spring count was of five at Auchincruive on 28 May. Ailsa Craig (as last year) provided the season's top count when 12 were seen on 14th June. Second brood numbers continued to be low with a top count of only nine at Auchincruive on 18th August. There were regular reports throughout August continuing until mid-September. Final records were of singles at Troon and Shewalton on 25th, two at Prestwick on the 29th and a late individual at Auchincruive on 8th October.

 

Small White  Pieris rapae
STATUS: Common resident and migrant - abundant in some years.
In contrast to its larger relative, the Small White experienced yet another good year in Ayrshire after a slow start, and records were up by 20% from 1996. First reports came on 16th April concerning three at Auchincruive, and a single in Kilmarnock. A Kilmaurs garden one on the 19th, and five were seen in the Kilmarnock area along with two at Knockentiber on the 20th. Spring numbers were generally low, and a maximum count of nine was obtained from Auchincruive on 28th May. The butterfly was seen in small numbers throughout June and July, but in August the population increased dramatically. Noteworthy counts were received as follows: 85 in a field between Stevenston and Kilwinning on the 9th, 68 at Chapeldonan on the 17th, 42 at Auchincruive, 75 between Sallochan and Polcardoch farms, Ballantrae and 115 between Portandea and Ballantrae on the 18th, and 75 near Adamton House, Monkton on the 23rd. It was in September however that the highest count was reported when 150 were present between Balkenna and Chapeldonan on the 21st. The Small White continued to thrive in October and 32 were still present between Dipple and Burnside Nursery on the 7th. A single was seen at Fenwick on the 18th and two were recorded near Girvan on the 19th. Final reports were of a single at Auchincruive on the 21st, and a fresh male at Chapeldonan on the extremely late date 0f 2nd November - almost certainly a third brood individual.

 

Green-veined White  Pieris napi
STATUS:  Resident - abundant in all suitable habitat.
The Green-veined White had an incredibly good year, with earliest and latest ever recorded dates.  As usual the butterfly had a well co-ordinated emergence with singles being noted at Ballantrae Cemetery, Old Toll Ayr, Dean Lane Kilmarnock and Drybridge on 12 April. The 14th provided further records from Springbank Pit, Tarbolton (2) and Prestwick. By the 20th of the month no less than 13 were seen  on Shewalton Moss - a date still two days earlier than the previous records of 1995. Counts on excess of 100 are too numerous to mention, but the following were noteworthy: 255 Northcraig Reservoir area on 24th May, 495 Stinchar Bridge -Rowantree Toll - Shalloch Well - Nick 'o' th' Balloch - Auchalton Meadows SWT on 4th June and 206 Corsehouse Reservoir on 16th August.  By September numbers had declined considerably, although 59 between Chapeldonan and Burnside Nursery on the 21st was exceptional. It was on October, however, that the real surprise came. In the previous four years of the Report there had been only one October record of Green-veined White - Chapeldonan 7th October 1995. This year 50 individuals were seen, mainly in the Chapeldonan - Girvan Mains area, including several mating pairs. On the second of the month, 33 were present and the species was seen regularly up until the 23rd.  An observer searching for late Red Admirals on 2nd November was amazed to find two fresh females at Chapeldonan. A single female was still on the wing in the same area on the 7th of the month - a date which is most certainly the latest ever recorded on Scotland and probably the only occasion that the species has run to a third brood.

 

Orange-tip   Anthocharis cardamines
STATUS:  Fairly common resident and possible migrant - appears to be spreading in the county.
This species had another good year in the county and records received increased by over 5% compared with 1996. Sixty tetrads and six 10km squares were added to its known distribution in Ayrshire. The Orange Tip was yet another butterfly to appear early, when one was noted in the Linekiln area of Ayr on 16th April, followed by one at Dam Park, Ayr on 22nd. This was followed by sightings of single males at Craigfin Wood and on the disused railwayline at Knockentiber on the 27th. On 30th April a female was discovered roosting in Eglinton CP at 2030hrs. Although widely reported, numbers were generally low. The following counts were noteworthy: 13 Heads of Ayr on 4th May; 11 Knockentiber disused railway on the 19th; nine males between Stinchar Bridge and Tairlaw Toll on the 25th; 15-20 in the Harpercroft - Catcraig area near Symington on the 27th; 10 Glengennet Forest on the 31st and 10 on the disused railway between Knockentiber and Springside on the same day. It would seem that the Orange Tip had an early start and finish to the season as June records were rather sparse. Final reports concerned four males at Knockentiber on the 10th, at least two males at Meiklewood, Fenwick and a single at Craigens Hill near Kirkoswald on the same day.

 

Green Hairstreak  Callophrys rubi
STATUS:  Locally common resident in suitable habitat - especially upland forestry edges.
The Green Hairstreak was another species that had an outstanding year in Ayrshire with eighteen Tetrads and four 10km squares being added to its known distribution in the county. Records received were up by no less than 125%! The first was seen near Glen App on the amazingly early date of 12th April - some nine days ahead of the earliest Scottish date published on Thomson's The Butterflies of Scotland. A single was found near Lochspouts Res. on the 19th and a further six were seen at the Glen App site on the 20th. Perhaps the major Ayrshire butterfly discovery of 1997 came on 2nd May when 151 were counted between Shennas and Lagafater Lodge in the extreme south of the county. These were seen virtually from the roadside and the area could well contain a population of thousands (perhaps even tens of thousands!). Other counts paled by comparison, although the following were noteworthy: 15 Glenouther Moor on 19th May and 23 Corsehouse Reservoir on the 24th. The Green Hairstreak was discovered for the first time in the Dalmellington area when one was reported from Bellsbank Forest on the 25th. As with Orange Tip, the season started and finished early and there was only one June sighting - that of a single at White Scaurins on the 4th.

 

Purple Hairstreak  Neozephyrus quercus
STATUS:  Scarce resident in oak woodlands in the south of the county - perhaps locally common.  Formerly overlooked.
Compared with the excitement of the previous year, the Purple Hairstreak's 1997 season appeared rather mundane. Although searched for in suitable looking areas, only one Tetrad was added to the 1996 figure. The species' known sites were visited from the beginning of July, but it wasn't until the 27th that two were found in Glen App. The following counts were received from the butterfly's best known colony south of Ballantrae when 20 were seen in under one hour on 7th August and 26 were present on the 18th. On the same day a female was seen in a small oak tree near Portandea - the only new Tetrad for the year. These last two sightings were the final one for the year. For the first time, eggs were found on 9th February.

 

Small Copper  Lycaena phlaeas
STATUS:  Common and widespread resident - appears to be increasing.
The Small Copper continues to thrive in Ayrshire as its position in this year's 'Top Ten' confirms and records increased by 25% from 1996. Eighty four Tetrads and four 10km squares were added to its known distribution. The Small Copper is now seen regularly in urban areas. The season began very early when a single was reported from Bentfield, Prestwick on 11th May. Other sightings quickly followed including: one at Townholm, Kilmarnock on the 13th, singles at Bonnyton and Bringan Ford, Kilmarnock on the 14th along with two at Shewalton on the same day. Notable spring brood counts included 29 Gailes Plantation on 28th May and 22 Shewalton on 1st June. The last of the spring brood was reported from Drumgrain Plantation near Dunlop on 28th June. By 19th July the second brood was on the wing at Bentfield and the butterfly was widely reported throughout August and September. Noteworthy counts were as follows: 32 Shaw Bridge, Kilmaurs on 23rd August; 44 in the same area on the 24th and 23 Townholm, Kilmarnock on the 25th. On the 19th September, 14 were still present at Hunterston. The species ran to a third brood was reported quite frequently throughout October - five were seen between Dipple and Burnside Nursery on the 7th - and the species was still present at Chapeldonan on the 26th. November saw the first ever Ayrshire (and probably Scotland) record of Small Copper when two were seen performing their elaborate ritual courtship at Chapeldonan on the 2nd of the month. Examples of the beautiful blue-spotted
caeruleopunctata form reported from Girvan Mains, Prestwick and Auchalton Meadows SWT.

 

Northern Brown Argus   Aricia artaxerxes
STATUS:  Scarce resident - appears to be exclusively coastal in central and southern parts of the county.
1997 was a much better year for the Northern Brown Argus and its distribution in the county was increased by five tetrads and one 10km square. The butterfly was yet another species to put in an early appearance when one was seen at a site to the north of Lendalfoot on 4th June. Another was found in the same area on the 6th. On the 15th, 11 were recorded at Dowan Hill, Ballantrae and thereafter the Northern Brown Argus was seen regularly in small numbers. On 3rd July, the butterfly was observed in four different tetrads in the Lendalfoot area. A coastal walk from Currarie Port to Burn Foot produced another count of 11 on 8th July and the species was recorded up to the 27th of the month. The Northern Brown Argus lingered on into August when one was present at the N Lendalfoot site on the 4th.

 

Common Blue  Polyommatus icarus
STATUS:  Locally common resident - abundant in some areas.
The Common Blue had a very similar season to that of the previous year. Its known distribution in the county was increased by thirty-eight tetrads and three 10km squares. The butterfly was first recorded on 4th June when two were seen in the Lendalfoot area. The following day, two were noted at Mauchline Pit. By the 17th of the month, 39 were present at Gailes Plantation and 53 were observed at the partially destroyed Barony Pit site near Auchinleck. The species' peak numbers appeared to occur around the middle of July and 'hundreds' were reported from Gailes Marsh on the 19th. The colony on Ailsa Craig continues to survive and a good total of 15 was recorded on the 27th. Widely reported throughout August, Common Blue numbers declined drastically in September, although 10 (including a mating pair) were seen at Troon Harbour on the 4th, and the BSC embankment at Hunterston held seven as late as the seventeenth. Thereafter, records were few and far between, but a rather tattered distinctive looking male at Shewalton was observed from the 2nd October up until the thirteenth of the month - only one day short of equalling Ayrshire's latest record.

 

Red Admiral  Vanessa atalanta
STATUS:  Migrant in variable numbers - a few probably overwinter.
Another satisfactory year for this species, with records up by 17% from 1996. Spring records were rather more numerous than usual and the Red Admiral was first noted at Killochhead, between Sorn and Galston, on 11th April. This was followed by two at Dam Park, Ayr on the 22nd and May produced a further thirteen records involving 15 individuals. Although widely recorded throughout June and July, numbers remained low until mid-August when 25 were seen in the Patna - Carskeoch Hill forestry area on the 15th. The following day, 42 were recorded at Lethanhill, Patna. September produced even higher counts as follows: 69 Culzean on the 19th and 21st; 204 (feeding on Ivy) between Marchburn and Finnarts Bay on the 23rd and 61 Auchincruive on the 24th. Numbers declined rapidly after this and the expected October influx did not materialise. Top October counts at Culzean and Auchincruive were only 19 and 32 respectively on the 7th and 8th. The Red Admiral occurred in small numbers up to the last day of the month. There were two November records, both from gardens in Stewarton, of singles on the 4th and 10th.  An interesting record received was of one being caught and eaten by a Great Tit on a Buddleia bush at Templetonburn, Kilmarnock on 28th September.

 

Painted Lady  Vannessa cardui
STATUS: Irregular migrant - usually in small numbers.
What a difference a year makes!  After the record breaking year of 1996, Painted Lady numbers dropped to a mere trickle. Just sixteen records were received, involving 18 individuals. The species experienced its worst year in Ayrshire since 1993 - the only blank year since the Report began. In view of the paucity of reports, all records are listed as follows: "a very tired looking" individual was observed on the windowsill of a house in St. Andrews Drive, Prestwick on the extremely early date of 12th April; one New Farm Loch, Kilmarnock 27th May; one Auchincruive on the 30th; one Meiklewood Interchange, Fenwick on 3rd June; one Crosshill on the 16th; one Dam Park, Ayr on the 17th; one Ardeer Peninsula on the 26th; two Little Rigend Hill forestry, Dalgig on 19th August; one Bowertrapping CP, Dalry on the 24th; one Doonfoot on the same day; one Ayr Railway Station on the 25th; one Glen Farm, Corsecon Hill on the 26th; one Turnberry GC on the 29th; one Knockdolian Hill on the 30th; one Cragie, Ayr on the same day and finally two at Doonfoot on 22nd September. It is to be hoped that the Painted Lady fares better in 1998.

 

Small Tortoiseshell   Aglais urticae
STATUS:  Common and widespread resident and migrant - overwinters.
The Small Tortoiseshell had an incredibly good year in 1997, with reports up by 27% over the record breaking year of 1996. Amazingly there were two January outdoor sightings of singles at Maybole on the 6th and Ardrossan on the 20th. March brought and unprecedented twenty three records involving 30 individuals, commencing with singles at Stevenston Industrial Estate and Wardneuk, Kilmarnock on the 4th, followed by  further singles at Kincaidston Roundabout Ayr, Dean Country Park, Monkton and Prestwick on the 8th. Five were seen on the disused railway track between Newmilns and Darvel on the 11th. There were other March reports from Loans, Kilmaurs, Newmilns, Dalry, Troon, Prestwick, Caprington Castle and Largs. The Small Tortoiseshell was widespread in April and May and noteworthy counts included: 42 Onthank, Kilmarnock and 142 on the disused railwayline between Knockentiber and Springside on 20th April; 52 Monkton and 87 Townholm, Kilmarnock on 1st May; 50 Dalblair - Glenmuirshaw area on the 3rd and 78 Knockshinnoch railway on the 12th. There was a scattering of June records and by late July the summer brood began to blossom. Counts included: 50 Trabboch and 52 Altonhill, Kilmarnock on 24th July, 52 Muirkirk area and 98 Cragiehill Quarry - Cragie village on 6th August; 88 Holehouse Farm - Pundeavon Res., 60 Knokendon Res and a top count of 287 Kilmarnock town centre on the 7th; 116 Muirkirk area and 65 Glenbuck - Sclanor Hill on the 19th; 87 High Overmuir on the 12th; 93 Drumtee forestry and 130 Corsehouse Res. on the 13th; 55 Lethanhill, Patna on the 16th and 94 Dalgig road - Little Rigend Hill on the 19th. By the end of the month, numbers declined dramatically and the only double figure count for September was 10 at Culzean on the 21st. The species was see in ones and twos on October up until the 26th when one was present at Finnart's Bay. November provided two further records of singles at Ayr Academy on the 5th and N Glen App on the very late date of the 30th - a December report must surely come soon!

 

Peacock  Inachis io
STATUS:  Scarce resident and possible migrant, mainly in the south of the county - appears to be increasing in the north. Overwinters.
Another excellent season for the Peacock with eight four tetrads and six 10km squares added to its known distribution. Records increased by nearly 14% from 1996. The first report came extremely early in the year when one was seen in Glenn App on 8th March. Two were seen in the Balnowlart - Knockdolian area on the 23rd and a further two were at Ford Hill, Colmonell on the 31st. Evidence of overwintering in the north of the county was provided when singles were reported from Mauchline Pit on 8th April, Loanfoot near Priestland on the 9th, Saughall near Loudoun Hill on the 15th, and Bonnyton, Kilmarnock on 1st May. The top spring count was of 16 in Changue Forest, Barr on 12th April. The last report of an overwintering individual was from Ferter on 4th June. The first of the summer brood appeared at Knockshinnoch Bing on 3rd August, followed by a single in Dean Lane, Kilmarnock on the 4th. The species' peak numbers occurred in late August and the following very high counts were obtained: 23 High Ballochdowan - Portandea on the 18th; 19 Dalmellington and 47 Rigghead Bing - Little Ringend Hill forest on the 19th; 73 between Dornal and Barjarg on the 22nd and 45 in Corsencon Hill forest on the 26th. Numbers declined markedly in September although 14 were still present at Culzean on the 21st. There were four October records, all of single butterflies: Dunure and Chapeldonan on the 2nd; Culzean on the 7th and a very late individual at Auchincruive on the 22nd.

 

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary  Boloria selene
STATUS:  Resident - locally common in the south, scarcer in the north.
Although records were down by some 32%, the Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary had a reasonably good season. The decrease was mainly due to the fact that the species was being searched for in new areas. Nevertheless, twenty new tetrads and one new 19km square were found to support the butterfly. The Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary has now occurred in no less than thirty Ayrshire 10km squares - not bad for a supposed rare species! The first report of 1997 came on the early date of 28th May, when five were seen in Glen App. A visit there on the 31st produced a good count of 18. June saw several further good counts, including 67 (Ayrshire's highest ever number) at a site near Loudoun Hill on the 16th, 32 in the Loch Bradan area on the 24th, and 21 in the Clanmore Forest near Pinwherry on the 29th. Reports continued to come in for July and 17 were seen in the Dalreoch - Fardon Hills area near Colmonell as late as the 19th. There was a final late single in N Glen App on the 27th.

 

Dark Green Fritillary  Argynnis aglaja
STATUS:  Resident - locally common on some southern and central parts of the county, scarce in the north.
The Dark Green Fritillary had a good season in Ayrshire and records increased by 9% form 1996. The butterfly was found in no less than five new 10km squares and twenty two new tetrads. It appears to be more widespread in the north of the county than was previously thought, although numbers are very low. Singles were reported from Corsehouse Res on 5th July, Cameron's Moss and Moscow on the 22nd. The Dark Green Fritillary was first seen in Glen App where three were present on 15th June. Gailes Plantation saw its first one on the 21st. The Gailes site would appear to be the best (certainly the easiest) place in Ayrshire to see this impressive butterfly and was visited regularly throughout the season. The following good counts were obtained there: 22 (including three of the beautiful Scotica form) on 8th July; "dozens" on the 13th; 29 on the 24th and six still present on 6th August. Other noteworthy records included nine in the Lochspouts Res. - Craigfin Wood area on 26th June;12 Burn Foot on 8th July, 13 Glenbay Farm, Carrick Hills on the 19th and six Croy on the 21st. Small numbers were also reported from Bentfield (Prestwick), Colmonell, Ardeer, Wallacetown - Dailly forestry and Laggan Hill near Girvan. Final sightings were of singles at Currarie Glen on 18th August and Little Rigend Hill forestry on the 19th.

 

Wall Brown  Lasiommata megera
STATUS:  Resident - very local in central and southern parts of the county - mainly coastal.
The Wall Brown had an excellent season in its southern coastal strongholds and it two broods were seen in good numbers. Yet another species to have an early start, the Wall Brown was first reported on 24th May when seven were seen at Currarie Port and eight in the Lendalfoot area. The butterfly probably emerged quite a few days earlier than this, as some of the individuals seen were quite faded. The top first brood count reported was of 14 at Dowan Hill, Ballantrae on 2nd June (11 there on the 15th). The last of the first brood was seen at a S Lendalfoot site on the 16th. The first second brood butterflies were on the wing on 18th August when no less than 18 were present in the Currarie area and yet another good count of 15 was obtained from the Portandea - Burn Foot coastal path. It was on the 30th, however, that Ayrshire's largest ever count was recorded when 23 were seen near Knockdolian Hill. The only September report was of three at Currarie Port on the 10th. Six tetrads were added to the Wall Brown's distribution, bringing the Ayrshire total to twenty three.

 

Scotch Argus  Erebia aethiops
STATUS:  Resident - abundant in the south of the county - rare in central and northern areas.
This species had a better than average year and records received increased by nearly 29% from 1996. Thirty tetrads and five 10km squares were added to its county distribution. In common with most other species, the Scotch Argus put in an early appearance when singles were seen at two sites in Glentrool Forest on 21st July. This was followed by another single near Glen Farm, Corsencon Hill on the 25th. August provided the following noteworthy counts: 57 Glengennet Forest - Craig Hill on the 3rd; 46 Lamdoughty Hill, Straiton on the 4th; 63 Campbell's Hill forestry, Dalmellington on the 5th; 156 Claughrie Hill, south of Crosshill on the 7th; "hundreds" Loch Doon road on the 7th and 142 Little Rigend Hill forestry on the 19th. Two 10km squares in the east of the county were added to the species' distribution on 10th August when two were seen along the disused railway west of Muirkirk and a single was observed in a gully at Sclanor Hill, Glenbuck. The latest sighting occurred in Clanmore Forest near Pinwherry when four were reported on 30th August.

 

Grayling  Hipparchia semele
STATUS:  Resident - fairly common in suitable coastal habitats - scarce inland.
The Grayling had a rather short but nevertheless satisfactory season in 1997 with records up by some 13%. The butterfly was first reported on 26th June when two were seen at the end of the Ardeer peninsula. This was followed by four at Pinbain Burn on the 29th. The species was widely reported in small numbers from coastal sites throughout July - the top count being of 26 in the Turnberry Point area on the 12th. It was inland that the Grayling excelled itself and two new 10km squares were added to its distribution when the butterfly was located at Skares Pit and on a small bing at Trabboch. Only a single was noted at Traboch on 24th July, but two visits to the Skares site produced a healthy population of 23 on 25th July and 30 as late as 19th August. The Moorfields site in Kilmarnock continues to thrive with 35 present on 12th July, building to an excellent 114 by the 19th. A single at Cragiehill Quarry on 6th August was the first for over a decade. The season finished rather early with a report of a single south of Dunure on 25th August.

 

Meadow Brown  Maniola jurtina
STATUS:  Common and widespread resident.
The Meadow Brown had a superb season in 1997 as its position in the current "Top Ten" testifies. Records were up by 36% from 1996 and no less than one hundred and nineteen tetrads were added to its distribution. The year started ridiculously early when a fresh male was seen at Springbank Pit, Tarbolton on 6th June. Indeed, the next report didn't come until the 20th when one was seen at nearby Sandyford.  By the 22nd, 23 were present at Barony Pit, Auchinleck and no less than 46 were seen at Springbank Pit by the 28th of the month. The Meadow Brown's emergence appeared to peak in the middle third of July and the following high counts were received: "hundreds" at Gailes Plantation on the 10th, 18th and 19th; 125 on the disused railwayline between Knockentiber and Springside, 247 behind Western Road Tip, Kilmarnock and 196 Turberry GC on the 12th; 109 Dalreoch Hill - Fardon Hill, Colmonell on the 19th; 133 Gass Water - Glenmuir Forest on the 20th and 167 (in 70mins) Gailes Plantation on the 24th.  On 9th August, 141 were seen between Troon Baths and the Harbour, but, thereafter numbers quickly declined, although 31 were present between Portandea and Burn Foot as late as the 18th. The Meadow Brown was reported sparingly until the 30th of the month, when one was seen at Bentfield, Prestwick. There was only one September record, when four were reported from the favoured Troon Harbour site on the 4th.

 

Small Heath  Coenonympha pamphilus
STATUS:  Common and widespread resident.
This butterfly continues to do well in Ayrshire and records were up by 9% from last year's very good season. The Small Heath has an early start in 1997 and was recorded from Glenbay Farm in the Carrick Hills (6), Glen Tig (6) and Currarie Port (1) on 24th May. By the 31st, a massive count of 101 was obtained in N Glen App. High numbers were recorded throughout June and July as follows: 90 in the Berry Hill - Rottenburn Bridge area on 14th June; 88 Glen App - Auchincrosh and 81 Craigens Hill forestry on the 15th; 73 Wallacegill Muir on the 17th; 120 Muck Water - Clanmore Forest, Pinwherry on the 29th; 246 Beoch Lane, Dalgig on 6th July; 71 Glenbuck - Sclanor Hill on the 17th; 115 Gass Water - Glenmuir Forest on the 20th and 109 Gailes Marsh on the 24th.  By the beginning of August, Small Heath numbers had declined considerably, although 49 were still at Gailes Plantation on the 6th. The species had a rather early finish to the season and final reports concerned 15 at Gailes Marsh on the 19th and seven at Shewalton on the 21st.

 

Large Heath  Coenonympha tullia
STATUS:  Resident - not uncommon on boggy moorland areas.  Probably under-recorded.
The Large Heath had a rather average year and records were down by 18% from 1996. Nevertheless, twelve tetrads and three 10km squares were added to its known distribution. It is possible that the species 'fooled' observers by having a very early season. The butterfly was first reported from Corsehouse Res, where two were seen on 10th June. This was followed by a single resembling the 'Darvus' form at Auchincrosh, Glen App on the 15th. Noteworthy counts included: seven in the Clanmore Forest - Muck Water area on 29th June; 17 Corsehouse Res on 5th July and a single at Red Burn, Knockencorsan, NE of Largs on the 13th, this being a completely new area for the species. Final reports were of two on Red Moss in the Carrick Hills on 19th July and 10 in the Gass Water - Glenmuir Forest area on the 20th.

 

Ringlet  Aphantopus hyperantus
STATUS:  Resident - common in central and southern parts of the county.  Scarce in the north but may be increasing.
The Ringlet had its best year ever in the county since the Report began in 1993. Records received increased by 84% from 1996. A freshly emerged individual was seen at Dowan Hill. Ballantrae on 15th June, beating the 1995 Mauchline record by three days. Other early records were of nine in the Kilgrammie - High Mains forestry, Dailly on the 21st and 19 at Barony Pit, Auchinleck, plus a single at Mauchline Pit on the following day. In July, there were some exceptional counts: 51 Craig Hill - Glengennet Forest and an incredible 399 in the Barr - Auchensoul Hill area on the 12th and 369 in the Dalreoch - Fardon Hills - Colmonell area on the 19th. By the end of the month, numbers had dwindled to single figures and by August were a mere trickle. Nine were seen at Laggan Hill, Girvan on the 4th along with a single at Highfield on the same day. Although the Ringlet's season finished early, a final single reported Currarie Glen on 18th August equalled the latest ever Ayrshire record.

 

Acknowledgements
I should like to thank everyone who contributed to the 1997 report and hope that they (and others!) will continue to provide records in the future. After compiling the Ayrshire Butterfly Report for its first five years, I am handing over the reins to Fraser Simpson who will produce the 1998 edition. I am grateful to Fraser for his assistance in the production of the current issue.

 

List of contributors
H. Bartlem,  Dr J.P. Black,  Dr J. Bruce,  R. Callaghan,  M. Chalton,  A. Davidson, Mrs B. Davidson,  S. Davidson,  W.A. Davidson,  S. Fisher,  Miss K. Fraser, D. Galbraith,  D. Given,  D.W. Given,  Miss S.L. Given, G. Graham,  Mrs J. Hegan, R.H. Hogg,  P. Mackie, M. McCormick,  G. McDonald, P. McEwen,  J. McGrady, Mrs A. Palmer,  K. Palmer,  S. Palmer,  G.B. Pollock,  J.G. Rankin,  Dr N. Rankin, D. Rennie,  G. Shaw,  A. Simpson, F. Simpson,  A. Stevenson,  Mrs M.H. Turner, A. Vance,  J. Willet,  B. Zonfrillo.

 

For details of the latest Ayrshire Butterfly Report - click here

 

 


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