The Butterflies Of Northamptonshire in 2021
Butterfly recording proved to be rather a challenge during 2021 as the seemingly endless run of unsettled weather continued throughout the year. Spring was changeable and although there was some occasional fine weather it was chiefly dominated by unsettled conditions. Summer started well but by mid July it had turned cooler with a thundery breakdown and what followed was weeks of cloudy days with limited sunshine which pretty much lasted for the rest of the year. However, despite this we still managed to receive 19,906 records detailing the distribution of 64,446 individual butterflies which is a remarkable achievement. The below accounts of course could not be possible without the hard work and dedication of the local butterfly recorders out there so many thanks for all of your records. An extra special thank you has to go to the transect walkers who took the time to walk their chosen routes each week despite the prolonged gloomy weather making the effort at times seem pointless. Of course there is no such thing as a wasted day recording and it is just as important, in many respects more so, to record during the poorer seasons as it is the good ones. The data below is compiled from UKBMS transect walks, WCBS survey squares, the Big Butterfly Count and casual records sent to me directly or added to iRecord. The use of the excellent iRecord recording platform has been steadily increasing each year and remains the favourite way of submitting records. At the time of writing I am still waiting for the Garden Butterfly Survey and Migrant Watch records but these will be added to the annual dataset in due course. It is also worth mentioning that we received a lot more records in 2020 than we did in 2021 so this needs to be taken into consideration when comparing butterflies on an annual basis so each species will also be compared to the 5 year average. Looking forward to 2022 I am pleased to say that spring and summer events put on by the local Beds and Northants branch of Butterfly Conservation are now already in the pipeline. These walks and open days are well worth attending and are a great way of receiving expert guidance at some of our key butterfly sites. Winter work parties have also already started so a big thank you to those dedicated folk who regularly roll their sleeves up and get stuck into some practical conservation work. For more information about work parties and future butterfly walks and open days check out the events page on the Beds and Northants Butterfly Conservation branch website (click here). Lastly don't let the below species accounts make you too downhearted. Not every year can be a good one and the poorer years reinforce just how special the better years really are. Let us hope that 2022 brings better weather, many more butterflies and more opportunities to go and record them!
Dave James - Northamptonshire Butterfly Recorder
Chequered Skippers were once again recorded in the release area of Rockingham Forest. For more information keep an eye on the Butterfly Conservation webpage as further news is announced.
Small Skipper, Essex and Large Skipper
All three of our golden Skippers were down from the previous year with the Essex Skipper showing a significant downward drop. The Small Skipper was 24% down from 2020 and 38% down from the five year average, the Essex Skipper was 66% down from the previous year which is 86% down from the five year average and the Large Skipper was 48% down from the previous year which is 37% down from the five year average. These grassland butterflies could be seen anywhere where there is suitable habitat but the best sites were Irchester County Park, the Nene Wetlands and Twywell Hills and Dales. The first Small Skipper was seen on the 15th of June at the Nene Wetlands and the last was seen on the 22nd of August at Titchmarsh. The first Essex Skipper was seen on the 23rd of June at Bradlaugh Fields and the last was seen on the 24th of August near Great Brington. The first Large Skipper was seen on the 8th of August in Fineshade Wood and the last was seen on the 8th of September also in Fineshade Wood.
|Small Skipper, Wootton, 2021|
The Dingy Skipper was recorded in almost identical numbers to the previous year which puts it 19% down from the five year average. A new location for this species was discovered on the 5th of June when one was seen at Fotheringhay Castle. The best sites to see this grassland butterfly were Fermyn Woods Country Park, Harrington Airfield, Old Sulehey, Polebrook Airfield and Twywell Hills and Dales. The first of the year was recorded on the 27th of April at Twywell Hills and Dales and the last of the year was seen on the 22nd of June also at Twywell Hills and Dales.
Similarly to the Dingy Skipper the Grizzled Skipper was recorded in almost identical numbers to the previous year which places it 12% below the five year average. Two new locations were discovered for this spring butterfly with a sizeable colony being found along a footpath north of Southwick Wood and also a few being recorded at Quarry Walk which is south of the river Nene near Grendon. The best places in the county to see this species were Fermyn Country Park, Old Sulehey, Polebrook Airfield and Twywell Hills and Dales. The first Grizzled Skipper of the year was seen on the 19th of April at Twywell Hills and Dales and the last of the year was seen on the 22nd of June also at Twywell Hills and Dales.