Heslington East Walk 6th Aug

Fifteen of us ‘did’ Hes East this morning. The weather was much better than the birds! We only managed 32 species, none of them unexpected. We struggled to have even a glimpse of a Reed Warbler for example, and Swallows and Swifts were worryingly thin on the ground. We had just one House Martin, and no Sand Martins. But the wider natural history was enjoyed by all.

The grassy meadows along the side of the lake have matured wonderfully, with plenty of butterflies of 11 species.

The best butterfly of all was an Essex skipper, which has been slowly spreading north with climate change from (you’ve guessed – Essex). Alastair Fitter had his first record at Askham Bog last month, and I think this is the first record from Hes East. They are almost identical to Small Skipper in appearance (which is common on Hes East), the distinguishing feature being the colour of the tip of the underside of their antennae – pale in Small Skipper, black in Essex, and convincingly  photographed by Liz Reynolds.

The other nice butterfly was a newly emerged Brimstone, which will later go into aestivation/hybernation until next spring – the longest adult lifespan of any British butterfly.