Spent yesterday (13 May 2015) transecting the premier sites for DUKE OF BURGUNDY butterflies on the Chiltern Hills and was extremely pleased with results, extensive management and scrub clearance of the slopes really paying off. At the western edge of BISON HILL (WHIPSNADE), I counted no less than 144 DUKE OF BURGUNDY (including groups of up to 10 at a time) as well as 107 DINGY SKIPPER, 57 GRIZZLED SKIPPER and 51 GREEN HAIRSTREAK. The first 2 BROWN ARGUS had emerged, with 4 Common Blue, 14 Small Tortoiseshell, 8 Brimstone,7 Green-veined White and a single Peacock completing the cast. Birdlife on the slopes included GREY PARTRIDGE, GARDEN WARBLER, 4 singing male WILLOW WARBLER and Common Whitethroat.
Not quite so good news from the IVINGHOE HILLS NATURE RESERVE where surveying the 'Duke Gulley' area and neighbouring slopes revealed the presence of just 16 DUKE OF BURGUNDY and a few Dingy Skippers; another singing male GARDEN WARBLER though and displaying Meadow Pipit and Yellowhammer.
Devastating news from managed retreat DANCERSEND NR, where once again I failed to find but a single Duke. What on earth has happened here - the healthy population has crashed? Excellent numbers of Brimstone though (30+) and 2 nice ORANGE-TIP but undoubted highlight was the finding of a MARSH TIT pair feeding young - a species in sharp decline in the Chilterns.