Butterflies - 1979:
Although 1979 was generally regarded as our third poor summer in a row, it did have its moments and a few butterflies took these as opportunities to get themselves recorded, but of course the law of diminishing returns is making itself felt and there is not a great deal to show for 1979 in the way of plots on the map. We did in fact manage to add a ninth species to those reported in all 30 10km squares; I found the Large Skipper on the Wirral Way at Parkgate (SJ27) and at Ridley Bank (SJ55), while it was reported in fair numbers from the Wildlife Trust Reserve at Compstall (SJ99). We still have no Orange-tip from SJ29 and no Red Admiral from SJ27, although this species was in my garden in ones and twos from mid-August to mid-October. The Common Blue too is still missing from SJ68 and SJ99 although it was seen at points in SJ57 and SJ98 within quite a short distance of these squares, like many insects it had a very late season.
Of our other butterflies the only new records were of the Brimstone in SJ36, the Green Hair-streak in SJ66, the White-letter Hair-streak in SJ98 and the Dingy Skipper in SJ44. Other records of interest, though not new, were the confirmation of the Brimstone at Brereton Heath where both sexes were seen on the wing by Roger Dennis, and the appearance of both the Brimstone and the Holly Blue in my garden (SJ87) for the first time, both broods of the latter were seen on the 1st June and 20th August respectively. Two or three Painted Ladys visited my Buddleia in August and September but I received no other reports of its appearance in Cheshire this year.
At the end of 1980 the "Atlas of the British Butterflies" is due to go to press at Monk's Wood, so this is the last year for us to put Cheshire records into a book which will become the standard reference on butterfly distribution in Britain for many years to come. We must try to ensure that the publication shows our county to be well endowed with both butterflies and lepidopterists, it takes both to make a full map !!
Moths - 1979:
There was a fair indication that moths were either more numerous or more easily trapped than in the previous two years. My garden trap records were about 10% up on species recorded, (1977: 186, 1978:195, 1979: 215), moreover about half a dozen species turned up that I had not seen here in the previous 12 years. Other recorders too, have generally been getting plenty of new records and such nocturnal field work as we have been able to do has been well rewarded.
We have had additional records in most of the ten squares on which last year's analysis was based, though operations in three of them have unfortunately ceased, at least temporarily, in that traps previously run in SJ47 (at Chester Zoo), SJ75 and SJ97 have not been worked. On the other hand, Tom Wall, the warden at Rostherne has been trapping and has added many species to the list for SJ78. Three of the ten squares now have totals over 300 (SJ28, 87 & 88) but even so, they still have a few common insects missing! These records lead to the 'promotion' of six species from the 'B' list to the 'A', of seven from 'C' to 'B', and of nine from 'D' to 'C', while there have been 27 additions to the 'D' list, some being recorded for the first time in Cheshire since 1960. A separate sheet showing promotions and additions is being circulated to recorders.
Progress has not been confined to the original ten squares and three others have now passed the rather arbitrary 200 total:
I have not yet re-done the analysis to include these three squares because there is clearly plenty of scope for further records as the present lists all show several items on our 'A' list as missing so that to include them would reduce that list by about 25 species which does not appear to be really representative.
Other squares coming along well are SJ29 (164 species), SJ46 (149), SJ57 (182), SJ67 (104) and SJ98 (151). Two squares which would surely repay further work are SJ45 and SJ55, which not only have no resident lepidopterist but are a very long way for most to travel to for field work.
Dragonflies - 1979:
In spite of the lack of sunshine during a large part of the Odonata season we have made considerable progress although there are still far too few people showing any real interest in this attractive order.
At the end of last year, I reported a total of 90 records, at the end of 1979 the figure stands at 138, an increase of 50%. A year ago there were eight squares with no record at all, all these squares have been visited and at least one species recorded in each, more in most. We now have four squares (SJ36, 44, 47 & 64) with only one species recorded, and four with only two (SJ38, 45, 75 & 86). The first target to reach in 1980 will be to get these eight squares up to at least three species each.
Aeshna gandis with 16 squares was our most widely reported species, it has risen to 19, but has been overtaken by Coenagrion puella in 25 squares (missing only from SJ36, 46, 47, 66 & 86), with Ischnura elegans a good second on 21 squares; 1980 should see at least one species recorded in every one of our 30 10km squares.
We have no additional species this year but the most noticeable event was a second record for Erythromma najas which is well established at Hatchmere (SJ57); the occurrence of Libellula depressa in the Eastern part of the County (SJ87) was a pleasant surprise, and the confirmation of Cordulia aenea at Abbots Moss was also good news. Sympetrum striolatum has proved to be widespread in the middle part of the county with six new records, one as late as 25th October.
C.I. Rutherford - (Tel.: 01625-583683) January 1980