Butterflies - 1980:
1980 will not be remembered as a hot summer with good butterfly weather, so it was surprising that it turned out to be a good Painted Lady year. The invasion started in June when quite a number of specimens were recorded in various parts of the county, and when the next generation appeared in August and September there was little problem in getting records of this species from the six squares from which it had not been recorded since 1960. There were, of course, also a fair number of Red Admirals, particularly in September, and when this species was reported from a garden in Neston (SJ27) it too had reached the 100% category. That other delightful migrant, the Clouded Yellow, did not have a good year but some were reported in Cornwall in June and one was seen by J.Guest near Northwich, and one by B.R.Dickson at Heswall, both in August.
Of our resident species we had a good report of an established (but restricted) locality for the Orange Tip in SJ29 so that too has now been recorded in all the 30 squares on which our records are based. We had no further records of the Common Blue, still missing from SJ68 and 99, and searched for unsuccessfully in both; one new records either for the Small Heath although it was seen many times in its known habitats while still missing from ten squares. There were additional records of Holly Blue (SJ45), Speckled Wood (SJ64) Gatekeeper (SJ20 & 67) and Brimstone (SJ86). The Comma seems to have has a good season although not seen outside the 20 squares from which it had already been recorded; the Wall was particularly numerous in its second brood.
The end of 1980 is the deadline by which the "Atlas of the British Butterflies" goes to press; it is six years since our campaign started with the status at the end of 1974. In this time we have increased the number of records (one species in one square being defined as a record in this context) from 257 to 538. It is now time to stop 'playing the numbers game' and to concentrate on specific problems of the status and distribution of certain species.
We now have 12 species recorded in all 30 10km squares making up Cheshire, although two of these species are not amongst those listed initially as probables. Of the other 18 species listed for Cheshire, the Common Blue and Small Heath have already been referred to and must form the subject of future study. Several of the other species, Brimstone, Comma, Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper, Holly Blue, White-letter Hairstreak, Green Hairstreak and Dingy Skipper are evidently well established and more widespread than seemed to be the case six years ago. The absence of the Grayling outside of the Wirral Coastal area is perhaps surprising as it is well established in a disused sand quarry near Wrexham, only a couple of miles outside our borders. The status of the Dark Green Fritillary, the Ringlet and the Grizzled Skipper appear tenuous or even doubtful, while the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, the Purple Hairstreak and the Small Skipper are well established but evidently very restricted in range.
Moths - 1980:
1980 was a general poor year for moth collecting and therefore for recording; when the daytime weather was good (which was not often) the nights were clear and cool and few moths came to the lights, but for much of the year, particularly June and July when collecting should be at its peak, the weather was poor and very little was on the wing. My garden trap recorded only 157 species of macro-moth which was 29 less than the worst of the previous three years. Other trap operators report similarly disappointing results and some have hardly added to their species lists at all.
There have, however, been a trickle of records from some of the original ten squares with over 200 species resulting in a further five species being added to the 'A' list. Two interesting 'Moth Evenings' in the Altrincham/Hale area resulted in several additions to the records for SJ78, as did the continued operation of the trap at Rostherne.
In the three squares which reached 200 species in 1979 there were a few additions and, mainly due to the efforts of W.Hardwick, SJ57 has now reached the 200 total while three others (SJ29, 46 & 98) stand at about 180 species each. In SJ46 John Carter and I have had three very interesting nights at the Hockenhull Platts Nature Reserve, recording about 100 species about half of which were new to the square and these included three which had not been recorded in the County since 1960.
Investigations into some of the single records have convinced me that four species should be removed from the list either because their identity is unproven and circumstances make them improbable or because a good record was actually pre 1960 although it had not been so annotated.
As last year, I've given details of additions (and subtractions) on a separate sheet sent only to those actually recording moths. My appeal last year for more search to be made for moths which fly in the early part of the year and are consequently under recorded had very little effect. This time I have drawn attention to the number of day-flying moths which do not of course enter our light-traps and therefore tend to be missed.
Dragonflies - 1980:
In this latitude few Odonata are on the wing before June, so the early fine weather did not benefit the Odonatist. June and July are usually the best months but there were so few opportunities to record at this time that most of the season's recording was done in August and September and concerned the later species. There were 26 new records which together with some earlier records after the last summary was written, bring the total to 174, an average of nearly 6 species per 10km square.
Regrettably therefore, out 1980 objectives were not fully achieved; we did manage additional records in six of our eight worst squares and now only SJ38 and SJ75 have only TWO species recorded whilst all the other squares have three or more. Coenagrion puella was found in two more squares and Ischnura elegans in five more, these two standing equal at 27 with Aeshna grandis on 24; 1981 should see all these up to 100.
There were few reports of the rarer species, the best being a third site for Erythromma najas in one of the 'flashes' at Sandbach. There were four new records for Lestes sponsa which more than doubles the number of records for this species.
Our efforts in 1980 were mainly concentrated on ponds; we clearly need to pay more attention to the species which live in running water, particularly the two demoiselles.
C.I. Rutherford - (01625-583683)