Butterflies - 1981:
Another poor summer for butterflies has meant very few new Cheshire records and not a great many observations of our less common species.
I did receive three new records from W.Hardwick - for Speckled Wood in SJ58, a 1980 record which reached me too late for last year's summary, for Dingy Skipper in SJ66 and, very significantly, Small Skipper from several sites in SJ66 a definite extension of its known range but presumably an extension of our knowledge rather than of its actual range. In addition RobWynne recorded the Speckled Wood at Bradley Common in SJ54, J.Guest found the Dingy Skipper at Witton Lime Beds in SJ67, I.Wallace recorded the Holly Blue in SJ37 and I found the Small Heath on the canal bank near Bunbury in SJ55, the first new square for this butterfly for some years but a square in which we expected to find it as all the adjacent squares have good records; it is still seemingly absent from the flat eastern centre of the County.
1981 was not a good year for migrants and only a few Red Admirals and Painted Ladies were seen late in the Summer but one Clouded Yellow was reported from Reaseheath in SJ65.
A cross-check with the Liverpool Museum Data Bank revealed a few records for earlier years which had not reached me before, as follows: Clouded Yellow in SJ29 in 1980, Gatekeeper in SJ47 and Speckled Wood in SJ27, 36 & 37.
Once again we filed to find Common Blue in either SJ68 or 99, and it is now several years since we had any report at all of Dark Green Fritillary, Ringlet or Grizzled Skipper.
Moths - 1981:
Looking back over the last two or three years I seem to have described each year as being worse than the last. 1981 was no exception: for reasons not obvious the catches in my garden trap in the first half of the year were so low that expeditions further afield just did not seem worthwhile (e.g. 10 moths on 12th June ). In fact our only outing with the generator in the first six months was to Delamere Forest on 31st March (following a catch of 60 moths of 8 species at home on the 29th), we recorded twelve species, two of which were new to SJ57.
In July there was some improvement which culminated in 700 moths on 28th with 67 species including the first Green Arches recorded in Cheshire for over 20 years. At this time many of the common species which had completely failed to appear in May/June turned up in normal numbers in their second broods so that by the year end I had recorded nearly as many species as usual.
Other recorders reported a similar dearth of moths and very few new records came in from any of the regular trap operators. The exceptions were at Reaseheath and Hazel Grove. The Reaseheath trap was operated again by Simon Young after a lapse of some years, this resulted in the addition of seven species to the list for SJ65 which thus became the fourth square to reach a total of 300 species. Progress was also made in SJ98 which became the fifteenth square to pass the 200 mark due to the efforts of Stephen Hind and three of his colleagues in Hazel Grove and two visits by John Carter and myself to the disused railway at Higher Poynton with the MV light. Although there were a few records for SJ29 and SJ46, neither of these has yet reached 200.
If the year lacked quantity, there were at least a few good records; in addition to the Green Arches(Alderley Edge, SJ87) already mentioned there were three other additions to our post 1960 list, namely Small Autumnal Carpet from Hazel Grove (SJ98), Least Black Arches from Burton (SJ37) and Reddish Light Arches from West Kirby (SJ28) the last two by Ian Wallace.
New records of Hawk-moths are not often received so it was particularly pleasing to receive two such records from people who are new to the recording project: Mrs French captured Elephant Hawk in her garden and showed me the specimen before releasing it (SJ56), while Mr Bacon of Wilmslow (SJ88) photographed a Lime Hawk in his garden; although the Wilmslow square has over 300 species recorded this is the first good record for the Lime Hawk there.
A few gaps were filled when Ian Wallace sorted through the records in the Liverpool Museum Data Bank and passed on those I did not have, this included the Chestnut in SJ38 which enabled this common species to reach the 'A' list at last, the only 'promotion' at that level this year. The Dark Dagger, the September Thorn, the Ear Moth, the Spring Usher and the Oak Beauty were moved from 'C' to 'B' on the basis of records received in 1981 but there were no moves from 'D' to 'C'. Current totals are thus:A 114, B 116, C 99 and D 123, giving a grand total of 452 species.
As so little has been recorded this year (1981), rather than circulate notes about a particular group of moths, I have this year prepared some notes on the preparation of 'wing mounts' in the hope that those who do not set their specimens will use this technique to prepare specimens for identification and store them for reference. This could well result in additional records as many of the specimens I am asked to identify are in such poor condition that it is virtually impossible to accept them as a record for something unusual.
Dragonflies - 1981:
Although sunshine is almost as necessary for the Odonatist as for the butterfly recorder considerable progress was made in 1981. Dragonflies do of course concentrate at the water so it was often possible to make full use of what sunny spells did occur, and of course several quite common species had not been fully recorded.
Little difficulty was experienced in finding Coenagrion puella and Ischnura elegans in the last three squares for each in the early part of the summer and later in recording Aeshna grandis in the six squares from which it had not previously been noted. These three have now been recorded in every one of Cheshire's 30 10km squares but in SJ27 and SJ38 they are the only three odonata species which have been recorded, all other squares have at least one other species.
There were new records too for Pyrrhosoma nymphula, Enallagma cyathigerum, Sympetrum striolatum and Aeshna cyanea, each of which has been recorded in between 14 and 20 squares, but none more than 20. How widespread these relatively common species are we shall only learn by further search and study. Of the rather less common species we had two further records each for Lestes sponsa (SJ45 & 78, now in 9 squares) and Libellula quadrimaculata (SJ29 & 65, now in 7 squares), and one each for Libellula depressa (SJ86, now 4) and sympetrum scoticum (SJ45, now 6).
There was news too of the two Demoiselles which inhabit rivers, Agrion splendens was confirmed in SJ46 and found for the first time on the Weaver in Sj67. We had the first report of Agrion virgo for some years, on the Weaver near Reaseheath in SJ65 and this confirmed an earlier report for this square.
Attempts to check up on the earlier records for Coenagrion pulchellum and Brachytron pratense lead us to discount these records, at least for the post 1960 period. In spite of the two deletions we now have a total of 200 records for our 30 squares, an increase of 26 (or almost one per square) over the year.
There is however an additional factor to record: visits have been made to the new Risley Moss Country Park east of Warrington and in SJ69. This square had not previously been worked as it was formerly in Lancashire and even now is only partly in Cheshire. In two visits eight species were recorded, all already on our County list, but including Aeshna juncea (only reported from three other squares); not surprisingly the peaty pools of the Moss support a good population of Sympetrum scoticum, but of the four fairly common species mentioned in para 3 above, neither Enallagma cyathigerum nor Aeshna cyanea was found though the latter has been recorded by Bob Dawson, a Ranger at the Park.
C.I. Rutherford - (01625-583683)