Butterflies - 1982:
It was fortunate that "Butterfly Year" was designated to cover two summers as 1982 proved to be as good as 1981 was bad. The common resident species all did well and were reinforced by the arrival at the end of May of Red Admirals and Painted Ladies whose offspring were particularly numerous in the late summer, with the Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells they made a memorable show on the buddleia in August.
New records this year are mainly due to my having established contact with two new recorders. In the North Philip Jackson has been working the Woolston Eyes in SJ68 for the last two summers and has recorded Common Blue, Small Heath and Small Skipper all new to the square. This was one of the two squares for which we had no record of the Common Blue and when I visited this site this butterfly was more numerous than I have seen it anywhere else in Cheshire.
My second new correspondent is Dr. Paul Griffiths who has recorded Brimstone, Comma and Holly Blue in and around his garden in Broomhall in SJ64, all new records for that square.
The other new records this year are of:
The White-letter Hairstreak seems to continue to do well in spite of Dutch Elm Disease while the Small Skipper is either spreading rapidly or has been much overlooked in the past, it is difficult to tell which.
A fourth colony of the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary has been reported by the Nantwich Natural History Society at Cholmondeley in SJ55; they also reported the Holly Blue in Nantwich in 1981, a new record for SJ65.
As last year, we are without recent sightings of the Ringlet and Grizzled Skipper but a belated report of the Dark Green Fritillary near Delamere on the 1st August 1981 is good news and as this is the site of an earlier sighting there is the chance that it is breeding in the district. Other highlights included the Brimstone butterfly was reported by Rob Wynne near Malpas (SJ44), the Green Hairstreak seen by John Oxenham at Brookhouse Moss in SJ86, the Speckled Wood was seen for the first time in SJ87 by Jack Swan at Jodrell Bank on the 9th September, and a fourth colony of the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary has been reported by the Nantwich Natural History Society at Cholmondleyin SJ55 - they also reported that the Holly Blue was seen in Nantwich in August 1981 (a new record for SJ65).
Moths - 1982:
After several rather poor years 1982 was certainly well above average and our records, though patchy, reflect this increased activity. My own garden trap recorded well over 200 species for the first time for several years and these included seven species not seen here before though two of them were not new to SJ87. I did nevertheless add seven species to the SJ87 card due to the identification of two 'pugs' taken in 1981 but not determined by genitalia examination until the early part of 1982.
The disappointing feature of 1982 was the lack of records for the other nine squares upon which our prime analysis is based; from five of them I received no records and from the other four just seven records in all, these included the very good record of the Manchester Treble-Bar at Wybunbury Moss (SJ65) by Ian Wallace.
There was however, a good flow of records for most of the other squares for which we have good lists with 22 new species in SJ98 topping the list and 14 in SJ46 and 9 in SJ44 also worthy of mention. We also have a new square entering the picture for the first time; SJ64 where Dr Griffiths has recorded over 200 species in his first two full seasons with a trap.
The year saw seven additions to our 1961-onwards County list and some of these came from the extremities of the County, for example: the Feathered Ranunculous from Hilbre Island (SJ18), the Dusky Sallow from Risley Moss (SJ69), Haworth's Pug from Hazel Grove (SJ98) and the Small Purple Barred from Broomhall (SJ64). One of the highlights of the season was the reappearance of the Red Underwing, only one specimen had been seen in Cheshire in the last 20 years, at Cranage (SJ76) in 1979. In 1982 a specimen came to light at Hockenhull Platts on the 1st August, and another to my trap at Alderley Edge (SJ87) on the 14th September, whilst one was also seen at Broomhall. I have heard that it is also reappearing in South Yorkshire after a long absence.
Details of the records are given on a separate sheet sent only to those who record moths.
Dragonflies - 1982:
The weather was as good for Odonata as it was for butterflies with plenty of warm sunshine to encourage flight but interspersed with wet spells that ensured that none of the breeding grounds dried up. In spite of this the number of new records is about two thirds of what it has been in each of the last two years but this is just a manifestation of the 'Law of Diminishing Returns'.
Of the four commonest species not already recorded from all thirty squares there were several additional records and Sympetrum striolatum, whose total now stands at 22, is the most widely recorded of these. Aeshna juncea and Sympetrum scoticum were also found in new sites. Many of these new records were the result of the work of an active team of recorders based on Hazel Grove and lead by Stephen Hind.
As forecast in my note two years ago, considerable effort was expended on rivers rather than ponds with the object of learning more about the distribution of the two Demoiselles. Agrion splendens, the commoner of the two in Cheshire was known to occur on the Dee in SJ46 and was found plentifully upstream from there to the point where the river first enters the county thus adding SJ44 and SJ45. The only other river for which we had records was the Weaver and here again going upstream from the known localities new ones were found in SJ64 and 54; it was also found commonly on the Dane (a tributary of the Weaver) in SJ76 up to a point a quarter of a mile from SJ86 though it was absent from an apparently suitable stretch of river in that square. Agrion virgo prefers faster flowing water, our only recent record has been from Reaseheath on the Weaver in SJ65 but it too was found further up that river in SJ64. There is obviously scope for further work on these species and observations made by fishermen and bird-watchers would be welcome.
Last year (1981) I mentioned nine species occurring at Risley Moss Country Park (SJ69); work was carried out there by a "Watch" team to survey the nymphs and this was followed up by work on the adults, particularly at a Field Meeting of the LCES on 24th July when the presence of two further species Enallagma cyathigerum and Lestes sponsa was confirmed. The Moss now has at least 11 species, the same number as the whole of SJ57 which includes the mosses and meres of the Northern part of Delamere Forest and which is second only to SJ56 in total number of species recorded.
Just prior to 'going to press' I have received a report of the Golden-ringed Dragonfly Cordulegaster boltonii being seen near Budworth Mere. This record requires confirmation as it is many years since this species was recorded in Cheshire but it is one I have always hoped would be found and as it is unlike any other it should be easily identified.
C.I. Rutherford - (01625-583683) January