Warm temperatures during the latter part of the opening week of April encouraged a minimum of eight species of butterfly onto the wing at Tophill Low NR in East Yorkshire, including Peacock Aglais io and Comma Polygonia c-album, with the first Orange Tip Anthocharis cardamines noted from the 8th.
Scarce Fungus Weevil Platyrhinus resinosus are sporadically recorded on site, but have become annual in recent years, so one on April 8th was not entirely unexpected – but seeing a day total of four, including these three together on single a Cramp Ball Daldinia concentrica was something of surprise – April 8th accounted for a good year of records for this species.
The metallic green tachinid Gymnocheta viridis is often encountered on sunny days in the spring, while the mild temperatures of March and early April predictably encouraged Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula to take to the wing, with the first seen on April 15th – equalling the earliest ever Tophill date for this species set in 2012. The only previous early dates relative to this are April 16th 2011 and April 17th 2007.
Orthosia season has proved to be a fantastic period for moth trapping. Over the period 1994-2016, a total of 472 Common Quaker O. cerasi were trapped at Tophill Low NR – the period March 11th-April 14th saw 498 taken at light. With only five individuals recorded between 2001-2016, Early Grey Xylocampa areola is considered a rare site species, but following the sixth ever Tophill record on March 13th, a further seven were trapped by mid-April, including three on the 3rd.
The first of the spring Purple Thorn Selenia tetralunaria was trapped on April 14th. The more plain, but incredibly site notable, Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla on April 1st was only the ninth record since 1996, while Muslin Moth Diaphora mendica first trapped on April 5th followed by others in the month to date, suggest this species may be recorded more often than in previous years.
The April warmth has encouraged numerous Ladybird Coccinellidae to appear in the open, this one of many Kidney-spot Ladybird Chilocorus renipustulatus showing well at the minute, with one count including 23 on one tree early in the month. The scarcer site species Larch Ladybird Aphidecta obliterate was first seen on April 1st – pictures of this and others here on the blog written by Paul Ashton.
This full adult summer Little Egret Egretta garzetta on April 13th was amongst up to a minimum of 10 individuals seen on site this month. The Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis remained until the 15th at least, along with the Goosander Mergus merganser. A 1st summer Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus was at Watton NR on the 13th, while winter migrants continue to show, with Brambling Fringilla montifringilla present almost daily from the 3rd and a few winter thrushes Turdus in evidence.
Many summer migrants are now present, including Little-ringed Plover Charadrius dubius displaying on the southern marshes. As ever, for the latest site news, check out the Tophill blog and twitter feed.