Lucy and I were out on the high bog at Ballinafagh yesterday at a location north of Prosperous suggested by Tadgh of IPCC. Our main target species was the Large Heath – this is the only Irish butterfly on the European red list. Its larval foodplant is Hare’s-tail Cottongrass (which I think is also called single-flowered bog cotton). The temperature was about 20C but it was quite cloudy. So there were no butterflies on the wing but as we walked across the remarkably dry bog we put up four Large Heaths. Lucy chased one down and netted it just to confirm identification (see pic).
We moved on then to Timahoe. There was no sign of its unique resident the Small Skipper but there was plenty to keep our interest even though it was still cloudy. We like the Peacock caterpillars shown here and it would be fun to come back in a few weeks time to look for their pupae. It should be noted that Jesmond and Andrew Harding recorded the first Small Skippers of the year here today – I was busy counting my two transects, the temperature was in the mid-20s in Stacumny this afternoon!
Things have been fairly quite in my garden so far this year which is pretty normal. However, the ragwort in my back garden and the buddleia in my front garden are close to flowering and the first second-brood Small Tortoiseshells have just appeared on my catmint so I’m hoping that numbers will take off soon.