Dukes On The Wane

Sadly, the Duke of Burgundy season is now on the wane and my 2013 survey of all Sussex sites will probably be complete by the end of next week. However, there are still some highlights to be enjoyed, such as the count of 9 males at Harting Down this morning (31st May); none were seen here last year. This site is mountain goat territory, and very seldom visited by anyone else, so it's a great place to escape from the crowds and just melt into the landscape. The views across the West Sussex/Hampshire border are spectacular; this morning they were enjoyed to the soundtrack of skylarks and a distant cuckoo.

After a disappointing count (2) at a private site, I headed to Heyshott Escarpment, where once again I was alone with the Dukes. Although I managed a healthy count of 18, including the beautiful female pictured, the numbers are now dropping off. The Duke is no longer the most common species on the slopes, overhauled by both Dingy Skipper (37) and Small Heath (46). The latter seems set for a good season. Other species included Pearl-bordered Fritillary (1), Green Hairstreak (3) and Grizzled Skipper (3). If you haven't had your fill of Dukes yet, get out there this weekend.


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