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May Highlights

Picture of the Month

Photo by Trevor Walton on May 12th at Hawnby

From Bad to much Worse! Is there Hope?

Could it get any worse than April? Well Yes! Nothing seen in the garden, transect walkers grounded or walks abandoned half way due to thunder, sleet or rain. Moth traps empty night after night. We are feeling the effects of 'La Nino' the cooling cycle linked to the 11 year cycle of sun spots. The result is a weak Jetstream which has sunk further south and west in an even more convoluted path than April, picking up low pressures and with cold arctic air still streaming into the north sea dumping their rain on the UK. It could prove to be the wettest May in 100 years and certainly in Yorkshire nearly 2-3 months rain has fallen. Average temperatures are down by over 2'C. Effectively we have had April in May. The grasses have flourished but flowering plants have been held back almost frozen in time at the beginning of May and are now at least two weeks behind. Peak daily temperatures have been 11-13'C and insufficient for flight and only Orange Tips seen in the brief sunny intervals. Transect walkers who managed to get out in marginal conditions saw very little with number less than half. Brimstone eggs laid on Buckthorn died in frosts or were predated by hungry birds . The weather finally broke on Friday 28th and a high pressure established over the UK and the long range forecast is for a good June. As I write Brimstones and even Small Tortoiseshell's, that had gone back into hibernation these last 7 weeks have reappeared. Yes , things can bounce back if the survivors get some flight time in the next 10 days. We have had more than 100 sightings come in in the last 3 days of May bringing the total for the month to near 400 although there has been many days of zero through this miserable month. We have had a run of nearly three good years for our butterflies and a disastrous spring is here to test that improvement's resilience. As always with butterflies, we should expect surprises!

This month best picture goes to Jessica Bone, taken in York on 25th April

April Highlights

Old Man Winter delivered icy kisses throughout the month which was dominated by northerly air streams and high pressure anchored over Greenland. Mereologically a weak polar vortex has lead to our jet stream being not only weak but undulating resulting in cold air being sucked out of the Arctic on all three northern hemisphere continents. Greece and Spain have suffered the largest snowfall for many years and the situation is mirrored in North America and Asia with crops ruined. Here our tender plants and blossom and even stinging nettles have been burnt. There was frost somewhere in the UK everyday of the month and Yorkshire had snow flurries for 10 days in a row over the Easter holiday. April was the driest, coldest, and sunniest almost ever recorded. Butterfly sighting however were good even with the cold and 300 sightings came into the website. Species continued to emerge illustrating its not just air temperature but the ground level microclimate warmed by the very sunny conditions led to Dingy Skipper being a day earlier than last year. Duke of Burgundy have appeared on time on the 26th. Orange Tip numbers have built up as have the Whites However the weather has seriously disrupted transect walking with some only achieving 1 walk so far this season. Thank you all those trying.

NB To have a chance of winning Picture of the month please do make entries in our sighting system of your latest pics.

March Highlights

Picture of the Month

This months best photo goes to Chris Cox taken on the Rail Trail at Keyingham VC61

The 2020 UKBMs results were published this month with Small Tortoiseshell being the stand out winner with some sites showing 300% increase in numbers. large and Small Whites, Brimstone, Holly Blue, Marbled White and Meadow Brown did well but even with this third good butterfly year in a row more species did badly than well. More on Yorkshire results HERE

It's been a long wait for the butterfly season to really start in Yorkshire taking till mid March for some sunny weather. This was followed by a 'Spanish plume' of warm air on 20-21st and then Saharan winds from North Africa on the 29th brought us our best spell with temperatures in the 20's and nearly 70 sighting records coming in during the last 3 days of the month. Its great to have 135 records in March into the new sightings system and over 200 so far this year from 33 recorders; see HERE. Thank you. The picture of the month goes to Chris Cox; see opposite. There have been very good numbers of our hibernators and some fantastic Brimstone counts from Bishop Wood and Brockadale plus a battered Painted Lady in Scarborough and a Hummingbird Hawk moth also seen. The first Holy Blue and Orange Tip have been seen and we can expect Speckled Woods, Wall, Small Heath and Green Hairstreaks any day. Nationally 2021 sees both the Large Tortoiseshell and the Clouded Yellow successfully overwinter on the Dorset coast, yet again indicating that they really want to become UK residents.

March saw the launch of our interactive Butterfly Atlas for Yorkshire which has won some international admiration as a first of its kind. Its a great tool to explore our countryside. It would be great if we can add our moth records as the next big challenge. Watch the demo video HERE and explore HERE

We also launched our online events and You tube channel to mark our progression to a new medium HERE. It has already allowed so much more interaction with our membership and brought people together throughout the county which was never practical before. We have used the opportunity to reinvigorate our formal recording which lags well behind our tremendous casual recording effort with training on UKBMS and species identification. There will be a number of transect restarting and some new ones this year including two of our best sites at Brockadale and Fordon Banks but we still need more interested volunteers with lots of spare time to repair the damage of the pandemic and staff losses from our charities.