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At Dungeness Bird Observatory we take security of your data very seriously. The data we hold is kept securely on a password protected device and we never pass on any information to a third party. For more information please read our Data Policy available here.

2016 Report

Our 2016 Report is now available from the Observatory for £8.00 plus P&P if needed. Please contact the Warden: dungenessobs@vfast.co.uk

Butterflies

The recording area is not noted for its uncommon or rare breeding species of butterflies but it more than makes up for this in terms of abundance. Common Blues, Small Coppers, Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns can all occur in very large numbers. Small Copper and Small Heaths, and to a lesser extent Common Blue, also appear in several broods through the year. Small Coppers can also appear in a number of named varieties including radiata, extensa, remota and schmidtii.

Small Coppers var schmidtii and radiata

Some species, notably Holly Blue, tend to only occur when numbers at the national level are high..                            
Holly Blue
Grizzled Skipper also occur in variable numbers, although always low, and are usually one of the first species to appear in the spring.
Grizzled Skipper
Over the last 25 years several species appear to have colonised the area. The most obvious example of this is the Marbled White. This butterfly was almost unknown in the area until 1991. Numbers have since increased so that it is now a very common insect in certain areas. The best areas to look for this species are around the Old Lighthouse and on the rough ground in front of the Observatory. The Brown Argus is another species which has colonised the area but numbers remain quite small.
Brown Argus
Dungeness is also well situated the receive migrant butterflies and Clouded Yellows are recorded in most years along with large numbers of Large Whites and Red Admirals and smaller numbers of Painted Ladies. The highlight of 2001 was the all too brief appearance of a Monarch on 13th October, the first Dungeness record. A Large Tortoiseshell was the highlight of 2005 and Swallowtails have been seen in 2005, 2006 and 2014. Long-tailed Blues were seen in 2013 and 2015.
Clouded Yellow
Red Admiral
Long-tailed Blue

See below for a list of Butterflies occurring at Dungeness
Common name
Latin name
Status
SMALL SKIPPER
Thymelicus sylvestris
Very common.
ESSEX SKIPPER
Thymelicus lineola
Numbers very variable but generally uncommon.
LARGE SKIPPER
Ochlodes venata
Originally common but numbers appear to be declining and now uncommon.
GRIZZLED SKIPPER
Pyrgus malvae
Usually uncommon but common in 2011, 2012 and 2017.
SWALLOWTAIL 
Papilio machaon
One on Sep.3rd 2005. Singles on May 16th and July 24th 2006. In 2014 there were singles on May 17th, 29th and 31st.
CLOUDED YELLOW
Colias croceus
Uncommon migrant.
BRIMSTONE
Gonepteryx rhamni
Rare.
LARGE WHITE
Pieris brassicae
Very common, occasionally abundant.
SMALL WHITE
Pieris rapae
Very common.
GREEN-VEINED WHITE
Pieris napi
Uncommon.
ORANGE-TIP
Anthocharis cardamines
Rare. Two records in May 1993, two in April 1999 and one in April 2017.
SMALL COPPER
Lycaena phlaeas
Very common. Three individuals of the form radiata seen in the moat in 2015.
LONG-TAILED BLUE
Plebejus argiolus
One on October 8th 2013 was the first Dungeness area record. One on September 1st 2015.
BROWN ARGUS
Aricia agestis
Formerly rare but now common and increasing following colonisation in 1997.
COMMON BLUE
Polyommatus icarus
Very common.
HOLLY BLUE
Celastrina argiolus
Rare. Numbers fluctuate.
RED ADMIRAL
Vanessa atalanta
Common, occasionally very common.
PAINTED LADY
Vanessa cardui
Uncommon to common. 1996 was an exceptional year with counts of up to 1000 as was 2009 with counts up to 2250.
SMALL TORTOISESHELL
Aglais urticae
Common.
LARGE TORTOISESHELL
Nymphalis polychloros
One on July 3rd and 4th 2005.
CAMBERWELL BEAUTY
Nymphalis antiope
Rare. The only recent records are of singles on Aug.3rd and 24th 1995.
PEACOCK
Inachis io
Common.
COMMA
Polygonia 
c-album
Uncommon.
SPECKLED WOOD
Pararge aegeria
Formerly uncommon but numbers have increased annually in recent years and common since 2004.
WALL
Lasiommata megera
Formerly uncommon but now rare.
MARBLED WHITE
Melanargia galathea
Formerly rare, now common or very common following colonisation since 1991.
GATEKEEPER
Pyronia tithonus
Very common.
MEADOW BROWN
Maniola jurtina
Abundant.
RINGLET
Aphantopus hyperantus
Rare. Only recorded in 2000.
SMALL HEATH
Coenonympha pamphilus
Very common, occasionally abundant.
MONARCH
Danaus plexippus
Rare. One on Oct.13th 2001.
KEY
Abundant
Peak counts over 500
Very common
Peak counts between 100-500
Common
Peak counts between 10-100
Uncommon
Peak counts less than 10
Rare
Less than annual