Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)
Species

Male. Taken at Keyhaven, Hants on July 17th 2011.
(1/200th sec at f13. Approx 3x lifesize)

Male underside. Taken at Otmoor, Oxon on August 3rd 2012.
(1/125th sec at f14. Approx 3x lifesize)

Female. Taken at Otmoor, Oxon on July 26th 2012.
(1/1000th sec at f13. Approx 3x lifesize)

Female underside. Taken at Calvert Jubilee, Bucks, on July 20th 2014.
(1/160th sec at f13. Approx 3x lifesize)

Mating pair. Taken at Otmoor, Oxon on August 2nd 2015.
(1/250th sec at f16. Approx 3x lifesize)

© David Hastings

Description

Wing span: 33-36 mm
 
The Gatekeeper is also known as the Hedge Brown.
 
It is found throughout most of England, Wales and the south of Ireland, being common in the south of its range, becoming scarcer further north. Colonies vary greatly in size, depending on the available habitat, ranging from a few dozen individuals to several thousand.
 
It can be found anywhere where tall grasses grow close to hedges trees or scrub, especially along hedgerows and woodland rides where there is a plentiful nectar source.
 
There is one generation each year, with adults emerging in July, peaking in early August, with only a few adults remaining until the end of the month.
 
The main foodplants are various Bents, Fescues and Meadow-grasses. Common Couch is also used. Although both sexes feed from honeydew, they will also feed from whatever nectar sources are available - Bramble and Ragwort being particular favourites.
 
This butterfly spends much of its time basking with wings open, when the sexes are easy to tell apart - only the male has the distinctive sex brands on the forewings. Males set up small territories, often centred on a particular shrub or bush, and will fly up from their perch to investigate passing butterflies in the hope of finding a mate.
 
This species is listed as Least Concern in the latest Red List of British Butterflies (PDF).
 

Sightings

29-Aug-2016:Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon(1f)
21-Aug-2016:Hackpen Hill, Oxon(2f)
14-Aug-2016:Otmoor, Oxon(1m,1f)
14-Aug-2016:Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon(3m,1f)
12-Aug-2016:Marston Meadows, Oxon(1m)
12-Aug-2016:University Parks, Oxford, Oxon(1m)
07-Aug-2016:Otmoor, Oxon(2f)
07-Aug-2016:Cothill Fen, Oxon(1f)
06-Aug-2016:Fence Wood, Berks(4+m,3f)
06-Aug-2016:Greenham Common, Berks(25+m,7f)
02-Aug-2016:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1)
31-Jul-2016:Otmoor, Oxon(6m,7f)
30-Jul-2016:Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon(21m,7f)
24-Jul-2016:Allotment, Abingdon, Oxon(1f)
23-Jul-2016:Bernwood Meadows, Bucks(5m,1f)
23-Jul-2016:Otmoor, Oxon(20+m)
23-Jul-2016:Bernwood Forest, Bucks(4m)
23-Jul-2016:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1m)
19-Jul-2016:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1)
16-Jul-2016:Crookham Common, Berks(2m)
14-Jul-2016:Lardon Chase, Berks(1)
14-Jul-2016:Chazey Heath, Oxon(3)
11-Jul-2016:Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon(1)

01-Sep-2015:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1f)
29-Aug-2015:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1f)
22-Aug-2015:Yeosden Bank, Bucks(2f)
22-Aug-2015:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1f)
22-Aug-2015:Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon(1m,1f)
16-Aug-2015:Hackpen Hill, Oxon(1f)
16-Aug-2015:Pewsey Down, Wilts(6f)
15-Aug-2015:Rushy Common, Oxon(3f)
09-Aug-2015:Aston Upthorpe Downs, Oxon(13)
09-Aug-2015:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1f)
08-Aug-2015:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1m)
08-Aug-2015:Dry Sandford Pit, Oxon(2m,8f)
06-Aug-2015:Marston Meadows, Oxon(7m,1f)
02-Aug-2015:Bernwood Meadows, Bucks(6)
02-Aug-2015:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(2)
02-Aug-2015:Otmoor, Oxon(30+)
30-Jul-2015:Allotment, Abingdon, Oxon(1)
30-Jul-2015:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1)
30-Jul-2015:Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon(10m,17f)
29-Jul-2015:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1)
28-Jul-2015:Allotment, Abingdon, Oxon(3)
28-Jul-2015:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1)
23-Jul-2015:nr Novo Hodzhovo, Bulgaria
22-Jul-2015:nr Lilyanovo, Bulgaria
22-Jul-2015:Kresna Gorge, Bulgaria
18-Jul-2015:Silchester Common, Hants(17)
18-Jul-2015:Crookham Common, Berks(30)
18-Jul-2015:Allotment, Abingdon, Oxon(4)
18-Jul-2015:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1)
14-Jul-2015:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(3m)
12-Jul-2015:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1f)
11-Jul-2015:Aston Upthorpe Downs, Oxon(4m)
11-Jul-2015:The Holies, Berks(10m,1f)
11-Jul-2015:Allotment, Abingdon, Oxon(2m)
10-Jul-2015:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1)
10-Jul-2015:Allotment, Abingdon, Oxon(1)
02-Jul-2015:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1)
01-Jul-2015:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1)

20-Aug-2014:University Parks, Oxford, Oxon(1f)
17-Aug-2014:Farmoor Reservoir, Oxon(1)
16-Aug-2014:Aston Upthorpe Downs, Oxon(2)
09-Aug-2014:Pewsey Down, Wilts(3)
09-Aug-2014:Sole Common Pond, Berks(2)
03-Aug-2014:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1)
03-Aug-2014:Otmoor, Oxon(14)
31-Jul-2014:Gait Barrows NNR, Lancashire(4)
31-Jul-2014:Myers Allotment, Lancashire(2)
30-Jul-2014:Arnside Knott, Cumbria(13+)
28-Jul-2014:Gait Barrows NNR, Lancashire(1)
26-Jul-2014:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1)
26-Jul-2014:Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon(25+)
24-Jul-2014:University Parks, Oxford, Oxon(2)
20-Jul-2014:Finemere Wood, Bucks(25+)
20-Jul-2014:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1)
20-Jul-2014:Otmoor, Oxon(20)
20-Jul-2014:Allotment, Abingdon, Oxon(1)
20-Jul-2014:Calvert Jubilee, Oxon(10m,2f)
19-Jul-2014:Hinksey Lake, Oxford, Oxon(1)
15-Jul-2014:Allotment, Abingdon, Oxon(1)
13-Jul-2014:Allotment, Abingdon, Oxon(1)
12-Jul-2014:Watlington Hill, Oxon(5m,1f)
12-Jul-2014:Homefield Wood, Bucks(2)
10-Jul-2014:University Parks, Oxford, Oxon(1m)
10-Jul-2014:Marston Meadows, Oxon(1m)
06-Jul-2014:Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon(6m,1f)
06-Jul-2014:Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon(2m)
06-Jul-2014:Bernwood Forest, Bucks(1m)
05-Jul-2014:Allotment, Abingdon, Oxon(1m)

29-Aug-2013:University Parks, Oxford, Oxon(1m)
26-Aug-2013:Otmoor, Oxon(3f)
18-Aug-2013:Lardon Chase, Berks(1m,2f)
18-Aug-2013:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1f)
18-Aug-2013:Aston Upthorpe Downs, Oxon(1m,8f)
11-Aug-2013:Dry Sandford Pit, Oxon(4)
10-Aug-2013:Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon(10)
10-Aug-2013:Otmoor, Oxon(11)
07-Aug-2013:Marston Meadows, Oxon(1m)
04-Aug-2013:Bowdown Wood, Berks(7)
04-Aug-2013:Greenham Common, Berks(20)
01-Aug-2013:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1)
28-Jul-2013:Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon(16+)
28-Jul-2013:Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon(9+)
27-Jul-2013:Allotment, Abingdon, Oxon(4)
27-Jul-2013:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(2)
26-Jul-2013:Allotment, Abingdon, Oxon(2)
26-Jul-2013:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1m)
25-Jul-2013:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1m)
24-Jul-2013:Homefield Wood, Bucks(20+)
24-Jul-2013:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1)
21-Jul-2013:Allotment, Abingdon, Oxon(1)
21-Jul-2013:Garden, Abingdon, Oxon(1)
21-Jul-2013:Aston Upthorpe Downs, Oxon(8)
20-Jul-2013:Allotment, Abingdon, Oxon(1m,1f)
14-Jul-2013:Dry Sandford Pit, Oxon(10)