Update Number 2:
Another cold and damp couple of weeks meant that very few sightings have been made since the first Update of the year. A further Red Admiral was seen on the 28th of January (see Update Number 1 for the other two) by Jake Bull in Glebelands, Leicester, and the first reported sighting of a Small Tortoiseshell came in from Susan Bates who spotted one high up on the wall of her Coalville home on the 16th of February. A Brimstone, the first reported of the season, was seen in an Empingham garden on the 17th of February.
We are currently experiencing a mild but wet spell, which may not be good for butterfly sightings, but a cold snap is due by the end of the week, and if this is accompanied by bright sunshine then maybe a few hardy butterflies may show themselves.
I have been looking at the results of the 2017 butterfly transect season and have a few facts and figures to share with you. Last year, we carried out 12 butterfly transects over the season (running from the 1st of April to the 30th of September) and a total of 10,541 butterflies were recorded overall. The top 4 species, as a total recorded in all 12 transects were as follows:
Meadow Brown 1537
Speckled Wood 1189
The most prolific transect was the one carried out a Croft Quarry Nature Trail with an average of 93.4 butterflies recorded per visit of a total of 22 species. The highest number of any one particular species was recorded at Sence Valley where a total of 869 Ringlet were noted. Incidentally, the Ringlet was the most popular species in 11 out of the 12 transects, with the only exception being at Cover Cloud, Sandhill’s Lodge where the Meadow Brown took the top slot.
Dingy Skipper are now recorded on 4 of our transects (namely Bardon Hill (3 individuals), Donisthorpe Woodland Park (1), Hick’s Lodge (9) and Pick Triangle Wood (1)).
Marbled White have continued their expansion and are now recorded at Croft Quarry Nature Trail (15) and Great Glen (14). There is every possibility that they could appear on other transects in the near future.
Another exciting find this season was the discovery of a solitary Green Hairstreak on the transect at Bardon Hill Quarry. It has long been suspected that the species ‘should’ be present here as there is an abundance of Gorse, Bird’s Foot Trefoil and a reasonable quantity of Bilberry present. It is hoped that this sighting will be repeated in the coming season (if it does, it will be reported in a future Update).
A transect (walking a fixed route on a regular basis) helps to build up a picture of the fauna (and flora) present on a particular site over a period of time, and by comparing the data recorded over several years, a reasonable assumption can be concluded on the status of each individual species, highlighting those that are prospering and those that are showing signs of decline. This in turn helps to develop future conservation programs on a local and national level. Occasionally, as in the case of the Green Hairstreak at Bardon Hill, an outstanding find makes the effort of carrying out a particular survey even more worth while and most enjoyable.
I know I have requested this many times before, but if anyone wishes to become part of an existing transect team, or would like to help set up a new transect, then please feel free to get in touch. My contact details can be found on the Committee Page of the East Midland Butterfly Conservation website (Butterfly Recorder for Leicestershire and Rutland) or you can reach me via our Facebook page (Butterflies and Moths of Leicestershire and Rutland). If you’ve never been involved in any form of recording before then do not worry as full training can be given.
I would also like to point out here that while we are talking about recording butterflies ‘in the field’, it is just as important to record butterflies in our own particular space, and by that I mean our gardens. Gardens used to be full of butterflies, but even here we are starting to see declines in numbers of some of the more common species. My Butterfly Bush (Buddleia) was virtually devoid of butterflies last summer, and this is worrying. In the next Update I will share a list of key plants that will hopefully encourage butterflies (and moths) to visit your garden. In the meantime, please keep looking for any adventurous butterflies that may make an appearance and please let me know.