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Butterfly Conservation

Saving butterflies, moths and our environment

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East Midlands Branch Butterfly Conservation

Field Trip Reports 2014

Ketton Quarry

Saturday 10th May 2014

On Saturday 10th May 2014, six members gathered in intermittent sunshine to look for the spring butterflies of Ketton. After watching an Adder at close quarters, by kind permission of LRWT we made our way round their reserve which is an outstanding site for butterflies in the East Midlands. Almost immediately we found a Grizzled Skipper (one of two seen during the morning). Some of the group were especially keen to see Green Hairstreak, so it was a relief to find one which allowed close views. Another later in the morning also posed for the photographers. Dingy Skippers proved more elusive, but after patient searching we found one which completed our list of the 'spring three' target species.

The commoner butterflies were few and far between, though by lunchtime when the group dispersed Peacock, Orange-tip, Brimstone and Small White had all put in an appearance. The total of seven species was the same as last year, but this time we had more prolonged views of Grizzled Skipper and Green Hairstreak.

Bingham Linear Park

Sunday 18th May 2014

This field trip was attended by 22 people and was a beautiful early summer's day. Over 75 individual butterflies were seen including 10 Grizzled Skippers. We were able to see them laying their eggs on the creeping cinquefoil. Also seen for the first time this year, on this site were Small Heath and a Small Copper. There were good numbers of Speckled Wood, Orange Tips and Green Veined and Small Whites. Small numbers of Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Common Blue and Brimstones were also seen. A total of 11 species of butterfly.

The group enjoyed watching a pair of Yellow Wagtails that appeared to be collecting nesting materials from the old track bed of the abandoned railway.

Also seen were some Cinnabar Moths, and Large Red Damselflies.
A good day out!

Hicks Lodge

Saturday 24th May 2014

Unfortunately cancelled due to bad weather

Barnstone/Grantham Canal

Sunday 25th May 2014

With the weather dry and the promise of some sunshine the group of 9 plus 1 dog walked the disused railway line from Barnstone Cutting to the Grantham Canal and returned to Barnstone via the bridleway passing alongside the airfield. The aim of the walk was to seek out Grizzled Skippers at the various known sites along the route. Initially things were not promising with several sites showing no signs of Grizzled Skipper activity until we reached the bridge over the Grantham Canal. Here we found an individual which obliged by remaining static long enough for photos to be taken. Further sightings were made on the perimeter track of the airfield. Other species seen were Brown Argus, Orange Tip, Green-veined White, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood, Brimstone, Common Blue and Cinnabar Moth.

Pleasley Pit

Saturday 7th June 2014

The weather was very poor with no members attending apart from committee. No butterflies were seen but we did have a newly emerged 4 Spotted Chaser at the Dragonfly Pools.


Sunday 8th June 2014

A group of nine members set off towards the lake in warm sunshine. We were soon seeing Common Blues, Large Skippers and numerous dragonflies. A large clump of southern marsh orchids held our attention until 2 Dingy Skippers few past. We crossed the concrete bridge and climbed the old spoil heap with the wide verges full of nectar flowers. We soon saw Mother Shipton moths, Small Heaths and more Common Blues. Further Dingy Skippers were seen at the top of the spoil heap. One of our group saw a Kingfisher on the River Maun. Other species of orchids were seen including bee, spotted and pyramidal. A total of 7 butterfly species were seen.

Somerset Weekend

21st - 22nd June 2014

On Saturday in glorious sunshine a group of 14 set off from the car park to walk up Collard Hill. Straight away butterflies were all around us in the fields and woodland leading to the hill, mainly Meadow Browns and Ringlets as well as Large and Green-Veined Whites.

On reaching the hill and climbing to the top we were greeted with large numbers of Marbled Whites and Small Tortoiseshells. Unfortunately talking to one of the volunteers it had been a very slow emergence so far for the Large Blue and only a few had been recorded to date. He was not sure why but it might have been due to the heavy rain in February flooding out some of the ant nests. However after much searching we eventually spotted a female Large Blue laying eggs on the thyme and although she refused to settle for a long periods most people got a reasonable view of this iconic butterfly. Sightings were also made of a Clouded Yellow.

We then returned to the cars, on the way briefly spotting a Silver-Washed Fritillary and a Common Hawker dragonfly.

The afternoon's venue was changed due to ease of parking and it was decided to go to Ubley Warren nature reserve near Charterhouse. On the way we stopped for lunch at a picnic site near a dragonfly pool at Priddy Mineries and spotted 10 species - Common Blue, Azure, Blue-Tailed, Large Red and Emerald damselfly, Emperor Dragonfly, Downy Emerald, Common Hawker, 4 Spotted Chaser and Broad-Bodied Chaser. At Ubley Warren there were large numbers of Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries even though they also refused to settle for long. But in the end everyone had good views of both topside and underside of this attractive butterfly. They were also large numbers of Large Skippers and Small Heaths.

On Sunday 12 people assembled at Sand Point north of Weston-super-Mare, hopefully to see an introduced colony of Glanville Fritillaries, but after patient hunting of the whole southern side of the point none were encountered. It may have been too late as we were right at the end of the flight period. Again the most common butterfly were Marbled Whites which were all around us. One Grayling was seen by some of the group.

After lunch 10 people decided to head for Brean Down to the south of Weston for better views of Grayling and possibly Wall. It was the day of an air display at Weston and the traffic at Brean Down was incredible so we were directed to park on the beach! When we climbed to the top of the Down we could see why because this was the best place to see the air display and while looking for butterflies we were entertained by the planes overhead. There were lots of Graylings of the cliff edges but no sign of Walls. We walked to the trig point where we encountered lots of fresh Dark-Green Fritillaries nectaring on yellow hawkbit and also large numbers of Red Admirals which, being migrants, may have just arrived on the Down.

As we made our way back before descending the steps we timed it right to see the climax of the air display which was the Vulcan Bomber flying right over our heads. A fitting end to a very successful weekend with most of our targets seen and fantastic weather.

A total of 21 butterfly species were recorded during the weekend.

Hick’s Lodge

29th June 2014

This was the second of three planned visits of the season at Hick’s Lodge. The first had been cancelled because of rain and with cloud overhead a few spots of rain appeared and there was a feeling of ‘here we go again’. But the rain held off and 15 attendees sauntered around the perimeter of the western part of the site through grassland, woodland both young and mature, heathland and open almost bare ground. The latter giving a reminder of the industrial heritage of Hick’s Lodge. A refreshment break at the lodge was followed by a visit to the eastern segment. The anticipated sunshine did not materialise.

Although the anticipated sunshine did not materialise, the day proved to be surprisingly fruitful. It is thought that we encountered more than 200 Ringlets and large numbers of Meadow Browns and Small Skippers were seen. Smaller numbers of Large Skippers, Small Heath, Small Tortoiseshells and Red Admirals plus singletons of the Green-veined White and the Speckled Wood were noted. Day-flying moths included both Five and Six-Spot Burnet, Cinnabar and large numbers of Shaded Broad-bar, a moth that flies at night but also in the daytime. Its larval foodplants are vetches & clovers which are in abundance at Hick’s Lodge.

Day flying moth Shaded Broad-bar
Shaded Broad-bar

The field trip was a reprise of one in June 2013 following which I reported that The Forestry Commission hoped to establish a butterfly transect at Hicks Lodge. Thanks to the enthusiasm of the ‘Friends of Hick’s Lodge’ this was duly set up and is now well established. Our afternoon session followed the exact route of the transect. Local resident Graham Bowers, who was with us throughout the day, is one of those ‘Friends’ and his local knowledge undoubtedly contributed to the enjoyment of the day. Graham is also involved with the nearby Donisthorpe Wood where he and others are preparing another transect to begin in the 2015 season.

A transect comprises a small series of ‘legs’ within a pre-determined route which is walked by a recorder or recorders each week weather permitting. The numbers of each butterfly seen are noted with the results reported to the county recorder. This programme has expanded substantially in recent years, particularly in the National Forest. If you feel that this might be for you and you would like to learn more please contact our transect coordinator and recorder for Derbyshire, Ken Orpe.

Bill Bacon

Coombs Dale, Derbyshire

1st July 2014

A good number of 20 people met in Calver on a day promising sunshine, but the morning gradually clouded over with brief periods of sun.

Coombs Dale is a limestone Dale near Calver, and the walk follows a track through a wooded area, leading up to the old fluorspar workings of Sallet Hole Mine which ceased operating in 1996. The area has since been re-landscaped to create an open meadow near the mine entrance which provides good habitat for a number of plants and invertebrates.

The main target species of the walk were Dark Green Fritillary (the only fritillary found in Derbyshire) and Brown Argus. About 6 Dark Green Fritillaries were seen which was lower than expected but we had good opportunities to see the green colouration on the underside of the lower wings which gives the butterfly its name. Brown Argus was also seen and it was again possible to get views of the underside to see the identification features which distinguish it from female Common Blue. Altogether 12 butterfly species were recorded.

Some dragonflies were seen including Southern Hawker, and a few birds were noted including a Buzzard, Ravens, Bullfinch and a Kestrel.

Max Maughan