Field Trip Reports 2018

Longstone Edge

Sunday 13th May 2018

Sylvia & John Green.

After a pretty poor forecast, 18 members turned up to a bright sunny Sunday that just got better. We walked down the road for a couple of hundred metres to the old quarry where we found one of our target species the Green Hairstreak on the first hawthorn bush in the quarry! Green Hairstreaks saved the day as neither the Common Blue nor the Wall Brown were out. We also saw a variety of spring butterflies as well as some surviving hibernators. A Common Lizard was also sunning itself before disappearing into the undergrowth. A Silver Y moth also had its picture taken, but there was not a Dingy Skipper in sight. We were also treated to a “Castlegate Tractor Drive Past” of over a hundred old and new vehicles raising money for charity. Certainly, a new event at a butterfly meet!

Everyone seemed to enjoy the short walk, and the sunshine made it all worthwhile. The list below is what was seen but we must have under recorded the Green Hairstreaks!

  • Brimstone – 1
  • Large White – 2
  • Green Veined White – 6
  • Orange Tip – 7
  • Small Tortoiseshell – 4
  • Peacock – 2
  • Speckled Wood – 2
  • Green Hairstreak – 13+
Reports from Previous Years

Bingham Linear Park

Sunday 20th May 2018

Jenny Craig

The walk was successful. We had more than 15 people turn up and I recorded 4 Grizzled Skippers in 3 locations along the path. In addition a Dingy Skipper was photographed. This is a first record for many years on this site.

We saw 10 species of butterfly, a Mother Shipton moth, red damselfly and a pair of Yellow Wagtails.

Dunstable Downs

Sunday 26th May 2018

Max Maughan

Situated in the Chiltern Hills, the area is the imposing scarp slope of the chalk downland overlooking the Vale of Aylesbury. A good sized group of 17 people met in the Chiltern Gateway visitor centre car park at 10am. The forecast had been for heavy rain showers and when we arrived it was overcast but dry. After a coffee we decided to set off and as we walked towards the sunken path the sun began to break through the clouds and the temperature increased. Our main aim was to see Duke of Burgundy as this is one of the few sites in the country for this rare butterfly, and we were not to be disappointed as this was the first butterfly seen and one of many.

As we proceeded down the path where it was quite sheltered, we also came across a number of Brown Argus, Small Heath, Grizzled and Dingy Skippers as well as more Duke of Burgundys enabling excellent photo opportunities. Green Hairstreaks were also spotted on the hawthorns. There were also some of the more common butterflies, particularly Brimstones.

A total of 14 species of butterfly were recorded before lunch. By this time the weather was extremely hot and sunny.

In the afternoon we visited the nearby Wildlife Trust reserve at Totternhoe Knolls, again an area of chalk grassland which contains the remains of a Norman fort and a disused quarry. Here the target species was Small Blue, the smallest of our butterfly species. Interestingly the adults here seem to be associated with wild clematis (its larval food plant being kidney vetch. Walking down to the old quarry a Corn Bunting was seen singing from a bush by the side of the track, a species that is becoming uncommon to see. At the entrance to the quarry on a bank of wild clematis we spotted our first Small Blues including a mating pair, a real bonus for the photographers. More Small Blues were seen on our way back to the cars.

It was a very successful and rewarding day with a final total of 15 butterfly species. For the botanists amongst us there were also a number of orchids seen during the day, including Twayblade, Common Spotted and Fragrant.

Doe Lea

Sunday 27th May 2018

Willy Lane

The walk at Doe Lea was successful. 19 people attended, 10 were members of Butterfly Conservation. The walk lasted one and a half hours, the weather was good with sunshine for most of the time. The wind was very strong which did affect the sightings, effectively as soon as a Butterfly was in the air it was blown twenty plus yards away.

Despite the high winds we saw, 39 Common Blues, 20 Dingy Skippers, 12 Small Heath, 10 Small Coppers, 3 Large Whites, 3 Small Whites, 2 Orange Tips, 1 Green-veined White, 1 Peacock and  1 Speckled Wood. Two Burnet Companions were also seen.

The number of butterflies seen was actually higher but because we walked the same route into and out of the void, I did not count any butterflies on the return leg of the walk.

Most people were quite surprised at the diversity of the area and were shocked to learn that such a unique site was being threatened by a planning application to tip 900,000 tons of waste.

Bagworth Heath Woods

3rd June 2018

Eliot Taylor

A group of 7, including me, set off on a slightly overcast morning. The temperature at the start of the walk was 19˚C.

As usual, I had planned a circular walk heading north-east to start with. The first part took us though a wooded area and I was disappointed not to see the usual Speckled Woods here, but we were to encounter them later in the walk after the sun made an appearance. The sun did come out just as we reached the first sheltered clearing. Here we saw our first butterflies: Common Blue and very fresh Large Skippers. Also present were the first of many Burnet Companion moths, which at this time of the flight season can be confused with worn Dingy Skippers. As we approached the next good area for grassland butterflies we found a Lackey moth larva on wild rose, closely followed by the first 2 Small Heath butterflies of the day. Soon Dingy Skippers were seen along with more Common Blues.

Then a gentleman approached the group to see what we were looking for. He said he had just seen 2 Green Hairstreaks further up the spoil heap (This site is a former colliery). He said one was egg laying on Birds-foot Trefoil and in previous weeks he had seen up to 5 over a wide area, but that he hadn’t seen any here prior to this year. He took us to the place where he had seen one of the hairstreaks – and sure enough, there it was! After a while it posed well for photographs on an Ox-eye Daisy, although like the Dingy Skippers it was at the end of its fight period so was by now looking a bit worn.

We then made our way back to the cars, stopping briefly to look at Southern Marsh Orchids and the Sand Martins using the artificial bank. Finally I found a Drinker moth larva, crossing the track.

I always thought this would be a good site for Green Hairstreak because there is so much Birds Foot Trefoil and open areas with scrub. The nearest other site is, I believe, Warren Hills, so it may be worth looking for the butterfly at suitable locations between there and Bagworth Heath to try and fill in gaps on the distribution map.

Species Seen

  • Common Blue
  • Large Skipper
  • Speckled Wood
  • Small White 1
  • Orange Tip 1
  • Small Heath
  • Dingy Skipper
  • Green Hairstreak 1
  • Burnet Companion Moth
  • Cinabar Moth
  • Lackey Moth Larvae
  • Drinker Moth Larva

Unfortunately I lost my pen after the walk started so I haven’t got a count for species numbers.

Also what was notable was the lack of common garden species present, other than 1 Small White and 1 Orange-tip.

Wyre Forest

Saturday 19th June 2018

Geof Adams

At last we had a fine and sunny day for our field trip to the Wyre Forest, a couple of weeks earlier though I had been concerned as to whether the target species, Pearl-bordered Fritillary, would actually be flying following the wet and cold spring that we had had, but the first sightings had been reported on the 8th June, which is more in line with their traditional emergence time than the earlier dates recorded over the last few years.

Having sorted the weather and the target species, what would a certain high profile wedding do to our attendance? Well once the late arrivals caught up with us we had a group of nine who were more interested in butterflies than wedding dresses.

Our short walk down the ride to the pipeline soon brought us our first sightings of the Pearl-bordered Fritillary, most in flight, but a couple seemed to be egg laying along the edge of the ride, giving us our first photo opportunity. Also seen along the ride where Orange-tip and Speckled Wood, and two moths, the Speckled Yellow and Riband Wave.

The habitat of the pipeline is a wide corridor of grassland running through the forest on a west-east axis, with a steep slope at the western end and then sloping gently to the east, the ride cuts across the pipeline at about its midpoint.

Once we arrived at the pipeline we took the downhill option towards the west, having good sightings of about twenty Pearl-bordered Fritillary, we spent some time looking for the Dingy Skipper but without any luck and finally stopped at the top of the steep slope to partake of our lunch.

We returned up the slope and continued up part of the eastern section, however numbers of fritillary were very low in this section, possibly due to the buildup of some cloud, so we took a path back through the forest to the ride and back to the car park.

Whilst on the pipeline we also saw Brimstone, Green-veined White, Orange-tip and Speckled Wood, with Burnet Companion, Common Heath, Latticed Heath, Riband Wave and Speckled Yellow moths.

Fermyn Woods Country Park

8th July 2018

Max Maughan

A group of eventually 26 people went on the walk on a glorious sunny morning, and the whole day remained so with the temperature reaching 29 degrees.

We set off through Fermyn Wood and almost immediately were amazed at the devastation that seems to have been caused by cutting down the trees on the side of the main track and the clearance of undergrowth. It will be interesting to see if this drastic action will improve the area for butterflies and other wildlife. So whether it was due to this clearance or the hot conditions nothing was really seen to begin with apart from whites, Meadow Browns and Ringlets.

We decided to investigate an area around some sleeping huts where there still seemed to be large amounts of bramble and were rewarded with good views of both male and female Silver-washed Fritillaries nectaring on the bramble and thistles.

Continuing on we reached the hedgerow between Fermyn and Lady Wood and a Purple Hairstreak was spotted on the bramble flowers, a great find. The small number of surviving elms generally failed to produce any White-letter Hairstreaks apart from one sighting by one member of the group.

In Lady Wood there were Silver-washed Fritillaries everywhere but only brief views of White Admirals and Purple Emperors flying. At the junction of paths there was a nice Painted Lady nectaring on the bramble. Continuing further into the wood we eventually had a White Admiral settled which everyone got views of. Just nearby a butterfly was spotted settled above our heads and it was a Purple Emperor but it only opened its wings briefly, long enough to identify it as a male.

Returning back through Lady Wood we had several other settled White Admirals and one more high level Purple Emperor with wings closed.

We then had almost reached the cars before coming across the prized target of a male Purple Emperor on the ground taking up the mineral salts. This enabled excellent views but it also refused to open its wings. Despite that everyone agreed it had been a very rewarding morning with a total of 19 species seen.

In the afternoon a few of the group drove to the Country Park Visitor Centre for a walk around the meadows and were rewarded with several Marbled Whites and Common Blues. Dragonflies were in evidence around the ponds, particularly 4-spotted and Broad-bodied Chasers and Emperor Dragonfly. Southern and Brown Hawkers had already been seen in the woods during the morning.

The total number of butterfly species for the day was 21.

Cloud Wood LRWT Reserve

Tuesday 17th July 2018

Richard M. Jeffery

temperature of 21 degrees offered a glimmer of hope. The event was very well attended with 25 people in total representing each of the 3 counties of the East Midlands. Despite the dull start, our optimism was rewarded after 45 minutes when the sun finally broke through.

A total of 15 different species were recorded on the visit, including the target species of Silver-washed Fritillary and White-letter Hairstreak, with 5 of the former and 4 of the latter being noted. A few 'eagle-eyed' attendees also managed to spot Purple Hairstreak (4 in total) resting on juvenile oaks and occasionally fluttering high up in the tree canopy. It was particularly pleasing to see a few Common Blue and Brown Argus on the route too. Some encouragingly positive comments were made by many of the attendees, with some pledging a return visit at the first available opportunity. For me, Cloud Wood is, and always will be one of my favourite spots in the county, and I was only too pleased to share its bounty with like-minded people.

The overall species list was as follows:

  • Peacock
  • Ringlet
  • Green-veined White
  • Large White
  • Small White
  • Speckled Wood
  • Gatekeeper
  • Meadow Brown
  • Red Admiral
  • Common Blue
  • Holly Blue
  • Brown Argus
  • Silver-washed Fritillary
  • White-letter Hairstreak
  • Purple Hairstreak


17th July 2018

John Roberts

A group of 21 met at Calver triangle to make the annual BC visit to Coombsdale.

The weather was slightly cooler and cloudier than it had been in recent weeks. As we began to walk up the dale a large mass of cloud covered the sun and butterflies were hard to come by in the lower dale. Fortunately when we passed out of the wood the sun re-appeared as did the butterflies. Brown Argus gave good views and the first of 29 Dark-green Fritillaries was spotted and afforded the photographers good views. The fritillaries kept on appearing, many of them nectaring on knapweed, and one very worn individual was spotted deep in the grass which climbed on to my hand and was admired by many of the group. There were many whites and one spot by the stream held many newly emerged Peacocks. Strangely only one Common Blue was spotted.

Butterflies seen:

  • Gatekeeper 7,
  • Ringlet 18
  • Meadow Brown 15,
  • Green-veined White 13,
  • Small White 8
  • Brown Argus 4,
  • Peacock 13,
  • Small Skipper 4,
  • Dark-green Fritillary 29,
  • Large Skipper 1
  • Red Admiral 1,
  • Comma 1,
  • Speckled Wood 4,
  • Large White 1,
  • Common Blue 1

Aston Rowant

12th August 2018

Max Maughan

I thought that this would be the only field trip this year to be cancelled on the day due to rain, looking at the forecast the day before and in the morning. It was raining on the way down and still drizzling when we arrived. I was expecting no one to turn up but two members did, making four of us.

We decided though to see what we could find and the rain had stopped although it was overcast. We were amazed that butterflies were out, Meadow Browns to begin with but then a female Chalkhill Blue and surprisingly a really nice Silver-spotted Skipper right in front of us on the path. This dull weather actually proved to be an advantage, especially for photography, in that those butterflies seen were generally less flighty than when the weather had been sunny like the day before.

Continuing down the slope we found more Chalkhill Blues, a couple of Brown Argus, more Silver-spotted Skippers and Adonis Blues. In the sunken path which has its own micro-climate it actually was quite warm and there were large numbers of butterflies particularly Common Blues but also a couple of nice male Adonis Blues.

We made our way back to the cars pleased that we had seen all three of the main target species despite the weather. However other species were thin on the ground and the total was 9 species.

With the prospect of more rain it was decided to call it a day at that point.