Field Trip Reports 2022

Brown's Hill Quarry LRWT

Sunday 22nd May 2022

Richard M. Jeffery

The weather forecast prior to the visit varied from potentially being overcast to sunny spells, and even to clear skies. Fortunately, the sun shone and there was very little breeze. A balmy temperature of 24 degrees bodes well for a good morning.

There were 7 attendees on the field trip, with one or two keen to see a few new (to them) species. The target species for this visit were Dingy Skipper and Green Hairstreak. This former quarry is owned and managed by the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust and usually boasts good numbers of both species. On entering the main gate there is a sloping path that leads down into the quarry, and instantly a difference in temperature could be felt, being sheltered on all sides.

The first of the target species, Dingy Skipper, was most obliging with a couple of individuals being spotted by the main entrance within the first few minutes. A 'tick' on the list for a couple of attendees. We went on to record 15 in total. The warm spring weather, especially with the southerly winds from the days before, had encouraged Painted Ladies to migrate northwards. We spotted 3 enjoying the warmth of the stony ground. Further into the quarry we found the first of four Green Hairstreaks (another 'tick' on the list for some). The green iridescence of the wings giving tantalising glints in the sunshine. Common Blue are clearly thriving on this site and we counted 12 in total. Day-flying moths were well represented with 8 different species being recorded. Most notable were 3 Mother Shipton, 2 Latticed Heath and a Yellow Shell.

The total count for butterflies was as follows:

Small White2
Green-veined White1
Green Hairstreak4
Dingy Skipper15
Small Tortoiseshell1
Painted Lady3
Small Copper1
Brown Argus1
Speckled Wood1

With the 8 species of day-flying moth, this brought the species total up to 19. I was really pleased that we had an enjoyable and fruitful visit to this gem of a Nature Reserve. Many attendees had never been to this site before, but I am pretty sure that they will return.

Reports from earlier years

Stonesby Quarry LRWT

Sunday 22nd May 2022

Richard M. Jeffery.

The weather promptly changed for the afternoon part of our visit to being overcast with occasional sunny spells to completely overcast, with a keen southerly breeze. The temperature dropped to 22 degrees too.

There were 11 attendees on this part of the field trip, with four additional visitors. The target species for this visit were Dingy Skipper and Grizzled Skipper. This former quarry is also owned and managed by the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust and had revealed a couple of Grizzled Skippers a few days prior to our visit. I was quietly confident we would see one or two today. This quarry is slightly more exposed than the one from this morning, being an open quarry with a slight depression flanked by an access road on one side and a high hedge on the other. Dingy Skipper was indeed present, but they were not keen on flying too high above the ground. In total, 8 individuals were counted, which, under the circumstances, was quite satisfactory. One species that was once considered high priority nationally, and in our region, is the Small Heath. Whilst this may still be so in certain parts of the country, there are little pockets in our county where the butterfly is doing reasonably well. It was encouraging therefore to record 10 in total this afternoon.

Overall, there were 15 species of butterfly and 5 species of day-flying moth. Sadly, Grizzled Skipper failed to put in an appearance, much to the disappointment of the attendees and myself.

The total count for butterflies was as follows:

Small Heath 10
Dingy Skipper 8
Common Blue 5
Brimstone 3
Small Tortoiseshell 1
Speckled Wood 1
Small White 1
Orange Tip 3
Painted Lady 1
Peacock 3
Red Admiral 1
Holly Blue 1
Brown Argus 2
Small Copper 1
Large White 1

Although weather conditions were not ideal that afternoon, I was more than happy with the overall species count, and the feedback from the attendees was similar, so a good day was had by all.

Ketton & Bloody Oaks Quarries

Wednesday 25 May 2022

Max Maughan.

Both quarries are Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust Reserves.

Ketton Quarry is an active limestone quarry, but the reserve is a long worked-out part of the site. It consists of hills, holes and a few rocky outcrops. A group of eleven people met at the reserve on a grey, blustery morning. Consequently, butterflies were in short supply to begin with apart from one Speckled Wood, so it was mostly moths which were recorded as we explored various areas of the quarry: Latticed Heath, Mother Shipton, Burnet Companion, Small Yellow Underwing, Purple and Gold, Silver-ground Carpet, Hebrew Character, Angle Shades, Yellow Shell and Balsam Carpet.

As the morning progressed, there were brief periods of sunshine which brought out a few butterflies including Dingy Skipper, Common Blue and Small Heath. A Four-spotted Chaser dragonfly was recorded. We also came across a Dark-green Fritillary caterpillar making its way across the track as we walked back to the cars.

After lunch, with the weather continuing to improve, we decided to explore an area known as the Valley, and this proved quite successful with the first butterfly being a fresh male Large Skipper. More Dingy Skippers were seen, Small White, Orange-tip and Peacock. Three Vapourer moth larvae were found on a small birch sapling, and there were several damselflies, including Azure and Blue-tailed. A female Adder was also seen in the area just inside the entrance to the reserve.

We had one last search of the first section of the reserve and were rewarded with good views of a Grizzled Skipper.

By now it was mid-afternoon, but a few of the group still opted to visit Bloody Oaks Quarry, a short distance away. Most of this tiny reserve is species-rich limestone grassland which is rare in Rutland and Leicestershire. Here we found more Dingy Skippers and a single Grizzled Skipper, as well as Common Blue butterfly, and Burnet Companion and Mother Shipton moths.

It turned out to be a rewarding day with a final total of 9 butterfly species, and 10 moth species.

Bingham Linear Park

Sunday 29 May 2022

Jenny Craig.

We had about 20 people turn up for the walk which had been advertised by Butterfly Conservation and Notts Wildlife Trust.

The conditions were not great - lots of cloud, a blustery north wind and air temperature of 12 Centigrade.

However, the great thing about the Linear is the range of habitats along the abandoned railway. When the sun came out and there was any shelter by bank, trees or scrub then there was potential for the temperature to rise significantly and a few butterflies appeared.

We saw a number of Small Heaths, Large Skippers, Small Whites, Green-veined Whites and Orange-tips scattered along the length of the walk. In the ash grove we found Speckled Wood and a group of moths, Yellow-barred Long-horn (Nemophora degreerella) displaying their long antennae.

Here and there in the sunshine, we found Painted Ladies - keeping close to the warm ground.

On a granite pile colonised by creeping cinquefoil one of the group spotted a Grizzled Skipper - it sat on the warm rock long enough for us to photograph it.

As we passed the south-facing slope of the grassy cutting near Bingham we saw more Small Heaths and Common Blues.

We also enjoyed the wild roses and the meadows of Ox-eye Daisies, Foxgloves and buttercups.

The warblers were well represented starting with Blackcap, then Willow Warbler, Whitethroat (at regular intervals along the open embankment) and Chiffchaff. 

In the River Smite we saw Grey Heron, Little Egret and Mallard.

Longstone Edge

Sunday 5th June

Unfortunately cancelled due to bad weather

The Forge, Codnor Park

Friday 10 June 2022

Jim Steele

The weather had been quite wet and windy previously, but on the day, 12 of us were treated to a much better day with a good variety of butterflies in reasonable numbers.

Meadow brown, Speckled Wood, Small Heath, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Peacock, Brimstone, Small White, Green-veined White, Common Blue, Dingy Skipper, Large Skipper.

Not to be outdone, moths included Burnet Companion, Lattice Heath, Cinnabar, Silver Y and Brimstone Moth.

Dragonflies were scarce but notable and the following were noted: Four-spotted Chaser, Black-tailed Skimmer, Common Blue Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly and Banded Demoiselle.

Our thanks to Sally and Deb for hosting the event. The Forge continues to be a special site for nature in general, and butterflies in particular.

Coombs Dale

Wednesday 20th July

Unfortunately cancelled due to COVID problems.

Cloud Wood LRWT

Tuesday 26th July 2022

Richard M. Jeffery

Cloud Wood has been one of our most popular Field Trip destinations over the last few years, and has never disappointed. One species that did elude us last year was His Imperial Majesty, the Purple Emperor. He did put in an appearance the week after the field trip, so, trying to preempt a repetition this year, I planned the field trip a week later than usual. What I, or no-one else to that matter, could have anticipated was that the whole butterfly 'season' would be three weeks earlier than usual. A temperature of 19 degrees accompanied by a gentle westerly breeze turned out to be ideal conditions on the day so we were all hopeful.

There were 11 attendees on the field trip, and during our walk we were joined by a visitor who had seen several key species just minutes earlier. I invited him to walk with us. Our target species for the day were Silver-washed Fritillary, White-letter Hairstreak and hopefully Purple Emperor. The former was the first to be seen, with a single male SWF resting on low vegetation. Ultimately just 3 SWF were seen on the day. The lowest count on any of the field trips held here. Purple Hairstreak proved to be even more elusive, and it was right at the very end of our walk that we managed to get a positive ID on a single specimen as it flew high up and around Ash and Oak trees. This was our only encounter that day with the species. A White-letter Hairstreak, on the other hand, announced itself in much greater style by landing on an attendee’s hat and rested awhile to allow photographs to be taken. The lady in question was not deprived of a sighting of the WLH as it flew and landed on a patch of nearby Brambles.

My hunch to put back the date of the field trip to coincide with the flight period of the Purple Emperor failed completely as seems to have ended in the excessive heat in the previous few days. We will try again next year.

The total butterfly count was as follows:

Gatekeeper 17
Speckled Wood 4
Green-veined White 17
Comma 8
Red Admiral 9
Ringlet 2
Meadow Brown 9
Silver-washed Fritillary 3
Large White 1
White-letter Hairstreak 1
Purple Hairstreak 1

Apart from the disappointment of not being able to meet up with His Imperial Majesty, Cloud Wood once again proved to be a successful and enjoyable Field Trip. What 2023 will bring we do not know, but I am sure that, all being well, we will visit this important nature reserve at some point in July and, hopefully, the Purple Emperor will join us.

Pleasley Pit

Saturday 6th August 2022

Willy Lane

Our group met at the Pit Head Café based within Pleasley Pit Visitors' Centre. The site encompasses the old headstocks and winding houses which sit alongside Pleasley Pit Country Park. The onsite facilities were excellent with ample parking albeit paying the parking fees was complicated.

Twelve people attended and at this stage I would like to thank Christine Booth and Ian Hurst, both of whom are members of the transect team at Pleasley Pit for their help in guiding the group and answering questions regarding the local fauna and flora.

Pleasley Pit Country Park has, over a number of years, seen unofficial releases of Butterfly species that would not normally be expected to be seen on site. Two of these species, the Small Blue and the Brown Hairstreak appear to date to have bred successfully and colonised the areas of the site that contain their food plants.

The walk took a circular route around what is a sizable nature reserve. After a visit to what was the Pit’s Wood Yard the group then entered the Orchid Patch, in spring this area is a sea of pink with thousands of orchids on show. It was here that we saw our first Small Blues, the group split into three with the serious photographers spending time getting their first shots of this beautiful insect. The same area produced a Small Copper aberration which obligingly sat in the same spot whilst everyone had the opportunity to get a close look.

In total 18 species were seen, I have listed them roughly in the order they were seen: Gatekeeper, Green-veined White, Small Skipper, Common Blue, Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Small Blue, Holly Blue, Brown Argus, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Copper, Peacock, Large White, Speckled Wood, Brimstone, Brown Hairstreak and Essex Skipper.

The weather was good, with a temperature of 20°C and a gentle WNW breeze.

Pleasley Pit Country Park is one of many old colliery brown field sites that have become lowland Derbyshire strongholds for wildlife. They are all worth a visit and long may they be protected and conserved for future generations.

Chambers Farm Wood

Sunday 7th August 2022

Eliot Taylor & Melanie Penson

A group of six, including Melanie and myself as leaders, met up for this walk. The weather was very good with a temperature of 20°C at the start. The first butterflies we saw were in the butterfly garden, where Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Holy Blue and many Gatekeepers were seen. In the car park Melanie pointed out a bush where exit holes had been made by Currant Clearwing moths.

We then made the longish walk towards the Brown Hairstreak target area. To start with there were not many butterflies around. It was only when we got to the junction known as Five Ways that we encountered the first of many Silver-washed Fritillaries, here we also observed a male in pursuit of a female Silver-washed Fritillary. From this point on there were more nectar sources and Comma, Common Blue, Brimstone, Large Skipper, Small Copper and Meadow Brown were found. We walked past the area called the Minting Triangle, carrying on along the path to the right. This was the area where I had seen seven Brown Hairstreaks in 2020. We waited there a little while and one of of party managed to spot a female Brown Hairstreak in the act of egg laying. It stayed around for quite some time allowing photographers to get some good shots. 

image of Brown Hairstreak

That was the only hairstreak we saw during the day, but it was a relief as I know that sightings of Brown Hairstreak had been scarce earlier in the week. A total of 18 species were seen including 24 Silver-washed Fritillary, plus a Latticed Heath moth.