Big Butterfly Count

“At some point over the coming week (24th July – 1st August) please consider taking part in our BIG BUTTERFLY COUNT, a nationwide survey aimed at helping us assess the health of our environment.  It’s really simple and I’m certain you’ll find it enjoyable and rewarding. Visit the site at www.bigbutterflycount.org

– Steve Wheatley, Butterfly Conservation’s Rother Woods Project Officer

Advertisements

Beckley Woods Update

It’s been a while since my last post, but much has been going on in East Sussex and the Rother Woods Project has achieved a great deal with Steve Wheatley at the helm. Indeed, a walk in a local wood could well result in your bumping into him and possibly other butterfly enthusiasts!

Personally, I’ve been investing some time on recording methods using my recently acquired Blackberry Bold, whilst visiting a number of local woodlands.

With the aid of its inbuilt GPS and a newly customised version of GPSLogger (grateful thanks are due to Matthias at www.emacberry.com/gpslogger.html) I can record the exact locations of butterfly sightings and export them to a CSV format. Even more useful, is the ability to upload to Google Maps.

Today, in Beckley Woods I recorded a few Silver-washed Fritillary, including several in a ride widened by Butterfly Conservation volunteers, numerous Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Comma, Large and Small White, Peacock, Gatekeeper and a single White Admiral – the locations of all these can be seen on Google Maps.

A stroll in Beckley Woods

On a walk in Beckley Woods today, a single male Brimstone was flying in the ride newly widened as part of the Rother Woods project.

Further up the main track, towards the power lines, I also encountered a pristine Peacock patrolling the track between the conifers, occasionally settling on the warm, sunlit ground.

The Forestry Commission are doing a fair bit of work to widen rides also, so it will be interesting to see what difference it makes this summer – assuming we get one this year!

A Windy Day in Beckley Woods

The official launch of this important project took place on Saturday 24th May in Beckley Woods. A reasonable crowd of enthusiastic butterfly hunters arrived by around 10am on a very blowy morning.

Steve Wheatley (Project Officer), resplendant in khaki complete with pith helmet, gave a brief welcome and we all then wandered off for what was expected to be a fruitless search, given the poor weather.

Project Officer Steve Wheatley

However, one eagle-eyed observer suddenly noticed a Green Hairstreak fly up into the trees! There then followed twenty minutes of staring at a sea of green leaves, waving around in the gusty wind, trying to get a view of a small, green butterly edge on. No easy matter.

Once seen though, it’s surprising how easy it is to find it again. After it had become bored with our attentions, it flew up into the air, only to be joined by a companion! Cue more happy butterfly folk.

Rother Woods Project – Official Launch – 24th May

The Rother Woods Project will be officially launched at Beckley Woods, at 10am on Saturday 24th May.

The event will be a get-together for project volunteers and supporters and I’d be really pleased if any branch members/web visitors could come along. There’s also the chance we’ll see some Grizzled Skippers (possibly aberration taras or aberration intermedia) and some other lovely butterflies. Visitors can also have a walk around Beckley Woods to see the challenge ahead or they can head off to a different site to record butterflies or just enjoy the start of the Bank Holiday weekend.

– Steve Wheatley (Rother Woods Project Officer)

Grizzled Skippers at Beckley Woods

A visit to Beckley Woods today to see Grizzled Skippers was well worthwhile. I’d visited the previous evening, but a little late to see more than one individual that disappeared almost immediately. We had encountered a Slow Worm however, which was missing part of its tail.

Grizzled Skipper (ab. intermedia)

On a lovely warm morning, there were a number of Grizzled Skippers meandering about the entrance area to the woods. This particular type is an aberration (ab. intermedia); a variety determined by environmental conditions and heredity which only appears in a few locations. Examples of this and other aberrations can be seen on the Natural History Museum website.

This butterfly flies quickly close to the ground and changes direction rapidly, making it quite difficult to spot and to see where it has settled. A factsheet on the Grizzled Skipper can be obtained from the Butterfly Conservation website.