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.
“This little Fritillary is one of the commonest of our woodland butterflies in the spring and early summer months” – Frohawk, British Butterflies, 1934.
Sadly, this is far from the case today! So, this morning we drove off to Abbots Wood to see one of the few colonies left in the south-east at this mixed woodland site, managed by Forest Enterprise. We were not to be disappointed, seeing plenty of butterflies in flight along a ride and in a sheltered clearing. Occasionally, one or two would take to the trees, pausing for a few moments on an oak leaf before returning to low flight over the ground. Rarely do they seem to have the time to settle long enough for us to have a good look at them.
There were probably as many members of Butterfly Conservation and other butterfly enthusiasts visiting the site today as there are fritillaries to see, judging from the number of people we bumped into during our two hour visit!
Let’s hope that one of the benefits of the South-East Woodlands Project is a return of this once common species to some more woods in Kent and Sussex.
A factsheet is available for the Pearl-Bordered Fritillary from Butterfly Conservation.
From Michael Blencowe:
“I spent an enjoyable morning today delivering a butterfly recording workshop to 15 people at Great Dixter house. The owners of this amazing building kindly allowed us use of a rather grand room and I gave a presentation (while sat amid the antiques and giant rubber plants) about the importance of recording butterflies in this area of the county.
After the presentation it was time to put our i.d skills to the test and we took a walk around Great Dixter House and nearby Weights Wood where I talked about the panic that sets in when I see a white butterfly in the distance, the love life of the Peacock and the importance of woodland management for butterflies.
It was great to meet an enthusiastic bunch of folk who were all very keen on getting out and recording butterflies.”