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Prees Heath Report August & September 2018

It is now 10 years since we set up the Prees Heath Butterfly Transect, which involves walking a set route around the reserve once each week from the beginning of April to the end of September (26 weeks) and recording numbers of all the different butterfly species 5 metres in front of you and 2.5 metres either side. So over the last ten years the transect has been walked 260 times, recording 15,464 butterfliesThis method is used by hundreds of Butterfly Conservation volunteers throughout the UK, and it produces valuable scientific evidence of how our butterflies are faring.

 

The table below shows the numbers of all the species recorded in the last 10 years. What is immediately apparent from the table is that 2018 was an outstanding year. It shows that this was particularly the case for three species – Small Copper, Silver-studded Blue and Common Blue – which all had their best year by a large margin. These are all members of the Lycaenid family of butterflies, and all have a symbiotic relationship with ants to some extent, with the Silver-studded Blue having notably the strongest relationship. It may prove that the hot weather of 2018 was not that good for ant populations, and so we may expect a decline in these butterfly numbers next year. 

 

   

   2009

  2010

     2011

   2012

   2013

   2014

   2015

   2016     

2017    2018                  

Small/Essex Skipper

3

12

4

2

10

42

45

106

62

45

Large Skipper

0

3

0

1

0

5

3

7

0

1

Dingy Skipper

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

Brimstone

4

1

3

0

0

0

2

0

2

3

Large White

60

27

7

4

10

9

6

5

12

26

Small White

23

11

11

5

50

7

7

7

12

36

Green-veined White

37

20

21

1

4

12

2

5

19

18

Orange-tip

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

1

Purple Hairstreak

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

0

2

Small Copper

80

71

44

28

59

48

28

106

35

267

Silver-studded Blue

356

848

333

201

388

313

308

800

435

1670

Common Blue

66

49

26

14

41

69

18

32

32

196

Red Admiral

8

1

5

7

0

4

2

6

18

1

Painted Lady

79

1

1

0

2

2

1

7

0

8

Small Tortoiseshell

2

31

55

22

21

30

26

6

19

16

Peacock

5

7

9

17

27

15

30

7

9

10

Comma

2

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

3

2

Speckled Wood

10

0

1

4

2

4

6

9

9

5

Gatekeeper

50

33

31

36

40

96

48

46

54

43

Meadow Brown

425

243

71

198

452

360

313

308

147

198

Ringlet

18

61

16

13.5

38

77

13

40

32

22

Small Heath

303

281

181

196.5

774

489

269

216

349

498

All Butterflies

1531

1700

819

750

1918

1584

1129

1715

1249

3069

 

 

 

 

IMG 4826

 

 

Common Blue [©Mike Ashton]

 

The Prees Heath volunteers have been busy again. This time we planted another 2,000 bell heather plugs, the last of these at least for the time being. We also broadcast some common heather seed that was brush harvested on the Hangars field last year. Future plans include clearing birch scrub this winter and mowing some of the heather on the Hangars field, spreading the brash which contains seed on some of the restoration areas.

 

IMG 4827

 

 

One butterfly that continues to decline is the Small Tortoiseshell, once a common sight in gardens but now much less frequently seen. Many Small Tortoiseshells emerge from their chrysalis in the summer and immediately go into hibernation for the winter. On 13thSeptember Lucy counted 69 Small Tortoiseshells hibernating in the former RAF control tower, along with 3 Peacocks and 2 Herald moths. Subsequently professional photographer Andy Fusek Peters came and took some photographs – he admitted it was far from straightforward given their unusual location, but he obtained some excellent results. This photo shows a hibernating Peacock on one of the wooden bat boxes in the tower. 

 

IMG 4825

 

 

It has been reported to the Police that on Sunday 19thAugust a man was attacked on the reserve by two Alsatian dogs, and that he required hospital treatment for his wounds. Anyone with any information about this incident should contact the Police by dialling 101 and quoting Incident Number 769S dated 19th August. We try to ensure the reserve is a safe, friendly and welcoming place for visitors and incidents of this nature are taken seriously. 

Stephen Lewis

Volunteer Warden, Butterfly Conservation

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

07900 886809