The recent sunny weather has brought the butterflies out in abundance!
Members of our Butterfly project team, our partner organisation Butterfly Conservation, the Dean Green Team and Kate Wollen (Forestry England, Assistant Ecologist) have been monitoring butterflies on their regular walks and are pleasantly surprised by the numbers.
Kate Wollen reports, of numerous sightings in the Forest:
“The Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterflies emerged last week at both the Linear Park ( Ruspidge Halt) and Brandricks Green. They were seen mating at both sites. A total of 6 individual small pearl- bordered were seen there.
More fabulous results of all of our hard habitat management work over the winter!
We have recorded 90 Wood White butterflies, 48 Dingy Skipper, 12 Grizzled Skipper and numerous small Heath and Common blues which had also just emerged this week.
This is fantastic, the most Wood Whites and Dingies we have ever had there in one count. The new ponds are also looking pretty good with Broad bodied Chaser dragonflies on most.”
These are the other species spotted: Orange-tip, Green-veined White, Small White, Large White, Red Admiral, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood
David Dewsbury, who also supports our Butterflies project, tells us more about this rare butterfly:
“This butterfly used to have 30+ breeding sites around the Dean but is now confined to just 2 known places.
Nobody really understands why they have declined but it is likely to be because their breeding habitat is no longer suitable. The caterpillars like to eat clumps of violets which are in short vegetation such as bracken. It needs to be in a sunny place and preferably a bit damp. There are several reasons that these places are disappearing such as the growth of woody scrub or bracken growing too tall and uncontrolled. This is happening partly because there is no longer extensive grazing by sheep or coppicing by people. It could also be that climate change is making the landscape generally drier.”
Forestry England is trying to halt the decline in our Forest and we would really appreciate your help in telling us if you see any of these butterflies whilst you are out walking? The adults have just emerged and will be on the wing for the next couple of weeks. It would be really nice to find an undiscovered breeding place and if you let us know we can check it out.
It is a fast flier!”
Main photo: Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary, breeding pair, courtesy David Dewsbury
Inset photo: Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary, from above, courtesy David Dewsbury
Read more about our Butterflies project