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Butterflies

One of the glories of our Reserve is walking through on a warm summer’s day and disturbing clouds of butterflies. For many years Ann Bowker, our secretary, has been recording butterfly numbers at the reserve. This has been done by perfoming a 'transect' (a walk that takes the same course each week visiting sections of the reserve). The results feed into the The British Butterfly Conservation Society's national scheme to record numbers and varieties.

Butterflies 2003 to 2009

The following graphs show the butterfly numbers from the last few years. There is also a table of all the results so far.

 
Butterfly graph 1
 
Butterfly graph 2
 
Butterfly graph 3
 
Butterfly graph 4
 
  2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Small skipper 57 27 75 23 10 12 27
Large skipper 10 19 33 5 19 4 12
Clouded yellow 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
Brimstone 0 2 6 6 2 3 2
Large White 45 41 59 62 35 80 96
Small white 65 92 198 110 59 75 116
G. V. White 12 7 18 14 9 13 53
Orange tip 21 32 26 8 39 3 14
Green hairstreak 0 0 0 0 4 0 0
Purple hairstreak 0 0 0 2 0 0 0
Common blue 117 58 14 80 3 17 28
Holly blue 1 6 4 1 4 3 3
Small copper 8 7 1 4 0 3 0
Red admiral* 2 3 10 19 14 5 16
Painted lady* 4 0 0 12 1 0 33
Small tortoiseshell 37 8 2 1 11 1 9
Peacock 12 11 23 25 39 16 23
Comma 24 13 36 25 39 16 23
Speckled wood 58 41 76 88 70 89 102
Marbled white 80 59 89 99 153 38 68
Gate keeper 310 340 253 284 125 116 103
Meadow brown 422 472 485 442 425 381 247
Ringlet 301 51 152 118 161 140 183
Small Heath 6 1 1 0 0 0 0
Brown Argus 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Total 1592 1290 1561 1429 1222 1015 1159

*Note: Migrant from the continent.

 

Here are some notes from Ann...

“It is difficult to draw conclusions from these results for all sorts of reasons;

  1. I have been learning my trade, so the early years are less reliable.
  2. I have difficulty distinguishing between Small White and Green-Veined White especially in flight. I suspect that there have been more of the latter and fewer of the former than recorded.
  3. Likewise Small and Large Skippers are hard to tell apart.
  4. Both Hairstreaks are difficult to see and may have been around without being noted.
  5. The drop in small Tortoiseshell numbers is a reflection of the national situation as are also the poor figures in 2007 and 2008.
  6. However I cannot account for the gradual drop in Gate Keepers and Meadow Browns, though Ringlet seem to be holding their own. I am hoping the Marbled Whites will come back up again. Speckled Woods are the star performers – maybe as the trees grow taller and provide the dappled shade they love.”

If you see any interesting butterflies in the Reserve this summer, do let Ann know when and where (see the Contact US page), so that the team will be able to look out for them.

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