We have four Butterfly Reserves in Dorset, all of which have their attractions, but Alners gathers the most attention at this time of year because of its Hairstreaks. A guided walk there on 5 August, led by Martin Warren,drew 30 people, and was described as “superb” despite showers.
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Branch of Butterfly Conservation have published a 64 page guide to the best sites across Hampshire and Wight for seeing the 46 species of butterfly regularly breeding there. Continue reading
Reserves manager Nigel Spring requests your help to monitor our ponies at Alners Gorse and Rooksmoor in north Dorset. Continue reading
A short, but very sweet note has come in from our Reserves Manager, Nigel Spring: Continue reading
Our four Dartmoor ponies have gone on their winter holiday to our Butterfly Reserve at Lankham Bottom, where the ground is less muddy and where there is more grass and a change of scenery!
This is the first time they have been moved since their arrival at Alners Gorse in November 2012, and despite our anxieties, the loading up and journey went very smoothly with a minimum of bickering between them.
The corral and gate system at Alners Gorse proved itself to be very workable. The four immediately made themselves at home, running the entire perimeter of the reserve then across the middle, obviously carrying out a quick assessment of their new quarters.
We are having to replace some of the fencing along the southern and western borders of the reserve as it is barely stock-proof and a team of nine branch volunteers spent a bright sunny day on February 16th clearing the gorse and bramble from the old fence and getting it ready for the contractor to start the job. A Peacock butterfly flew past, tempted out of its slumbers by the warmth of the day.
The new fence has been now been installed by local contractor David Wareham and completed in record time with the help of local BC volunteers and members of the EuCAN CIC Cerne Valley group (see http://www.eucan.org.uk )
We are very grateful to Wessex Water for agreeing to fund the new fencing.
The ponies are checked daily by our team of pony ‘lookers’ – if you would like to be involved, please contact Kathy Henderson on 01963 23559.
A team of 10 BC volunteers spent a beautiful still autumn day on Sunday November 17th at Lankham Bottom Reserve continuing the clearance work on the gorse and bramble scrub at the top of the south-facing slope.
Lankham Bottom Conservation Work November 2013. Photo: Ann Evans
The bushes have been extending inexorably over the downland for over 40 years (according to local sources) but with all the efforts of volunteers and contractors in recent seasons, the large blocks of scrub are being broken up.
This will provide not only a greater area of valuable habitat for butterflies, moths and other wildlife that favour open grassland, but also more agricultural land for our tenant’s cattle to graze.
The next scheduled event at Lankham Bottom is on Sunday January 19. See the Events page for more information.
The recent sunny dry weather has led to spectacular numbers of butterflies at Alners Gorse and very satisfying views of Brown, White-letter and Purple Hairstreaks, White Admirals and Silver-washed Fritillaries for the crowds of butterfly watchers and photographers who have visited the reserve.
White Admiral. Photo: Chris Becker
The warm conditions have also dried out the ground beautifully, which has enabled us to bring the mobile saw-bench into the woodland to process some of the oak, pine and spruce trunks that have been stored there for the last two years.
We have supplies of standard sizes in softwood (2″x”2, 6″x1″, 3″x2″ etc) and a number of oak posts and other pieces for sale at very reasonable prices!
Please contact [email protected] if you would be interested in buying some of this timber, ot placing an order for our next session – ideal for raised beds, nestboxes, fencing, or that garden shed or kennel you are yearning to build!
Over 35 people attended the Open Day and moth trapping session at Lankham Bottom Butterfly Reserve on August 9th and 10th – ranging in age from five to… well, shall we say over 50?
It was a cool clear night for the BBQ (with a great view of the International Space Station going over) and the moth numbers were reasonable – well over 500 moths of 80 different species, with plenty of large colourful macros to satisfy everyone.
Grateful thanks to Jack Oughton and Vince Giavarini for his help with the identification of the tricky micros.
Pebble Hook-tip moth. Photo: Lyn Pullen
Read the full list of moths trapped.
The highlights of the guided walk were the discovery of very good numbers of Marsh Fritillary larval webs on the eastern slopes of the reserve, and a view of a Redstart presumably moving through on its southward migration.
We have taken a bold step in purchasing four Dartmoor ponies, to enable us to manage our grassland sites more effectively. Scarface, Holly, Clara and Blackberry arrived at our Alners Gorse Butterfly Reserve. on 11 November, and settled in quickly. Anyone who would like to be involved with our Dartmoor herd should contact Kathy Henderson by e-mail: [email protected]
If you visit Alners Gorse, please help us keep an eye on the ponies, and report any problems to Kathy on 07806 752412 or to Nigel Spring 07981 776767. Please do not approach them or feed them: we need them to remain semi-wild; and please keep your dogs under close control near them.