Category Archives: Volunteering

Work on Lankham Bottom Butterfly Reserve

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.

Conservation work and bonfire

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.

Help needed with checking butterfly records

Could you volunteer to help us with the butterfly records that come in via our website?

Our new recording form on the website this year has meant we are receiving many more records than previously, and they all have to be checked before they are added to our database. The job is presently being done by one person, but we need a small team to share it between them.

Adonis Blue butterflies

Adonis Blues. Photo: Mark Pike

You would need to:

a) Have your own computer and be computer literate.
b) Be able to reliably give some time each day to this task, during the weeks you are on duty – it takes up to 1 hour per day in June/July/Aug, but almost none in the winter. How the work is split between the team members can be worked out to their mutual satisfaction.
c) Be ready to communicate (tactfully!) with recorders by e-mail when the record they have sent in appears to have an error.
d) Know a bit about butterflies. In-depth knowledge is not needed: there will be initial training and then people to support you, and you will learn as you go along.
e) Be systematic: our system allows making non-public notes to yourself, and you need to keep track of any records which you have queried so you can chase up any lack of response.
f) Be comfortable with moving text around on the records to enhance the public view of them.
g) Have a working knowledge of grid references or be willing to learn – it’s not difficult and the process of grid ref checking is partly automated.

You will get in return:

a) The pleasure of helping us grow our butterfly sightings database, which provides essential information for ensuring butterflies flourish across Dorset.
b) The camaraderie of working as part of a team.
c) Interesting contact with many other butterfly-minded people.
d) The satisfaction of seeing data come in and go out, and knowing you have helped it on its way.

If you are interested, please contact Bill Shreeves at or 01747 852587.

Help Needed at Buddleia trial in North Dorset – lots of butterflies to record!

Dorset Branch members Peter & Judy Westgate started their private collection of well over 100 buddleia varieties in Fontmell Magna last year, with the aim of finding out which were the best for butterflies.

This year the bushes have grown larger, and are attracting even more butterflies: those who have already visited have counted nearly 100 Peacocks, plus growing numbers of Small Tortoiseshells, Brimstones, Red Admirals, Commas from the mid-summer Hutchinsoni variety and occasional Painted Ladies, Clouded Yellows and Dark Green and Silver-washed Fritillaries. Of course there are also clouds of fluttering Whites, mostly Large and Small but also some Green-veined.

Buddleia test plot

Buddleia test plot

We would welcome more recorders to visit & help to collect data on which varieties and colours attract the most butterflies.

Last year’s champion, the amazing dark purple Dartmoor with florettes hanging down in bunches like bananas, has not yet reached full bloom, but there are many new varieties now taking the field.

The collection is open at any time but if you have not visited before please contact Bill Shreeves to obtain directions on how to get there, how to record & a plan of the site. E-mail: or write to 5, Butt’s Mead, Shaftesbury, Dorset, SP7 8NS.

If you visit, it would also be much appreciated if you could help the plants to keep flowering by doing some ‘dead heading’ – bring your own secateurs!

As an extra inducement Peter Westgate has also provided a comfortable seat under the shade of the orchard from which the amazing butterfly spectacle can be contemplated!

Identification Workshop produces more recorders

Our butterfly identification workshop on 8 June was fully booked, and the potential butterfly recorders who attended rated the day highly.

Comments included: “I learned so much and thoroughly enjoyed it”; “Really interesting day” and “Brilliant workshop”.

The morning was spent learning how to identify various species, then in the afternoon the group went on a field trip to practice the skills learned, finding (among other species) newly emerged Brown Argus, mating Marsh Fritillaries, Green Hairstreaks and a Large Skipper which was the first of this species to be seen in Dorset this year as far as we know.

Course attendees spread out across Black Hill near Cerne Abbas

Course attendees spread out across Black Hill near Cerne Abbas. Photo: Colin Burningham

The purpose of the day was for us to find more recorders who will join our various recording schemes, and we are delighted we now have more people to help us with Transect Walks, Wider Countryside Recording and Garden Recording (all of these are explained on the How to Record page).

Course attendees round tables working hard at identification

Course attendees working hard at identification. Photo: Colin Burningham.

Our next ID workshop will be next year, but if you might be interested, you can send you e-mail to Bill Shreeves now, and we will contact you when plans are made for the day.

If you feel you could help anyway, please go to our How to Record page and choose your method(s), which range from reporting the butterflies you happen to see, to very specific schemes like Transect Walking.

Butterflies can only be conserved if we know how they are doing, so please help if you can – it’s fun!