Tag Archives: conservation

The Large Blue – a conservation success

Large Blue. Photo: John Woodruff

The Large Blue is aptly named, being indeed the largest and also rarest of the ‘blue’ butterflies in Britain but sadly, absent from Dorset. It is easily distinguished from other blues by the row of black spots on its upper forewing, the underside consisting of a pale brown colour dotted with a further array of black markings. Continue reading

New record for Weymouth Relief Road

Dingy Skippers have been recorded for the first time on the wildflower banks lining the bridle path of the Weymouth Relief Road. This was an exciting discovery for the guided walk on 17 May. Common Blue was seen in abundance and at least 3 separate colonies of Small Blue.

Dingy skipper on kidney vetch

Dingy skipper on kidney vetch. Photo: Allan Neilson

The branch has been monitoring this site since its creation in 2011. The cutting is now a delight with horseshoe vetch in full bloom creating a carpet of golden yellow. There has been a year-on-year increase of butterfly species seen. Who knows? – maybe the next will be the Chalkhill Blue.

If you would like to help with our survey please just walk the bridle path from the Ridgeway down to the Bincombe turning. We are also recording the banks alongside both of the lay-bys. Please let Georgie Laing know you would like to help so she can send you a recording form, using our Contact Form.

To get to the main walk along the bridleway, park at the truncated end of the Broadmayne road. The bridleway goes along the side of the hill. Map: SY674859

Ponies move to Lankham

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!

Dartmoor ponies

Dartmoor ponies

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.


Fenceline clearance

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 )

Completed fence

Completed fence

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.

Weymouth Relief Road is a hit with butterflies

Georgie Laing has pulled together the information gathered in 2013 on how the sides of the Weymouth Relief Road, built in 2012 for the Olympics, are doing.

This area was deliberately not grassed, but seeded with butterfly-attracting wild flowers, which certainly seem to be doing their job.

A riot of colour now greets travelers when the yellow blanket of kidney vetch blooms on the cuttings and bridleway on the ridgeway. This is important as the caterpillar food plant of the Small Blue.

Kidney vetch on bridleway

Kidney vetch on the Bridleway, 2013. Photo: John Elliott

For the last two years Butterfly conservation volunteers have been monitoring the site to record the species of butterflies.

2013 proved to be a good year:

  • 25 visits were made
  • 20 species recorded
  • 621 individual records
  • 8 new species were recorded:
    • Large Skipper
    • Clouded Yellow
    • Brimstone
    • Green-veined White
    • Orange-tip
    • Adonis Blue
    • Peacock

3 species showed large increases from last year

  • Small White (144 recorded)
  • Common Blue (213 recorded)
  • Small Tortoiseshell (79 recorded)
Small Blue

Small Blue. Photo: John Elliott

Species list for 2013

  • Large Skipper (new 2013)
  • Clouded yellow (new 2013)
  • Brimstone (new 2013)
  • Large White
  • Small White
  • Green-veined White (new 2013)
  • Orange-tip (new 2013)
  • Small Copper (new 2013)
  • Small Blue
  • Brown Argus
  • Common Blue
  • Adonis Blue (new 2013)
  • Red Admiral
  • Painted lady
  • Small Tortoiseshell
  • Peacock (new 2013)
  • Wall
  • Marbled White
  • Gatekeeper
  • Meadow Brown
  • Ringlet (2012 only)

We would like to continue the monitoring in 2014 and are hoping to design a formal butterfly monitoring (transect) walk. More volunteers are needed.

If you would like to help or would like a more detailed report of the records please contact Georgie Laing  via our Contact Form.

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.