Tag Archives: events

Get your tickets now for our Patrick Barkham talk on 17 November: Sunshine and Shade – Butterflies and Badgers in Britain Today

We are delighted to have persuaded Guardian natural history writer and author Patrick Barkham to give us a talk, which will be one of Thomas Hardye School’s Community Lectures.

Author of ‘The Butterfly Isles’, Patrick set out to see all of our 59 native species of butterfly, and his book tells of a memorable year travelling to all corners of the countryside seeking out butterflies and the enthusiasts who cherish them.

He will talk about the wonder of butterflies: beautiful creatures and also surprisingly complicated indicators of the state of nature today.

Richard Mabey described his book as: ‘Beguiling … in a vivid, adept, unapologetic voice, Barkham wonderfully catches the spirit of these ethereal creatures’.

He has also written ‘Badgerlands: the twilight world of Britain’s most enigmatic animal’. In the talk he will look at the facinating history of badgers and their interactions with humans, from ‘Wind in the Willows’ to the recent cull.

‘Badgerlands’ was chosen as a Book of the Year in The Times, The Sunday Times, The Guardian and the New Statesman.

This is a Community Lecture in aid of the Dorset Branch of Butterfly Conservation and of the local Primary schools’ science fund.

7.00 pm at the School Theatre, Thomas Hardye School, Queens Avenue, Dorchester DT1 2ET.

Tickets are free, with a collection at the end of the evening. Tickets can be collected from the school from November 4 onwards, or we can post them to you if you send a stamped addressed envelope to: Nigel Spring, 346 Mundens Lane Alveston, Sherborne, DT9 5HU. These Community Lectures are often full, so please do not rely on picking up a ticket on the door.

More details are on the Thomas Hardye School website: http://tinyurl.com/ndpoja8

Contact: Butterfly Conservation contact is Nigel Spring
Phone: 01963 23559 or 07981 776767
Email: [email protected]

Moors Valley Country Park Bioblitz on 24 July – could you join in?

A bio-blitz means trying to identify as many species of flora and fauna as possible in a given time.

Moors Valley Country Park are looking for help of all sorts for their bio-blitz on 24 July, and you don’t have to be an expert. It’s great fun.

View a press release on their website explaining what they need.

Branch Stall publicity triumph

The Dorset Branch education stall has recently spent four days at Moors Valley Country Park, for their ‘Butterfly, Moth and Minibeast Festival”.

More than 1200 people attended, mostly families. The star attractions were living examples including Orange Tip eggs, caterpillars and chrysalis. December moth caterpillars, all hairy and camouflaged against hawthorn twigs, were admired. Small Tortoiseshell caterpillars, chrysalis and an emerging adult came from Moors Valley. A selection of moths were on show, all described by the 10 expert volunteers.

The Buttterfly Conservation’s national Munching Caterpillars initiative also joined us, with Catherine Mason keeping young people busy potting plants to take home.

On the next weekend Winterborne Whitechurch Farm Open Day saw the stall have another 200 plus visitors looking at Poplar Hawk moths and their caterpillars, plus red, white and black Knot Grass caterpillars.

Knot Grass Caterpillar

Knot Grass Caterpillar. Photo: Lyn Pullen

Most amazing was an Orange tip caterpillar changing into a chrysalis as we watched. Small Tortoiseshell caterpillars were also making this wonderful change.

This farm has been surveyed by Butterfly Conservation volunteers and has 31 species of butterfly on its ‘managed for conservation’ areas. Eighty moths have also been seen on the farm, and our display included Privet Hawk Moth, Lobster Moth and the stunning Green silver lines. Our picture displays showed the link between food production and conservation.

You too can volunteer for stall help, it is wonderful to look up and see 4 pairs of eyes riveted on you!

Contact Bridget via our Contact Form.

Alners Gorse walk 12 April

Guided walk at Alners Gorse

Guided walk at Alners Gorse. Photo: Brian Arnold

Brian Arnold reports:

I went on the guided walk at Alners Gorse and Rooksmoor with Nigel Spring today. It was most informative and an enjoyable day.

We did not have the best of weather, so only a few butterflies in their adult form were seen: Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood. It was a good reminder, though, that butterflies take other forms, and we found both Brown Hairstreak eggs and Marsh Fritillary caterpillars.

Brian’s photo of a Marsh Fritillary caterpillar can be seen on our Gallery page.

Silver-spotted Skippers seen on Fontmell Down walk

18 August saw Dorset Branch and the Somerset & Bristol Branch of Butterfly Conservation get together for a walk on Fontmell Down in North Dorset, led by Lawrie De Whalley.

Left: Walkers on Fontmell Down. Right: Clouded Yellow: unusual shot of topside

Left: Walkers on Fontmell Down. Right: Clouded Yellow: unusual shot of topside. Photos: Brian Arnold

Brian Arnold, who went on the walk said:

The walk was most interesting, as the leader Lawrie De Whalley imparted his knowledge of the butterflies and plants to be seen. We hoped to see Silver-spotted Skippers, Chalkhill Blues plus about a dozen other species, and we were rewarded by many sightings, despite several unexpected downpours of rain, including a Clouded Yellow.

Left: Silver-spotted Skipper. Right: pair of Chalkhill Blues, mating

Left: Silver-spotted Skipper. Right: pair of Chalkhill Blues, mating. Photos: Brian Arnold

The people on the walk thoroughly enjoyed it, seeing 30 Silver-spotted Skippers and a total of 18 species of butterfly.

National Moth Night at the Milldown

Four-spotted Footman moths

Four-spotted Footman moths, male on the left and female on the right. Photo: Lawrie de Whalley

National Moth night trapping on the site of the BC Milldown transect recorded 58 species: 50 macro moths and 8 micros.

These Four-spotted Footman, above, were a good find: these moths are both migrants and have been known to form transient colonies in Dorset, but are not often found. For full information on the species see www.dorsetmothgroup.info.

The North Dorset Ranger in charge of the site, his daughter and 6 Butterfly Conservation members were joined by about 12 passing visitors to enjoy seeing what was caught, which included Old Lady and Rosy Footman moths.

Thanks to Colin Burningham and Bob Steadman for setting up the event.

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!

Help needed to put up tents at events

Dorset is a very active branch of Butterfly Conservation, attending many events through the Spring and Summer months to enthuse people about butterflies and moths. We find we increasingly have to take our own gazebo to these events, and this is getting to be a bit much for some of our volunteers who man the stall. We are therefore looking for help at events, to put the stall up at the beginning of the day and take it down at the end. It is probably a two-person job and you would need to be able to store the tent between events. We anticipate this will apply to about six events next year.

Whether you stay for the day or not will be up to you, but it does get you into places without paying and we can always do with another pair of hands….

If you think you can help, please contact Bridget de Whalley on 01258 880524 or e-mail

[email protected]