News and Features
Sussex Biological Recorders Seminar 2018
Wednesday 13 December
Just to let you know that booking is now open for 'Adastra' - the Sussex Biological Recorders' Seminar - on Saturday 17th February at Oathall Community College, Haywards
We're really excited about this year's programme which includes our very own Neil Hulme giving a talk about the Fritillaries of the Future project. We've also taken on board feedback from last year and included MORE TIME FOR CHATTING! Plus we've agreed a new plan for serving teas & coffees with the caterers so there'll be SHORTER QUEUES! What's not to like?
Heavy machinery now clear from Rowland Wood
Wednesday 13 December
Thank you for your patience in keeping clear of Rowland Wood while the heavy machinery was there. This work is now complete, and we are pleased to allow permissive access to the wood again.
Our members and volunteers have commented on the growing problem of dog fouling on the reserve, which is not only unpleasant for other visitors but also counter-productive to our conservation work.
We would therefore remind you of Butterfly Conservation's policy on this matter. Dogs are welcome on the reserve, provided they remain on a lead and on the path at all times. Please pick up after your dog and take any mess home.
Commercial dog-walking is not permitted.
Butterfly Conservation Sussex Branch AGM
Friday 26 October
The Butterfly Conservation Sussex Branch Annual General meeting was held at Hurstpeirpoint yesterday.
Over a hundred members attended, which was considerably more than last year and meant that the small room was packed to bursting point. This helped create a vibrant atmosphere, and the general consensus seems to be that this was a very enjoyable AGM.
The event started with official business, which includes the approval of minutes, the election of committee members and the approval of last years financial statement. Branch chair Nigel Symington briefly outlined the achievements of the branch in the past year and gave fulsome praise to Theresa Lux and Gary Norman who this year had been awarded "Volunteer of the Year" and national level for their work in rearing Pearl-bordered Fritillaries and Small Pearl-bordered fritillaries for the reintroduction last spring.
After the official business was over Alan Loweth and Nick Feledziak of the RSPB gave an entertaining presentation about Broadwater Warren, near Tunbridge Wells, which the RSPB have been turning from a coniferous plantation into open heathland over the past 10 years. Nick talked about the restoration process whilst Alan outlined the role of volunteers in running the reserve. One day it would be nice to see Silver-studded Blue on this wonderful site.
Following a break for tea and cakes, Michael Blencowe ran the raffle in his usual inimitable style before giving an entertaining talk on the butterfly year 2017 ("an epic among epics!" Nigel Symington) which rounded off the day.
A big thank you is due to our guest speakers, to all those who helped with the tea and cakes, to all those who helped set up and then clear up the room, to all those who donated raffle prizes and to everybody else who took part and made this such a pleasurable event.
Obituary: Wendy Meadway
Friday 17 November
I was saddened to hear the news that one of our most devoted supporters Wendy Meadway has passed away. Since I started to volunteer for Butterfly Conservation a decade ago Wendy has been a reliable, regular feature of my walks and talks in East Sussex. It was always reassuring to see her smiling face at events in the woodlands or high on the downs where s he regularly accompanied the late Joe Morley.
Other will remember her for her assistance with the raffle at our AGM. She was passionate about wildlife and conservation and it was lovely to be able to set up a moth trap session just for her at the end of the summer when she discovered she was ill. Wendy was fascinated and knowledgeable as always and was keen to expand her wildlife knowledge by identifying the hoverflies that joined the Small Coppers and bees on the nearby Fleabane.
I was surprised to learn that day that she had a successful career as an illustrator providing artwork for many books about natural history (https://bearalley.blogspot.co.uk/2008/04/clifford-wendy-meadway.html).
The funeral will be on Monday 27th November at 1.45pm at Eastbourne Crematorium and there will be a get-together afterwards at the nearby Red Lion.
If you would like to join us at the Red Lion please email secretary - firstname.lastname@example.org
Tesco's Bags of Help Scheme - Vote for Butterfly Conservation Sussex White-letter Hairstreak Elm planting scheme
Friday 26 October
Butterfly Conservation - Sussex Branch and the South Downs National Park Authority have applied for a grant with the Tesco's Bags of Help Scheme as partners in a project which would see 550 Dutch elm disease-resistant Elm trees planted within the grounds of Lancing College. The projects primary target is to secure and increase the local population of White-letter Hairstreak which relies exclusively on Elm, also to benefit would be the Comma and various moth species.
Our project is up for voting from the start of November through to the end of December. We need your support by voting for our project titled ''Elms for Adur Hairstreak Butterflies'' using Tesco tokens. Voting will take place within the following two stores below, you will need to make a purchase of any value to vote. You will receive one token per transaction and it's not necessary to purchase a carrier bag in order to receive a token. The more tokens the project wins, the amount of money awarded will increase. You will not be given a token automatically so please remember to ask for one. We need your votes! Please shop at the following stores if you possibly can.
Upper Shoreham Rd
225 Upper Shoreham Rd,
Ivy lifeline for autumn moths - Butterfly conservation press release
Thursday 12 October
Despite Christmas being weeks away, wildlife lovers will be gathered around the ivy over the coming nights as they search for rare and spectacular moths looking for an autumn lifeline.
An immigration of rare moths from Europe is currently taking place across the UK with the scarce Silver-striped Hawk-moth and Radford's Flame Shoulder all seen in recent days.
These rarities have also been joined by spectacular immigrant species such as the giant Convolvulus Hawk-moth and Humming-bird Hawk-moth.
The Clifden Nonpareil, one of the UK's most striking autumn moths has recently become established from Dorset to Kent but numbers have this year been boosted by dozens of immigrants from the continent.
As part of this year's Moth Night, an annual UK-wide event to record moths, organisers Atropos, Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology are asking the public to investigate their local patches of flowering ivy to help gather more information on the plant's importance to moths.
Ivy provides a lifeline to moths, butterflies and other pollinators as it flowers late in the year when other nectar sources are unavailable.
Over the next three nights wildlife lovers are being asked to take a torchlight safari of ivy flowers and count some of the moths that are on the wing in autumn.
Many different autumnal moths are regularly seen refuelling on ivy blossom, including the beautiful Pink-barred Sallow, Angle Shades, Green-brindled Crescent, Yellow-line Quaker and Lunar Underwing.
Migrant species may be attracted too, such as the Silver Y, supping on the sugary nectar that will power their flights southwards to warmer climes.
For moths staying and overwintering as adults such as the Buttoned Snout and Red-green Carpet, ivy flowers provide an important food source as the moths build up their fat reserves.
All this insect activity has other benefits too - pollinating the ivy flowers will create the black berries that provide a winter food supply for birds.
Butterfly Conservation Head of Recording, Richard Fox said: "A quick check of ivy blossom on a sunny autumn day will reveal bees, hoverflies, butterflies and other insects, all making the most of this seasonal bonanza of nectar".
"After dark, the pollinator nightshift takes place and a myriad of moths come out to feed."
"For this year's Moth Night, find some big patches of ivy flowers nearby and go back with a torch after the sun has set. It's a fantastic and easy way to see some of the beautiful moths that are on the wing in autumn."
Atropos editor Mark Tunmore said: "Ivy is an undervalued natural resource and there is a tendency for it to be regarded as something that needs to be tidied away in the garden."
"However, ivy offers valuable nectar for insects, shelter for bats and nesting birds, as well as a source of berries for small mammals and birds. It is also an attractive plant in its own right".
"We are encouraging people to get out over the coming days and look at what they can see on their local ivy patches. Some of our most attractive autumnal moths may be glimpsed, taking advantage of this rich nectar source."
Ecologist at CEH Marc Botham said "There are a fantastic range of autumnal moths in the UK, a number of which are declining. They provide food for many other animals especially those feeding up for winter when food is scarce. National Moth Night will provide important data to help determine the status of some of these species."
Moth Night 2017 runs from 12 to 14 October and will include moth trapping events across the UK.
Moth Night 2017 is organised by Atropos and Butterfly Conservation in association with the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, with the aim of encouraging recording and raising the profiles of moths amongst the public. The annual event was founded by Atropos in 1999. For information about events and to submit sightings visit www.mothnight.info
For interviews and images contact the Butterfly Conservation Press Office 01929 406 005 email@example.com
Butterfly Conservation is the UK charity dedicated to saving butterflies, moths and our environment. Our research provides advice on how to conserve and restore habitats. We run programmes for more than 100 threatened species and we are involved in conserving hundreds of sites and reserves. www.butterfly-conservation.org
ATROPOS is the popular UK journal for butterfly, moth and dragonfly enthusiasts, catering for amateur and professional interests. www.atropos.info Up to the minute information about latest sightings of migrant insects around the British Isles may be found on the Flight Arrivals pages of this website.
The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) www.ceh.ac.uk is the UK's Centre of Excellence for integrated research in the land and freshwater ecosystems and their interaction with the atmosphere, and part of the Natural Environment Research Council. CEH employs more than 450 people at four major sites in England, Scotland and Wales, hosts over 150 PhD students, and has an overall budget of about ?35m. CEH tackles complex environmental challenges to deliver practicable solutions so that future generations can benefit from a rich and healthy environment. You can follow the latest developments in CEH research via @CEHScienceNews on Twitter
Natalie Ngo Media,
Officer and Assistant Editor Butterfly magazine
The future of Tide Mills
Tuesday 10 October
Many members may be aware that there are plans afoot to destroy a large part of Tide Mills. Plans are that a new road will be built and a concrete factory too.
This whole area is an important and sensitive site for all kinds of wildlife, as well as a flat area which is accessible to many local people. In recent years rare birds such as Serin and Red-backed Shrike have stopped off there and it is also a regular place for Wheatear, Whinchat and Ring Ouzel and as they migrate and overwintering Black Redstart. It will also affect wading birds such as Redshank, Turnstone, Ringed Plover and Purple Sandpiper.
As far as butterflies go it is famous for being one of the most reliable places in the UK to see the Long-tailed Blue in 2013 and 2015 and would be in future years if these plans do not go ahead. Clouded Yellow, Common Blue, Small Copper and many of the Brown family are also found here. Wall Brown used to fly here and may well do in the future again.
More details, and a petition against these plans can be found at Save the Western End of Tide Mills and Seaford Bay.
Charlton forest - Project update
Saturday 2 September
The extensive habitat improvement work carried out last winter exceeded expectations and has created an extensive network of open space within Charlton Forest. Within these sunny open spaces new vegetation will flourish, creating future habitat that we hope will be colonised by Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Duke of Burgundy, Grizzled Skipper, Drab Looper moth and many other species.
Around 5km of ride edge has been mulched, creating wide sunny rides. The arising have been raked and cleared, leaving bare, open ground in which violets are already beginning flourish. These new, sunny corridors will provide the dispersal routes for many butterflies and other invertebrates.
Huge box junctions have been created where woodland rides intersect. As the vegetation develops, these will provide a mix of habitat structures, all with different aspects and with shade at different points. These will be the busy hubs from which the butterflies, moths and other species will cross and disperse.
Connecting rides have been sensitively widened with scalloping cuts that produce wide sunny bays. The trees and branches have been raked back in these areas. The back of these scallops, set-back from the ride edge, will scrub up to provide a soft edge to the woodland, whilst the front banks will be rich in low woodland flora.
Stumps have been ground down so that these new areas can be maintained easily and effectively with a forestry mower, ensuring a long continuity of economically and ecologically sustainable management for many years to come.
Bramble and bracken will be selectively targeted for control to ensure the woodland ground flora has chance to establish without being shaded out. We're working with the Forestry Commission team to deliver this follow-up work.
Conservation volunteer work parties will add the finishing touches to some of the areas of greatest potential for early colonisation by butterflies. We'll be working with the South Downs National Park team to deliver these work parties during winter 17/18.
In summer 2018 we'll initiate the formal survey and monitoring programme that will measure the changes for years to come.
We wish to thank Veolia Environmental Trust for supporting this project. Thanks also to the Forestry Commission and the Goodwood Estate for enabling this project.
Senior Regional Officer - South East England
South Downs Heathland Forum at Iping and Stedham Commons
Thursday 31 August
On Tuesday, by invitation of the South Downs National Park Authority, Sussex Branch Chair Nigel Symington attended the South Downs Heathland Forum which was held on Iping and Stedham commons and in Midhurst. The objective of this project is to expand and connect the existing 1% of heathland left in the national park. This habitat is home to some of Britain's rarest wildlife including all twelve of our native reptiles and amphibians, and also the Silver-studded Blue.
The project is funded by partner contributions and a ?1.44 Million Heritage Lottery Fund grant. The total project value is ?2.37 million. This will aid heathland management which includes bare ground creation (60% of heathland insects rely on bare ground during some stage of their life cycle) and scrub removal. This will create wildlife corridors forming an area of heathland greater than 1, 200 football pitches by the end of the five year project.
The last presentation of the day was by ecologist Petra Billings, who reported on a Bioblitz held to connect
Ambersham and Graffham commons.
She highlighted 10 key points of that day. Of these, No 9 was Michael Blencowe (for being Michael Blencowe) and
No 6 was Clare Blencowe (for identifying fungi, and in particular the Tawny grisette).
Successful Brown Hairstreak meeting with Mid Sussex District and Burgess Hill Town Councils
Friday 11 August
This afternoon David Cook and I had a very productive meeting with representatives of Mid Sussex District and Burgess Hill Town Councils, to continue our review of wildlife-friendly hedgerow management in the region. Our dealings with both councils have been 'like a breath of fresh air' and it's a pleasure to work with such receptive and proactive people. The details of a new cutting regime, which will benefit Brown Hairstreak and a host of other fauna and flora, have now been finalised.
The weather improved rather late in the day, but just in time for our tour of the Burgess Hill Green Circle meadows. We were delighted to be able to show them a female hairstreak at close quarters and a freshly laid egg. After the meeting, and with the sunshine now at full strength, David and I moved to another meadow and saw a further three females and a male. This is a great area for Brown Hairstreak, and it's going to get even better. We are very grateful to MSDC and BHTC for their assistance.
Fritillaries for the Future - Project Update: Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary second brood
Wednesday 9 August
I'm delighted to announce that Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (SPBF) has produced a second brood in Sussex, following the re-introduction of this species to the BC reserves and FC Abbot's Wood earlier this year. They were first spotted during a Bracken management work party at Park Corner Heath on 21 July and have since been seen flying over both our reserves, including egg-laying females. Smaller numbers have been sighted at Abbot's Wood.
County historian Colin Pratt (2011) records that partial second broods flew in about a quarter of the years during the 21st century, usually following a strong first brood and in warmer summers. However, to see a partial second brood so soon after the initial re-introduction, must surely bode well, and surveys have revealed widespread and abundant caterpillar feeding damage to violets. It is too early to claim success, so we must wait until next year before getting too excited, but there are clearly grounds for optimism.
This year we have endeavoured to keep reporting to a minimum, so as to allow the butterflies to get on with their business in peace. However, we will be very keen to hear of any sightings in 2018.
Once again, I would like to pay tribute to our captive-breeding team of Theresa Lux, Gary Norman and Mike Mullis, and all who have supported the Fritillaries for the Future project, through financial donations and attendance at work parties. My thanks also go to the Heritage Lottery Fund and Ernest Kleinwort Charitable Trust. (Neil Hulme)
Sir David Attenborough: 'A critical summer for butterflies'
Friday 14 July
Sir David Attenborough has warned that UK butterflies face a critical summer after a string of poor years has seen the numbers of many common species decline.
Last year was the fourth worst on record for butterflies and Sir David is urging people across Sussex to take part in the Big Butterfly Count survey to help reveal how widespread species are faring this summer.
Common species such as the Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper experienced declines in 2016, but the warm, dry spring and early summer experienced over much of the UK so far this year could offer butterflies some respite if the good weather continues.
The Big Butterfly Count is the world's largest butterfly survey, which encourages people to spot and record 18 species of common butterflies and two day-flying moths during three weeks of high summer.
On Saturday 15 July - the first weekend of the Count - families are being invited to take part during a butterfly day at Hollingbury Park in Brighton from 10.30am until 1pm and again between 3.45pm and 5.30pm.
Guided walks and butterfly events are also running on Sunday 16 July in Bevendean in Brighton, the Warnham Butterfly Reserve in West Sussex and Eartham Wood just north-east of Chichester.
Big Butterfly Counts are also being held at Wakehurst Place near Haywards Heath between 24 and 30 July. Information on all of these can be found at www.butterfly-conservation.org/sussex.
Butterfly Conservation President Sir David said: "The next few weeks are a vital period for our butterflies. They need to make the most of this chance to feed and breed.
"Last year, despite a warm summer, butterflies like the Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper saw their numbers fall as a warm winter and cold spring earlier in the year led to problems that affected their numbers later on.
"Worryingly, we are now seeing the fortunes of some of our once common butterflies mirror those of our rarest species and they too are now also suffering significant declines with butterflies declining more rapidly in urban areas than in the countryside.
"In the last decade our butterflies have experienced several poor years and although resilient, they simply cannot sustain repeated losses, especially if the habitats they need in order to rebuild their populations are also under threat."
More than three-quarters of the UK's butterflies have declined in the last 40 years with some common species, such as the Small Tortoiseshell, suffering significant slumps.
This year's Count follows new findings that butterflies are declining more rapidly in urban areas than in the countryside.
As many Big Butterfly Counts take place in gardens, parks and urban green space, this year's results from these habitats will help inform conservationists on how to make our urban landscapes more butterfly-friendly.
Richard Fox, Butterfly Conservation Head of Recording said: "With increasing numbers of our common and widespread butterflies in long-term decline, Big Butterfly Count is more important than ever. Simply taking 15 minutes out of your normal day to enjoy the sunshine and count butterflies can help us monitor their populations. It's a win-win for wildlife."
Sir David added: "Taking part in the Big Butterfly Count is good for butterflies and it is also good for us all. The Count is good for butterflies because your sightings will tell us which species need help and in which areas we need to help them.reinvigorates that sense of wonder in the natural world."
The Big Butterfly Count is sponsored by Waitrose. Tor Harris, Waitrose Head of Sustainability and Responsible Sourcing, said: "We recognise the fundamental role pollinators play in the production of food and are committed to supporting their future which is why we're delighted to be sponsoring the Big Butterfly Count for the second year and helping grow this important event."
The Count runs from 14 July to 6 August. Taking part in the Count is easy - find a sunny spot and spend 15 minutes counting the butterflies you see and then submit sightings online at www.bigbutterflycount.org or via the free Big Butterfly Count app.
The Big Butterfly Count is being launched at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) London Wetland Centre. WWT Chief Executive Martin Spray CBE said: "Butterfly spotting brings great immediate rewards. You get to see beautiful little animals, and by counting butterflies you can help them too.
It's a great activity for families getting outside on a summer's day. That's why we're giving out spotter sheets at all our wetland centres across the UK."
BC Press Release
Dutch Elm Disease in Sussex: what to do if see an infected tree
Monday 3 July
The effects of Dutch elm disease (DED) have already taken their toll this year, the hot weather experienced during late Spring and early Summer have boosted the numbers of breeding Elm Bark Beetles that carry and spread the fungus, the fungus once within the tree spreads and blocks the transportation of water throughout, causing the Elm trees to die. This leaves the White-letter Hairstreak, Comma, Large Tortoiseshell and other moth species without breeding habitat.
The varying signs and stages of Dutch elm disease are illustrated in my photos, cases seen this and last year. Elm trees will first show signs of yellowing or browning leaves as they shrivel from Late Spring into Autumn, as the water which once reached them gets cut off. As the infection in the tree develops, typically from the crown of the tree, at the tips of branches, spreads downwards, the signs become more noticeable, when severe the leaves drop off leaving the branches bare, a former skeleton of the tree it once was.
Here are the contacts and links for reporting cases of Dutch elm disease within Sussex, it's important you do so at the earliest opportunity:
Brighton and Hove
Brighton and Hove (City Council) Arboriculturists, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01273 292929. Additionally visit the following Brighton and Hove City Council page to report your sightings online, lots of information available, here: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/leisure-and-libraries/parks-and-green-spaces/elm-disease
East Sussex County Council Dutch elm disease officer, Anthony Becvar, Email: email@example.com) or 01273 335087 or 0345 60 80 190.
Please visit the following East Sussex County Council page to report your sightings online, photos and information, here: https://www.eastsussex.gov.uk/environment/woodlands/dutchelms West Sussex: West Sussex lies outside of the Dutch elm disease control zone, therefore there isn't a county council officer for reporting disease.
West Sussex lies outside of the Dutch elm disease control zone, therefore there isn't a county council officer for reporting disease. In the event of spotting Dutch elm disease inform your local council and local Tree Wardens if available.
The Butterfly Conservation Silver-studded Blue Project: Update
Wednesday 27 June
The Silver-studded Blues are now being seen at many locations across Ashdown Forest. You can follow progress and submit your own sightings here
Your help will guide conservation action.
Do also search further afield. Download a map that includes historical records and records up to 2014.
There is still a prize available for the person that finds or rediscovers the most remote or unexpected colony!
Neil Hulme awarded a British Empire Medal by The Queen
Saturday 17 June 2017
Neil Hulme has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the Queen's Birthday Honours for his work saving the Duke of Burgundy in Sussex.
Neil, said: "It is a great honour to be recognised in this manner."
He added: "But the conservation of butterflies is always a team effort, so it is equally a recognition of my colleagues and particularly the volunteers of Butterfly Conservation Sussex Branch.
Sussex Branch chair Nigel Symington commented "Neil's leadership qualities, and his generosity and enthusiasm in sharing his knowledge with others, have led to the success of this conservation work. I know that everyone in Sussex Branch will be delighted at this well-deserved award and join with me in congratulating him".
I am sure that everyone at the Sussex branch of Butterfly Conservation will agree that Neil's award was richly deserved.
Fritillaries for the Future Update - 2017 SPBF Re-introduction Completed
Tuesday 13 June 2017
Firstly, I would like to reiterate my thanks - see report below - to the dedicated captive-breeding team of volunteers Theresa Lux and Gary Norman, working under the guidance of Mike Mullis. After a long journey, during which many setbacks were suffered and overcome, Sunday (11 June) saw the successful completion of the first part of a programme to reinstate the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (SPBF) to Sussex.
More than 400 SPBF have been released, as either final instar larvae or adults, into carefully prepared habitat networks at both the BC reserves in Sussex (Park Corner Heath & Rowland Wood) and FC Abbot's Wood. These reintroductions form part of a strategic, landscape-scale project targeting sites where sustainable management plans are in place.
I would like to thank our members for heeding the request for restraint in pursuing the butterflies too enthusiastically in this first season, and for allowing them to go about their business unhindered. I would also like to thank Natural England and the Forestry Commission for their support, and the main project sponsor, Heritage Lottery Fund.
On 26 May an event was held to celebrate the project, attended by former reserve managers and volunteers who had served 'above and beyond the call of duty' in the past. Needless to say, this was a very happy day that put smiles on many faces. I feel that we have done everything possible to resurrect the fortunes of this species in Sussex, but only time will be the judge.
Fritillaries for the Future Project Officer
Ashdown Forest Silver-studded Blue search
Saturday 10 June 2017
The coming week should warm up and the Silver-studded Blues should really get going on Ashdown Forest.
If you have chance to get out onto the forest and spot the butterfly you can record via this new bespoke recording system: http://www.sussex-butterflies.org.uk/ssb/ Of course, you can still record butterflies via all the other means (email, spreadsheets, iRecord, MapMate, etc.). This online system just gives us an extra option and will provide immediate feedback on where the butterfly is being spotted. Please do also let me know if you search areas but find none; this is very important information too.
We're still looking for any blues in the northern part of the forest. None were found north of Old Lodge in 2016.
Signs are also going up around the forest to encourage visitors to record their sightings of Blue butterflies (see attached). This is a new approach for us and we'll see if it generates more records and more interest from general visitors.
The data we collect this year will be important in helping to direct autumn conservation work and future conservation effort.
Senior Regional Officer - South East England
BC Fritillaries for the Future News - Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries are Back!
Monday 22 May 2017
I'm delighted to announce that the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (SPBF) is again flying in Sussex, as a re-introduction programme, conducted in compliance with the 'BC Code on Introductions and Re-introductions 2010', is now under full steam.
I would like to start by thanking our volunteer team of Theresa Lux and Gary Norman, for their immense contribution in looking after the captive-bred stock. This has involved a huge commitment in time and effort. Thanks also to Mike Mullis, under whose guidance they have worked, and to Forestry Commission and Natural England for their support.
SPBF is being re-introduced to very carefully prepared habitats, with ongoing, sustainable management plans in place, at our BC Park Corner Heath reserve and FC Abbot's Wood. As we have adopted the combined approach of releasing final instar larvae, followed by adults, this means that pupae and freshly emerged butterflies will be in the low scrub over areas where you might spot the adults flying.
Would particularly photographers please therefore exercise restraint in pursuing the butterflies away from the well-worn paths and tracks. The first year of any re-introduction programme is key to success, so please help to ensure that the butterflies have the best possible chance of becoming firmly established, by allowing them to go about their business unhindered.
As the reintroductions are being carefully monitored (we know how many are present), and as these are released butterflies, we won't be posting member's reports or images on our website this year. However, next year it will be 'business as usual'.
As the captive-breeding team and I will be working around the clock to ensure the highest chance of success, unfortunately I won't have time to respond to any queries until the job is complete.
Please enjoy the return of the Small Pearl, but do consider the best interests of the species while doing so.
Fritillaries for the Future Project Officer
Dr Dan Danahar gives presentation at Cambridge Conservation Initiative hosted #EarthOptimism
Saturday 29 April 2017
On 22 April 2017 the Cambridge Conservation Initiative hosted #EarthOptimism Cambridge, part of a global celebration of successful nature conservation, with a focus on hope and optimism about the future of the planet. At the event, which took place at the David Attenborough Building, visitors heard a series of inspiring talks by leading conservationists, naturalists, and distinguished figures including Sir David Attenborough, Dame Jane Goodall and Professor Steven Pinker. A 'Solutions Fair' provided visitors with the opportunity to talk to over 30 local, national and international organisations who were showcasing a variety of practical ways that people can make a real difference for the planet through their everyday lives.
This session, chaired by Martin Harper, features presentations by Dr Philine zu Ermgassen & William Baker, Dr Dan Danahar, Professor Helen Roy and Rio Heriniaina.
You can find Dan's presentation around 17 minutes into the video.
You can find the rest of the videos of the conference, including those featuring Sir David Attenborough, here.
"Butterflies of Sussex" Where's my book?
Saturday 27 April 2017
We're nearly there. The books have all been printed, and are being covered and bound. The publisher is expecting delivery from the printer/binder in the first week in May, so they will begin to be despatched after that. So you should have yours by mid-May.
You can order a copy here.
South Downs Volunteer Ranger Service (SDVRS) visit to 'Pete's Wood'
Tuesday 25 April 2017
A group of SDVRS and National Park rangers met Fritillaries for the Future Project Officer, Neil Hulme, for a walk around a privately owned part of Tottington Wood, Small Dole, on 20 April. The event, which focused on spring butterflies and woodland flowers, was arranged as a mark of gratitude for all the help provided by the SDVRS in managing this and many other sites over recent years.
'Pete's Wood' has benefited greatly from the cutting of overstood Hazel coppice and thinning of the tree canopy, allowing more light to penetrate to the woodland floor and triggering a spectacular display of early season flowers. The results of the management work performed over the autumn and winter are clear to see, and each season sees a further increase in the wildlife here, with ever greater numbers of butterflies and birds. This was an opportunity for members of the SDVRS to appreciate the fruits of their labour.
The visit was well timed, with Bluebells being at the very peak of their all-too-short season, forming extensive, dense carpets. Plenty of other flowers added splashes of colour to the woodland floor, including Early Purple Orchid, Lesser Celandine, Wood Anemone, Red Campion, Greater Stitchwort, Wood Spurge and Common Dog-violet. Some areas contained clumps of Spurge Laurel and horsetails were beginning to show in the damper parts of the wood, bordering a small stream which empties into a beautiful pond.
Nine species of butterfly were seen during the walk, including Orange-tip, Brimstone, Green-veined White, Small White, Peacock, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood and Holly Blue. This diversity of species is only found in the actively managed parts of the wider woodland, much of which is overgrown and dark. Another area, at the opposite corner of the complex, is cared for by the Tottington Woodlanders.
Birdlife has also benefitted from the work of the owner and SDVRS; this is one of the noisiest parts of Tottington Wood. Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Firecrest, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit, Jay and Common Buzzard were all seen or heard.
Amongst the Bluebells lay a little social history. We looked at the remains of what appears to be a vintage truck, which was probably abandoned by a woodsman in the days when coppicing was much more widely practised. It's good know that, with the help of the SDVRS, the revival of this management technique is returning the place to its former glory.
Harrowing time at Top Common, Byfleets Lane, Broadbridge Heath
Friday 31 March 2017
A Speckled Wood was watching today, as we power harrowed the Top Common at Broadbridge Heath prior to seeding the area with various wildflower seed mixes to increase the future availability of nectar for butterflies, bees and other insects in what was previously a very dark and overgrown site! Over the winter more than 500 hedging plants and trees have also been planted to provide egg laying opportunities for a wide range of butterflies and moths.
"Butterflies of Sussex" goes to the printer!
Friday 31 March 2017
After a frantic last few days of proof reading "Butterflies of Sussex" has been sent to the printers. Copies will be sent out in early May.
The book also received its first review
The new Butterfly Atlas at nearly 300 pages is a truly worthy successor to the 1996 Atlas
(Atlas of the Sussex Butterflies by Joyce and Peter Gay) and allows readers to compare gains and losses in the
county's butterfly fauna. Some gains due to long term conservation effort are evident, with the exciting possibility
that the Swallowtail might once again take up residency in the county. The new Atlas is highly readable, packed with interesting
facts and figures and a must for anyone interested in the conservation of nonvertebrates in the UK.
The British Journal of Entomology & Natural History
You can order a copy here.
"Back from the brink" wins £7.7 million funding
Monday 27 March 2017
"Back from the brink" is a partnership of conservation organisations which includes Natural England, Bumblebee Conservation, Plantlife International, RSPB, Buglife, Butterfly Conservation, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust and the Bat Conservation Trust. They have just received a funding award of £7.7 million to protect 20 key species threatened with extinction in the UK.
The 20 key species are Black Click Beetle, Field Wormwood, Shrill carder bee, Interrupted brome, Matted bryum, Chequered Skipper butterfly, Northern dune tiger beetle, Ladybird Spider, Narrow headed ant, Royal Splinter Cranefly, Variable Chafer, Moccas beetle, Oak Click Beetle, Violet Click Beetle, Grey carpet moth, Bearded False Darkling Beetle, Cosnard's Net-winged Beetle, Purbeck Mason Wasp, Prostrate Perennial Knawel. A further 200 threatened species will be helped including the Large Blue butterfly and the Duke of Burgundy butterfly.
Butterfly Conservation will receive £1 million of the funds. CEO Julie Williams said "We are delighted that National Lottery have recognised and rewarded this multi-organisational partnership to deliver something special for our threatened species. The whole really is greater than the sum of its parts and we look forward to working with our partners to demonstrate that and make an even bigger difference."
You can read more about it here.
Saving the Butterflies of Sussex
Monday 27 March 2017
We've teamed up with film-maker Justin Ingham to highlight the situation facing butterflies in the area and to provide an insight into the conservation work carried out by volunteers at our Park Corner Heath and Rowland Wood Reserves in East Sussex.
Work has been ongoing for many years at these two reserves to reinstate a well-managed wood and heathland with a wide range of habitats and a rich biodiversity of flora and fauna. In particular we are working to secure the future of the rare Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterfly and the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary. This short film shows just a few of the many volunteers who are helping with this work.
As well as a long career as a freelance cameraman in international broadcast television, Justin Ingham has increasingly been working with select businesses and charities in the UK.
Justin said, "It was a huge privilege to work with the dedicated volunteers to make this film. We were all amazed by the fiercely passionate conservationists who do so much for these fragile creatures. No matter whether they were young or old, everyone had the same vision and commitment to make a difference - we have learned a lot from all these people."
To find out more about film-maker Justin Ingham, please visit www.justiningham.co.uk>
Things are looking up for butterflies on Bevendean Down!
Saturday 25 March 2017
Things are looking up for butterflies on Bevendean Down on the north east edge of Brighton. Hogtrough is one of the best parts of the site and Friends of Bevendean Down had a discussion with Dan Danahar about creating a chalk scrape.
At our site meeting a couple of weeks ago farmer Stuart West suggested using some of his big machinery to pull out some of the hawthorns which are invading the chalk grassland areas. This would also create areas of bare chalk where the roots of the trees had been, a double bonus, achieved much quicker by machine than our small work parties!
Emma the ranger also put up notices to explain why the work was being done. Removing scrub from urban fringe sites can get people very upset so providing information hopefully lessens this possibility. We look forward to seeing how these bare areas will be colonised.
Film crew descends on conservation work party at Park Corner Heath
Sunday 12 March 2017
Today was the last conservation work party of the season at Park Corner Heath. Despite the threat of rain a large number of people turned up and were rewarded with conditions that stayed dry throughout the morning.
An added excitement was the arrival of a film crew, who are shooting a promotional video about the branch and the conservation work it carries out. Many of the volunteers were interviewed about work being carried out, including Reserve Manager Bob Foreman.
Over the winter volunteer work by dozens of different people at Park Corner Heath has dramatically improved the habitat on the reserve, returning much of it to the heathland that gives it its name. We can look forward to an exciting butterfly season ahead.
Butterfly Conservation Sussex would like to extend a big thanks to all those who have worked so hard at Park Corner Heath over the winter. We look forward to seeing you all again in the Autumn.
PondNet Spawn Survey 2017
Monday 28 February 2017
The Freshwater Habitats Trust has launched "PondNet Spawn Survey 2017" , a nationwide project in which they are looking for us all to record evidence of frog or toad breeding wherever it is found. They are interested in records of spawn or tadpoles and the survey is running until the end of May.
There is a Spawn Survey page on the Freshwater Habitats Trust website with useful information on amphibian identification as well as survey forms and data entry guides on the Freshwater habitats Trust website.
All records they collect through this project will be shared with the SxBRC.
Keep Our Downs Public rally: Eastbourne Sat 25 Feb 2-3pm. Meet: Bankers Corner, Terminus Rd and walk to the Bandstand
Saturday 25 February 2017
Assemble at Bankers' Corner (vicinity of Barclays, HSBC etc) and march to the Bandstand. More details coming soon.... For people who come to this page who may need to know more about the issue here is some background from the KODP FB group. You can also like the FB page Eastbourne Campaign to KODP.
The Eastbourne Keep Our Downs Public group is about opposing Eastbourne Council's plans to sell its downland farms.. Please sign and share the petition to stop Eastbourne sell-off: https://actionnetwork.org/./stop-the-sell-off-of-eastbourne. To keep in touch with developments in Eastbourne, go to Eastbourne & District Friends of the Earth's page . To get updates, information, actions please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a critical time for nature conservation in Sussex. If large areas of our local authorities' downland estates are sold, it's unlikely they will ever come into public ownership again. And while some protections will remain, through site designations and the South Downs National Park Authority's planning policies, it's likely that the capacity of conservation bodies to influence the land-use and habitat management on these important downland sites will be much reduced if the land goes out of public ownership.
As all butterfly-lovers will know, the South Downs provides enormously important habitat for butterflies; they need all the protection we can give them. We would therefore like to see Eastbourne Borough Council's downland estate remain in responsible public ownership.
Chair, Sussex Branch
'Butterflies of Sussex' update
Sunday 19 February 2017
The first set of proofs are back from the publishers and I have to say it looks absolutely amazing! We've managed to jiggle the book around to fit it in 332 pages to keep the postage weight down. Here's a few of the pages laid out on the carpet and ready for inspection. We're now proof reading the book checking for typos and taking out some of the swear words. There's so much in the book - it's a real epic which will no doubt stand alongside 'War and Peace' and 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar'. There's just 6 weeks left to get a copy for the special pre-publication price of £20. http://www.naturebureau.co.uk/bookshop/the-butterflies-of-sussex-detail.
The Purple Emperor and Other Wonders - A talk by Matthew Oates - Thursday March 23rd 7.30pm
Saturday 11 February 2017
Black Down and Hindhead Supporters of the National Trust have organised a talk by the celebrated ecologist and author Matthew Oates entitled "The Purple Emperor and Other Wonders". The talk is at Haslemere Educational Museum on the Surrey Sussex border on Thursday March 23rd 7.30pm. There is a £5.00 entry fee which includes a glass of wine. Tickets on the door.
Matthew is the author of "In Pursuit of Butterflies, a fifty-year affair" which is based on his butterfly diaries, and chronicles a lifelong year with Lepidoptera. He was schooled at Christ's Hospital near Horsham in West Sussex and the early part of this book is focuses on his butterflying expeditions to St. Leonard's Forest and other local woods in the sixties. Matthew's fascination with Purple Emperors is a constant theme throughout the book. In recent years Matthew has returned to the Horsham area because to his involvement in the Knepp rewilding scheme. The book also features cameos from our own Neil Hulme and Dan Danahar.
Help required to manage the Liz Williams Butterfly Haven - Saturday February 4th
Saturday 28 January 2017
The many wonderful wildflowers and butterflies found at the Liz Williams Butterfly Haven require annual management to be maintained. In the past we would achieve this with sheep grazing but now that the cost of doing so has become prohibitive, the site is now managed by hand with the use of brushcutters. We are fortunate in that members of the Murray Downland Trust have volunteered to brushcut the site for us.
Whilst they cut the rank vegetation, this must be raked and removed from the site, so that annually we reduce the nutrient load and so enhance conditions for nature conservation. To do this we need volunteers to help rake the cut plant material.
Find out more hereCancelled due to adverse weather conditions.
Dr Dan Danahar
Brighton site managed for Brown Hairstreak success - Friday 27 January 2017
Saturday 28 January 2017
A site in Patcham, Brighton produced sightings of egg laying female Brown Hairstreaks within the last few years, with the main hedge line cast in shade, management was needed to help this small population. Work began last year supported by Neil Doyle, Brighton and Hove City Council, City Park Ranger, with local volunteers. In early 2016 we cut what is believe to be a mixture of Blackthorn and Wild Damson down to the ground, come the Autumn I checked the regrowth and found two Brown Hairstreak eggs.
At the latest BC Sussex committee meeting it was agreed that the branch would fund the purchase of 40 Blackthorn whips for planting at the site, sourced from Special Branch, Stanmer (Park) Organics. Yesterday I joined Neil Doyle and local volunteers Liz Yeats, Cliff Munn and Simon Wrigley to plant the acquired Blackthorn whips into open pockets of shrubland, with my additional whips from a Woodland Trust pack a total of 52 whips were planted. The group additionally cut down another portion of hedge line to further encourage regrowth, which the female Brown Hairstreaks favour.
I showed the group the two egg I had found last Autumn, not before Liz Yeats and myself spotted three more Brown Hairstreak eggs of which I had previously overlooked. The group were keen for me to keep them informed of any Brown Hairstreak activity during the butterflies flight period, enthusiastic and engaged, couldn't hope for more.
Brown Hairstreak in Burgess Hill -
BC Sussex meet with local officals to discuss hedgerow management
Friday 27 January 2017
Triggered by BC Sussex member David Cook's survey of the Brown Hairstreak around the Burgess Hill 'green belt'
(and other reports in the area from Peter Farrant), David and I met up with representatives of both Mid Sussex District Council (David Terry and David Witchell
to the left in the image) and Burgess Hill Town Council (Nick Setford, Sarah Hughes and Steve Gridland to the right) on Tuesday 24 January.
We discussed the possibility of adjusting the management of the extensive network of blackthorn-rich hedgerows in the area, to better suit the Brown Hairstreak and other wildlife. Although it is very early in the process our proposals were met with enthusiasm, and we are hopeful that this project will develop further.
First archived newsletter article published on the website
Thursday 26 January 2017
The Sussex branch has been producing The Sussex Butterfly Report for many years. Several members have asked if we can be put some of the excellent articles written for the newsletter onto the website. Consequently I will be uploading some of them over the next few months.
The articles wil appear in the News & Features section of the website.
The first article comes from the 2011 report and is Butterfly Photography - Guidelines and Tips by Neil Hulme. The article needs not introduction from me as the title says it all, and I am sure you are all familiar with Neil's photos on the sightings page over the years.
It has been an enormous pleasure pouring over these reports, which are full of interesting articles and amazing photographs. I would also like to pay tribute to the design work done by Bob Foreman over the years which really stands out.
Conservation Work Continues at Park Corner Heath Despite Freezing Conditions.
Monday 23 January 2017
The temperature rose from -8 to -5 as seven hardy volunteers arrived to help with the reshaping of our Park Corner Heath reserve early on Sunday morning. By lunchtime it was considerably warmer, particularly for those who enjoyed a Sloppy Giuseppe. Thanks to all who braved the cold to help continue this important work. The next work party here will be on Sunday the 12th of February.
Major Boost for Threatened Woodland Butterfly
Friday 20 January 2017
A ground-breaking project to save a butterfly from extinction in West Sussex has been awarded more than £20,000, Butterfly Conservation (BC) can reveal.
The wildlife charity will use the money from the Veolia Environmental Trust to create new habitat for the Pearl-bordered Fritillary at the Charlton Forest near Chichester.
The butterfly, which is now restricted to just a couple of sites within the region, has been seen in very low numbers close to this site and experts fear the Pearl-bordered Fritillary will disappear unless urgent action is taken to increase the local population.
The grant, alongside additional support from the Forestry Commission, will be used to open up shaded areas of woodland to create the sunny clearings required by the butterfly to breed successfully.
Other rare species like the Duke of Burgundy butterfly and Plumed Prominent moth are also set to benefit from the work.
BC's Project Officer, Neil Hulme, said: "The Pearl-bordered Fritillary has suffered a severe decline in the South East and to lose this species from the Sussex countryside is unthinkable, so I'm delighted that Veolia has stepped in to help in this way.
"The site at Charlton Forest forms part of a larger area within which other conservation groups, such as the Murray Downland Trust and Graffham Down Trust, are already improving wildlife habitats for many other species.
"The project has also received support from the Goodwood Estate, Chichester District Council and South Downs National Park Authority and by working together I am confident we can turn this situation around and save this beautiful butterfly for future generations to enjoy."
The Pearl-bordered Fritillary was once known as the 'Woodman's Friend' due to its habit of following the sequence of clearings made by coppice workers and foresters and was common and widespread until the middle of the last century.
A report produced by BC and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, The State of the UK's Butterflies 2015, recorded a 95% drop in the butterfly's national range between 1976 and 2014. It's thought this decline is most likely down to changes in the climate and in the way we manage our woodlands.
Forestry Commission Ecologist, Jay Doyle, said: "The Forestry Commission is very happy to be part of this project to improve the forest surroundings for the threatened Pearl-bordered Fritillary. I'm very hopeful that we'll be able to reverse the decline facing so many butterflies by working with Butterfly Conservation to enhance and create essential breeding habitat."
New Hazel coppice cycle in a wood near Arundel announced
Wednesday 11 January 2017
With permission kindly granted by the Angmering Park Estate, Chris Letchford has started a new Hazel coppice cycle in a wood near Arundel. I will be assisting Chris with the annual cutting of a succession of coupes, to encourage natural colonisation by the Pearl-bordered Fritillary, as part of a landscape scale project to assist its spread away from Rewell Wood.
As is always the case with coppicing, a wide range of other fauna and flora will benefit.
Rowland Wood and Park Corner Heath - Conservation work party - 8 January 2017
Wednesday 11 January 2017
Many thanks to our fabulous volunteers who helped with the major clearance work taking place on our Park Corner Heath reserve last Sunday.
A much more open structure, more reminiscent of bygone days, is being recreated. The next couple of months will be crucial in preparing the ground for our cunning plans
to turn the clock back in more ways than one. There will be an 'extra' work party here on Sunday 22 January, specifically for all those who have played some part in my Fritillaries
for the Future project. Details nearer the time, but please try to keep that Sunday free - every volunteer hour is vital.
Also working at Rowland Wood today, but concentrating so hard on the task in hand that they missed the main photo shoot, were Dr Dan Danahar (dressed for his new role as a qualified strimmer operator), Bob Foreman, Carole Mortimer and Paul Tibbey