Good season for Brownies or not?

Rather mixed messages from Worcs.  Our core count for Grafton Wood NR now completed is slightly down but not disastrously so.  Count at Trench Wood NR also significantly down but increases at several of the sites regularly monitored by the Thursday Streakers, some by a substantial margin.  I will leave Simon to fill in some of the detail on this.  Some of these fluctuations can be explained by changes in the quality of habitat but not all!  We seem to have seen an increase in hedge flailing this autumn with a number of farmers coming out of agri-environment schemes which is worrying.  The uncertainties and delays surrounding the rolling out of the new scheme not helping either.  Our final weekend egg hunt of the season at Grafton Wood is Saturday, 31st January when we plan to take a look inside the main body of the wood so hopefully better news to report then.  We meet at 10 am outside Grafton Flyford church and all are welcome.   

Things seem to have been a bit quiet on the blog of late, apart from Nikki's very interesting results from West Williamston.  How's it going elsewhere in the country? 

Happy New Year!

West Williamston annual egg hunt

This year will be our twentieth transect count along the foreshore of this unique Brown Hairstreak site.  The event is being held on Sunday 7th December - meet at 10.00am in the small park just west of the hamlet of West Williamston in South Pembrokeshire.  Our lowest transect egg count was just 16 in 2002, and last year's count was 631 - a bumper year, so if you fancy coming along we would be very pleased to see you.  If the weather looks fair for the afternoon we will continue the count over the rest of the reserve, so bring a small packed lunch and warm drink.  Any queries contact Nathan Walton - Wildlife Trust Officer, Nikki Anderson or Dave Redhead

Early egg hunts in Worcs

The Thursday Streakers have been out and about in recent weeks and have been finding reasonable numbers of eggs.  The first real test, however, occurs at the end of the month when we carry out our first searches in and around Grafton Wood nature reserve where we have egg count data stretching back to 1970!  We shall be meeting at Grafton Flyford church for 10 am on Saturday, 29th November (Grid Ref  SO963557) and any Eggheads who fancy a day out in Worcs will be very welcome.  Further details from Simon Primrose ( who has taken over from me as the West Midlands Butterfly Conservation Brown Hairstreak Species Champion.

West Williamston Egg Predation Survey . Week 8 - 30th September 2014

And another unusual find ……….

With 212 eggs tagged over the last seven weeks and another 30  eggs found by David Redhead and myself today, the total number of eggs laid at this small survey site is now stands at 242.  
Interestingly outside the fence, in the youngest Blackthorn, the latest newly laid eggs are mostly on the outer edge and have totalled 7, 6 and 9 found by me – 9 being the latest weekly figure.  David Redhead, on the other hand, has been counting inside the fence nearer the trees.  His totals of new found eggs over the last 3 weeks are 19, 20 and 21 – 21 being the latest figure.
The overall total includes the 2 sets of triplets (was 3) and now 17 doubles (David’s 21 eggs found this week included 2 more sets of doubles).

               It is proving to be a most interesting survey.                       Nikki Anderson

West Williamston Egg Predation Survey . Week 7 - 23rd September

One Pale Tussock and 212 tagged eggs.

26  more eggs were found this week, exactly the same number as last week, and so the grand total of tagged eggs now stands at 212.  Three of those eggs have been predated (or at least can’t be found!).
There are 2 sets of triplets and 15 doublets.   No more doubles or trebles were found this week,  but the remains of one of the original 3 sets of triplets was found by way of a bit of dead twig lying on the ground, with the three combined tags on – no eggs though.  There is no doubt that a horse was the culprit, and she is now grazing in a lower field.
One of the bonuses of the project has been the unexpected.  For example, the very well camouflaged caterpillar in the attached photograph.  

Best wishes                      Nikki Anderson

West Williamston Egg Predation Survey – Week 6

26 more BH eggs were added this week, including one more doublet.  This takes the egg total to 183 including 3 triplets and 16 doublets, with 3 predations - 186 tags in all.
Spiders have been more in evidence too.

Last blast at the Rifle Range?

On Saturday the 13th, I spent the day at Steyning with Richard Roebuck in the vain hope of a last flourish of betulae  Unfortunately with a chilly north easterly breeze and broken cloud cover it proved difficult. After an hour we were rewarded with the appearance of a female in the reserve area. We lost sight of her completely and after half an hour decided to check the blackthorns by the entrance. There we found another female that had just finished laying. After managing a couple of photos she decided to head off.

So it could that Steyning is drawing down but with the continued warm weather there may be a chance of some stragglers. To round up then, since early August at least 55 Brownies have been seen. Such numbers demonstrate the beneficial impact of the sympathetic conservation work that has taken place after Neil Hulme first discovered them there.

The February 2014 blog of the Steyning Downland Scheme has a link to video footage of the conservation work in action and well worth watching: 

West Williamston Egg Predation Survey – Week 5

The total number of eggs found to date in this small sample survey site is now 157

23 new eggs were found last week, and were tagged and added to the overall egg total.There have been 2 egg predations and possibly 2 more.  This will be confirmed next week – with no egg remnants to be found it makes sense to wait and compare these results with next weeks count.
 No more doubles or trebles were found this so week the overall count of 3 sets of triplets and 15 doublets remains.        
Best wishes   
Nikki Anderson

Brown hairstreak pin badges

I am receiving reports from hairstreakers across the country of an emergence of brown hairstreaks via the Royal Mail.

Well yes, they arrived a couple of days early so I sent them out Thursday.

As of Tuesday the 23rd of September all have now sold..