Still waiting in Worcestershire

Although Brown Hairstreaks have already been reported further south we are still awaiting our first sighting in Worcs.  Made my first early morning visit to one of our known assembly trees yesterday but no success so did a Big Butterfly Count instead.  Over the last few years we have always seen our first Brown Hairstreak before the end of July but this year looks as if it is the exception.  It has been a decidedly odd season with a number of species on the late side and it is only now, for example, that Peacocks are beginning to be seen on a regular basis.  Anyway, hopefully not too much longer to wait!

Eggs Now Hatching

I am fortunate enough to have three Brown Hairstreak eggs in my front hedge here in Crawley, West Sussex. All have survived predation and the first of them hatched this morning (15th April). The egg was south-facing and the larva was located making its way to the nearest leaves. The plant is Cherry Plum (Prunus cerasifera) which has been in leaf for some weeks. I have also been monitoring eggs on nearby Blackthorn where the buds are now just breaking and found another hatched egg (also south-facing). Last year eggs in this area were reported to be hatching on 5th April.

Vince Massimo

Tagged eggs warning

For the second time we have had tagged eggs removed from one of our Worc nature reserves presumably by a butterfly breeder/collector.  The incident happened at Trench Wood reserve where eggs had been marked ironically to ensure that they were not removed by accident as part of routine ride maintenance.  Over 20 eggs were taken, virtually every single egg laid at Trench Wood this winter!  This follows a similar incident at Grafton Wood back in 2010.  It is pretty appalling to think that there are unscrupulous individuals around that would take eggs from a nature reserve in this way but clearly there are and by publicising the incident we hope that similar incidents can be avoided.  For our own part at West Midlands Butterfly Conservation we shall not be marking any eggs in the future.

Annual Transect egg count 6th December 2014

Eighteen wonderful volunteers turned up for the count, travelling from far and wide.  Thank you everyone for making such an effort.

The count was low - given that the count the previous year was the highest ever with 651 eggs found on the day along the 500m foreshore transect.

However, the bigger picture shows that 232 is the seventh highest number out of 20 counts, so pretty good overall.

West Williamston SSSI Annual Brown Hairstreak Egg Count 
Sunday December 6th 2014. 
Area
No
Volunteers
Blkthorn status   previous year
Blackthorn management
000 - 025
19
 Steven,  Anne,  John  &  Viv
v good

025 - 050
39
      “         “          “            “
v good

B Glade
16
      “         “          “            “
  good

B Glade 2nd
  3
      “         “          “            “
  ok

050 - 075
 11
      “         “          “            “
good

075 - 100
  7
      “         “          “            “
 ok






100 - 125
12
David,  Andy,  Ruth  &  Val
poor

125 - 150
   3
     “        “         “           “
poor

150 - 175
   5
     “        “         “           “
good

175 - 200
 10
     “        “         “           “
good

Bracken Patch
  8

good






200 - 225
 39
Richard, George, Paul, Gareth
v good

225 - 250
 35
                           and Tony
v good

250 - 275
   9
      “     “     “       “      “
   ok

275 - 300
   2
     “      “     “       “      “
v poor

Shallow Pool
   1
David,  Andy,  Ruth  &  Val
  poor






300 - 325
   4
Nathan,  Kiara,  Alan  &  Nikki
    ok

325 - 350
   1
     “           “          “           “
  poor

350 - 375
   0
     “           “          “           “
  v poor

375 - 400
   0
     “           “          “           “
  v poor






400 - 425
   5
Nathan, Kiara, Alan & Nikki
  poor

425 - 450
   2
     “          “         “         “
  poor

450 - 475
   1
     “          “         “         “
  poor

475 - 500
   0
     “          “         “         “
  poor

       Total
232




(NB 1st December 2013 – transect total = 651 …….  end March 2014 overall reserve total = 1,661 eggs.)


West Williamston Egg Predation Survey – blog no 9 mid November 2014

The big miss-hap, or ‘accidents do happen’
Before the cut …………..
After the cut .....................
Our study site at West Williamston was divided into 2 halves ….. one - an area outside the electric fence consisting of the youngest blackthorn and surveyed (after the first two weeks) by me, and the other - the area between the electric fence and the field boundary - surveyed by David (Redhead) and consisting of 1 to 3 year old blackthorn much denser in nature.

Shortly after the eighth survey session the grass in the Reserve’s top field (where our survey was taking place) was cut as part of planned management. Unfortunately the contractor failed to see the tags marking very young blackthorn in the field on the outer side of the electric fence.  The tags, eggs and blackthorn were almost all lost (eggs right under the fence fortunately avoided the chop).
This was a bit of a disaster from the ‘overwintering egg predation’ survey’s point of view – or my half of it.  David’s half remains safe and intact being located inside the electric fence between it and the tree-line fence.
 On the other hand I have eight satisfying and illuminating week’s worth of data including recounts, recording, and the dates new eggs were found.  The most interesting outcome to me was establishing that eggs found in a ‘triple’ were laid as a pair and then added to days later.  This indicates that there was something special about that particular spot – the small bush was surrounded  by extensive  blackthorn that appeared to be just as suitable in every way.
The study will continue thanks to David’s commitment, his half of the site being intact. 
David has continued his counts into November and from now on the eggs will be re-found between now and the end of April to show which months the greatest predation takes place.

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 (simonjprimrose@aol.com) 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