Life size brown hairstreak pin badge

Yes, folks your eyes did not deceive you a life size pin badge of the brown hairstreak is in production ready in two weeks. Limited to 40 pieces and based on a photo taken at Steyning in August. The pin badge is of the underside of our favourite species in all its golden glory. The price including postage is £6.20 including p&p and also includes a donation to BC Sussex branch.

It will be presented on a backing card with another photo taken at Steyning two weeks later and have orange text.

These will very likely sell out very as have all previous designs so you will need to act fast and contact me at:

West Williamston egg predation survey – week 3

What a difference a week makes!
There are now 104 eggs, and to date no predations. 
On Tuesday I took 61 pale green lengths of wool with me to our study area (roughly 20m x 10m in size) and left with just 3.  Further additions had also made that day by David Redhead making this a very good count for a relatively small area.  Part of the reason for this may be that a nearby stand of Blackthorn has been recently removed as part of the ongoing BH habitat management.
And of interest …….. there are now 2 sets of triplets and 11 doublets, most laid very close to the ground.

Nikki Anderson                                                                                                                                  Week ending Tuesday 26th August

West Williamston salt marsh habitat

The Brown Hairstreak butterfly shown here was photographed on Tuesday down on the foreshore of the reserve – part of what makes West Williamston rather unique.  These grasses, Sea Beet, Orache and other saltmarsh plants are all covered by salt water when the tides are at their highest.

Strange but true - several of the lowest laid eggs can be found in winter covered in seaweed washed up by storms.

Nikki Anderson

West Williamston Egg Predation Survey

Week 2.    -  Week ending 19 August 2014
On Sunday 17th August David Redhead located all 11 tagged eggs and added a further 20 eggs to the count, tagged this time with white wool.
Out of these 31 eggs he recorded 5 sets of doublets – a high proportion of twins in a relatively small area. 
Many of the BH adults recorded so far this year were in trees on the right of this photograph.  The brown area visible below the Ash was the site of a large stand of Blackthorn cut at the end of July as part of the on-going and successful Blackthorn Management Plan.  This is a Management Plan carefully developed by Nathan Walton, Wildlife Trust Reserves Officer for Pembrokeshire, and  based at The Wildlife Centre, Cilgerran, in the North of the county.

West Williamston Egg Predation Survey

West Williamston egg predation survey - Week 1 

There has been some anecdotal evidence at West Williamston that early laid BH eggs may be more liable to predation than those laid later in September.  The eggs were not tagged.

After the first eggs of 2014 were found by David Redhead we have established a small survey site in the top field (near the small car park) adjacent to the north side Ash trees nos 1 - 3. 

On Sunday 10th August a total of 11 eggs were found by Jean Hambly, David and myself.  These eggs were tagged with red wool, the intention being to change the wool colour weekly.

We will survey the site each week until the end of October then fortnightly until April.  Are there other sites where predation numbers are looked at, if so we would love to hear from you.

Nikki Anderson
Wildlife Trust Voluntary Warden
12th August 2014

It's behind you

It pays off to stand back and watch the action unfold when searching for the Brown Hairstreak and as Neil pointed out on Saturday we had some superb action at the Rifle Range. Whilst Neil and a group were watching a female move out of a thicket to a better vantage point both Susie Millbank and I noticed another female descend from the ash tree behind them..

Whilst a throng followed Neil to photograph the one he was watching, I went to a dense thicket where a female was now hiding.

A couple of us managed to impale ourselves on thorns which is par for the course.

That's about the best I could do without completely disturbing her from her chosen spot.

Crowd Pleasers

As I was passing close to Steyning Rifle Range this morning I couldn't resist another visit, despite the fact that the cloudy spells outweighed the sunshine. There was quite a crowd already on site and a very faded male had been seen on the ground earlier. 

After chatting to a few regulars in the reserve area I headed up towards the northern flank with Susie Milbank, speculating that it was probably not quite sunny enough to bring many Brown Hairstreaks out to play. As I got to the top of the slope a female zipped across the open grassland in front of me and settled on an ash sapling. She stayed here long enough for other enthusiasts to see her, providing at least one person with a 'first'. 

Almost simultaneously another was spotted 50 metres further up the path by Simon Cross and Mick Rock. This quickly developed into two females, which at one point were egg-laying less than a metre apart. By now most of the crowd from below had joined us for another Hairstreakfest, with Paul Fosterjohn spotting yet another. This one appeared very fresh, but she refused to come within range of the cameras and remained deep within a blackthorn thicket. 

As 2 pm approached the sun reappeared, so I headed back to the reserve area for a last sweep. As soon as I arrived I spotted two more females. Bearing in mind that the weather conditions were far from ideal, a total of six females and a male in two hours demonstrates just how good the Rifle Range is.

The Ash Brownie pin badge unveiled

I will be sending out all pre-sale pin badges over the weekend so keep an eye on your post for them to arrive.

I hope that everyone who purchased one enjoys wearing it and for those who are yet to buy one this weekend don't miss out.

Bank Holiday Brownie Events in Worcs

What better way to spend your Bank Holiday time off work! The following 2 events will be taking place this Sunday and Monday in Worcestershire and are not to be missed!
By far, this is the best opportunity to see this elusive species as there will be lots of pairs of eyes looking!

I will be there selling the last 25 limited edition Brown Hairstreak pin badges (more info here, and see the badge design above). They will be sold at a special rate of £5 each with £1.50 profit from each badge going towards future Brown Hairstreak conservation in the West Midlands area.

From The Notebook will also be there with their range of butterfly themed beers, including the famous Brown Hairstreak ale! Their brand new brew will also be there - the infamous Death's Head Hawkmoth stout!

Supplies of the delicious Hairstreak Sloe Jelly will also be available on the day, courtesy of the Wayside Farm Shop.

The event is 11:00am - 03:00pm, meeting at the Three Parishes Hall at Grafton Flyford (SO963557). There will be a morning walk starting at around 11am followed by refreshments at the village hall.

For anyone interested in purchasing a Brownie pin badge, it might be worth arriving a little earlier than 11am to ensure you get one!

Pershore and its association with the plum is not a new thing. The area has been famous for its fruit growing since medieval times. To celebrate this famous fruit, Pershore holds a Plum Festival throughout the month of August, when the town will turn “plum crazy”. The grand finale of this festival will be the Plum Fayre and Farmers Market on August Bank Holiday Monday.

On 25th August, Pershore will be full to the brim with plummy pleasures, providing a plum crazy day out for visitors coming from far and wide. Attractions throughout the town include: plenty of stalls (Plum Bazaar), a food village, farmers’ market, classic cars, Abbey Tower Tours and Teddy Parachute drops (Plum Abbey), children’s entertainment zone (Plum Fun Zone), learning and development area (Plum Parade), plum tastings, stalls and advice (Plum Alley), and a plethora of entertainment throughout the town! The Pickled Plum Pub will also be hosting the Plum Jam providing plenty of entertainment taking you into the evening. It promises to be a fantastic day and night out!

Butterfly Conservation West Midlands will have a stall in St. Andrews Garden where lots of information on the Brown Hairstreak will be available, along with advice on butterfly gardening and there will also be an exciting display of live moths.

The event runs from 10:00am - 5:00pm and park and ride is available from Pershore College or Pershore High School. For more information, please visit the website.

Wednesday 20th August - A second try at Grafton.

This being the second Wednesday that I had booked off work and with my lack of success in seeing any Brown Hairstreaks at Grafton Wood last week I decided to have another attempt today.
I left home about 10.00 and drove over, arriving and parking by the church at Grafton Flyford about an hour later. The morning had started off nice and sunny albeit with a bit of a nip in the air after a cold night, and by the time I arrived at Grafton some more cloud had built up with the sunny spells being warm but not lasting very long. At least the blustery wind of late had dropped with there being very little breeze today.
I walked across the fields and into the wood and then followed the main ride down to the southern end which is quite sheltered and where there has been some management of the blackthorn to encourage new growth. As with last week, Speckled Woods were everywhere along with some Meadow Browns and a few faded Gatekeepers and various whites.
Reaching the southern end of the wood I started scanning the Oaks and Ash and soon saw some Hairstreaks flitting about high up but which through my binoculars proved to be Purples, not Browns.

A few minutes later I was joined by a couple of fellow enthusiasts and together we scanned the trees and blackthorn. During one of the brief warm sunny spells we spotted a butterfly flying across the trees in front of us which we all thought was a Brown Hairstreak. It flew up into the trees before we got a really good look but it flew with the ‘jinking’ flight of a hairstreak and it was the right colour so on the principle of ‘if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck’ we agreed that it probably was one (a Brown Hairstreak that is, not a duck).
Just after that a Holly Blue settled and with a cloud blocking the sun stayed down for a while, not in the best place for photos being well into a large patch of brambles and unfortunately not opening its wings before flying off.

With another large cloud blocking the sun we then walked back up the main ride towards the pond area before going our separate ways to check out different rides.
Again, as with last week there were good numbers of Common Blue and Brown Argus scattered about as well as a couple of worn Small Coppers.

A little while later I met up with John Tilt and Dave Williams of West Midlands BC who were with a work party further in the wood and after having a chat we went for a wander back to the pond and the adjacent rides. Apparently the Brown Hairstreaks are very slow to get going at Grafton this year and there is a bit of concern about the low number of sightings, in fact John told me he has only seen one so far, a male. It is possible the recent weather has held them back; August so far has been cool and cloudy and quite blustery after the remnants of Hurricane Bertha passed through and a northerly wind has brought quite cool conditions for the time of year.

John went back to re-join the work party whilst Dave and myself had another look by the pond. We had already seen a couple of False Brown Hairstreaks (Gatekeepers) when both of us at the same time spotted what at first looked like another one land on a clump of Hemp Agrimony. Happily this one was the real thing, a male Brown Hairstreak that stayed down for a few minutes before taking off and flying up into the Oaks behind us.


It was only as I took photos of this one that I realised that this was the first male Brown Hairstreak that I have ever photographed, all my previous shots have been of females.
I then took a slow walk back through the wood and with more clouds building up I called it a day and headed for home.
Neil Freeman.