Spurred on by the successes of the previous week: Gill, Geoff and I returned to the
area on Wednesday last week in an attempt to find more eggs that would add new grid
squares to the Brown Hairstreak distribution, as well as finding eggs over the
Worcs border into Warks.
We began by searching an area of extensive blackthorn within
Redditch town, close to
where the adult female had been reported in August, later making our way down
to Studley Common NR in Warks.
Redditch appears quite unique for a large town in that a high number of ‘green open spaces’ remain within the town itself, most of them seemingly containing large amounts of rarely cut blackthorn. Equally, the Common, and more especially the fields immediately surrounding it, support some of the most fantastic young, vigorous and apparently un-touched, blackthorn we’ve ever seen. However….after much searching, and a drenching from a passing cloudburst, no eggs were forthcoming.
Our perception, here in Worcs/Warks, is that egg searching this autumn (while the leaves are still present) is proving very much more difficult than at the same time last year. In 2011 some of our most successful hunts, in terms of locating new areas of distribution for the BH, occurred in Sept and Oct before many of the key hedges had been flailed. Our thinking is that this year, due to the cool wet summer, leaf growth has been much more vigorous and sustained than usual making searching, especially on the lower parts of tall suckers, extremely tricky. (Would be interested in others’ observations on this topic from around the country?).
After drawing a blank at Studley Common we moved camp, down to an area of Warks closer to where we’d found eggs the previous week (on the Worcs side of the county boundary beside the A441), to the southwest of Rough Hill Wood. More great blackthorn, (AND more passing cloudbursts!!), but after about an hours’ squelching and unsuccessful searching, we decided to call it a day.
I then also stopped off in
Redditch the next day, while passing through, and briefly
searched another area of the town with great blackthorn – Morton Stanley
park – where eggs had been recorded for the first time last winter. The same
suckers that the eggs had been found on in the late winter have since put on
some amazing growth. Again though, no eggs were found but I’m hoping this is
simply due to the searching difficulties and that once the leaves have fallen
we will start finding eggs, in all of these locations.