Blackthorn Planting Day at Bourne Close, Flyford Flavell

Last winter, the “Thursday Streakers” had been asked by Wychavon District Council to come and survey for Brown Hairstreak eggs on various pieces of open-space land, left over after recent housing developments. These areas of land are owned and managed by the council, and are protected from future development. As a number of them fall within the distribution area of the Brown Hairstreak, and contain blackthorn, then we were very interested to get involved.

One such area was at Bourne Close, which is not too far away from Grafton Wood itself. When we had visited last winter, we’d found the site had great potential, although the blackthorn that was already growing there was in need of management as it was too old and overgrown to be of much interest to Brown Hairstreaks. Wychavon Council therefore kindly agreed to facilitate a ‘Community Planting Day’ that would allow us to plant some new blackthorn on the site. 

Part of the idea behind the day was also to raise awareness at a local level of the Brown Hairstreak and the importance of hedgerow management. The advantage of places like Bourne Close are that hedgerows there, on which any eggs have been laid, are less likely to be flailed than those in the wider countryside, so we are providing something of a safe haven for the butterfly as well as raising awareness.

And so it was, last Saturday, that four of our regular Thursday group: myself, Mike Williams (arriving ‘hotfoot’ after doing a live radio interview for BBC Hereford & Worcester to publicise both the event and ‘all things Brown Hairstreak’), Jenny Tonry and Pauline Jennings arrived at Bourne Close to plant out 140 blackthorn whips that had been provided by Wychavon District Council. The group of four quickly became seven as three local residents turned out to help as well and, despite the appallingly wet conditions, that made it incredibly difficult to even get a spade in and out of the cloying soil (mud!!), we’d finished all the planting by lunchtime. We then waited around for a short while for a photographer from the Evesham Observer to arrive and record our hard work!!

In the afternoon we decided to have a quick egg search at some adjoining and promising looking hedgerows to the east of the site and found four Brown Hairstreak eggs.

So all in all, a very successful and rewarding day, that gave us plenty of reasons to be optimistic for the continued success of the Brown Hairstreak in this particular little corner of Worcestershire.

Press releases:

Mike Williams, Brown Hairstreak Species Champion for West Midlands Butterfly Conservation said “The work follows a survey of all of Wychavon’s green space undertaken by Butterfly Conservation volunteers last year and the site at Bourne Close was identified as having the most potential for the butterfly. It is close to Grafton Wood, a nature reserve managed by Butterfly Conservation and the Wildlife Trust which supports a healthy breeding population”

Alex Morris, Parks Monitoring Assistant at Wychavon District Council said “We are delighted to be able to support this community project and hope that local residents will get involved. Most of Worcestershire’s Brown Hairstreaks are found in the Wychavon district and it is one of our most important and attractive butterflies. We want to do our bit to help protect it.”


Hi Simon,
With regard to future management of the blackthorn stock in this area, particularly the mature and now less suitable stands, my advice would be to be very brave and rotationally 'butcher' the old stuff, cutting it back to ground level. Experience at Steyning shows that the vigorous regrowth, supported by a mature root system, will throw up rapidly developing suckers which are suitable for oviposition during the first August following the cut. As long as you don't do it all in one year and there is suitable, younger stuff close-by, it's sometimes a case of 'who dares wins'.
Best Wishes, Neil

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