So far so good

Interesting to read Tom's posting of record numbers of eggs at one of the Upper Thames sites.  Can't claim any record from our egg count at Grafton Wood on 17th November but numbers were up on the previous year on all three sections of blackthorn that make up part of our core count area which is an encouraging start.  We also seem to be getting a lot of multiple egg clusters this year for some reason with several trebles and even a couple of quads already recorded!  Our next planned session at Grafton is our Xmas/New Year special on Sun, 29th December when mincepies and mulled wine will be on offer as well as Brown Hairstreak eggs.  We meet outside Grafton Church for 10 am and all are very welcome. 

In the meantime, the Thurs Streakers are continuing their efforts to search out new areas, monitor known sites and respond to requests from landowners to survey specific areas.  A very productive recent visit was to a National Grid sub-station where we found almost 100 eggs.  National Grid were very pleased at this news and have written an article with our input for their in-house magazine.  Many of these site visits result in management recommendations being made to owners and hopefully, at the end of the day, some better hedgerow management measures being adopted.  With changes in agri-environment schemes reducing the amount of grant aid likely to be available to farmers, we are having more and more to rely on developing good relationships with landowners and finding ways other than money of achieving change.  Developing good links with other public bodies including local authorities is an important part of this, as is trying to make better links with businesses.  We were very pleased to receive a donation of a further supply of blackthorn whips from Wychavon Council recently which we have planted out in an area of public open space where our previous planting of whips earlier in the year had produced 21 eggs.  We are hoping that some of the blackthorn left over can be made available to local farmers and other landowners. 

Encouraged by the great success of last year's Hairstreak Jelly, we also have followed up on the discovery of eggs on farmland near Redditch by persuading their farm shop to stock Brown Hairstreak ale in the run up to Xmas which we hope will be another way of getting across our important conservation message to the wider public.  Talking of which, don't forget to order your own Xmas supply (  All bottles sold result in a donation to Butterfly Conservation.  More Worcs updates as and when.           

Record egg numbers today in Upper Thames!

A team of eight members recorded a total of 81 BrH eggs in just over 2 hours at a regular site near the Oxford bypass today.  It was a site record, the previous highest total being the 54 found there in 2009. It will be interesting to see if other egg counts have similar results?
Tetrad results this autumn (where at least one egg has been recorded) is almost complete for the 116 tetrads where either eggs or adults have been located since 2009. Egg finds have been relatively easy despite leaf fall being late this year.
Dave Wilton is doing an excellent job as BrH Champion in co-ordinating the recording and mapping of the species in Bucks and Oxfordshire.

Positive early news from Worcs

Although it is early days, we seem to be finding plenty of eggs in Worcs this year and, where we have comparative data, counts are up.  We have already added 3 new 1km squares to our distribution map which is also encouraging.  We shall know better after this coming weekend when we undertake our first egg hunt at Grafton Wood.  If any Streakers from elsewhere want to join us, we meet at Grafton Flyford church at 10 am on Sun 17th November (the day after the national AGM where West Midlands Butterfly Conservation are having a stall).  Once again, we had an October sighting of an adult at Grafton Wood on 15th which is pretty late but not our latest which was 22nd October back in 2008.  Reserve Manager and Branch Chairman John Tilt managed a photograph which can be viewed on the Grafton Wood blog.  Particularly good news has been the discovery of eggs at the site of our Community Planting Day earlier this year (see previous posting) with four of the whips holding Brown Hairstreak eggs.  Wychavon Council are providing us with another 100 plants which we will be putting in later this month.

Finally, I thought people might enjoy this photo
.of a Ladybird eyeballing a Brown Hairstreak egg which one of our local champions photographed in his garden.  We awaited the outcome with bated breath but the good news is that the egg survived its ordeal and remains intact.  The fate of the Ladybird is less certain as it has disappeared.  Perhaps its house was on fire and it flew away home - we shall never know!  More seriously, evidence of what actually does predate Brown Hairstreak eggs seems in short supply.  We often come across half-eaten eggs in our searches but have never caught the culprit in the act.  Does anyone have any more information on this?
More updates later.