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? 


Overall the Grafton egg count was down this year - 203 on the ‘core’ hedgerows (cf 234 last winter) and 44 on a few other hedgerows that we always search (cf 154 last year). This is quite a sizeable drop, especially on the ‘other’ hedges, although the core count this year was higher than in both 2011/12 and 2012/13.

A significant statistic is also the height at which we’ve generally found eggs this winter at Grafton with comparatively (very) few - 9 - in the 0 to 1 foot range, which is the lowest total for 14 years and almost certainly reflects the absence of small suckers that this butterfly usually prefers for egg laying. Note that in some years recently, this 0 to 1 foot figure has been well over 100!!

I am however, very hopeful that the count within the wood itself will prove to be much better than ever before, thanks to the huge amount of management work that has been carried out over the last few years. As Mike mentions above, this search will take place on Saturday 31st January.

Its too early to tell just yet as there is still a lot of blackthorn to search but it appears as though there has also been a decline at our Princethorpe colony in Warks. Ive got my fingers crossed that those pesky Brownies have just moved on elsewhere and they're giving us the run around!

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