Butterflies in Springtime at the Reserve

Brimstones normally re-emerge from hibernation on the first warm days of Spring. They search for mates and for Buckthorn bushes on which they lay their eggs. Purging Buckthorn is present on this reserve.

In Spring the total weekly count, which takes about an hour, may not exceed single figures. When visiting the reserve you need to look closely to spot them. A pair of close-focusing binoculars is a great help with identification. If you can take a good photo and zoom in with the camera or computer not only do you have confirmation of identity, but also a record for future reference. Looking at the undersides of the wings is often the best way of distinguishing similar species – if they stay still long enough!

In April look out for Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Red Admiral, Comma, Holly Blue, Speckled Wood, Orange-tip and the whites (Large, Green-veined and Small). These are all butterflies that might be seen in gardens in this area. They have been recorded on the reserve during April since records began in 2003, though not every year.

Less common are UK priority species, three of which have made appearances some years on the reserve during May. These are Dingy Skipper, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Wall Brown.

25 different butterfly species have been recorded.

The records are used for deciding management priorities for different parts of the reserve.  At the end of the year the transect data is entered into the Butterfly Monitoring Scheme for the UK. Data from all over the country shows trends in abundance of each species.

Reg Hesketh, April 17th, 2010


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