Holme Park Quarry LNR - Butterflies 2010

What a wonderful year it has been for butterflies in gardens and on nature reserves - though not so good for unprotected brassicas!

At Holme Park Quarry reserve total numbers have been over twenty percent more than the highest count of previous years. The peak period was from the last week of June to mid July when High Brown and Dark Green Fritillaries were abundant, together with Graylings, Large Skippers and nine other species.

This year has shown that, whilst butterflies are generally in decline, sunny summer weather can bring about a dramatic increase, as long as suitable natural habitats are maintained. Continuing a planned programme of scrub control at the reserve should have the desired effect.

Some butterflies are going against the trend and increasing in numbers. In the early nineties the Speckled Wood was only found in one small part of South Cumbria. Now this attractive butterfly, with its creamy-yellow patches on a brown background, is frequently seen in gardens and alongside hedgerows, as well as in its shady woodland home.

The Ringlet has come into this area in the last two or three years, so it was little surprise that it turned up on the reserve this year for the first time, bringing the total species count since 2003 to twenty six. It is easily mistaken for the more common Meadow Brown, but is darker. With wings closed, a string of yellow rings with white centres on black inner rings can easily be spotted.

Local butterfly recorders have been invited to carry out counts within the quarry itself next year. If anyone is interested in taking part in this exercise more details can be obtained from myself (01524 781474) or Martin Wain (01524 33851) of Butterfly Conservation.

Helping with transect recording is an excellent way of learning more about wildlife and a good reason for taking a weekly walk in pleasant surroundings.

Butterfly records can be viewed on this website with more information about the reserve and its management. (See under Downloads.)

Reg Hesketh, October 11th, 2010


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