Butterflies

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Butterfly Leaflet

Our newly published Butterfly leaflet identifying 24 varieties of butterflies can be found here.


Reports
We are grateful to Ian Cunningham who has kindly written this report on butterflies in Pensford Field 2016.
Further reports can be found on our Archives page.


Pensford Field – Butterflies in 2016
Red Admiral

1. VISITS + RESULTS
Five visits were made. Details as follows:
05.04.16 (sun and showers): Peacock 1
07.05.16 (sunny): Small white 1, Holly Blue 1, Speckled Wood 1
06.07.16 (sunny): Small Skipper 3, Large Skipper 1, Large White 1, Small White 1, Painted Lady 1, Gatekeeper 3, Meadow Brown 8
12.08.16 (sunny): Large White 1, Small White 2, Holly Blue 1, Comma 1, Speckled Wood 2, Gatekeeper 2
14.09.16 (sunny): Large White 1, Small White 1, Red Admiral 1
While an experienced observer would normally expect to pick up all the butterflies present at the time of any visit, it is always possible that one or two might escape recording, and of course other species may have appeared at other times.
12 species is a good score for what is a small site in a suburban location. None are in the least rare, but given the nature of the site, it would have been very surprising if any rarities had been found. Rare butterflies generally spring from uncommon habitat, which does not arise here.
As to numbers, it is to be expected that the Meadow Brown, as a prolific grass breeder and colonial (rather than territorial) insect should be best represented. Others which it appears likely are breeding are Small Skipper, Large Skipper, Large White, Small White, Holly Blue, Speckled Wood and Gatekeeper. The other species recorded are more likely to be visitors passing through (which is not to say they might not breed here in future).

2. ANY OTHERS?
One never expects brilliant sunshine all the way through the season, but 2016 and 2017 had rather unusual weather patterns such that some species had a particularly poor year generally in south east England. These included the Common Blue and the Small Tortoiseshell, both of which seemed reasonable possibilities for Pensford Field.
7 other species which might be found are Essex Skipper, Brimstone, Green Veined White, Orange Tip, Purple Hairstreak, Small Copper, and Ringlet. Some of these are more likely than others, but 2 or 3 from the 9 would be no surprise.

3. HABITAT CHANGES?
In its development as a wildlife haven, Pensford Field is a relatively new site, and the vegetation is still evolving. It is suggested that it be left to continue doing just that for the time being in order to see what plants appear, with no special planting of (e.g.) wildflowers and no removal of anything currently growing. Brambles, while helpful to some species as a nectar source, should not be allowed to encroach on the grassland area. Stinging nettles are a benefit – Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma and Red Admiral all breed on them. The buddleia is a good nectar source for the larger butterflies. If cutting the grass, do it late in the year and leave the fringes next to the trees uncut. 
The above advice is butterfly-oriented. Other types of wildlife may benefit from different, even directly contrary, regimes, so depending upon what is desired compromises may be necessary.

4. CONCLUSIONS
Overall, Pensford Field can feel very pleased with itself for its contribution to butterfly diversity in the locality. A further 4 or 5 visits in 2017 would be desirable to see what else may be found.

I.R. CUNNINGHAM
March 2017
Holly Blue

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