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Rare butterfly makes Worcestershire comeback

23/08/2010 19:58:58 New nature reserve provides link through the landscape

August 2010: The nationally rare brown hairstreak butterfly appears to be making a comeback in Worcestershire, after being spotted in fields next to land recently bought by the county's wildlife trust.

RARE: A male brown hairstreak butterfly. Picture: Roger Wasley

The butterflies were seen in Naunton Court Fields, a nature reserve owned by Worcestershire Wildlife Trust since 2006, which is next to Piddle Brook Meadows which the trust bought in November, following a public appeal and a generous donation from Severn Waste Services. The reserves, near Naunton Beauchamp, form a mosaic of flower-rich meadows and arable fields and provide a vital link through the landscape for many species.

In a piece headline Plea for public help in tracking down rare butterfly, residents in the Forest of Feckenham area had been asked to keep a lookout for ash trees that were being used by brown hairstreak butterflies in order to help Butterfly Conservation and Worcestershire Wildlife Trust discover more about their expanding distribution in our county. 

One of the biggest conservation projects in the county
James Hitchcock, conservation officer for the trust, explained: ‘The work we're doing with Butterfly Conservation to help brown hairstreaks expand their range is one of the biggest conservation projects in the county.

Grafton Wood is the centre of the only Midlands colony of this butterfly that is a priority species for conservation in the UK. We're working hard to ensure that suitable habitat is maintained and that there are corridors of habitat running throughout our landscape that enable butterfly populations to move into new locations.

‘There was good news last year when butterfly eggs were found on blackthorn at our Feckenham Wylde Moor reserve as well as other new sites. For the adults to be found on an ash tree, or assembly tree, on a relatively recent nature reserve is really great. Hopefully our acquisition of the adjacent meadows will help the butterflies expand their range even further.'

The butterflies were discovered during a routine survey of the area by volunteers Hugh Glennie, Trevor Trueman and Peter Seal. Adult butterflies are now on the wing until late September. At the moment they're flying and feeding in the tops of trees but towards the end of the month, females will begin to skim the tops of hedges as they search for suitable places to lay their eggs.

Members of the public are invited to contact Mike Williams, West Midlands Butterfly Conservation Species Champion, on 07802 274552 if they know of any locations where brown hairstreak butterflies can be seen.

The two charities organise an annual Brown Hairstreak Day at the end of August to look for the female butterflies who descend to lay their eggs. This year's event takes place on Sunday, August 29 and anyone interested in taking part should contact John Tilt on 01386 792458.

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