Reports from Events

Interested to see what goes on at our Branch Events?  Scroll down below for a series of short reports from our Events.  You can also find more information in our Newsletters.

Andrew’s Wood moth event - 14 July 2017.

A total of 21 people attended, which was a good number. The evening was not particularly warm, so 2 traps were set up in the woodland and 1 in the open near the woodland edge. Jackie Gage led a walk around part of the reserve at dusk, while waiting for darkness to fall. The rare heath Lobelia were in flower and admired.

By the end of the evening a total of 86 species had been recorded, the most interesting being:

Alcis jubata

Dotted Carpet

Brachylomia viminalis

Minor Shoulder-knot

Catarhoe cuculata

Royal Mantle

Celypha aurofasciana

a micro-moth

Deileptenia ribeata

Satin Beauty

Epione repandaria

Bordered Beauty

Eudonia delunella

a micro-moth

Eulithis testata

Chevron

Euphyia unangulata

Sharp-angled Carpet

Hydrelia sylvata

Waved Carpet

Hydria undulata

Scallop Shell

Lampropteryx otregiata

Devon Carpet

There were also some “crowd pleasers” for those new to moth trapping such as:

Deilephila elpenor

Elephant Hawk-moth

Geometra papilionaria

Large Emerald

Ourapteryx sambucaria

Swallow-tailed Moth

Thyatira batis

Peach Blossom

Overall it was a most enjoyable evening with plenty of moths to see.  Participants gradually left as the night moved on and we finally finished packing up at about 01:00. Thank you to Jackie Gage (Devon Wildlife Trust, reserves officer) for allowing us to hold the event and driving the equipment onto site.

(Barry Henwood, Branch Chair and County Moth Recorder)


Heddon Valley (BC Event) - 9th July 2017

Report by Branch Events Co-ordinator Paul Butter who led the walk

There was a disappointing turnout of only 2 BC members for this joint event with the British Naturalists Association who had 7 members attend, headed up by Brian Sims.  It was sunny but blustery on the exposed parts of the walk which began at the National Trust car park at Hunters' Inn. Before reaching the main bracken covered slopes renowned for the High Brown Fritillary, we were met in the lane by a wheeling pair of Dark-green Fritillaries.  Apparently, the High Browns had been “everywhere” a couple of weeks earlier so it seems the heat wave in June had caught us on the hop.  Sure enough of the dozens of Fritillaries we saw on the slopes most were quite tatty and lost their golden colours. They were all flying at pace and only nectaring on bramble blossom very briefly making identification almost impossible.

Further along the cliff path we came across 3 or 4 Grayling (which were so cryptically camouflaged that even when pointed out a few feet away several of the group had trouble seeing them at rest) and 3 Humming-bird Hawk-moths.  Overall species seen were Silver-washed Fritillaries, Purple Hairstreaks, Comma, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Small Skipper, Large Skipper, Small Copper and Holly Blue and the micromoth Ypsolopha ustella.


Bircham Valley Local Nature Reserve, Derriford, Plymouth, - 5th July 2017

A small group of members, led by BC member Dave Gregory, attended this mid-week excursion to Bircham Valley Local Nature Reserve, not visited before by Butterfly Conservation.  Dave knew this to be a good spot, and we weren’t disappointed.Content

On a hot, sunny day we saw at least 13 butterfly species: large skipper, small skipper, green-veined white, speckled wood, meadow brown, marbled white, ringlet, gatekeeper, small tortoiseshell, comma, red admiral, silver-washed fritillary, common blue.  There may also have been the large white or small white among the unidentified butterflies that we saw.  What was especially enjoyable was to see some of these species in really good numbers.

The reserve provides a combination of meadows and woods, and we visited three meadows.  Butterflies were particularly abundant in the largest of these, a nice flowery area on a slope.  The highest density of butterflies was round this meadow’s edge where it bordered woodland.

Many thanks to Dave Gregory for organizing and leading this walk.

(Robert Powell, BC member)


Soar - 2nd July 2017

A big thank you to BC member John Rickett who offered to lead a butterfly walk on this wonderful bit of the South Devon coastline. It proved to be an excellent addition to the branch summer calendar.Content

The walk started at the East Soar NT car park we soon started seeing Meadow Browns, Skippers, Marbled Whites, Ringlets and several Small Coppers in the hedgerows.  Once we were out on the Coast Path they were joined by some magnificent Dark Green Fritillaries weaving in and out of the meadow grasses and flowers growing in this beautiful spot.

All along the cliff path we saw Grayling and a couple of Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries were spotted near Bolt Head.  We also had the opportunity to see quite a number of Silver-studded Blues – including three mating pairs!

Everyone really enjoyed themselves and in total we saw 10 butterfly species.  Thanks once again to John Rickett, who kept everyone so well informed about the various species we saw.

(Amanda Hunter, Branch Membership Officer)


White-letter Hairstreak Survey Workshop (BC Event) - 1st July 2017

Thanks to BC SW Senior Regional Officer Jenny Plackett and to Natural England Reserve Manager Albert Knott who jointly led this workshop and also to our Branch White-letter Hairstreak Champion John Rickett who attended and shared his local knowledge.  The workshop offered some training to volunteers who were prepared to help survey for this rarely seen butterfly.  White-letter Hairstreaks have been recorded in the Bovey Valley Woodlands in previous years and Natural England volunteers have already been mapping out the various elm trees in the locality.

Jenny Plackett reported that they did manage to see a couple of White-letter Hairstreaks on the day - on the elms close to the road by the right of the Pullabrook Wood car park entrance as you go into the car park. 

Jenny has also provided some useful links for anyone interested in this species.

UK Butterflies – White-letter Hairstreak

Survey Tips and notes from the White-letter Hairstreak Project 2007-09 (BC & various BC Branches)

You can also download a BC booklet about the WLH here – lots of useful information. 


Ashclyst Forest Sunday - 25th June 2017

Weather for the field event at Ashclyst on June 25th was rather cloudy but there were enough sunny spells to get some butterflies on the wing. The target species was the lovely White Admiral which is scarce in Devon and we were rewarded with about a dozen being seen and one or two that stopped long enough on Bramble blossom to get really good photos. Silver-washed Fritillaries were out in force, well over 30 looking magnificent as though they had just emerged. other highlights were a whirl of Scarlet Tiger moths in one particular spot where they seem to be year after year and a very interesting sighting of Four-spotted Footman moth larvae descending from the Oak canopy, where they had been feeding on lichens, on long silk threads to the ground where they pupate. Other butterflies included Meadow Browns, Ringlets, Commas, Red Admirals, Large and Small Skippers, Green-veined Whites, Speckled Woods and a Holly Blue. It was well attended with 7 members enjoying a very good day butterflying.

(Paul Butter, Branch Events Co-ordinator)


DWT Meeth Quarry Reserve (BC Event) - 4th June 2017

Report by Branch Events Co-ordinator Paul Butter who led the walk.

As the morning was looking grim with heavy rain it looked as if this event may have had to be cancelled, but by 1pm the sun miraculously appeared to lead on to a lovely sunny afternoon. Four optimists came along and a very good day was had by all. Over 50 Common Blues were seen, a welcome number as last year the species was barely seen at Meeth. Some diligent searching eventually located a couple of Green Hairstreaks. Over 30 Wood Whites were seen and the very unlikely egg-laying area noted where small Birds' foot trefoil plants were on very open ground with sparse rushes. One attendee managed to find a Dingy Skipper egg while we were searching for WW eggs and over 20 adult Dingy Skippers were spotted which was also a big increase on last year.  Plenty of day-flying Burnet Companion moths which flew up everywhere. In all 12 species of butterfly and 7 moths were recorded.


Ashclyst Forest (BC Event) - 2nd June 2017

Report by Branch Events Co-ordinator Paul Butter who led the walk.

Nine people attended the walk at Ashclyst where the target species was the White Admiral. The weather was predominantly dull but the afternoon did give some short spells of sunshine which was enough to get butterflies on the wing, but not too flighty so photographical conditions were good. At least 10 White Admirals were seen, all in pristine condition as if freshly emerged and some excellent shots were taken by the group. Also plentiful were the Silver-washed Fritillaries with at least 30 seen. There were plenty of Ringlets and Meadow Browns and several fresh Large Skippers too. Also seen were Comma, Red Admiral, Green-veined White, Speckled Wood and a Holly Blue. There were a couple of good moth sightings too with a clutch of Scarlet Tiger moths that were seen in exactly the same spot as previous years where Hemp Agrimony was abundant. Most unusual was the sight of dozens of rather attractive caterpillars all descending from the Oak canopy on long silken threads. These turned out to be Four-spotted Footman moth whose larvae eat aerial lichens growing on the oak branches. This moth started to breed in south Cornwall several years ago in is now spreading through the south west.


Orley Common - 27th May 2017

The branch has previously visited Orley Common later in the summer but this year leader Pete Hurst decided to vary things and explore this wonderful limestone habitat in May as it would give members a chance to see a different range of fauna and flora as well as the first brood of the butterflies that we usually see in their second brood on the site in late summer.Content

Over 8 species of butterfly were seen (including Common Blue, Large Skipper, Small Copper & Holly Blue) but highlights of the day for the twelve attendees was probably the various moths including Straw Dot (see photo), Green Carpet, Rush Veneer, Silver Y, Yellow Shell, Silver Ground Carpet & Common Carpet.  We also saw larvae of Spindle Ermine in their communal webs on Spindle.  Another great interest was the flora – Greater Butterfly Orchids, Common Twayblade.

Brown Argus, one of the target species, was not seen on the day but it is notably elusive.  If you see one on the site please make sure you let us know (See our latest sightings page for more information).  Good numbers of the Brown Argus have so far been seen at Dawlish Warren and Braunton Burrows.

Thanks to Pete for organising and leading this event – it makes so much difference to go round a site with such an expert guide.  Most members knew the various butterfly species we saw but everyone needed Pete’s help to name all the moths and the plants!


Dartmoor NPA Volunteer event – Becka Brook Valley – 12th March 2017

Devon BC members joined the Dartmoor National Park Second Sunday volunteers to help with scrub clearance in the Becka Brook Valley on Sunday 12th March 2017.  This work was necessary to help improve the habitat for the rare Marsh Fritillary butterfly.   DNPA Ranger Simon Lee led us all safely across some very damp ground to get to an area of even damper ground (Marsh Fritillary habitats on Dartmoor are generally pretty boggy!) where BC’s Simon Phelps led the conservation work as part of the ‘All The Moor Butterflies’ project.Marsh Fritillary larvae

The aim of the work was to open up corridors to help the Marsh Fritillaries to move around more freely between the various open boggy patches where they find the Devil’s Bit Scabious that their larvae need as their foodplant.  This year’s event follows on from a similar work party last year and, after doing some serious work cutting and clearing trees and scrub, some of the volunteers walked into last year’s clearance site and were overjoyed to find three groups of Marsh Fritillary larvae (see photo) enjoying the warmer spring air.  This means that last year’s conservation work was a real success!  Many thanks to all the DNPA volunteers & staff, and the local commoners, for working so hard to keep this habitat in good condition for these rare butterflies and the many other species that thrive in the very special habitat.


Lydford Old Railway reserve - Sun 5th Mar 2017

In spite of an unpromising forecast,Lydford 5th March 2017 9 people appeared in the Waterfall car park at Lydford for the work party on the Old Railway reserve. 2 people joined us from the Dartmoor Preservation Association which now has a copy of our work part dates. Luckily, gales and heavy showers held off until we had completed all the raking up of strimmed vegetation in half of the reserve. Colin Sargent, the leader for the day was very pleased with the turn out and that the work was all completed. Branches growing out from the edge of the site were also trimmed back in places. Finishing early afternoon, several of us took advantage of the National Trust cafe which was unexpectedly open in the car park and continued chatting over tea, coffee, hot chocolate and various desserts!


Little Breach  - Sun 26th Feb 2017

It was disappointing to only get a couple of membersJohn Bell at Little Breach workday 26th Feb 2017 at the Little Breach winter conservation work day on 26 Feb 2017 and the branch will welcome any input from members about how to encourage more members to volunteer to help out at this BC reserve next winter.  However, those that attended did a great job and one of the attendees, Pete Hurst, reports that “the weather was kind to us with wet conditions holding off until we had finished”. In the photo Volunteer Reserve Warden, John Bell, is shown raking, with a number of stone clusters in the background.  Pete says “These clusters have been made from scattered stones on the site and serve as available refuges for lizards and also can create hotspots by reflecting sunshine onto the grassland - Common Blue is known to lay eggs in close proximity of stones where ground temperature is increased.”  Anyone interested in helping out on this BC Reserve in the future can find more details here and you can email the branch here.


Bovey Heathfield - Sun 19th Feb 2017

Bovey Heathfield workday 19th Feb 2017This was our second work day this winter on this site which is a Teignbridge Council owned nature reserve.  BC Devon and Teignbridge have been collaborating for a number of years to conserve the habitat for a small colony of Silver-studded Blue butterflies and other heathland species. Silver-studded Blues are seen in good numbers in Devon at Bicton Common and Bolt Head (see our Key Sites page) but this colony has never been very large and now seems to be declining – so we hope all our hard work helps them have a better year in 2017. 

Sunday’s work included raking and scrub clearance and also we did some work creating a scrape – a big patch of bare ground which acts as a warm basking area for the butterflies as well as helping diversify the vegetation. You can find more information about why and how to create scrapes on our scrapes factsheet.

Thanks to everyone who attended either of these workdays this winter at Bovey Heathfield.  Some of the February attendees are seen in the photo having a welcome break at lunchtime.  Thanks to workparty leader Pete Hurst for organising the day and also to Teignbridge Council rangers for the work they have done on this site during the winter months.

More information about Silver-studded Blues can also be found on our Silver-studded Blue factsheet.


Little Breach - Sun 22nd Jan 2017

A small number of volunteers turned out for day's conservation work on our Little Breach reserve and Pete Hurst reports that it was a lovely sunny day and that the vegetation was very dry, making raking an easy job!  At tea break time everyone stopped to observe a minute's silence in memory of David Hinde, our Conservation Officer who sadly died in 2016 and who was our Branch Reserve Officer for Little Breach.  David's wife has had a memorial bench installed at the reserve and in this photo volunteers John Bell (our new Little Breach Reserve Officer) and Jonathan Aylett are seen taking a short break from work.

 


 

Bovey Heathfield - Sun 15th Jan 2017

This site is being managed to try and increase the breeding population of Silver-Studded Blue onsite and many thanks to the branch members who turned up to help and also to Sian Avon, Senior Ranger, Teignbridge Council Green Spaces who directed the work.  Everyone was very excited to use Tree Popper tools for the first time - they really work!

 

 

 


Branch Members Day - BC Devon members enjoying the sun at Members DaySat 22nd Oct 2016

 

BC members enjoyed a range of excellent speakers at the annual Branch Members Day and AGM on Sat 22 Oct 2016, this photo is taken by BC National Executive Committee Chair Jim Asher who was one of the speakers.