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.
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.
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.
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, 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 members 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
This 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 - Sat 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.