Brown Hairstreak Bulletin - Issue 104 - updated

 Brown Hairstreak Bulletin 104

Dear Brownhairstreakers,
You can always rely on a newspaper to come up with a good headline and the Evesham Observer's "Bid to get butterflies out of a sticky situation" seemed a particularly appropriate headline for their story about the launch of Hairstreak Jelly at the end of May.  The idea behind the production of the sloe jam was to try to get our conservation message about the Brown Hairstreak across to a wider and rather different audience and we more than succeeded in this aim.  The story attracted publicity in several local papers and resulted in two interviews on Radio Hereford & Worcester for good measure.  The jam itself sold out in a matter of a few weeks so an excellent result all round.  Elspeth Robertson at Wayside Farm Shop has offered to make us some more Hairstreak Jelly in the autumn so we shall be looking for more "sloe volunteers" to help us pick them come October!  Last year, the sloe harvest was very poor so we are keeping our fingers crossed for a better crop this year.
With the jam gone, it's time for the beer!  Colin Bowler, who is a fellow Brown Hairstreak enthusiast and regular visitor to the open day at Grafton Wood, has just produced with a colleague a range of beers, in association with Butterfly Conservation, which are on sale to the general public.  Four initial brews are on offer including Brown Hairstreak ale which should be available in time for the Brown Hairstreak season.  In the meantime, you can order a selection of beers from at £2.55 per bottle including postage.  Beers come in varying strengths and flavours so, if you are not sure which may suit, you can order a mixed case.  The Brown Hairstreak beer is described as "a tawny ale to cheer dark beer fans with satisfying smooth and malty undertones" which describes the butterfly as well as the beer rather well.  The beer label includes information about the particular species featured and there is a 10p donation to Butterfly Conservation for every bottle sold so you can drink to your heart's content knowing you are doing so for a good cause!  We are hoping to arrange opportunities to sample the beer at this year's open day and the Pershore Plum Festival so watch this space for more details.
Comment was made in the last eBulletin about the lateness of the spring delaying the emergence of Brown Hairstreak caterpillars from their eggs and this appears to have affected butterflies across the board with a number of species being 2-3 weeks later on the wing than when we would normally expect to see them.  The indifferent weather has certainly had an impact on the rate of development of caterpillars and the attached photo of a Brown Hairstreak larva taken by Martyn Ganderton in his garden at Stock Green in mid-June was only half-grown.  Caterpillars generally have been a little hard to come by, so hope this is down to them being smaller than normal and harder to spot rather than a genuine shortage. Two years ago, the first Brown Hairstreak was reported as early as 23rd July but it may again be August this year before we see the first adults in Worcs. 
Later this month, on Fri, 26th July, we shall be having a stall in the Arrow Valley country park in support of Redditch Council's entry into this year's Britain in Bloom.  As regular readers of the eBulletin will know, Redditch Council has initiated rotational blackthorn management in Morton Stanley Park where eggs have been found for the past two years and have also changed the way that roadside verges are being managed in the Oakenshaw area so it is good to be able to support the Council in this way.  If you happen to be in Redditch that day, do pop in and see us from 11 am onwards; we shall be at ‘The Peace Garden’.  This year's Brown Hairstreak open day is not until the August Bank Holiday weekend (Sun, 25th August) but we hope that some of you will also want to support this year's Blackthorn Bash on Sun, 11th August, meeting at Grafton Flyford church for 10 am.  This is the opportunity to do some practical management for Brown Hairstreaks in a private woodland, where the owner has been doing some sterling work to boost Brown Hairstreak numbers for many years, and it would be great to see a few new faces. We are grateful to Wychavon Council who are again producing posters advertising our open day which for the second year will be part of Pershore Plum Festival and if you are able to display one that would be great.  An electronic version is already available which we can email and printed posters and/or flyers will be available shortly.  Please get in touch if you can help us publicise this event and would like either posters or flyers. 
Mike Williams,
Brown Hairstreak Species Champion,
West Midlands Butterfly Conservation