Friday, 8 May 2015

Butterfly Transect Update.

Following up on a post last August entitled 'A New Transect for 2015' I am pleased to say that my offer to carry out a new butterfly recording transect on Ashtead Common National Nature Reserve, managed by the City of London Corporation, has now been confirmed. This involves a weekly stroll over a fixed route from April to September, a total of 26 weeks, in suitable weather between 10.45 and 15.45 to record the variety and numbers of species seen throughout each of the 8 dedicated sections.

Whilst I have carried out three surveys so far the weather hasn't been particularly brilliant with gusty winds on most days between 8-20 mph combined with temperatures barely acceptable for the flutters so it is perhaps not surprising that I have only recorded 7 species; Brimstone (6), Large White (3), Small White (3), Green-veined White (1), Orange Tip (6), Peacock (2) and Speckled Wood (6).

Speckled Wood




Peacock

Throughout the 500 acres (200 hectares) of Ashtead Common there are over 2,300 ancient oak pollards, many over 400 years old, which play host to a surprising variety of wildlife. Continual management is required to maintain the health of these veteran Oaks by reducing their crowns, clearing away the understory growth and where appropriate allowing younger trees to thrive so they can eventually take over from their forefathers.


In the open wooded pasture glades many old trees remain standing, weathered by the passage of time with shattered and torn limbs but continuing to play their part in the landscape as hideaways for numerous tiny creatures and nesting cavities for the birds and mammals.



During my most recent survey I noticed this sign stating that three weeks ago there had been six fires within the wooded pasture areas on the common all thought to have been deliberately lit. Fortunately through prompt action of the public and the Fire Brigade the overall damage was minimised.

I had previously seen evidence of a similar situation on my nearby birding patch at Epsom Common and have to wonder at the mentality of the idiots that  think this behaviour is acceptable.


Hyacinthoides non-scripta
Throughout the transect there are numerous patches of our native Bluebells and as soon as more wild flowers come into flower I'm sure other species of butterfly will be seen. One very majestic veteran that I walk pass is the King Oak which at the moment is still to come into leaf.

The King Oak

One species I was hoping to record along the transect is the Holly Blue but although I eventually found one resting it was seen elsewhere and therefore hasn't yet figured in the statistics.

Holly Blue

Linking to Saturday's Critters hosted by Eileen.

20 comments:

  1. lovely butterflies! you're a good man for that tracking! sure hope the arsonist can be caught and/or stopped!

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  2. Frank, you are doing better than me. I have managed to walk my transect five times, but only seen five species. Of course on my way back last week I saw a Speckled Wood, which I haven't managed to record on my transect yet this year. I am really hoping the weather will warm up soon to tempt out some other species!

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  3. I don't think I have ever seen a Holly Blue, but it is beautiful. You have such diverse butterflies over there. Usually I seldom see more than the one type of butterfly at a time. Carol

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  4. That is a big commitment, Frank. Nice to have an objective, though. Looking forward to more photos from your transect surveys.

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  5. I love your butterfly images!

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  6. Fabulous photos of the butterflies! They're very beautiful.

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  7. Thats a great looking bit of habitat - pasture woodland can be very rich places.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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  8. It becomes my second hobby int he summer when the birds go quiet. It's just as exciting for me to look for and record butterflies. Love the Holy Blue shot.

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  9. Beautiful butterflies! I hope they catch the arsonist, they must be crazy. Kudos to you on your big commitment. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy weekend!

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  10. The old trees are simply magnificent. What a great place for you to do your good work. I'm so glad your tracking gives you these great photo ops, thanks for sharing the m.

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  11. What beautiful colors in the peacock but the holly blue really wins my heart. Enjoy your weekend!

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  12. Super post, FAB. I LOVE that Peacock Butterfly!!

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  13. What an excellent opportunity! You seem to be having success so far. I hope the firebug is caught and dealt with quickly.

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  14. I like those butterflies, especially that Holly Blue, Frank. The little ones aren't so easy to capture.
    ~

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  15. The typical species mix for this time of the year, with the perhaps puzzling absence of small tortoiseshells!

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  16. What an intriguing project! You found such a good variety, too. I especially like the "peacock" butterfly.

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  17. Wonderful butterfly shots. Those old trees are impressive!

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  18. How wonderful for you to look forward to this outing once a week. Very lovely images and those amazing butterflies, it shall be grand!

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  19. good luck on your walks. beautiful images.

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  20. Its a lovely shot of the Holly Blue Frank.

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