Posted by: lensweb | March 30, 2013

LENS Butterfly Transect

It is amazing to think that on April 1 2013 LENS will begin to walk the first local  butterfly transects for Butterfly Conservation.

But where are the butterflies? The cold spring has resulted in a dearth of sightings.

The Nature Notes of an Edwardian lady is one of my favourite books. It was written by Edith Holden in 1905 and contains her personal observations and illustrations of  nature and wildlife in Warwickshire and holidays in Devon, interspersed with poetry. My edition of the diary was published in 1989 by Guild Publishing and I hope they won’t mind if I include a few quotes.

The diary always has an apt verse for the season and the progression of the season in the diary is a marker for comparison today;

‘March borrowed from averillThree days and they were ill
The first it sall be wind and wet
The next it sall be snow and sleet
The third it sall be Sie a frieze,
Sall gar the birds stick to the trees’

It seems we borrowed more than 3 days this year.

The first butterflies appear in the diary on;

May 4 Walked past Lowry to make a sketch of an old bridge over the Meavy. Brilliantly hot day, saw two small cabbage butterflies and one brimstone.

May 12 On the way home I found a linnet’s nest with one egg in it in a whin bush just below the quarry and immediately below, a robin was sitting on it’s nest in the bank. Saw a small copper butterfly and small tortoiseshell;and the caterpillars of the latter butterfly.

May 18 On the way home from a meadow by the river, saw an orange tipped butterfly; meadow browns and white butterflies, large and small, have been quite plentiful the past few days.May 25 went to the top of Peak Hill, saw a peacock butterfly and picked some brooklime.

May 29 Saw a painted lady butterfly.

June 9 Down by the iris beds saw a painted lady and a small blue butterfly.

June 17 Saw a red admiral butterfly, picked a lot of wild strawberries; numbers of ghost moths hovering over the grass in the evening now.

July 6 Walked across the moors to nuns cross, and back by leather tor. Gloriously bright day with very clear distant views. Saw some dark blue dragonflies by one of the little streams trickling through the bog; and fritillary butterflies.great stretches of heather but only small patches of the bell heather and pink bog heath in blossom as yet.

July 15 A bed of nettles I passed today was quite black with the caterpillars of the peacock butterfly.

July 26 Walked to Vixen Tor, past Stamford Spinney and the valley of the Walkham river. Saw numbers of beautiful fritillary butterflies.

August 15 Gathered some white ling and bell heather on yannadon down. Saw a painted lady butterfly;the third this week; and two peacock butterflies.

August 31 Went up to the moor to sketch, saw several peacock and red admiral butterflies as well as small blues

These were the last butterflies mentioned in the diary that year.
The two areas chosen for the LENS butterfly transects are Toton Sidings (Derbyshire) and Toton Washlands.
The sidings site is expected to change whether by degradation to scrubland or by HS2, only time will tell, but certainly the next few years of records will be a very interesting data set.

Toton washlands used to be grazed  but in recent years there has been little management except mowing of the surrounding flood bank there is a possibility that this Environmental Agency holding site may soon become a managed nature reserve so LENS butterfly transect records may lead and reflect future management regimes.

I hope you enjoyed the diary excerpts and that 2013 is a good butterfly year for you.

Marion Bryce


  1. Many thanks Marion. As always I enjoy what you write on natural history.


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