Posted by: lensweb | February 3, 2016

LENS BUTTERFLY TRANSECTS 2015

LONG EATON BUTTERFLY TRANSECTS 2015

Introduction

Butterfly transects are a way of monitoring the number and variety of butterflies present at a site from year to year.

  • Recording takes place for 26 weeks starting April 1
  • Counts should be made between 11am and 4pm.
  • Walks should only be carried out in warm (13 °C or more) and bright weather.
  • The transect is walked at a slow, steady pace counting all butterflies seen within a fixed distance – 2.5m either side of the transect line and 5m ahead.
  • Exactly the same route is always followed

Long Eaton Natural History Society Wildlife Group (LENS)  carries out butterfly transects at 3 local sites; Toton Washlands, Mayfield Grove Buffer Stop (Toton Sidings)  and Forbes Hole LNR, following Butterfly Conservation guidelines.

Toton Washlands Grid Ref SK 485347

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Toton Washlands is a wildlife site between the Erewash River and the Erewash Canal next to the Erewash Valley Way at Long Eaton. Butterflies can complete their entire life cycle on site. It is hoped Erewash Borough Council will adopt the site as a Local Nature Reserve. Currently the owners, the Environment Agency are regularly mowing the floodbund and they are kindly mowing a path through the site which follows our butterfly transect route by the riverside, skirting marsh and woodland. Despite floods elsewhere in the country Long Eaton has had a below average rainfall (Alan Heath Weather Report 2015). The site is now quite dry and a lot of the old meanders have filled in with reeds. Many wildflowers bloomed in 2014 when the scrub was cut back but the wildflower numbers will decrease as coarse grasses, nettles and brambles take over and the land will quickly revert to scrub without management.

 

TOTON WASHLANDS
SPECIES 2013 2014 2015
SMALL SKIPPER 38 31 60
ESSEX SKIPPER 0 1 21
LARGE SKIPPER 36 7 32
DINGY SKIPPER 0 0 0
BRIMSTONE 0 10 0
LARGE WHITE 142 21 55
SMALL WHITE 151 141 67
GREEN VEINED WHITE 48 98 31
ORANGE TIP 21 21 10
SMALL COPPER 0 2 0
BROWN ARGUS 0 0 0
COMMON BLUE 7 11 6
HOLLY BLUE 4 3 7
RED ADMIRAL 2 4 2
PAINTED LADY 0 0 0
SMALL TORTOISESHELL 40 121 90
PEACOCK 31 69 21
COMMA 14 9 12
DARK GREEN FRITILLARY 0 0 0
SPECKLED WOOD 40 54 58
MARBLED WHITE 0 0 0
GATEKEEPER 45 53 90
MEADOW BROWN 25 15 95
RINGLET 64 98 255
SMALL  HEATH 0 0 0

 

TW

The number of white butterflies decreased while the number of brown butterflies greatly  increased. Peacock butterfly numbers were reduced this year. At Toton Washlands 2013 was the year of the large white, 2014 was the year of the peacock butterfly but 2015 was the year of the ringlet, as Brenda Meakin reported in July ‘ there were clouds of ringlets, too numerous to count’, Catherine Harrison counted 222 in a single transect. This was the highest individual count. Wonderful!

Day flying moths recorded were narrow bordered 5 spot burnet, pale straw pearl, burnet companion, chimney sweeper, silver Y, straw dot, gold spot and angle shades.  This site has a spectacular number of dragonflies. Some of the first ivy bees in our area were noted on tansy.  A bonus species was a Black and Red Squash Bug which is a recent arrival in Derbyshire.

Mayfield Grove Buffer Stop Grid Ref SK 492343

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LENS started a butterfly transect at Mayfield Grove Buffer Stop in response to a request from the Derbyshire Butterfly recorder Ken Orpe. This followed the illegal tree clearance of the site by the landowner which had resulted in an unprecedented blooming of wildflowers on the limestone rich old railway sidings at Toton. This dry and sunny mosaic site can be quite unpleasant as it is completely unmanaged, bramble and gorse is taking over fast and there is a lot of dog fouling and dumping of waste. The second part of the transect follows the River Erewash through Norfolk Road Greenspace.  This year Network Rail left a large pile of limestone chippings for use on the live track which is accessed via the transect site, good news for dingy skippers.  Towards the end of the year some travellers set up camp on the sidings, 4 horses are grazing the site so this might keep it open for another year.

MAYFIELD GROVE BUFFER STOP
SPECIES 2013 2014 2015
SMALL SKIPPER 61 67 102
ESSEX SKIPPER 72 86 19
LARGE SKIPPER 7 58 70
DINGY SKIPPER 13 7 11
BRIMSTONE 0 3 4
LARGE WHITE 112 45 23
SMALL WHITE 114 65 58
GREEN VEINED WHITE 48 86 17
ORANGE TIP 10 9 6
SMALL COPPER 11 2 0
BROWN ARGUS 1 0 2
COMMON BLUE 76 49 25
HOLLY BLUE 5 3 8
RED ADMIRAL 1 4 2
PAINTED LADY 0 0 1
SMALL TORTOISESHELL 10 41 67
PEACOCK 55 58 47
COMMA 5 9 4
DARK GREEN FRITILLARY 1 0
SPECKLED WOOD 30 56 23
MARBLED WHITE 7 2
GATEKEEPER 112 102 91
MEADOW BROWN 36 43 89
RINGLET 226 335 519
SMALL  HEATH 22 10 3

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We will continue butterfly recording at Mayfield as it is our only transect which  delivers on marbled white and dingy skipper. Ringlet numbers  increased this year but the number of whites, large, small and green veined were markedly reduced. Counts of common blue were down, brown argus made the briefest of appearances and no small coppers were recorded. Small tortoiseshell numbers increased, speckled wood and small heath counts were down. In May green hairstreaks were reported on Toton Sidings so we will look out for them next year.

Day flying moths recorded were 6 spot burnet, narrow bordered 5 spot burnet, latticed heath, shaded broad bar, sulphur pearl Sitochroa palealis (common on chalk downs), pale straw pearl, burnet companion, yellow shell, six belted clearwing (a notable species). Numbers of 6 spot burnets were very low. Larvae of cinnabar moth were seen on ragwort.

Other species of note were tawny longhorn beetles, gorse shield bug, long winged conehead and speckled bush cricket.

Forbes Hole Local Nature Reserve Grid Ref SK 495324

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Erewash Borough Council have now taken over management of Forbes Hole from Groundwork and a programme of tree clearance and opening up vistas was carried out in 2015 under the direction of the Tree Officer,  Jaimey Richards, who also led Erewash Tree Wardens in cutting back scrub from the pathways. The meadow was mowed once in September and the cuttings removed in good time. Last year the cuttings were left in situ for many weeks and it seemed to reduce the number of meadow flowers this year. Shading by trees is significant.  The water level of the pond is very low as the water table has lowered due to nearby gravel extraction and also the water inlet via a small stream and also surface drainage has for the past 10 years been diverted into the main sewer. The newly exposed shoreline has meant that an opportunity has arisen for wildflowers to grow, that is if the ivy can be cleared and saplings removed, more work for the Friends of Forbes Hole. A small south facing bank of fine silt from previous pond dredging was cleared and sowed with wildflowers in 2015 attracting many butterflies.  At the end of the year reed removal (approx. 20% of large pond) has again cleared this area ready for sowing of native wildflower seeds.

FORBES HOLE LOCAL NATURE RESERVE
SPECIES 2014 2015
SMALL SKIPPER 12 10
ESSEX SKIPPER 12 8
LARGE SKIPPER 0 7
DINGY SKIPPER 0 0
BRIMSTONE 22 6
LARGE WHITE 47 35
SMALL WHITE 36 24
GREEN VEINED WHITE 65 24
ORANGE TIP 24 5
SMALL COPPER 0 0
BROWN ARGUS 9 6
COMMON BLUE 48 19
HOLLY BLUE 7 2
RED ADMIRAL 16 7
PAINTED LADY 0 1
SMALL TORTOISESHELL 96 22
PEACOCK 109 54
COMMA 8 10
DARK GREEN FRITILLARY 0 0
SPECKLED WOOD 145 93
MARBLED WHITE 0 0
GATEKEEPER 31 50
MEADOW BROWN 40 106
RINGLET 42 108
SMALL  HEATH 0 1

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Counts of gatekeeper, meadow brown and ringlet increased significantly over the previous year. This year an ancient alder buckthorn was recorded at Forbes and more buckthorn was planted by the Friends of Forbes Hole in 2011, food plants for brimstone butterflies. Large skipper was recorded on site, it is only surprising none were recorded last year. Counts of common blue were very much reduced and the brown argus made the briefest of appearances, but on a cool day in week 20, Christine Carrier saw a small heath which was last recorded at Forbes Hole in 1968!

Day flying moths recorded were narrow bordered 5 spot burnet, 6 spot burnet, shaded broad bar, burnet companion, chimney sweeper, silver Y, mother of pearl and clouded border. Numbers of 6 spot burnets were very low. Larvae of cinnabar moth were seen on ragwort. Other species of note were a large weevil (Rhinocyllus conicus), new to Derbyshire, a four banded longhorn beetle and three species of spectacular conopid flies.

Comparison of Butterfly Species Counts at all 3 Sites in 2015

SPECIES FORBES MAYFIELD TOTON WASHLANDS
YEAR 2015 2015 2015
SMALL SKIPPER 10 102 60
ESSEX SKIPPER 8 19 21
LARGE SKIPPER 7 70 32
DINGY SKIPPER 0 11 0
BRIMSTONE 6 4 0
LARGE WHITE 35 23 55
SMALL WHITE 24 59 67
GREEN VEINED WHITE 24 17 31
ORANGE TIP 5 6 10
SMALL COPPER 0 0 0
BROWN ARGUS 6 2 0
COMMON BLUE 19 25 6
HOLLY BLUE 2 8 7
RED ADMIRAL 7 2 2
PAINTED LADY 1 1 0
SMALL TORTOISESHELL 22 67 90
PEACOCK 54 47 21
COMMA 10 4 12
DARK GREEN FRITILLARY 0 0 0
SPECKLED WOOD 93 24 58
MARBLED WHITE 0 2 0
GATEKEEPER 50 91 90
MEADOW BROWN 106 89 95
RINGLET 108 519 255
SMALL  HEATH 1 3 0

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It is easy to see that Mayfield had the highest count of ringlets but it is easier to compare species count with the ringlets excluded.

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Mayfield also had the highest count of small and large skippers. Dingy skippers were seen at Mayfield only, Brian Parkes quick to report the appearance of these cryptic butterflies which are so easily missed. Brimstones appeared at Forbes and Mayfield. The  highest number of small and large whites, green veined whites and orange tips was at Toton Washlands. Small coppers were lamentably absent from all 3 sites. Common blue and holly blue recorded at all 3 sites, highest number at Mayfield. Colonies of brown argus at Forbes and Mayfield just survived. Forbes had the highest count of red admiral and peacock butterfly, but just one painted lady was recorded at Forbes and Mayfield. Toton Washlands had the highest count of small tortoiseshell and comma. Dark green fritillary seen in abundance in the White Peak of Derbyshire this year, failed to be counted at Long Eaton. Speckled wood and meadow brown counts were highest at Forbes. Mayfield counts of gatekeeper and small heath were highest. We always thrill to see the large black and white chequered wings of the marbled whites at Mayfield.

Comparison of Weekly Butterfly Counts at all 3 Sites

April 1st is Week 1 of the butterfly transect year which continues for 26 weeks. The 2015 butterfly year started right on schedule this year, last year the butterflies came out early. Low temperatures in weeks 5-8 resulted in zero counts at  Forbes Hole for 4 weeks.  There were several blank weeks and weeks with low counts at all 3 sites, even in summer, the sun just refused to get up until late in the afternoon. The log sheet still had to be filled in for zero counts, the results are valid if the lack of butterflies can be explained by the climatic conditions. The highest counts were week 14 and 15, the first two weeks of July.

WEEK NO FORBES MAYFIELD TOTON WASHLANDS
0 0 0 0
1 55 53 1
2 20 27 32
3 16 0 0
4 11 7 34
5 0 4 0
6 0 1 18
7 0 0 0
8 3 2 3
9 5 4 0
10 12 16 8
11 15 10 7
12 16 11 24
13 49 73 69
14 64 306 165
15 110 251 200
16 64 152 88
17 38 62 55
18 71 96 ND
19 ND 34 87
20 5 2 57
21 0 52 26
22 0 3 0
23 20 14 21
24 24 6 10
25 0 0 3
26 0 9 4

weeks

Butterfly counts were down at Forbes Hole but the total number of butterfly counts at Mayfield Grove and more significantly at Toton Washlands had increased. Mayfield Grove still produced the highest overall butterfly count.

TOTAL COUNT 2013 2014 2015
TOTON WASHLANDS 835 769 912
MAYFIELD GROVE 1140 1146 1193
FORBES HOLE not done 769 598

A big thank you to all of our butterfly transect volunteers. Susan Barker, Mike Barrett, Colin and Malina Benn, Ann & Geoff Bennett , Fay and John Blackburn, Norman Blake, Joan Breakwell, Ivan and Christine Carrier, Stuart Gilder, Catherine Harrison, Alan Heath, Helen Knewstubb, Karen Hodgson, Richard Hyde, Tony Maggs , Gill Martin and Brenda Meakin, Adrian Orrell, Brian Parkes, Richard Rogers, Bryan and Jenny Sewell.

If you wish to take part in the Long Eaton butterfly transect counts please contact Lensnaturalhistory@gmail.com

We will be holding a training day for each transect in the weeks before April 1.

Marion Bryce 3 February 2015


Responses

  1. Thank you for your excellent work!


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