Posted by: lensweb | July 4, 2017

Marbled Whites at Toton Sidings

4 July 2017  Toton Sidings LENS with Butterfly Conservation

Meet: At Banks Road Open Space Car Park, Toton Greenwood Community Centre NG9 6LN  Grid ref: SK494345  Leader Marion Bryce

A walk around the Toton Fields Local NR and Toton Sidings. This area is full of wildflowers that attract a wide range of butterflies including Marbled White

A red admiral sucked the ripe dark cherries as we idly waited in the car park, then at 10 o clock off we set, with 19 people in tow. The weather forecast had been quite buoyant but as we walked by the River Erewash, the cloud cover increased and it started to rain. A little egret fled as we crossed the river bridge, passed through  the gateway into the old sidings.


Toton railway yards, built in 1856,were once described as the “biggest in Western Europe”. As freight business declined, the sidings began to return to nature. There was much dismay among local residents when the woodland that had grown up was illegally felled in 2009. But what followed was a blooming of the sidings with such a variety of wildflowers many different butterflies were attracted.

LENS Wildlife group surveyed the flowers and set up a butterfly transect at the south end of the site at Mayfield Grove. This was very successful, with Small Heath Coenonympha pamphilus, Brown argus  Aricia agestis, Marbled White Melanargia galathea and Green Hairstreak Callophrys rubi among the many butterflies recorded but the unmanaged site is now overgrown. The larger site remains and is the proposed site for a station hub serving Nottingham and Derby as part of the new HS2 high-speed rail network. Currently this is an unmanaged site that changes from year to year.

As we brush past the foliage the dark shadows of ringlets flutter and a gatekeeper flashes brilliant orange before shutting its wings and resting among the bramble. We went off piste to the best wildflower areas where the marbled whites fly late into the July evenings, and there they were, marble indeed, posing, frozen on the mauve knapweed flowers. So far this year only 7 have been counted and we saw 3 today with plenty of photo-opportunity for Rod and Martin our professional photographers. They got the best photographs ever! Four large day-flying moths appeared, the shaded broad-bar, the latticed heath, the six-spot burnet and was that a narrow-bordered five-spot burnet? A smoky wainscot thought it was night-time. Two green veined whites showed off and we took the time to look at the skippers. Essex and small skipper confirmed by catching them in a tube and examining the colour of the end of the antennae, sooty means Essex, brick red means small. A small grass moth was the common, garden grass veneer Chrysoteuchia culmella. Pale straw pearl Udea lutealis, a bramble feeder was also confirmed.

A pheasant squawked in the scrub and a green woodpecker flew across. A lesser whitethroat and chiff chaff took turns serenading us but it was raining quite heavily as we walked up the black powdery bridle path up to the north end of the sidings. We lost two birdwatchers.

White melilot, mignonette, St John’s Wort and centaury wildflowers excited interest as we padded between the hairy pods of old broom. White mullein and evening primrose put on a good show but the purple buddlia flowers and bird’s foot trefoil was abandoned by butterflies. No brown argus today.

Meadow fescue grows profusely along the path to the top of the hill. It stopped raining but the sky still lowered as we saw skippers and ringlets a plenty, confirming small and Essex skippers at the top of the hill. A large skipper rested, waiting for the sun to shine. Looking down over the Sidings it was sad to see so many old diesels rusting in rows. While the virtual quarry busily transferred stone, brought by lorries from the quarry, into train wagons for further transportation.

Sue’s sharp eyes spotted a tawny longhorn beetle feeding inside the pink striped white trumpet of field bindweed. A long winged conehead and a speckled bush cricket were solitary orthopteran records. Counting skippers and ringlets we also saw black tipped soldier beetles and a thick thighed flower beetle as featured on Spring Watch. Speckled woods were hesitant to fly as we passed through the dappled shade of the Toton Fields woodland. We were almost back when we spotted the unmistakeable jagged edged wings of a comma.


Phylloscopus collybita Chiffchaff 1
Picus viridis Green Woodpecker 1
Ardea cinerea Grey Heron 1
Sylvia curruca Lesser Whitethroat 1
Egretta garzetta Little Egret 1
Phasianus colchicus Pheasant 1
Turdus philomelos Song Thrush 1
Coccinella septempunctata 7-spot Ladybird 2
Rhagonycha fulva Common Red Soldier Beetle 10
Oedemera (Oedemera) nobilis Swollen-thighed Beetle 1
Paracorymbia fulva Tawny Longhorn 3
Polygonia c-album Comma 3
Thymelicus lineola Essex Skipper 20
Pyronia tithonus Gatekeeper 6
Pieris napi Green-veined White 5
Ochlodes sylvanus Large Skipper 3
Pieris brassicae Large White 1
Melanargia galathea Marbled White 3
Maniola jurtina Meadow Brown 3
Vanessa atalanta Red Admiral 1
Aphantopus hyperantus Ringlet 88
Thymelicus sylvestris Small Skipper 20
Aglais urticae Small Tortoiseshell 2
Pararge aegeria Speckled Wood 2
Calopteryx splendens Banded Demoiselle 1
Bombus (Thoracobombus) pascuorum Common Carder Bee 5
Bombus (Pyrobombus) pratorum Early Bumblebee 1
Apis mellifera Honey Bee 2
Bombus (Melanobombus) lapidarius Large Red-tailed Bumblebee 5
Bombus lucorum/terrestris/magnus/cryptarum White-tailed Bumblebee 1
Chrysoteuchia culmella Garden Grass-veneer 1
Chiasmia clathrata Latticed Heath 3
Zygaena lonicerae Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet 2
Scotopteryx chenopodiata Shaded Broad-bar 3
Zygaena filipendulae Six-spot Burnet 4
Mythimna impura Smoky Wainscot 1
Udea lutealis Pale Straw Pearl 2
Conocephalus fuscus Long-winged Cone-head 1
Leptophyes punctatissima Speckled Bush-cricket 1

Marion Bryce 4 July 2017
























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