Wednesday 4 May 2016

Spring butterflies at last!

Just a few photographs and notes from this week so far…

Monday, it was “yes” to the best bird in Watford, a male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, drumming and calling in Cassiobury Park. I’d not seen this species since 2012 and had forgotten just how tiny it is. Unfortunately, it was “no” to the mega rare Roseate Tern that dropped in, half dead, at Wilstone reservoir early that evening. I think I felt a bit like the Tern but I was lucky enough to be tucked up in the warm, about to dig in to a hearty meal. The Tern was not so fortunate, stuck out in the cold and rain, hundreds of miles from where it wanted to be. It was taken in to care the following morning and later, sadly, died (for a first-hand account, see Roy's sharply observed write up, here).

Tuesday marked the start of BMT staff and volunteers getting stuck in to a really exciting new conservation project: we're working towards the introduction of the rare Duke of Burgundy butterfly to Trust land in Hemel Hempstead and Bovingdon. As far as anyone is aware, there isn’t a single Duke of Burgundy butterfly anywhere in Hertfordshire. Nationally, it is one of the most rapidly declining species, with its distribution concentrated in central-southern England and a few isolated colonies in the southern Lake District and the North York Moors. Over the coming months and possibly, even, years, the Trust is going to be gathering data and developing land management strategies to support an application to Natural England & Butterfly Conservation for a (re)introduction programme. When I have a bit of time and brain power, I’ll put together a new page with all the details and outline one of my first tasks.

Today, it finally felt like Spring and I had to make the most of it. Grey Wagtails are nesting by the River Bulbourne: a pair on eggs and a third adult also in the area. The Small Blues haven’t yet emerged at the A41 colony but, over in the chalk dell at Roughdown Common, I had my first Green Hairstreaks (3) [two weeks later than last year] and Small Copper (1) of the year. A male Orange-tip, Holly Blue, Small & Large Whites and a Brimstone also fluttered by. Blissful sunshine...and more of it tomorrow...

Upperwings of Green Hairstreak

Green Hairstreak, nectaring (an unusual sight in general) on Forget-me-not


  1. Nice one Lucy, have to say that the pits areas of the Brickworks looks very promising for DOB's - very similar to the Totternhoe site, a few more primula needed and you are there! Good luck with that project!!

    1. Thanks Martin, yes, we're looking at the Brickworks and at Roughdown as possible introduction sites. There's a long way to go, and a lot of hoops to jump through, but worth a shot, I think.


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