Page 8 - Ickford Informer Newsletter Summer Issue June 2021
P. 8

by Chris Sandham


         Orange Tip Butterfl y - © Christopher Sandham
         More on the Wild Side                                                       Holly Blue Butterfl y - © Christopher Sandham

                                                                                      A common butterfly that was also
                 SPRING AND THIS HAS RESULTED IN SEVERE CHALLENGES                    very plentiful is the small Tortoiseshell,
         Wfor nesting birds and the late flowering of fruit trees and hedgerows.      but their numbers have declined
                                                                                      drastically in the last ten years.
           In the gales of last month nests                                           I remember when the Buddleia in my
           were blown out of trees and the wet                                        garden was smothered in them.
           cold weather through April and May
           sadly will have impacted nesting                                           Another parasitic fly first recorded
           and brooding success. At last we                                           in the UK in 1998 is thought to be
           have dry warm weather and birds                                            largely responsible for this decline.
           are starting second broods and                                             It is hoped that there may be a revival
           the young have a better chance                                             though fluctuations in numbers of this
           of fledging. We will be unable                                             butterfly are not fully understood.
           to assess how the weather has
           impacted bird species and numbers                                          There was once a large Tortoiseshell
           for a while. Let us hope that we get                                       Butterfly in the British Isles but this has
           good news when the next national                                           been extinct for many years, though it
           bird count is taken.                                                       can still be seen in parts of Europe.

           Back in early April there were      White Herron - © Henry Manisty         The existence of a healthy butterfl y
           encouraging sightings of the                                               population is a critical measure of
           butterflies that are the first to appear   Lady’s Smock and Wild Mustard   our ecological fi tness and the loss of
           each year, including the Yellow     abound, these conditions exist widely   meadows and hedges is a big factor
           Brimstone, Orange Tip and the Holly   around Ickford. The Holly Blue is    in their decline. Also the concreting
           Blue. Butterflies differ in their habitat   the first of the five blue butterflies to   over of garden areas, development
           and larval feeding plants. The      appear each season. Holly and other    and the use of chemicals is another
           Orange Tip likes damp areas where   garden plants are favoured by them.    factor.
                                               Holly Blue numbers rise and fall each
                                               year depending on the abundance of     When planning a new garden, it is
                                               a small parasitic wasps that lays its   worthwhile seeking out plants that
                                               eggs in their larvae.                  encourage nectaring butterfl ies and
                                                                                      moths, like buddleia for instance,
                                               I am sure recently you will also have   a shrub which is easily maintained.
                                               seen good numbers of Peacock           Try also to allow a patch of nettles
                                               butterflies with their bright colours and   to exist: after all you can make nettle
                                               roundels on their wings. As children   tea if you fancy to benefi t from their
           Peacock Butterfl y - called by us, RAF Butterfl ies  we used to call them RAF Butterflies.   nutrients.  v

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