BUTTERFLY HABITAT:

Working with Hugo Brooke and Frank Crosier, both key people in the Wiltshire Butterfly Conservation Group, I have created a series of south facing glades and within each glade there will be a 2 or 3 year rotation so I create habitats with different sward heights. The land at Underhill Wood was over-planted with saplings to create a commercial woodland - I have culled many of the saplings to increase bio-diversity. 

 

 

South facing butterfly & moth glade - there is shelter to the east and west of the glade, and southern access for species onto a wide open ride with face east-west.

South facing butterfly & moth glade - there is shelter to the east and west of the glade, and southern access for species onto a wide open ride with face east-west.

This is the largest butterfly / moth glade and measures 20 yards x 20 yards. Again, the layout of the glade follows a similar pattern - good shelter (from cold hostile winds) to the north, east & west, . The southern flank of this glade opens out onto a wide ride which runs east to west providing access for butterflies and moths.   Late winter 2016 I mowed the first rotational cut - 1/3 of this glade is now short in length.

This is the largest butterfly / moth glade and measures 20 yards x 20 yards. Again, the layout of the glade follows a similar pattern - good shelter (from cold hostile winds) to the north, east & west, . The southern flank of this glade opens out onto a wide ride which runs east to west providing access for butterflies and moths. 

Late winter 2016 I mowed the first rotational cut - 1/3 of this glade is now short in length.

Moth Trapping prior to 2017....

Each summer at Underhill Wood, working with my friend and butterfly & moth expert Hugo Brooke, we moth trap. The results are astounding & the range of morphology is extraordinary, as these 3 example photographs show.

Buff Tip

Buff Tip

Magpie

Magpie

This wonderful moth is called a Ghost Moth- this is the male. A quote from Hugo - ' The female is pale orange and brown. It’s called Ghost Moth because the males lek at dusk and on moonlit nights. En-masse they look like a moving ghost'.

This wonderful moth is called a Ghost Moth- this is the male. A quote from Hugo - ' The female is pale orange and brown. It’s called Ghost Moth because the males lek at dusk and on moonlit nights. En-masse they look like a moving ghost'.

 

Moth Trapping May 2017

On Tuesday May 23rd, working with my friend, UWNR champion and moth / butterfly expert Hugo Brooke, we moth trapped. We have set the trap a few times at the reserve over the past 2 years but the results we achieved this time exceeded those of previous sessions. We ran the trap light from 21.20 through to dawn. It was set in the most northerly field backed by large veteran oaks and among native trees, around 8 - 10 years old. Behind Hugo can be seen a wide, cut ride which runs east - west.

Hugo about to begin our inspection....

Hugo about to begin our inspection....

This Poplar Hawkmoth was the most spectacular find of the morning. This magnificent moth doesn't feed during the adult stage of its life cycle - this is a common trait of many moths.

This Poplar Hawkmoth was the most spectacular find of the morning. This magnificent moth doesn't feed during the adult stage of its life cycle - this is a common trait of many moths.

Green Silver Lines

Green Silver Lines

This is the list of species we trapped. 49 species from a single trapping betters our previous efforts by 10 - 15 species.

  1. Scorched Wing
  2. Pale Tussock
  3. White Ermine

  4. Marbled Brown

  5. Green Carpet

  6. Coxcomb Prominent

  7. Peppered moth

  8. Buff Tip

  9. Straw Dot

  10. Clouded Silver

  11. Great Prominent

  12. Buff Ermine

  13. Lobster moth

  14. Alder moth

  15. Wave Umber

  16. Broken Bard Carpet

  17. Maidens Blush

  18. Brimstone moth

  19. Blood Vein

  20. Green Silver Lines

  21. Clouded Border

  22. Common Pug

  23. Orange Footman

  24. Flame Shoulder

  25. Chinese character

  26. Organe Swift

  27. Treble Lines

  28. Least Black Arches

  29. Tawny Marbled Minor

  30. Marble minor

  31. Clouded Bordered Brindle

  32. Hardened Dart

  33. Brown Silver Lines

  34. Flame

  35. Powdered Quaker

  36. Common Marbled Carpet

  37. Coronet

  38. Marbled White Spot

  39. Pebbled Prominent

  40. Figure of 80

  41. Common Swift

  42. Pale Shoulder Brocade

  43. Cream Wave

  44. Square Spot Rustic

  45. Shuttled Shape Dart

  46. Poplar Hawkmoth

  47. Ingradled Clay

  48. Iron Prominent

  49. Peacock moth

 

First ever proper Butterfly Survey - 18th July 2017

This was the first proper Butterfly Survey ever done at UWNR.

The conditions were just perfect with very light winds blowing from the south-east, bright sun and an air temperature into the mid 20's degrees C. While the designated glades supported decent number of species the banks of blackberry bramble, which were in bloom, supported very significant numbers of species.

The survey was lead by Arthur Bryant from Wiltshire Butterfly Conservation - Arthur, a long standing member of Butterfly Conservation, is highly experienced & knowledgeable. After about 2 hours of meticulous observing we had compiled a pretty impressive list (according to Arthur) - as follows:

  1. Speckled Wood 1x
  2. Brimstone 2x
  3. Green-veined White 4x
  4. Comma 2x
  5. Meadow Brown 8x
  6. Ringlet 1x
  7. Marbled White 1x
  8. Small Copper 1x
  9. Large White 1x
  10. Small Skipper 8x
  11. Red Admiral 7x
  12. Gatekeeper 11x
  13. Peacock 2x
  14. Silver-Washed Fritillary 2x
  15. Orange Tip (Arthur identified this butterfly during a visit to UWNR in May 2017)

Wild Bees 

UWNR took another significant leap forward this week (4th May 2018), when we installed a wild bee hive - the pictures below show Matt Somerville installing the hive in one of the veteran oaks at UWNR. The fact that this took place is entirely down to the ground-breaking work done by Matt. He has looked carefully at how we manage and too often overly exploit honey bees, to their detriment. His mission is to have honey bees living as wild creatures, where they live unmolested and honey is perhaps never extracted. They live as wild colonies, for their own value & benefit, and not for our wants. This mission fits hand and glove with one of the key aims of UWNR, and for me this is one of the most exciting developments of the last four years. 

For more in depth information about Matt's revolutionary work, please click on the Read More link to his website below....

Matt installing what is called the Freedom Hive...

Matt installing what is called the Freedom Hive...

Freedom Hive Inspection: 

On July 23rd Matt Somerville came to inspect the wild-hive we had installed at the beginning of May 2018. I was feeling a bit anxious, but remaining hopeful that the new swarm had thrived over a challenging spring and early summer. What Matt revealed, when he removed the bottom cover of the ecomimicking freedom hive, was just mind-blowing. 8 full-length, pure white vertical combs, attached at the top and sides of the wild-hive and with sufficient space between each comb for two bees to comfortably pass. The combs were covered in black-brown bees, vigorously working coating the comb in propolis. And significantly there were no Varroa mites on the base plate of the hive - this destructive parasite is the bane of commercial bee keeping. My take on this - wild colonies are more vigorous & healthy, and can ward off  things like varroa. 

The remarkable thing is that we erected this 50 litre hive, about 6 weeks ago (early May 2018) - so in just 42 days the worker bees (each individual weighing just 0.00025 pounds) have completely filled this cavity. This is powerful nature, full of wonder! 

Moth Trapping July 2018: 

A very successful morning at UWNR inspecting the traps and Hugo Brooke identifying the following species. The key thing to note that this list is only the macro's (big moths) - we trapped a myriad of micro's (very small moths - some almost microscopic in scale), which is fairly typical when conducting this type of survey.  Time limitations are such that these are not identified.....

  1. Lunar-spotted Pinion
  2. Straw Dot
  3. Black Archers
  4. Dingy Footman
  5. Magpie Moth
  6. Ruby Tiger
  7. Willow Beauty
  8. Early Thorn
  9. Poplar Hawk Moth
  10. Coronet
  11. Common Footman
  12. Small Wainscot
  13. Small Phoenix
  14. Scalloped Oak
  15. Shaded Broad Bar
  16. Common Wainscot
  17. Common Rustic
  18. Flame Shoulder
  19. Fern
  20. Riband Wave
  21. Vines Rustic
  22. Double Square Spot
  23. Heart & Dart
  24. July Highflyer
  25. Single Dotted Wave
  26. Blood Vein
  27. Small Rivulet
  28. Rosy Footman
  29. Small White Wave
  30. Common Carpet
  31. Double Kidney
  32. Nut Tree Tussock
  33. Small Fan Footed Wave
  34. Dusky Sallow
  35. Mother of Pearl
  36. Sharp Angled Peacock
  37. Maidens Blush