Updates

 

Tick Warning

Warmer weather in the spring provides ideal breeding conditions for sheep ticks. Please see the advisory note on page 12 of the book about how to avoid being bitten but, if you are, seek medical attention within 24 hours.

MAIN SITES

Allt Mhuic, Inverness-shire

If you are heading to Allt Mhuic, you will probably pass the Commando Memorial north of Spean Bridge. Not far away is Achnacarry House, on the isthmus between Loch Lochy and Loch Arkaig. This was a major WWII training centre for commandos. During the course of the war over 20,000 British, American, Norwegian, French, belgian and Dutch commandos used Achnacarry House as their training centre. This had been commandeered for military use with over 70 other country houses. There was an article about this is Country Life in January 2009.

At the Butterfly Conservation AGM and members' Day in November 2009, Richard Lewington astonished me by saying that I had a photo of his Dad in the book. This turned out to be the photo of the Commando Memorial (page 19). His dad was a member of No. 4 Commando who spearheaded the D-Day landing in June 1944. After the war he was the sculptor's model for one of the three commandos on the memorial plinth. Richard said his Dad and Grandad were both keen butterfly enthusiasts. In one of the contemporary histories, there is a marvellous story about "Lew" taking time out to catch a butterfly for his father's collection and the rest of the commando troop thinking he must be bonkers!

Arnside Knott, Cumbria

I visited again in 2010 and 2011 (twice). This is still one of the best butterfly sites in the whole of Britain. In late July and August you can be sure of seeing Scotch Argus (the only other site in England is Smardale Gill) and, most important, it remains one of the few reliable sites for fast declining High Brown Fritillaries (in July).

High Brown habitat at Arnside Knott

High Brown Fritillary at Arnside Knott, 2 July 2011

 Aston Rowant, Oxfordshire

Still a good place to look for Silver-spotted Skippers (August). Look on the southern side of the M40 anywhere you see short grass and dwarf thistles. 

Ballard Down, Dorset

Ben Lawers, Perthshire

I re-visited Ben Lawers NNR in August 2011 and was astonished to find that the Visitor Centre (with refreshments and loos) had disappeared. In their wisdom and presumably for economy, National Trust for Scotland has removed its visitor centre. Now there remain only information boards and a dispenser which sells a leaflet describing the nature trail. A great pity, particularly as this is an excellent place to see Mountain Ringlets. It remains an interesting site to visit, but take your own sandwiches. 

Bentley Wood, Wiltshire

Bernwood Forest and Meadows, Buckinghamshire

Bindon Hill, Dorset

Bishop Middleham Quarry, Co. Durham

Bison Hill, Whipsnade

Bowness Common, Cumbria

Broadcroft Quarry, Isle of Portland

Broxbourne Wood, Hertfordshire

Caeau Ffos Fach, Carmarthenshire

Castle Eden Dene, Co. Durham

Catfield Fen, Norfolk

Cavenham Heath, Suffolk

Cerne Giant Hill, Dorset

Chambers Wood, Lincolnshire

Collard Hill, Somerset

Compton Bay, Isle of Wight

Creag Meagaidh, Inverness-shire

De Weerribben National Park, Holland

Denbies Hillside, Surrey

Devil's Dyke, Cambridgeshire

This is now a consistently reliable site for Chalkhill Blues (in July and August). Habitat management by members of the Cambridgeshire and Essex Branch of Butterfly Conservation has proved enormously succesful and there have been hundreds of butterflies on the wing together on the south facing slope of the Dyke close to the National Stud. In the spring, Green Hairstreaks and Dingy Skippers have been easy to find. Look for Dingy Skippers low down in the grass. Green Hairstreaks are also found in the grass but often come onto blossom on low scrub. Their hotspot in recent years has been where the Dyke crosses Burwell old railway cutting, about a mile to the west of the National Stud, on the west side of the A14 and south of Burwell village.

Dunsford, Devon

This is a lovely site to visit, at all times of the year, but sadly it is no longer a site where High Brown Fritillaries may be found. Probably because the site became too far from other High Brown sites for cross breeding to occur, numbers have been falling. Only two males were seen in 2009 and none at all in 2010 and 2011, so we must assume that they are extinct here now. The nationally declining number of viable High Brown sites is of great concern. The best places to see them are now Arnside Knott and Gait Barrows (see New Sites below) in South Cumbria and North Lancashire.

Durlston Country Park, Dorset

East Blean Wood, Kent

I received very enthusiastic reports about the large number of Heath Fritillaries on the wing here in 2011.

East Budleigh Common, Devon

Eyarth Rocks, Denbighshire

Fermyn Woods, Northamptonshire

This is now recognised by many people as the No 1 site for Purple Emperors in the country. Matthew Oates has spent a lot of time studying their ecology throughout England, but particularly here. He reports his findings on the Purple Empire website.

Glapthorn, Northamptonshire

Glasdrum Wood, Argyll

Grafton Wood, Worcestershire

Great Orme's Head, Conwy

Green Down Somerset

Greenham and Crookham Common, Berkshire

Gunpowder Park, Essex

Hadleigh Castle Country Park, Essex

Haldon Forest Park, Devon

Heddon's Mouth, Devon

Hembury Woods, Dartmoor, Devon

Hockley Woods, Essex

How Hill, Norfolk

Langdale Pikes and Cold Pike, Cumbria

Langford Heathfield, Somerset

Lydford Old Railway, Devon

Lydlinch Common and Stock Wood, Dorset

Martin Down, Hampshire

Merthyr Mawr Warren, Glamorganshire

Monks Wood, Cambridgeshire

Mount Fancy Farm, Somerset

Narborough Railway Line, Norfolk

This is another site where, for unknown reasons, two species have declined. In the last few years, no Dingy or Grizzled Skippers have been seen here. The preferred areas used to be the south-west facing slope of the embankment about 1/4 mile from the entrance near Narborough village. This is particularly curious in the case of Grizzled Skippers because can be found at Foulsham Common and ... Cut-off Channel (see New Sites below), both of which are close-by.

Noar Hill, Selborne, Hampshire  

Oaken Wood, Surrey

Pignal Inclosure, New Forest

Salcey Forest, Northamptonshire

Sharpenhoe Clappers, Bedfordshire

Sheringham Park, Norfolk

St Abb's Head, Berwickshire

Watersmeet, Devon

Wheatfen, Norfolk

Whitbarrow and Meathop Moss, Cumbria

Whitecross Green Wood, Oxfordshire/Buckinghamshire border

Wiveton Down, Norfolk

Wyre Forest, Worcestershire

NEW SITES

Alice Holt Forest, Hampshire is described here.

Ardnamurchan Point, Argyll - to be completed

Ariundle NNR, Strontian, Argyll - to be completed

Barkbooth Lot, Cumbria - to be completed

Barnack Hills and Holes, Northamptonshire - to be completed

Beachy Head, East Sussex is described here.

Beacon Hill, Hampshire is described here.

Blue Lagoon Nature Reserve, Bletchley, Buckinghamshire is described here.

Bookham Common, Surrey is described here.

Branscombe, Devon is described here.

Carding Mill Valley, Church Stretton, Shropshire - to be completed

Claish Moss NNR, Acharacle, Argyll - to be completed

Craigavon, Co. Armagh - to be completed

Dunsdon, Devon is described here.

Fen Bog, North Yorkshire is described here.

Foulden Common, Norfolk - to be completed

Foulshaw Moss, Cumbria - to be completed

Friston Gallops, East Sussex is described here.

Gait Barrows, Lancashire - to be completed

Glen Loy, Inverness-shire is described here.

Grassington, North Yorkshire is described here.

Gun Hill, Norfolk is described here.

Holkham, Norfolk - to be completed

Holt Country Park, Norfolk - to be completed

Honister and Grey Knotts, Cumbria is described here.

Horsey Dunes, Norfolk to be completed.

Inveroran and Glen Orchy, Argyll - to be completed

Irton Fell, Cumbria - to be completed

Kelling Heath, Norfolk to be completed.

Ketton Quarry, Cambridgeshire - to be completed

Langdon Hills, Essex - to be completed

Latterbarrow, Cumbria - to be completed

Lullington Heath, East Sussex - to be completed.

Malling Down, East Sussex  - to be completed.

Mark's Hall, Essex - to be completed

Mepal Fen, Cambridgeshire  - to be completed

Mill Hill, West Sussex is described here.

Monkwood, Worcestershire is described here.

Mullenakill NNR, Co. Armagh - to be completed

Murlough NNR, Co. Down - to be completed

Myer's Allotment, Cumbria - to be completed

Old Winchester Hill, Hampshire is described here.

Penhale Dunes, Cornwall is described here.

Prees Heath, Shropshire is described here.

Prestbury Hill, Gloucestershire is described here.

Rannoch Moor, Perthshire - to be completed

Shipton Bellinger, Hampshire is described here.

Smardale Gill, Cumbria - to be completed.

Spurn Head, East Yorkshire - to be completed.

Steyning, West Sussex - to be completed.

Stiperstones and the Bog, Shropshire - to be completed

Stackpole Warren, Pembrokeshire - to be completed

St Non's and Nine Wells, Pembrokeshire - to be completed

Stoke Ferry Cut-off Channel, Norfolk - to be completed

Stockbridge Down, Hampshire - to be completed.

Strumpshaw Fen, Norfolk is described here.

Therfield Heath, Hertfordshire - to be completed.

Totternhoe Knolls and Old Quarry, Bedfordshire is described here.

Twywell Hills and Dales, Northamptonshire is described here.

Warton Crag, Cumbria - to be completed

Waterford Heath, Hertfordshire - to be completed

Welcombe and Marsland Valleys, Devon/Cornwall border is described here.

Whixall Moss, Shropshire/Clwyd border - to be completed

Woodwalton, Cambridgeshire - to be completed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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