Derbyshire News and Blogs

Update No 5

4th February 2019

Ken Orpe
Eastern Dappled White
Eastern Dappled White Euchioe ausonia , Lesbos © Ian Hurst

Little did the mass ramblers who trespassed on Kinder Scout in 1932 realise the effect that this would have on British Society and 87 years later we can all enjoy the walks and transects on open land both here in Derbyshire and also in most other parts of the in the UK. It was mainly as the result of the combined efforts of both ‘Mancs’ and ‘Tykes’ that 500 ramblers, led by Benny Rothman, turned up on the 24th of April 1932 at Hayfield.

Kinder Scout Mass Trespass Walk
Kinder Scout Mass Trespass Walk

They wanted to highlight the fact that walkers were denied access to areas of open countryside and the result of their actions eventually led to the passage of the National Parks legislation in 1949 and the first National Park (The Peak District) was established in the year 1951.(there are now 13 National Parks in England & Wales)

A few weeks after the ‘mass trespass’ on Kinder Scout another gathering of ramblers met at Winnats Pass near Castleton – this time there were 10,000 of them – the biggest gathering of walkers in history! Each year the Wardens and Rangers of both the National Trust and the Peak District National Park hold a walking event to mark the anniversary of the ‘mass trespass’ and this year it will be held on Saturday the 27th of April 2019 at Winnats Pass from 2 pm till 4 pm – also included are talks and live music – for details go to the National Trust website :-

Another butterfly themed talk with take place on Wednesday the 17th of April 2019 when Max & Christine Maughan will give a talk on ‘Gardening for Butterflies’ for the Mid Derbyshire Badger Group at the Strutt Centre in Belper at 7.30 pm (£2 for members and £3 for visitors)

With the cold weather of mid to late January 2019 still prevailing into early February 2019 our local butterflies have not been tempted out of hibernation with no sightings at all in recent days. Indeed with 35 mornings of frost here in Derby since the beginning of October 2018 till the 31st of January 2019 the overall figure is similar to the same period during last winter when there were 36 mornings of frost in Derby. Just 10 miles north of Derby, it is a different story with Dave Evans who lives in the Peak Fringe area of Middleton by Wirksworth, who has recorded 46 mornings with frost from the beginning of October 2018 till the 31st of January 2019.

Eastern Marbled White
Eastern Marbled White Melanargia larissa, Lesbos © Ian Hurst

So as to retain interest in butterflies during this current spell of weather, I have attached some photos taken by Ian Hurst in Lesbos, Greece – future Updates will include photos from South Africa, South America and Tasmania – all of which have been sent to me by members of this egroup!

Mallow Skipper
Mallow Skipper Carcharodus aceac, Lesbos © Ian Hurst

Finally with February being the shortest month of the year it won’t be long before March arrives and all the transect rotas will then be sorted, ready to start the new walking season on the 1st of April which this year means that every transect week starts on a Monday. If you have not already done so, could you please contact your local co-ordinator to confirm your availability so that the new rotas can be agreed – to this end I will be including a blank Rota Form and a blank Recording Form for 2019 on the next Update.

News from Previous Years

Orbed Red-underwing Skipper
Orbed Red-underwing Skipper Spialia orbifer, Lesbos © Ian Hurst
Turkish Meadow Brown
Turkish Meadow Brown Maniola megala, Lesbos © Ian Hurst

Update No 4

28th January 2019

Ken Orpe
Southern White Admiral
Southern White Admiral, Croatia © Steve Orridge

It is not surprising that there have been no further butterfly sightings in the County during January 2019 given that we have had frosts on 12 mornings so far this month here in Derby (compared to 10 mornings in January 2018), some of them being a hard frost which meant that the maximum daytime temperature didn’t get above 3°C. It was even colder in the Peak District with lying snow adding to the very cold conditions in that part of the county.

However a lack of sightings hasn’t prevented a number of events relating to butterflies being organised for 2019 including the following:-

1. The Annual Transect Training Sessions by Pat & Ken Orpe in the offices of the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (DWT) at Middleton by Wirksworth will take place on the following dates : – Wednesday the 6th of March 2019 from 1.30 pm to 4.00 pm. To book this free event please telephone Elizabeth Woodward on the Reception at the DWT (01773 881188) – places are limited to 30 volunteers for this event and it will be on a first come first reserved basis. If you cannot make the last date, then another has been arranged at the DWT offices at Middleton by Wirksworth – Friday the 8th of March 2019 – from 10 am to 12.30 pm – details all as the last item.

2. Wednesday the 13th of March 2019 – an illustrated talk on ‘The Butterflies of Derbyshire’ by Pete Clark at Riddings Park Community Centre, West Street, Riddings DE55 4EW commencing at 7.30 pm – entrance fee is £2, students and children free.

3. Friday the 12th of April 2019 – an illustrated talk on ‘Monitoring the Changing Status of Butterflies in Derbyshire’ by Ken Orpe at the Evergreen Club, Cornhill, Allestree, commencing at 7.15 pm for Derby Natural History Society - entrance is free to members and guests are charged at £2.

4. Hoe Grange Quarry Open Day – Sunday the 21st of July 2019 from 11 am to 4 pm (see the attached leaflet for details and parking etc). Last year this event attracted over 450 butterfly and wildlife enthusiasts and it has become quite a social event with teas and free ice creams available courtesy of Longcliffe Quarries. Steve Orridge and Ray Walker will be carrying out a moth watch during the previous night (Saturday the 20th of July 2019) so we should have some live moths to show visitors on the following day.

I have been carrying out some research on Hoe Grange Quarry this month with the idea of creating an interpretation board on the history of the site and unbelievably back in the year 1902, the site was found to have bones of 27 animal species present including lion, rhino, elephant, grizzly bear, wolf, wild boar and hyena which could have been located in a den within a sinkhole some 1 million years ago – interesting that some animals still exist in the quarry including badger, rabbit, frog, redwing and robin. There is an exhibition currently at Buxton Museum on the ‘Wonders of the Peak District’ and this contains a display of some of the bones that were found in Hoe Grange Quarry all those years ago. Well worth a visit according to Ray ‘Badger’ Walker, the Warden of Hoe Grange Quarry. I have also had some help from David McPhie of the bookshop at Brierlow Bar near Buxton whereby David has confirmed that there was indeed a railway siding into the quarry off the High Peak Railway and there was also a narrow gauge system within the quarry – I understand that the lines were removed in the 1950’s when road transport became easier.

During this winter Mick Ball, Butterfly Conservation Moth Officer for Derbyshire and Notts, has been compiling a detailed summary of the current status of the ‘Moths of Derbyshire’ – if you would like a copy of his Report then please send me an email and I will forward to you a copy of the document which contains details of the status of approx 500 species of macro moths that have been recorded in the county during the last 30 years.

Southern Gatekeeper
Southern Gatekeeper, Majorca © Tom Aspinall

Finally I have attached some more photos of butterflies that members of this egroup have seen in Europe – this time they are of relatives of species that can also be found in other parts of the UK.

Glanville Fritillary
Glanville Fritillary, Croatia © Steve Orridge

Update No 3

22nd January 2019

Ken Orpe
Cardinal, Crete © Eliot Taylor
Lang's Short-tailed Blue
Lang's Short-tailed Blue, Crete © Eliot Taylor

Now that we are in the midst of ‘General Winter’ with snow on many of the hills in the Peak District, I was quite surprised to receive a couple of additional butterfly sightings in the county recently with a Brimstone noted flying at Pleasley Pit NR on the 15th of January 2019 (Loz Brooks) and a Peacock seen at Clowne on the 18th of January 2019 (Marc Pearson).

As I have finished analysing the transect data for 2018, I have attached a (downloadable) excel sheet which shows the comparison for the results between 2017 and 2018 and again the Ringlet remained in poll position as the most species seen on the 100 transects carried out in Derbyshire during 2018 despite much lower numbers seen overall, no doubt due to the drought conditions on the grasslands (15,604 compared to 21,246 in 2017), whilst the Small White rose to second position from sixth in 2017 (14,385 compared to 4,104 in 2017), mainly as a result that it managed to fly during the hot weather.

Unsurprisingly the Red Admiral was the worst performer with a massive 90% decline in numbers compared to 2017 (285 butterflies against 2,808 in 2017) but the second worst performer, the Comma, was somewhat of a surprise (988 compared to 1548 in 2017 – a decline of 36%). Moving on to individual sites, the Rowthorne Trail had the most butterflies where David Elliott counted a massive 4,801 individuals on the transects there with nearby Pleasley Pit NR in second place having a total count of 3,489 butterflies thanks to Mick Gamble and his enthusiastic team of volunteers. The new transects carried out at Markham South Pit organised by Mark Radford and Sid Morris and their team did really well with a total of 4,835 butterflies seen overall at the 2 sites that are being monitored there on behalf of Derbyshire County Council. The site with the most species seen was Lathkill Dale NNR with 28 species recorded in 2018.Finally it was interesting to note that in lowland Derbyshire 33% of transect sites had fewer butterflies in 2018 whereas in the Peak District the decline was at only 16% of the sites – this being no doubt due to the fact that the higher ground of the Peak was some 4 degrees cooler than sites in lowland Derbyshire which meant that the drought in the Peak had a lesser impact on the ability of butterflies to keep flying, take nectar and hopefully find a mate – it will be interesting to see what effect that the summer of 2018 has on numbers throughout the county in 2019 – only your efforts will again produce this data!

For interest I have also attached the (downloadable) transect data for the 100 active sites in the county during the period of 2013 to 2018 inclusive and which shows that over 400,000 butterflies have been counted during this period on over 10,200 walks which averages at 39 butterflies seen on every transect in Derbyshire during the last 6 years – what a fantastic achievement by over 300 volunteers who find the experience truly rewarding and for which Pat and I thank you all so much – it is great to know that we inspire volunteers to get out and about in our great county!

Yet another set of brilliant photos by members of this egroup are attached for your continued interest in the hope that they will prevent you all from suffering the January ‘blues’ – great to see variations to our Wall Brown and the Comma from Europe!

Large Wall Brown
Large Wall Brown, Nerja - Spain © Peter Eley
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Southern Comma
Southern Comma, Greece © Tom Aspinall

Update No 2

14th January 2019

Ken Orpe
Eastern Large Heath
Eastern Large Heath, Bulgaria © Dave Goddard.
Great Banded Grayling
Great Banded Grayling, Bulgaria © Dave Goddard.

If we wanted further proof that climate change is upon us here in Derbyshire, it was certainly confirmed again on the 8th of January 2019 when amazingly a Speckled Wood was seen nectaring on mahonia in the Smalley garden of Stephen Jackson (per Jim Steele) – this sighting is at least 2 months earlier than the previous record (9th of March (2010)) and was totally unexpected! This could be a spin off from the exceptional summer of 2018 as this species can over winter as either a caterpillar or a pupa, so the New Year message is – expect the unexpected! What makes it all the more interesting is that despite the fact that Derbyshire is the furthest from the coast in any direction (Ordnance Survey), there have been no other sightings yet in the rest of the UK where many counties have a coast line and hence a slightly milder climate than us here in the middle of England.

Other butterfly sightings in the county during the first couple of weeks of this year include an additional Brimstone at Poolsbrook Country Park on the 6th of January 2019 (per Mark Beevers), a Peacock seen flying along the High Peak Trail near the Stone Centre, Wirksworth in poor conditions on the 7th of January 2019 (Nigel Pratley) together with another Peacock seen in the Smalley garden of Stephen Jackson on the 8th of January 2019, and finally a Red Admiral was noted in Shirebrook on the 8th of January 2019 (per Mark Beevers), this taking the species total to 5 already this year!

As we have now passed the half way mark of the close season for transect walking, arrangements have been made for the Annual Transect Training Sessions in the Offices of the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (DWT) at Middleton by Wirksworth – Wednesday the 6th of March 2019 from 1.30 pm to 4.00 pm. To book this free event please telephone Elizabeth Woodward on the Reception at the DWT (01773 881188) – places are limited to 30 volunteers for this event and it will be on a first come first reserved basis. If you cannot make the last date, then another has been arranged at the DWT Offices at Middleton by Wirksworth – Friday the 8th of March 2019 – from 10 am to 12.30 pm – details all as the last item.

With all the data from 100 active transect sites in Derbyshire already submitted to the National Database at Butterfly Conservation and UKBMS (United Kingdom Butterfly Monitoring Scheme), it now gives me a chance to analyse our Derbyshire data – yes there was a 29% increase in butterfly numbers in 2018 compared to 2017 (104,432 butterflies seen compared to 81,030 in 2017) but if you take out the totals of the 3 ‘white’ species for 2018 (33,837 butterflies seen compared to 12,303 in 2017) then the other 29 species recorded increased by only 1,868 butterflies which is only 3%. So as expected the ‘white’ species managed to withstand the high temperatures whilst the coloured butterflies were less fortunate. Full details of how each species fared will be sent out on the next update. So a huge thank you goes out to the 300 volunteers who carried out all 2,410 transects that were walked in Derbyshire during 2018 – this represents a massive 93% total of the possible transects, against 87% in 2017.

Hungarian Glider
Hungarian Glider, Bulgaria © Dave Goddard.

Finally I have attached some more great photos from Dave Goddard of his trip to Bulgaria which hopefully will help you all get over the January ‘blues’.

Queen of Spain Fritillary
Queen of Spain Fritillary, Bulgaria © Dave Goddard.
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Southern White Admiral
Southern White Admiral, Bulgaria © Dave Goddard.
Spotted Fritillary
Spotted Fritillary, Bulgaria © Dave Goddard.

Update No 1

7th January 2019

Ken Orpe
Balkan Copper
Balkan Copper, Bulgaria © Dave Goddard.
Black-veined White
Black-veined White, Bulgaria © Dave Goddard.

With cool overnight temperatures and mainly cloudy skies during the short hours of daylight of late, there were very few opportunities for volunteers to get out and about looking for butterflies but Mark Radford informs me that Kevin Navin saw a Peacock flying along a road in Staveley on Boxing Day 2018, whilst during a sunny spell on new year’s day 2019, Peter Burton saw a Small Tortoiseshell in full flight across the moors at the top of Heyden Clough on the Derbyshire side of Holme Moss at an elevation of 1600 feet above sea level – so the 2019 season has already started on the 1st of January (the same species was also seen on the first day of the New Millennium in the County).

Meanwhile over in North Notts, on the 1st of January 2019 Phil Lee saw a Peacock on the wing at West Stockwith. The next time that the sun briefly appeared in the area was Sunday the 6th of January 2019 but it was sufficient for another Peacock to appear, this time at Brimington, which was seen by Alan Wood (per Sid Morris) and also surprisingly on the same day a Brimstone was seen flying at Markham North Pit by Mark Radford. With more sun forecast for tomorrow (8th of January) it could be that we get further sightings of additional butterflies in the county.

Clouded Apollo
Clouded Apollo, Bulgaria © Dave Goddard.
Eastern Festoon
Eastern Festoon, Bulgaria © Dave Goddard.
Pleasingly yet more amazing photos of butterflies have been sent to me by members of this egroup – many people are pleased to share butterfly photos of their far away trips which include eastern Europe, South Africa and even Tasmania. So limiting the attachments to 6 photos, here are some great shots from Dave Goddard of his trip to Bulgaria – enjoy on these dismal days of January!
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False Eros Blue
False Eros Blue, Bulgaria © Dave Goddard.
Pearly Heath
Pearly Heath, Bulgaria © Dave Goddard.