Updates from Chris

19 volunteers attended yesterday’s volunteer working party, which took place in the railway cutting directly to the south of Rushcliffe Halt station (on the Great Central Railway heritage train line). With such good numbers of volunteers, we were once again able to make big strides in maintaining and opening up the site and getting it in good condition in time for the forthcoming grizzled skipper flight season (usually mid-April to mid-June). We enjoyed some sunny conditions throughout the day and with the heat generated, it was easy to understand why this site is enjoyed by invertebrates such as the grizzled skipper butterfly. Our efforts yesterday focused on clearing regenerating scrub from a short section (but important breeding area) of the cutting and transplanting some foodplants (creeping cinquefoil and wild strawberry) into this location. We also planted up 22 agrimony plants (another food plant of the grizzled skipper), many of which had been grown from seed by some of our volunteers.

Rushcliffe Halt Cutting clearing regenerating scrub. Before...
...& After)
Volunteers working in the cutting and feeding the fire with cut scrub.

The next work party will take place on Sunday 3rd March. We will be heading to Flawborough Footpath, south of Newark. This work party will once again focus on undertaking work to improve the site for the benefit of grizzled skipper butterfly. We will be looking to cut back scrub and on a more local level look to enhance suitable areas for potential egg laying sites for the grizzled skipper butterfly.

We will be working from 10am to 3pm, so if you are free and you’d like to help, please contact me and I will send to you meeting instructions.

Yesterday (Sunday 11th February), 19 volunteers joined up to the working party at Newstead and Annesley Country Park to help to maintain some of the existing open areas on the top of this former pit tip site. Our efforts focused on clearing regenerating scrub from several existing glades that support a number of ‘brownfield butterfly’ species including Green Hairstreak and Dingy Skipper both Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) species. In the afternoon we extended an important southwest facing slope which will hopefully support large numbers of butterflies as they begin to emerge in the springtime.

Glade clearance Before ...
...& After)
Extending the glade on the southwest facing slope.

The next work party will take place on Tuesday 20th February. We will be heading to GCR Rushcliffe Halt, on the northern edge of East Leake. This work party will once again focus on the grizzled skipper butterfly (although the work will also benefit other invertebrate species too). We will be looking to cut back scrub from the trackside along this heritage railway site, and we will be seeking to enhance several localised areas, to create potential egg laying sites for the grizzled skipper butterfly.

We will be working from 10am to 3pm, so if you are free and you’d like to help, please contact me and I will send to you meeting instructions.

Earlier this week (on Tuesday 23rd January), 7 volunteers came together at Flawborough in difficult conditions to continue our efforts to help to manage another one of the counties grizzled skipper sites. Our efforts focused on clearing scrub from a short section of the site which used to be an old gypsum quarry. Despite the morning rain we all worked hard and managed to create an opening within the scrub which will provide a sheltered spot for grizzled skipper using the site next spring.

By the afternoon, the rain had blown through, although as we left Flawborough it looked as though another shower was on its way. A very big thankyou to everyone who attended, it was a productive day’s work.

Localised Scrub clearance - Before...
Localised Scrub clearance - and after...
Sheltered clearing within the scrub.

The next work party will take place on Sunday 11th February. We will be heading to Newstead & Annesley CP (north of Nottingham). Our aim at this work party will be to manage some areas for the benefit of a range of butterfly (and other invertebrate) species. We will be looking to cut back areas that are beginning to scrub over, leading to a loss of botanical diversity.

We will be working from 10am to 3pm, so if you are free and you’d like to help, please contact me and I will send to you meeting instructions.

Yesterday, in perfect work party weather conditions - sunny, dry, no real breeze but cold, 11 volunteers took advantage to help us to get another one of the county's grizzled skipper sites back in good condition in time for the spring emergence of the grizzled skipper butterfly. The work was twofold, firstly, to cut back some hawthorn and rose from a small south-east facing cutting to create a warm grassy bank - ideal for grizzled skipper and other invertebrates using the site. And secondly to remove the grass arisings from the deep cutting. This site needs to be kept free of regenerating scrub to provide an excellent area for the grizzled skipper (and other invertebrates). Over recent years we have discovered that this deep cutting is one of the best breeding locations for grizzled skipper in the county.

A very big thankyou to everyone who attended, it was a very successful day’s work.

Localised Scrub clearance - Before (Dec 2022)
And After - Jan 2024
Grass removal from the Deep Cutting

The next work party will take place on Tuesday 23rd January. We will be heading to Flawborough (south of Newark) to tackle a lovely site close to Kilvington Lakes. Our aim will be to manage some more areas of scrub as well as looking to create some more areas attractive to female grizzled skipper (when they are looking for suitable egg laying sites, later this year).

We will be working from 10am to 3pm, so if you are free and you’d like to help, please contact me and I will send to you meeting instructions.

Yesterday, in wet weather a small group of volunteers met up and spent the day undertaking some great work clearing the grasslands at Grange Farm of the regenerating scrub. In sometimes difficult conditions, the volunteers worked hard reinstating the small clearings in which the grizzled skipper has been holding its own in recent years. Our work also included planting up some agrimony plants that had been grown from seed by some of our volunteers. Last year 7 grizzled skipper eggs were found on one agrimony plant on this site. Big thanks to everyone who attended, it was a very successful day’s work.

The next work party will take place in the New Year on Sunday 14th January. We will be heading to the Great Central Railway (near East Leake) to tackle some scrub that needs removing and also maintaining some of the ballast piles that we have created to encourage egg laying.

We will be working from 10am to 3pm, so if you are free and you’d like to help, please contact me and I will send to you meeting instructions.

In the meantime, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New year and I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in January.

Yesterday, in glorious sunshine, a group of hard-working volunteers met to undertake habitat enhancement work at Saxondale Disused Railway Spur. This work was undertaken to benefit the grizzled skipper butterfly and other invertebrates. The work involved clearing areas of scrub that have developed at the site in recent years, restoring small clearings that will provide localised sheltered areas, which will support the grizzled skipper butterfly next spring and into the future. Big thanks to everyone who attended, it was a successful day’s work.

Creation of a small, sheltered clearing (Before & After) Photos: Rick Farnsworth

We also managed to plant around 30 agrimony plants, that have been grown from seed by several volunteers (all the seed has been collected from other grizzled skipper sites in south Notts). If you are interested in getting involved in our efforts to grow on some agrimony plants from seed to support the project, then please contact me and I will be able to provide you with some seed.

The next work party of this winter period will take place on Sunday 10th December. We will be heading to Grange Farm (near to East Leake in South Nottinghamshire). The aim of the work party will be to clear area of generating club from this former borrow pit and creating a series of glades that will form sheltered clearings – the preferred habitat of grizzled skipper.

We will be working from 10am to 3pm, so if you are free and you’d like to help, please contact me and I will send to you meeting instructions.

Yesterday, a small group of 9 volunteers met to undertake habitat enhancement work at Granby Disused Railway, in order to improve the site to the benefit of grizzled skipper butterfly and other invertebrates. We had a very successful day clearing the recently mown arisings from the disused railway track bed and then followed this up by weeding many of the ballast piles that have been installed at this site in recent years. The ballast piles are ideal for creeping cinquefoil (a key foodplant of the grizzled skipper) to colonise and in turn create good egg laying opportunities for the butterfly’s larva. In addition, we were able to plant up several agrimony plants (another food plant) as it is currently not common on this site. We worked throughout the day under the constant threat of rain, but apart from a few light spots of rain we luckily managed to avoid the bad weather predicted. It was a very successful day and a really good way to kick off this winter’s work parties. Many thanks to all of you who gave up your time to help out.

Granby 19th Nov 2023

The next work party of this winter period will take place on Tuesday 28th November. We will be revisiting the Disused Railway at Saxondale in South Nottinghamshire. The aim of the work party will be to continue our work to clear the old railway line track bed of scrub and to improve egg-laying opportunities for the grizzled skipper butterfly.

We will be working from 10am to 3pm, so if you are free and you’d like to help, please contact me and I will send to you meeting instructions.

Notts Grizzled Skipper Project - the flight season will soon be upon us!

After all the hard work during the past winter, the grizzled skipper flight season is nearly upon us.

During the winter the project undertook work to maintain and enhance sites across south Nottinghamshire in which grizzled skipper butterfly are known to be present.

It’s now time to visit sites across the county and see if our efforts are continuing to have the positive impact we are all hoping for. During the past few years the first sightings of grizzled skipper from year to year have been variable, as would be expected, but perhaps with the good weather that is coming next week, may be an opportunity for us to see the first few grizzled skipper of the year on the wing in Nottinghamshire.

Year Date of First Sighting in Notts
2012 8th May
2013 1st May
2014 18th April
2015 27th April
2016 4th May
2017 9th April
2018 5th May
2019 18th April
2020 23rd April
2021 20th April
2022 21st April

Looking at Butterfly Conservation’s First Sightings 2023 page on their website, it appears that grizzled skipper have not yet been recorded nationally (as of today - 15/04/23).

Please report all your sightings via the iRecord App but if you could also let me know when you see a grizzled skipper then I will do my best to try and keep everyone posted on where and when we are seeing the butterfly across the county.

Once we have started to receive information about the first few sightings in Nottinghamshire, we will also be looking to run an ‘open your eyes’ event, once again at Staunton Quarry Nature Reserve to encourage those people who are not so familiar with the butterfly to get more involved in recorded this wonderful species. The short event will be a chance to see the butterfly on the wing and familiarise yourself with its characteristic flight. I will keep you all posted on when this will happen. Unfortunately due to the nature of butterflies we will not be able to set a date for this event well in advance and we will have to set something up based on when sightings are reported and also on the weather forecast.

Best wishes

Chris

Yesterday, a small group of volunteers met to undertake work to improve another grizzled skipper site, this time at Flawborough in the east of the county. We worked hard in a wonderful spring like sunny day managing a clearing just to the north of Flawborough village. Our work involved clearing scrub from the grassland and reinstating some of the low dry stone walls that were installed a few years ago to create suitable conditions for egg laying female grizzled skipper. It was a very successful and rewarding day of work. Many thanks to all of you who gave up your time to help out..

Yesterday (Thursday) the project volunteers along with staff from the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust visited Staunton Quarry Nature Reserve to help to manage the site in preparation for the spring emergence of the grizzled skipper butterfly. A group of 17 people work in glorious sunshine throughout the day clearing scrub, managing the central area of calcareous grassland (where the majority of grizzled skipper have been seen in previous years) and extending the small clearing at the entrance to the site. We made good progress and all being well we will be rewarded between April and June with an increase in grizzled skipper sightings? Many thanks to all of you for your hard work.

Before
After.

We also were treated with a couple of early emerging butterflies, including a brimstone flying across the sun warmed calcareous grassland - very rewarding!

On Tuesday (24th January), we undertook another work party to assist our efforts to support the grizzled skipper butterfly in Nottinghamshire. We met at a site near to Granby to undertake work to open up the site and to improve egg laying opportunities for grizzled skipper at this site. A small group of 10 volunteers work tirelessly throughout the day and made a big difference in the winter sunshine. Many thanks to all of you for your hard work.

Before
After.

On Sunday, our work parties continued the work to enhance sites supporting grizzled skipper butterfly in Nottinghamshire. We met at Flawborough to undertake some work on an important site close to this small village. Our efforts involved cutting back regenerating scrub, cutting and raking off a proportion of the open grassland areas (about 50-60% cut) and also enhancing some of the sheltered scallops that we have created at this site over recent years. We had a small but dedicated team and managed to achieve some great results. Big thanks to everyone who gave up their time.

(See the photos below...)

Grassland before
Grassland after.
Scrub control before
Scrub control - during clearance.

Yesterday we had the final work party of the year, working along the Great Central Railway, Lime Sidings to Barnstone Tunnel. We had a really good turnout, with 20 volunteers. We were joined with volunteers from Nottingham Trent’s Conservation Society as well as Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust’s ‘Keeping it Wild’ group. It was a very productive day, cutting back scrub, weeding through potential egg laying areas and also planting up some more agrimony plants (all grown on from seed collected at the same site).

It’s been a very good start to the winter season and I am confident that the work we have done will help to bolster grizzled skipper populations at the four locations that we have worked at so far this winter. The sites are all in much better condition than they have been for some time, probably back to the level of management that we had seen on the sites, pre-covid (2019).

I would like to say a big thankyou to everyone who has taken the time to join the work parties so far this winter and hope that all of you have a well-earned break over the festive period.

NTU Con Soc & NWT Keeping it Wild – working in the deep cutting near Rempstone Road.

Yesterday, we held another successful work party at Saxondale Disused Railway Spur. We were lucky enough to be joined by 11 volunteers, who all worked hard to clear the scrub from some sheltered south facing locations which will hopefully benefit grizzled skipper in the coming spring. Once again we were able to uncover and create some areas of bare ground into which we planted agrimony, one of the butterflies food plants. Another positive day of work. Many thanks to all of you for your efforts.

At the weekend (Sunday just gone) we held another successful work party along the Great Central Railway Line (in the cutting just to the south of Rushcliffe Halt). We were lucky enough to be joined by 11 volunteers who worked hard and managed to clear an important sunny spot which will hopefully benefit grizzled skipper in the coming spring. We also uncovered some nice banks of ballast into which we planted patches of agrimony, one of the butterflies food plants. A great days work – many thanks to all of you who came along.

Rushcliffe Halt before the 2022 work session
..and after.

Grizzled Skipper Practical Conservation Tasks Winter 2023 - 2024

Come along and join a group of like-minded people who are enthusiastic about the conservation of the Grizzled Skipper butterfly - All Welcome - not just Nottinghamshire members of BC.

We will be undertaking a series of practical workdays at some key sites on the following dates:

2023

  • Sunday 19th November - Granby Disused Railway - hay raking/ maintenance of egg laying sites.
  • Tuesday 28th November - Saxondale Disused Railway Spur - hay raking/ scrub clearance.
  • Sunday 10th December - Grange Farm, Normanton on Soar - scrub clearance/ bare earth creation.

2024

  • Sunday 14th January - GCRN, Lime Sidings to Barnstone Tunnel - maintenance of egg laying sites/ scrub clearance.
  • Tuesday 23rd January - Flawborough Triangle - scrub regrowth clearance & treatment/ bare earth creation.
  • Sunday 4th February 11th February - Newstead & Annesley Country Park - scrub clearance.
  • Tuesday 20th February - GCRN, Rushcliffe Halt & Cutting - maintenance of egg laying sites/ scrub clearance.
  • Sunday 3rd March - Flawborough Footpath - scrub clearance and scallop creation/ bare earth creation.
  • Tuesday 12th March - Grange Farm, Normanton on Soar - scrub clearance/ bare earth creation.

All work parties are from 10am to 3pm, please contact Chris Jackson for details of the meeting points and futher details

The Grizzled Skipper project is supported with funding from Butterfly Conservation East Midlands

The work will involve:

  • Scrub clearance work to maintain open habitats required by the Grizzled Skipper and to help create corridors to link existing open habitats
  • Creation of bare earth patches to increase the availability of suitable egg-laying habitat

What to bring:

  • Lunch
  • Warm clothing and stout footwear
  • Work gloves (gloves will be provided if you don’t have any)
  • Tools (if you have any - bow saws/loppers/spades)

Tools will be provided, (along with instruction on their use)

For more information please contact Chris Jackson at the Nottinghamshire Biodiversity Action Group on 0115 993 2588 or email chris.jackson@nottscc.gov.uk.