You can always rely on Brown Hairstreaks to make one look foolish - no sooner had I announced the end of the Brown Hairstreak adult season in the last ebulletin published on 14th Oct when John Tilt reported one at Grafton Wood the very next day! I should have known better as most years we have received reports of at least one individual being seen in October, sometimes more. Anyway, I think we can now surely safely say that the adult season is behind us and look forward to the egg hunting season.
The Thurs Streakers have already been out and about since mid-October and have turned up some interesting and encouraging finds although it is still much too early to make any predictions as to whether or not it has been a good breeding season for the Brown Hairstreak. We shall know more after our first Egg Hunt at Grafton Wood which is planned for next Sun, 17th November meeting outside Grafton Flyford church for 10 am. We are hoping to start our search at the south end of the wood where egg counts were a little disappointing last year and it will be interesting to see if numbers have improved. Do come along if you are free, you will be made very welcome and, if you have not looked for eggs before, full training will be on offer.
We had a good turnout at our sloe picking day on 17th Oct at Thistledown Meadows and, as a result, gathered almost 80lbs of sloes ready for this year's batch of Hairstreak Jelly. In between picking sloes, and we are very grateful to Pauline Wilson for allowing us to gather so much bounty from her hedgerows, we also looked for Hairstreak eggs. Numbers were well up from last winter with 33 eggs found compared to 20 in 2012. Good numbers of eggs were also found at the National Grid sub-station at Feckenham which we visited the following week, in fact so many eggs it took us two visits to count them all! It was good to meet up with Chris Plester who is National Grid's Sustainability Manager as well as Caroline Corsie from the Wildlife Trust. Chris is planning an article about our discoveries (almost 100 eggs in all) in the next National Grid in-house magazine which should be good publicity for Brown Hairstreak conservation. We have also made some management recommendations for the site which should improve what is already excellent habitat still further. Also on 24th, we visited the Rush Farm business park near Stock Wood where, in rather splendid October sunshine, we were amazed to be greeted by a Clouded Yellow. There have been several reports of this migrant butterfly over the summer but to find one still on the wing in late October was still something of a shock. Again, we were pleased to find several eggs and rounded off an excellent day with a visit to the on-site chocolate factory and yes we did enjoy a sample or two! Last week, the Streakers visited a smallholding near Astwood Bank where we were pleased to report back to the landowner that he could now count himself a proud member of the Brown Hairstreak Site Owners Club. We celebrated with lunch at the nearby Old Yarr tearooms and then, to round off a good day, Jenny Tonry and Pauline Jennings found an egg there in the afternoon which was a matter of third time lucky as our previous two searches had been unsuccessful. We plan to return to Old Yarr this coming Thurs, 14th November meeting there for 10 am to have a further look around the farm and other sites in the Redditch area. Simon Primrose and Gill Thompson have already been out in the Cookhill/Cladswekk area south of the town and have found eggs including a couple over the border into Warks If you are interested to join us on Thurs and need directions give me a call on 07802 274552.
Photo of the month (see below) comes from Martyn Ganderton who took this amazing shot in his garden at Stock Green. We often find roosting Ladybirds when we are out searching for Brown Hairstreak eggs but have never found the two in quite such close proximity. We also regularly come across predated eggs but have often wondered about the likely culprit. The good news here is that Ladybirds appear to be not one of them as the Ladybird eventually disappeared leaving the egg untouched so a happy ending certainly for the egg and hopefully for the Ladybird as well.
Further good news came from Bourne Close in Flyford Flavell, location of our Community Planting Day last February. Simon Primrose called in there earlier this month and found that four of the newly planted whips held Brown Hairstreak eggs with six on one stem including a quadruple! Isn't it great when conservation works. Wychavon Council, who are obviously delighted by this news, are providing us with another 100 blackthorn plants to replace the whips which did not survive the earlier planting and we plan to undertake this job on Thurs, 21st November. We shall meet at Grafton church for 10 am as usual and then drive round to Bourne Close. We would be delighted to have extra helpers on the day and if you can come please bring a spade. We almost certainly will have more blackthorn plants than we need and if anyone knows of another location where they could be planted or would like a few whips for your garden then let me know.
Following the discovery of two new 1km squares for the Brown Hairstreak reported in the last ebulletin, we now, thanks to Simon Primrose, can add a third with the addition of SO9949 near Throckmorton. Rather like the Foster Green records, this discovery opens up another new potential area of search, this time on the southern edge of the species range. Hopefully, we will be able to report further expansion in the butterfly's distribution over the winter. Finally, a reminder that work parties occur at Grafton Wood most Weds and the second Sunday in every month. The work carried out by John Tilt and his team at Grafton Wood has produced fantastic benefits to both the Brown Hairstreak and other wildlife and they would welcome some additional help. Many of us enjoy coming to Grafton Wood to see and photograph Brown Hairstreaks every year and it would be great if, in return, people could commit to supporting some of the conservation work that makes our visits so rewarding. For further information contact John Tilt on 01386 792458 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Brown Hairstreak Species Champion,
West Midlands Butterfly Conservation