Twenty volunteers were out on Exmoor last Friday to help survey for Heath Fritillary with Butterfly Conservation expert Jenny Plackett, at the stunning location of Grabbist Ridge, near Minehead.
Jenny, Two Moors Threatened Butterfly Project Officer, said “Thanks to the sunshine we had great views of the fritillaries.”
Exmoor National Park is a stronghold for Heath Fritillary – one of the fastest declining of all British butterflies. The session was a chance for wildife enthusiasts to learn about the butterfly and how to record it with a simple but standardised method. People heard about the event through Butterfly Conservation and via Exmoor Conservation Volunteers (here’s a link to the ECV Facebook page). Keen members of staff from the Crown Estate, National Trust, Exmoor National Park Authority and Heart of Exmoor came too.
Jenny was pleased with the turnout. “Now the volunteers have the knowledge to carry out surveys across other Exmoor sites and hopefully provide some really useful data – they may even discover some new colonies which we aren’t aware of.”
Heath Fritillary depends on plants such as Common Cow-wheat and Foxglove for caterpillar food, and this usually has to be in open, sunny places. Often it’s where heaths and woods meet, or in coppiced woodland. Unfortunately due to changes in farming and forestry, its favourite habitat mix is not very common.
But here’s the good news – the situation on Exmoor is getting better, as a result of a concerted habitat management effort by The Crown Estate, Forestry Commission and Minehead Town Council along the Alcombe Common – Hopcott Common ridge above Minehead, and by National Trust on the Holnicote Estate.
Find out more & get involved
Jenny Plackett, Two Moors Threatened Butterfly Project Officer, Butterfly Conservation. Tel: 0300 060 2405.
Patrick Watts-Mabbot, Education Support Officer (Volunteers), Exmoor National Park Authority. Tel: 01398 323665.
Join us for a 2012 event
We are going to work with all the organisations we’ve mentioned here, to do a big event near Minehead next year. Look out for details on our website, and in the 2012 edition of Exmoor Visitor. Contact us if you’d like to be involved.