Events Report 2012
Fahee North Marsh Fritillary Site Cleared of Encroaching Scrub
February 17th 2012
Butterfly Conservation Ireland and Burrenbeo Trust volunteers worked hard to clear well developed Hazel scrub from a part of the Fahee North Marsh Fritillary site containing a high density of Devil’s-bit Scabious, the foodplant of the Marsh Fritillary caterpillar. The caterpillar is capable of making use of the foodplant only when it grows in a sunny situation in an undulating sward. Removal of scrub makes the area suitable for the caterpillars of this endangered species. Fahee North is located close to Carran Village in the Burren, County Clare and is part of a Special Area of Conservation. The owner of the land, farmer Hugh Robson, is keen to protect the Marsh Fritillary and grazes the site in accordance with the conservation information Butterfly Conservation Ireland and the Burren Farming for Conservation Programme [BFCP] provide.
Crabtree Reserve Management Day
February 18th 2012
Excellent work was done by all who helped at Lullybeg today. A ride with an east/west alignment that contains a rich flora was cleared of birch and willow scrub that threatened to crowd out the flowers and ultimately impede access. The alignment means that the area benefits from most of the available sunshine while the shelter provided by mature scrub means this ride is especially valuable for spring and autumn butterflies when temperatures are frequently only marginally favourable for activity. During the work a dense patch of the rare Round-leaved Wintergreen [Pyrola rotundifolia] was discovered. This area was left uncleared because this rare plant favours shade and is especially associated with willow which was dominant in this area. We had a terrific time especially as bright sunshine followed a rather alarming opening when it snowed. The great company made the work enjoyable as we caught up on news and knowing that we are contributing greatly to the site’s biodiversity added to our sense of purpose. We also walked the site and found a mass of fresh frog spawn in a quiet backwater of the Crabtree River but the local Otter had found the frogs before us and several spraints containing small bones were found in the vicinity. A special thanks to everyone who took part; all the work planned was completed and we look forward to seeing the fruits of our endeavours later in the year.
Walk on Lullybeg Reserve, County Kildare.
Sunday 20th May 2012
Seventeen people attended the walk and the enthusiasm of all made for a great day. Conditions were mainly overcast but warm, with some sun and temperature peak of 20 degrees Celsius. Dingy Skippers, Green-veined Whites, Orange-tips, Brimstones, Small Coppers and an Emperor Moth were seen. Frogs were abundant and everyone was careful not to tread on one. Thanks to Michael Jacob who led the walk.
Visit to Portrane Dunes
June 6th 2012
Six attended this event, led by John Lovatt. Gerry and Jim joined the members of BCI as we sought the Small Blue in less than ideal weather. Despite the breeze and cloud we managed to find about 40 Small Blues, 30 Common Blues, two Small Whites and seven Small Heaths. A fully fed Meadow Brown caterpillar was a welcome find. We noted evidence of erosion which has unfortunately continued since our June visit. Let us hope that the local authority comes up with an effective plan to protect the habitat of one of our most threatened butterflies, the Small Blue.
Moth Night Report
June 27th 2012
Butterfly Conservation Ireland’s moth night and AGM were held on the Crabtree Reserve on June 27th. Philip Strickland, our moth expert ably assisted by Jack Strickland set up the generators and three Robinson’s light traps. One was located in an open situation while the others were placed in sheltered clearings. Before long we were treated to a range of species that grew as the night moved into early morning. An opportunist frog positioned itself on the sheet on which the trap was placed and enjoyed a banquet of moths. The same thing happened at a second trap!
We marvelled at the range of multi-shaped, multi-sized and multi-coloured moths encountered. We retired at 2am and the rain really set in, pounding incessantly on the world around us, drumming on car roofs to provide a steady reminder of what Irish weather does to defy all our attempts made to plan to hold the event on a clement night.
Our morning inspection revealed the traps festooned with moths. They ignored the rain and clamoured for admittance to the traps; given that the temperature never fell below 15 degrees the moths were able to stay active.
We found our target species, the Waved Carpet, an extremely rare species assisted by our management of birch on the reserve while the jaw dropping beauty of the various hawkmoths, emeralds and hook-tips provided great interest.
While we returned home thoroughly soaked much pleasure was derived from our awareness of the bounty the site offers when we take the time to observe it.
Special thanks are due to Philip for his crucial expert identification knowledge of Ireland’s
moths. Full moth list in Appendix II.
Raven Trip Ticks Target Species
July 28th 2012
Today Butterfly Conservation Ireland members Jack and Philip Strickland, John Lovatt and Jesmond Harding arrived at the Raven with a sense of foreboding because of the rain already in the air. This menace materialised in the form of a thunderstorm and two hours and a severe drenching later collective morale plummeted. With sodden clothing moulded to our bodies [the more serious raingear having been optimistically left in the cars] and not having risen beyond four lepidoptera species we gazed skyward hoping for a window of blue. Luckily, a clearing from the north moved southwards and with spirits lifted in no small measure by Jack’s soccer analysis we resumed our quest. The remarkable transformation warmth and sunshine creates was evident in the butterfly activity triggered after a couple of minutes. The dunes erupted with light as flowers glowed in sunshine and fritillaries swooped, browns bobbed, whites tumbled and blues darted and shimmered. Meanwhile the ubiquitous Six-spot Burnets zoomed carefully in straight lines, resembling miniature helicopters. A dark note was struck by the Emperor Dragonflies, patrolling the dunes and open woods with sinister purpose. Finally we arrived near the end of our journey but with just a final “tick” required to complete the list. And as fate would have it, there he was, our jagged edge priority, [the Comma!] soaking up that scarce Irish commodity, July sunshine. It was worth it…
Butterflies/moths seen: Six-spot Burnet [50+], Shaded Broad-bar , Green-veined White [2+], Large White , Common Blue , Red Admiral , Dark Green Fritillary , Silver-washed Fritillary , Speckled Wood , Hedge Brown , Meadow Brown [30+], Ringlet [10+], Small Heath [30+], Comma .
Lullybeg Reserve Walk
September 9th 2012
The previous day, Saturday was a stunning day when 118 butterflies were counted during the course of the transect walk but the day appointed for the autumn walk at Lullybeg saw a change with rain coming in across the country. We were fortunate in avoiding the downpours that inundated much of the midlands and we even saw some sunshine. During these periods we saw Brimstones, Speckled Woods, Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells as well as Marsh Fritillary larvae. We left content that we saw what we came to see and an enjoyable conversation with new people who joined us was a very pleasant bonus.