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Lullybeg Reserve Report

The Lullybeg transect was walked from April to the end of September and the results have been forwarded to the National Biodiversity Data Centre. The figures inside brackets refer to all butterflies counted on the site while figures outside the brackets are transect counts.

A total of 1053 adult butterflies were counted during a total of 20 visits.

Dingy Skipper=8[14] Green-veined White=55[70] Orange-tip=18[45] Large White=2[2] Small White=6[6]Réal’s Wood White=1[6] Brimstone=14[32] Common Blue=42[42] Small Copper=14[19]Red Admiral=2[8]Painted Lady=0[1] Small Tortoiseshell=211[393] Peacock=30[57] Silver-washed Fritillary=3[4] Marsh Fritillary=63[71] Ringlet=93[94] Wall=1[1] Speckled Wood=5[10] Meadow Brown=83[85]Small Heath=91[93].

The main cause of concern during 2010 was the decline of the Marsh Fritillary on the site. During the autumn of 2009 29 larval webs were counted but during the spring of 2010 only 17 were accounted for. The 12 missing nests all occurred on the south bank of the Crabtree River and failed to survive the winter. The density of Devil’s-bit Scabious there was unaltered but the trees on the north bank had grown taller resulting in diminished light reaching the north bank. It is significant that during the autumn of 2010 no webs were found here. The total number of webs found on the site this autumn was 23, a decline of 6 on the autumn of 2009.Given the reduction in the area of suitable habitat this reduction is unsurprising although disappointing. We therefore decided on two steps to make the habitat suitable: remove scrub/trees particularly on the south bank of the river to increase light levels and introduce grazing to reduce sward height and create variations in sward height structure. Thanks to the assistance of local farmer Philip Doyle cattle grazing was introduced on two parts of the riverbank. The effect sought was achieved and the livestock removed after a week. Poaching by the animals on one part of the site was welcome as this will create good ground for the Dingy Skipper.

The next task of removing considerable thick scrub/wood was more daunting. Scrub removal on part of the south bank was successfully carried out by use of hand tools and chainsaw but the material on the south bank needed heavy machinery. Thanks to our partners, Bord na Móna, with special thanks to Catherine Farrell and Eamon Mulhall this removal was achieved. Heavy machinery was brought in to clear the scrub indicated sparing two previously shaded Purging Buckthorn trees. These should now be attractive to Brimstones which will lay only on plants in sunlight. A walkway was also created on the south bank to allow access and colonisation by important herbs like Bird’s-foot-trefoil. The light now reaching the Marsh Fritillary habitat on the north bank should have a positive effect and we will be monitoring the results and reporting these to you in 2011.

Finally the site continues to delight in other ways with Kingfisher, Water Rail, Teal, Woodcock, Buzzard, Red Squirrel and Otter found here during 2010.