Ocean Mist

Posted by Jes

Crabtree Reserve Report

Species 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Dingy Skipper 17[11] 31[28] 33[28] 23[23] 42[33] 13[13]
Green-veined Wh. 49[45] 41[26] 106[86] 58[40] 46[38] 11[03]
Orange-tip 45[41] 11[11] 14[10] 25[07] 14[11] 11[08]
Large White 01[00] 01[01] 01[01] 00[00] 02[01] 00[00]
Small White 04[02] 04[02] 11[11] 23[19] 16[11] 02[02]
Cryptic Wood Wh. 00[00] 03[02] 01[00] 09[06] 05[03] 08[08]
Brimstone 14[05] 36[14] 53[21] 44[26] 58[32] 56[19]
Common Blue 81[74] 68[61] 54[52] 60[46] 65[62] 13[09]
Small Copper 18[17] 23[10] 17[08] 08[02] 17[07] 16[01]
Red Admiral 26[05] 08[01] 07[01] 67[14] 26[11] 43[11]
Painted Lady 00[00] 01[01] 02[00] 01[01] 03[02] 93[54]
Small Tortoiseshell 58[26] 315[140] 335[296] 50[30] 88[60] 248[142]
Peacock 22[13] 168[53] 233[123] 111[79] 76[30] 212[56]
Dark Green Frit. 00[00] 00[00] 00[00] 01[01] 01[01] 05[04]
Silver-washed Frit. 01[01] 04[00] 07[03] 22[08] 03[01] 14[06]
Marsh Fritillary 15[09] 19[08] 41[25] 92[83] 32[17] 14[09]
Ringlet 185[125] 154[104] 550[405] 685[519] 277[212] 238[183]
Wall 01[01] 01[01] 02[02] 06[02] 01[00] 00[00]
Speckled Wood 07[03] 49[04] 38[08] 30[06] 15[03] 36[18]
Meadow Brown 62[48] 180[126] 303[250] 204[149] 183[140] 124[91]
Small Heath 88[70] 122[100] 231[199] 229[155] 131[109] 48[62]
Large Heath 01[01] 01[01] 00[00] 00[00] 00[00] 00[00]
Site Total 695 1240 2039 1760 1101 1208
Counts 25 25 26 24 26 21
Ave Temp Celsius 15.64 16.40 17.69 17.50 16.15 18.19

The butterflies on Crabtree Reserve Lullybeg are counted by walking the transect route on part of the reserve from April to the first week in October. These results are sent to the National Biodiversity Data Centre. Butterflies seen outside the transect route are counted separately. Both counts are reflected in the table; the figure outside the brackets representing all butterflies counted while figures inside the brackets are transect counts.

There were less counts in 2016 which may explain the low total. An unsuitable April (one count) and only two May counts may account for lower numbers of some spring butterflies such as Dingy Skipper, Orange-tip and Green-veined White. Indeed, the Green-veined White showed in low numbers in its second brood in July, suggesting a small first brood. A butterfly that seems to show a genuine decline on the reserve is the Common Blue; this butterfly likes a lower, more open sward; the reduction of the sward height and density caused by the cattle grazing and mechanical disturbance will we hope lead to a rebound in its fortunes in 2017. Another butterfly in low figures, the Marsh Fritillary, may still be in recovery mode following the onslaught of the 2015 fire. Sadly, we found no Wall Brown on the reserve in 2016. The demise of this once common butterfly is extremely alarming but recent interventions may entice it back. One, a male on the move, was seen very close to the reserve in August. The Small Heath was down in numbers too, reaching its lowest level in six years 2011-2016. Again, the breaking down of the dense, rank sward should help this species which feeds on fine-leaved grasses.

Species that showed in good numbers include Brimstone, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Silver-washed Fritillary and Speckled Wood. The Painted Lady enjoyed a bumper year, represented by 93 individual sightings, up from just three in 2015. The Ringlet did well but the Meadow Brown was not very successful, with only 2011 showing lower numbers. A positive sign is the return of the Dark Green Fritillary; both males and females were seen and it is hoped that the violets growing up through the taller grasses and at the edge of scrub will prove to be good breeding ground for this magnificent species.

Painted Lady, abundant on the reserve in 2016©J.Harding.

Finally, we record our special thanks to our grazing donor and to Bord na Móna for assisting with the site’s management. We thank our members and friends for their work in scrub-cutting and uprooting. The works undertaken in 2016 create great confidence that 2017 will, weather permitting, be a great year.