It is often remarked that waiting for a Brown Hairstreak is like waiting for a bus - you hang about for hours then two turn up at once. Now thanks to Redditch Council, Brown Hairstreakers have their own special bus shelter to keep nice and dry while waiting for the butterfly to make an appearance (see photo below)! The bus shelter which is in Far Moor Lane in Winyates Green (opposite the end of Furze Lane) is right on the eastern boundary of Redditch and the Brown Hairstreak only has to fly over the road and it will be in Warks! The artwork celebrates the arrival of the butterfly in Redditch and was produced in support of the Council's entry to this year's Britain in Bloom. Two of our local Brown Hairstreak champions, Peter Seal and Pauline Jennings, attended an event in the Arrow Valley Country Park last month to meet with the contest's judges to tell them more about the arrival of the Brown Hairstreak in the town and how Redditch Council was supporting the butterfly's conservation. With continued good management of road verges and open space within Redditch, we hope it is only a matter of time before a real Brown Hairstreak turns up in Winyates Green.
Talking of real Brown Hairstreaks, the first of the year has already been reported from the field near the "halfway tree" on the walk from the church down to Grafton Wood on 28th July which is fairly early for Worcs. Paul Meers who spotted the Hairstreak and took a very splendid photo (see below), did not see the upperside but we think probably a male.
Three days later a definite male was seen flying around the assembly tree at Stock Green by Martyn Ganderton which he was then able to pick up in his telescope. Unfortunately, the weather has been a little unsettled since then and I have not heard of further sightings but I think we can safely say that the 2013 season is underway. Thanks to those who have already offered to help with this year's survey of assembly trees. We still have a few more trees that we would like covered and if you think you can help please contact Simon Primrose on firstname.lastname@example.org . We are gathering a lot of really useful data on the Brown Hairstreak's use of assembly trees and it also gives us the chance to check the health of some of our key ash trees. I am not aware, thankfully, of any reports of outbreaks of ash dieback disease in Worcs but a visit to Estonia last month was not reassuring as far as the future of our landscape is concerned with many diseased and dying trees (see below).
August is both the peak month for Brown Hairstreak sightings but also the time when we are most in need of volunteer help beginning next Sun, 11th August with our annual Blackthorn Bash. Early August is the ideal time to cut blackthorn as neither eggs nor larvae/pupa are likely to be present at this time. We meet outside Grafton Flyford church at 10 am and will be driving on to a nearby wood. Usually, we only work up until lunchtime and then take a walk around the site with perhaps chances of spotting a Brown Hairstreak. At the same time, there are plans to cut blackthorn within Grafton Wood itself starting this Wed, 7th August, also meeting at 10 am outside the church, and then every subsequent Weds during the month. All tools are provided and all help will be greatly appreciated on any of these dates.
We are also beginning to make plans for the Brown Hairstreak Open Day on Sun, 25th August. We shall be meeting up and parking at the Three Parishes Hall as normal for 11 am and then walking down to Grafton Wood in search of Brown Hairstreaks. It looks as if the village hall itself will be closed for refurbishment so this year's lunchtime refreshments, including sampling of the new Brown Hairstreak ale, will take place at Dormston Village Hall on the eastern side of the wood. If you are able to print off and display the attached poster (click to view) to promote the event that would be great. On the day, we will also be launching the Hairstreak Butterfly Trail which is a circular walk starting at Grafton Church and heading off across fields and country lanes to Himbleton and Earl's Common before joining up with the Wychavon Way and returning to the church via Grafton Wood. The trail will be waymarked throughout its length with special signs which incorporate both the Butterfly Conservation and Wildlife Trust logos. The Trail is designed to showcase some of the countryside around Grafton Wood which is in stewardship and where, in many cases, hedgerows and field margins are being managed favourably for Brown Hairstreaks. We are grateful to Amanda Hill from the County Council's Countryside Service who has liaised with the various landowners and helped with the design of the trail and supporting materials. Amanda will lead a walk along the Hairstreak Trail at the open day leaving Grafton Flyford church at 2 pm. To make sure everything is in place for the big day, we have arranged to meet Amanda on Thurs, 15th August at 10 am outside the church to help erect waymarkers and any extra help with this task would be welcome. Everything will be provided so please just turn up.
So, all in all, a lot happening on the Brown Hairstreak front. Don't forget to let me know of any sightings in the coming weeks and hope to see some of you at the various forthcoming events. I plan to produce another eBulletin the week beginning 19th August so will be able to provide further information on how the season is progressing at that time as well as further news about the Open Day.
Brown Hairstreak Species Champion,
West Midlands Butterfly Conservation