Dr Jenny Joy
Contract report for
Telford & Wrekin Council
I would like to acknowledge financial support of this project by Telford & Wrekin Council with Martin Sutton (Telford & Wrekin Council Woodland Management Officer) being the main point of contact.
I would also like to thank Ruth Edwards, Amy Joy and Oliver Joy for help with the survey work, and Joan King for her 2002 records
There is no doubt that the Telford and Wrekin area can still be considered to be an important regional stronghold for the Dingy Skipper and as such, steps should be taken to conserve this species on its remaining sites as a matter of priority. Although the Dingy skipper is not currently listed in the UK BAP, it now meets the decline criteria for Priority Species status and is likely to be upgraded from medium regional priority to high regional priority when Butterfly Conservation's West Midlands Regional Action Plan (RAP) is reviewed in the near future. The Green Hairstreak is also an important species locally but increased recording effort has shown that it is much more widespread in Shropshire than previously thought.
There have been a number of key changes on Telford and Wrekin sites with regard to the Dingy Skipper in the last 5-10 years and these include a) losses of Dingy Skipper from at least seven sites b) significant declines in Dingy Skipper numbers nearly to the point of extinction on two sites (Ercall Quarry and Blue Pool) and c) significant increase in the size of one Dingy Skipper colony at Langley Fields. There are at least five sites/areas where the situation for Dingy Skipper and/or Green Hairstreak has probably remained stable. In addition to this, the 2002 project has identified three new important areas/sites for Dingy Skipper and four areas where future development may significantly the status of the Dingy Skipper in the Telford area.
Most of the sites for Dingy Skipper and Green Hairstreak in the Telford and Wrekin area only support small colonies of these species (<30 adults) with two sites (Granville Middle Slope and the Pottersbank Workings) supporting medium sized Dingy Skipper colonies. Interestingly, the one site that now supports a large Dingy Skipper colony (Langley Fields) is where a large amount of ground disturbance work was carried out over five years ago to try to encourage heathland regeneration. It will be interesting to see if the ground disturbance caused by hill stabilisation work at Albion Hill over the 2001/02 winter has a similar effect (although Dingy Skipper and Green Hairstreak appear to have already been lost from this site). There is an urgent need for another trial management programme to be set up on Telford and Wrekin sites to try to improve the habitat for Dingy Skipper (as well as for Green Hairstreak) as the results from this survey show that Dingy Skipper numbers in particular, can very quickly decline once the habitat quality falls (e.g. at Blue Pool and at the Ercall). This management programme should include scrub removal and surface stripping (to try to increase the amount of sparse vegetation and especially bare ground, which is readily colonised by bird's-foot trefoil) and should be on a larger scale and involve more sites than the small trial undertaken before.
The results from White-letter Hairstreak searches found adults and larvae at the same three locations (Wrekin Woods, Ercall Woods and Limekiln Woods). White-letter Hairstreak are likely to be more widespread in the Telford and Wrekin area than these records suggest as their elusive nature (i.e. they spend most of their time up in the tree-tops) makes them very hard to find.
If you would like to read the full report on this work please contact Jenny Joy on 01952 249325 or write to The Croft, Off Haygate Road, Wellington, Telford, Shropshire, TF1 2BW.
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