Butterfly surprise

Common Wood: part 9

Last Sunday I looked for butterflies at Common Wood. The Dartmoor Preservation Association conservation volunteers have been doing good work clearing the vegetation above the leat to encourage Pearl Bordered and Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries.  This year we ventured below the leat to restore the Rhôs pasture for Marsh Fritillaries (see previous blogs).

The Rhôs looked good

Common Wood Rhos 2

though not as good as my friend Marion’s river field where we saw a number of Marsh Fritillaries.  She has been working on this for many years, and her ponies do useful conservation grazing there.  I do not have control over the grazing of my patch.

River field

The river field

There were no butterflies on my Rhôs on Sunday.

On the slope above the leat where we have cleared gorse and scrub, the conditions seemed good for the Pearl Bordered Fritillaries, sunshine and no wind—but instead I saw two Marsh Fritillaries.

Marsh frit above leat

Marsh Fritillary

They were just above the leat in a brackeny area, not where I was expecting them.  I have since been told that they do use dry bracken habitats as well as damp areas.

Frit in habitat

The Fritillary is in the centre of this photo

Let’s hope they discover that the Rhôs below the leat is an even better habitat for them, and that the volunteers’ excellent work pays off.

Stop press: see later blog for Jenny Plackett’s exciting sightings at Common Wood.

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About campaignerkate

I am the general secretary of the Open Spaces Society and I campaign for public access, paths and open spaces in town and country.
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