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Episode 16

Saving Species, Series 1 Episode 16 of 40

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 20 July 2010

17/40. What is the future for our farmland birds? We have been following the re-introduction of Cirl Buntings into Cornwall: an RSPB led conservation project where Cirl Bunting chicks have been taken from nests in Devon and released on specially selected farms in Cornwall. We sent a reporter down to the West Country to see how it works. But do planned government cuts on departments like DEFRA impact on this and other conservation work to protect our farmland birds? And will the "Big Society" and "localism", the policy centre piece of the coalition - and not Government, protect our farmland birds? We asked the RSPB and DEFRA.

Also in the programme, memories of Butterflies.

Presented by Brett Westwood
Produced by Kirsty Henderson
Series Editor Julian Hector.

  • Cirl Bunting chick

    Cirl Bunting chick

    Image by Ed Drewitt


    24th July - 4th August

    The big butterfly count is a nationwide survey aimed at helping assess the health of our environment.

    The survey is being launched during 2010 to mark the International Year of Biodiversity. Butterflies react very quickly to change in their environment which makes them excellent biodiversity indicators. Butterfly declines are an early warning for other wildlife losses.

    The survey is run by the charity Butterfly Conservation, in association with Marks & Spencer as part of their Plan A commitments to encourage sustainable agriculture and help to protect the environment.

    For more information


    Our picture shows John Gulliver, Head Keeper of the New Forest in Frohawk Ride where Sarah Pitt talked to him about his memories. John has been employed by the Forestry Commission as a keeper in the Forest for forty-three years, the last thirteen as Head Keeper. His family have held this role in the New Forest since the 17th century! In partnership with conservation organisations like Butterfly Conservation he has played a large part in recent years in managing the Forest so butterflies can thrive. Creating sunny clearings at the woodland edge and managing open walkways through the Forest, called Rides, means the white admiral and silver washed fritillary can be seen once more after a severe decline in the 1970’s and 80’s. John is very knowledgeable about insect life in the Forest but his particular favourite is the white admiral. This butterfly was sought after by Victorian collectors but now if you go butterfly watching in the New Forest you can still see it but simply collect photographs! John talks about F.W. Frohawk who was a leading naturalist, author and illustrator who first visited the Forest in 1888. His book ‘The Natural History of Butterflies’ was a definitive work on the subject published in 1914. Frowhawk named his daughter Valenzina after the dark green form of the silver-washed fritillary which can also been seen in the New Forest.

    The silver washed fritillary is Britain’s largest butterfly and a joy to behold flying in the New Forest in open clearings and Rides. As an adult it feeds on bramble flowers but the food plant of its caterpillar is the dog violet. This is why some areas of the dense forest are coppiced or cleared to allow for dappled shade, the conditions in which violets thrive, thus providing food for a vital stage in the butterfly’s life.

  • Silver Washed Fritillary Butterfly

    Silver Washed Fritillary Butterfly

    Image by Sarah Pitt


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