Cirl Bunting chick
Image by Ed Drewitt
BIG BUTTERFLY COUNT
24th July - 4th AugustFor more information
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.
MEMORIES ARE MADE OF THIS
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
Image by Sarah Pitt
The BBC Natural History Unit produces a wide range of programmes that aim to immerse a listener in…