Chequered Skipper - returning to England?

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jasonbirder
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Re: Chequered Skipper - returning to England?

Postby jasonbirder » Tue Dec 15, 2015 10:34 pm

Surely there advise would be Yes! Release it (whatever it is) into wherever (regardless of habitat suitability, competition or appropriateness)

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Essex Bertie
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Re: Chequered Skipper - returning to England?

Postby Essex Bertie » Wed Dec 16, 2015 1:28 am

I thought I read somewhere of a possible cause of the English extinction being climate change maturing/drying the Purple Moor Grass too early so that the butterfly was unable to complete its life cycle in England (or make it to winter?). based on the state of Molinia on dry Essex heathland, it still looks green/viable in late summer, so I dunno - but I know I couldn't have dreamt something as clever as that

trevor
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Re: Chequered Skipper - returning to England?

Postby trevor » Thu Dec 17, 2015 8:51 pm

This sounds like terrific news. A Butterfly i would love to see.
And it will save a trip on the overnight sleeper to Fort William ! :lol:

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Essex Bertie
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Re: Chequered Skipper - returning to England?

Postby Essex Bertie » Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:10 pm

Essex Bertie wrote:I thought I read somewhere of a possible cause of the English extinction being climate change maturing/drying the Purple Moor Grass too early so that the butterfly was unable to complete its life cycle in England (or make it to winter?). based on the state of Molinia on dry Essex heathland, it still looks green/viable in late summer, so I dunno - but I know I couldn't have dreamt something as clever as that

Having spoken to members of the Northants branch, I must correct my previous statement as there was barely a hint of truth in it. Any drying out of foodplant (False Brome, not Purple Moor Grass) would have been caused by the increased growth of conifers rather than climate change. Scrub encroachment further decreased the viability of the glade network.

selbypaul
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Re: Chequered Skipper - returning to England?

Postby selbypaul » Fri Jan 20, 2017 9:30 am

Does anyone know if the plan to re-introduce the Chequered Skipper in England has progressed over the last year?

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Rosalyn
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Re: Chequered Skipper - returning to England?

Postby Rosalyn » Fri Jan 20, 2017 8:14 pm

It's a combined application for funding from 6 different organisations. I think Plantlife, Buglife and Bat Conservation were mentioned. It all depends if the smaller charities can raise their part of the funding.

John Moore
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Re: Chequered Skipper - returning to England?

Postby John Moore » Tue Feb 14, 2017 1:14 pm

Hi Everyone
I worked on the previous reintroduction attempt in the late 90s and am happy to answer any questions you have as far as I can. I hope to produce an article for dispar within the next couple of months or so on Chequered Skipper ecology in France and England (I do hope I don't come to regret this statement especially regarding timescale!). I don't know much about the current proposals but have declared a continuing interest to BC).

Anyway, my view is that we failed in the 90s due to a combination of bad luck, poor stock availability and limited habitat. Bad luck in that the weather conditions at release times were usually pretty dull and cool. Poor stock for the following reasons:

1) For much of the early stages of the project we could not find enough butterflies in France. The identified donor habitats had declined in quality. Eventually a much stronger population was found which improved things and is where I would collect again.

2) Stock for release had either been posted back from France in film cannisters and so were not too happy, or had been captive reared under experimental treatments (I was trying to complete a PhD research project on this) and so were of variable viability. Captive rearing had several other problems regarding egg laying and handling. Often pupae were kept in the fridge to try and synchronise emergence. There were often emergence failures.

The research strongly indicated that larval habitat as defined from research in France was present at the release site. The habitat did not seem that specialised. Flight areas need to be lightly shaded and this was limiting habitat availability although there was probably just enough to sustain a population of 100 or so adults, but it was distributed around the wood.

As regards extinction, declining habitat quality (increased shading) within woods due to decline in coppicing and conversion to conifer plantation almost certainly played a major part. Historical record and landscape ecology studies suggested that this combined with emigration losses of dispersing adults over a landscape with reduced hedgerows and marginal habitats led to the rapid extinction. The actual distribution and size of woodlands changed little during the butterflies decline and there was actually an increase in occupied woodlands in the 1950s.

Hope this is of interest.
John

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Pete Eeles
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Re: Chequered Skipper - returning to England?

Postby Pete Eeles » Tue Feb 14, 2017 6:03 pm

Welcome to UKB, John; it's been a pleasure reading your PhD thesis and I'm sure we all look forward to the first article :)

Cheers,

- Pete

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David M
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Re: Chequered Skipper - returning to England?

Postby David M » Tue Feb 14, 2017 7:57 pm

I too shall look forward to reading your reports with interest.

Is there now a definitive blueprint to learn past lessons and make another attempt to re-establish this species in England?

selbypaul
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Re: Chequered Skipper - returning to England?

Postby selbypaul » Sat Feb 18, 2017 10:49 am

Looking forward to seeing the article John

ScottD
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Re: Chequered Skipper - returning to England?

Postby ScottD » Fri Mar 31, 2017 9:51 am


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David M
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Re: Chequered Skipper - returning to England?

Postby David M » Fri Mar 31, 2017 4:42 pm

Thanks for that link, Scott. So, it's official then. I wonder when it will start?

jasonbirder
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Re: Chequered Skipper - returning to England?

Postby jasonbirder » Sat Apr 01, 2017 9:32 am

I'm sure its not going to be a popular response...but as i've indicated previously I have grave concerns over the Chequered Skipper re-introduction project...
(Not because I've anything against these lovely Butterflies...not long before my annual pilgrimage up to see them again!)
But because I have grave doubts about many re-introduction projects (I'll exempt Large Blue...because as an extinct species they were in a "Nothing to lose" category)
Firstly...there are always limited funds, resources and volunteers for Butterfly Projects...given that there is a stable population in Scotland...couldn't that effort be better invested elsewhere...Brown/Black Hairstreaks, High-Brown Fritillaries, "real" Heath, Marsh and Glanville's all strike me as better targets for our conservation pound!
Secondly, given the state of our knowledge of micro-habitats/micro-climates in the early 1970s...does anybody REALLY know why they became extinct in the first place?
Thirdly...does anybody REALLY know the full status of Chequered SKipper in Scotland...given the coverage of North Western Scotland...has all suitable habitat ever really been surveyed? Wouldn't this be a better use of funds...particularly if money could be used preserving habitat away from the existing nature reserves...
Fourthly...releasing Chequered Skippers in Southern England WILL give "respectability" to those people who like to release "weird and wonderful" Butterflies for personal aggrandisement (Especially when they get the affirmation of people going to photograph them and posting how great re-introduction sites are) Take a bow...Chambers Farm Wood and Hutchinson Bank
Whilst i'm sure that the original release will only take Belgian (?I think) stock...who's to say that if it falters, less scrupulous people might not be motivated to "top up" with Scottish stock, threatening genuine, wild Butterflies...not zoo/safari park type curiosities...

And here to show my genuine love for them...is a photo from last year!
https://goo.gl/photos/9UZubGqbHeNwaf8N9

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David M
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Re: Chequered Skipper - returning to England?

Postby David M » Sun Apr 02, 2017 9:08 pm

To my surprise, this initiative was actually broadcast on BBC news on Friday night. Nice to see a Chequered Skipper filling the screen rather than a politician for a change...if only briefly. :(

JohnR
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Re: Chequered Skipper - returning to England?

Postby JohnR » Mon Apr 03, 2017 8:28 pm

As I wasted a couple of quid on my lottery ticket I noticed a National Lottery Fund announcement which seems to favour a few butterflies and some other creatures that their proponents favour http://www.naturebackfromthebrink.org/about/ I fear that most of the funding will go to the management of the various schemes but something might filter down to the guys on the ground who have to do the work.

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Jack Harrison
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Re: Chequered Skipper - returning to England?

Postby Jack Harrison » Tue Apr 04, 2017 6:25 am

David M:
Nice to see a Chequered Skipper filling the screen rather than a politician for a change...if only briefly. :(

You should live in Scotland David. A certain female politician is in every news bulletin, every daily paper. A letter in the i yesterday pleaded for a Sturgeon free-day at least once a week.

Jack

ScottD
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Re: Chequered Skipper - returning to England?

Postby ScottD » Sun Apr 09, 2017 11:29 am

jasonbirder wrote:Thirdly...does anybody REALLY know the full status of Chequered SKipper in Scotland...given the coverage of North Western Scotland...has all suitable habitat ever really been surveyed?

Given the terrain & climate, no. ... but a fair amount of it has been looked at based on computer modelling of likely areas. We all know how small a colony of butterflies like these can be so it's quite possible to be within 100, 50 or even 25 metres & still miss them.


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