Some Notes on the local Meadow Brown Butterfly populations

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Perseus
Posts: 385
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2006 7:09 pm

Some Notes on the local Meadow Brown Butterfly populations

Postby Perseus » Sun Nov 25, 2007 10:00 pm

Hello,

When researching the needs of butterflies, I went through each of the local
butterflies for their requirements of food plants and other needs.

The Meadow Brown Butterfly is ostensibly the one that would seem to be most
likely to be compatible with cattle grazing because its food plants are a
range of grasses.

On the downs near Shoreham we have four different habitats:

1) Mill Hill: original chalkhill on the lower slopes, ungrazed
2) Anchor Bottom: conservation grazing on chalk
3) Lancing Ring meadows on clay and chalk, forage harvested
4) Southwick Hill conservation grazing on clay and chalk

Method was by walking over the downs and counting the butterflies and
putting the reports on the web pages.


Summary,

In the summer the greatest concentrations of Meadow Browns occurred on the
meadows of Lancing Ring. These would be about double or more the number per
acre on Mill Hill and Anchor Bottom. Southwick Hill is not much good for any
butterflies.

This is not the whole story because in years where the Meadow Browns were
common, the numbers on Mill Hill per acre exceeded that of Anchor Botttom,
and the numbers on Mill Hill were usually higher, but not by an appreciable
amount.

This is not the whole story because the Meadow Browns in the south have an
autumn brood. For reasons not known to science why this occurs on the south
coast downs. Anyrate, the lower slopes of Mill Hill have this late brood,
but the other sites do not, or not any more than strays.

This is the state of the science. Most butterfly reports have observations
coupled with unproven hypotheses, some of which are wrong or not written
down very clearly.

Thtas about the state of play for most species.

Wildife meadows are better for the summer broods of Meadow Browns than
conservation pastures.

Chalkhill Blues are much interesting and Mill Hill is streets ahead of all
other sites locally. This is not entirely to do with Horseshoe Vetch, but
this plant is the essential factor. But the presence of Horseshoe Vetch does
not mean Chalkhill Blues. Horseshoe Vetch is present in large amounts on the
Slonk Hill Cutting but Chalkhill Blues are almost totally absent (one a year
recorded).

The other interesting study is Bird's Foot Trefoil and the Common Blue
Butterfly, but I will have to leave this for another message.

Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List
http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Butterfly-list2007.html

Cheers

Andy Horton
glaucus@...
Adur Valley Nature Notes
http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Adur2006.html
http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Adur2007.html
Adur Valley Nature Notes: November 2007
http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Nov2007.html

Adur Valley & Downs Gallery
http://www.flickr.com/groups/adur/pool/

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Matsukaze
Posts: 1222
Joined: Sun Jan 22, 2006 9:18 pm
Location: North Somerset

Postby Matsukaze » Sat Dec 01, 2007 12:24 am

Hi Andy,

Just checked through my records of good Meadow Brown sites. Most are hay-meadows, some winter-grazed, some not. There are a couple that are summer-grazed by cattle, but these are places with few cattle and a lot of wild flowers (particularly black knapweed) to act as nectar sources. A range of other sites including brownfield, field edges, and most exotically an abandoned football ground where Meadow Browns, Ringlets and Marbled Whites were chasing in numbers around a group of knapweeds that had colonised the area behind the goal-line.

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Perseus
Posts: 385
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2006 7:09 pm

Postby Perseus » Sat Dec 01, 2007 12:33 am

Matsukaze wrote:Hi Andy,

Just checked through my records of good Meadow Brown sites. Most are hay-meadows, some winter-grazed, some not. There are a couple that are summer-grazed by cattle, but these are places with few cattle and a lot of wild flowers (particularly black knapweed) to act as nectar sources. A range of other sites including brownfield, field edges, and most exotically an abandoned football ground where Meadow Browns, Ringlets and Marbled Whites were chasing in numbers around a group of knapweeds that had colonised the area behind the goal-line.


Hello,

I find the duration of winter grazing on hay meadows to be very short (two weeks tops). After the hay is cut the cattle are put on to eat up the loose grasses. That's about it.

Otherwise, my observations match. Wildlife meadows are favoured ahead of hay meadows by a variable, usually quite large, margin.

Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List
http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Butterfly-list2007.html

Cheers

Andy Horton
glaucus@hotmail.com
Adur Valley Nature Notes
http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Adur2006.html
http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Adur2007.html
Adur Valley Nature Notes: November 2007
http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Nov2007.html

User avatar
Perseus
Posts: 385
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2006 7:09 pm

Postby Perseus » Sat Dec 01, 2007 12:37 am

Addenda on my original message.

Lancing Ring is a managed wildlife meadow of 50 years or more. It is also good for Marbled Whites, Small Skippers and Wall Browns, as well as Common Blues.

Andy Horton


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