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saving butterflies, moths and our environment
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Glen Orrin Scrub Clearance Work Party - Saturday 21st March

This is the second scrub clearance event to be held at Glen Orrin, the inaugural one being just the previous autumn and was so enjoyable that attendees wanted to return and do it again!  Fortunately in stark contrast to last autumn’s event the weather on Saturday was glorious, with bright sunshine tempting eleven volunteers to come along and get stuck in.  The site is on the steepish southerly slopes of An Dun on Fairburn Estate and a classic location for Pearl-bordered Fritillary, which are monitored by Andy Scott and Margaret Currie. 

As in the autumn we focussed our efforts on the mid-section of the track and the steeper slopes directly above/below, mainly uprooting and cutting down gorse and broom but also raking the dead and dry bracken litter away in the hope of encouraging a better ground flora, particularly violets, which are the sole foodplant of Pearl-bordered Fritillary caterpillars.   

Unfortunately, I was unable to borrow the “Treepoppers” that we used so successfully to uproot the whins last autumn.  These are robust long-handled pliers that grip the lower stump uprooting it as the handle is pushed down.  However, I had ordered a consignment of twenty to be used by Butterfly Conservation and other bodies back in December, but they are coming directly from the manufacturers in South Africa as nobody in the UK makes or imports them.  So I am just hoping that that they are still in a container on a boat somewhere out in the Atlantic. 

Everyone had another thoroughly enjoyable day, fuelled as always by plenty of tea and cake, so much so that they are keen to come back again!  In fact the cake count outnumbered the butterfly and moth list five to one.  The sole species being seen a worn Dotted Border, though a number of micro-moths evaded capture.  It was somewhat surprising given the sunshine and warm micro-climate of the site that we did not see any butterflies.  It was certainly far easier undertaking the work in the spring when the bracken was dormant than in the autumn so I’m sure we will return next spring. 

Andy and Margaret intend to continue their monitoring of the Pearl-bordered Fritillaries so we should be able to assess how they respond to the scrub clearance and bracken racking.  I just hope they appreciate our efforts!

Finally I’d like to thank Peter Hingston of Fairburn Estate, for his support and permission to undertake the work.

Tom Prescott

Glen Orrin

 

 

 

 

 

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