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saving butterflies, moths and our environment
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Birch-bashing Work Party near Grantown-on-Spey - September 18th 2021

Twelve folks turned up for our first work party of the season, at a private woodland near Grantown on Spey, which is one of only three Scottish sites for the Dark Bordered Beauty moth.

The caterpillars of this species feed exclusively on aspen suckers less than about one metre tall. Due to grazing pressure from sheep in winter along with deer year-round, suckers were being over-grazed. With the owner’s permission, several small stock-proof fenced-off areas were created and these have resulted in a burst of growth of young trees. Unfortunately, faster growing and denser birch regeneration is threatening to shade out the aspens.

Area A before work                 Area A before work began

The task of the work party was therefore to remove young birches, with tree poppers, from inside the fenced-off areas and lop off the tops of aspen suckers that were becoming too tall. Once the early morning mist had burned off, it became a gorgeous warm, sunny day. Although shared cake was off the menu due to Covid restrictions, there was plenty of chat and looking at other wildlife on site. For example, Dave found a pupa of Birch Mocha moth, hanging from one of the birches and Gus found several colourful fungi, including the rare, pale purple Violet Coral Fungus.

Area A after work              Area A after work

Perhaps because of all the chat and too many wildlife distractions, we didn’t achieve as much work as planned and so a return trip will be planned, probably for early 2022. So those that missed out this time round can come along for part two – though you won’t see those beautiful fungi!

Pete Moore

Taking a break               Taking a break

Birch Mocha pupa Birch Mocha pupa 




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