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Seventeen volunteers gathered for this work party near Grantown on Spey on a cold but sunny Saturday. That’s surely a record turn-out for a Highland branch work party, as BC members and Cairngorms National Park volunteers joined forces.

We split into two groups, with Fritillary Hilary leading one group to plant flowers, while Pete led another group to uproot broom scrub with tree poppers.

Over the course of the morning, between 550 and 600 flowers were planted. 250 violets, the food-plant of fritillary butterflies, were planted in an area of young native woodland. Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries (a priority species of conservation concern due to declining numbers) have occasionally been recorded on the site and the hope is to get them established by increasing the amount of food-plant. Also, about 150 ragged robin, 150 sneezewort and 30 meadowsweet were planted in a rushy wetland area. These species will make the site more attractive to insects in general. All of the planting took place on a private nature reserve.

The planting group joined the popping group for lunch, after which there was a big push on broom scrub bashing. This took place on RSPB-owned ground adjacent to the private nature reserve. A fire was lit and popped broom was gathered up and burned. An area of about 1,200 square meters was cleared of broom. This will allow more light in to low-growing wildflowers, especially an area of rock-rose, the food-plant of Northern Brown Argus butterfly. This is another species of conservation concern that has occasionally been recorded on the site but is not established. The success of the broom clearance will be monitored by Fritillary Hilary who walks an official butterfly transect through this area.

It was a very successful and enjoyable day. Although cold, the sun shone and thanks to a big turn-out of volunteers, a lot of work was achieved. And of course, there was plenty of socialising! As the afternoon drew to a close, a much asked question was “When’s the next work party?”


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