Recently I attended one of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust‘s (GWT) new wildlife ID courses. The adventure focused on Cotswold Meadow Butterflies. The weather was perfect and the butterflies were out in force.
Before heading to Daneway Banks (an area of land managed by GWT) our guide for the day Ken Cservenka, gave a short slide presentation on the butterflies, skippers and day flying moths that we were likely to see, as well as their lifecycles, common food sources and preferred habitat.
Ken gave a little insight into the management of the Daneway banks and how grazing directly effects butterfly species. The Daneway Banks are currently grazed by native ponies. Equine grazing produces a mixed grassland environment from bare earth to rough scrub. Some of the butterflies often seen on this site have vary particular habitat requirements, such as the Duke of burgundy. The Duke of Burgundy larvae feed on cowslips. However, without tall patches of grass to shade the cowslips (which are abundant on this site) the cowslip will wither in the sun before the larvae complete their lifecycle.
I have to admit before Saturday my knowledge of butterflies was pretty much limited to common garden species. Trekking along Daneway banks really opened my eyes to the wealth of butterflies, skippers and day flying moths which I probably hadn’t noticed before due to their small size. I was shocked at just how vivid some of the butterflies are and I was lucky enough to capture some of them by camera (plus a few other natural wonders). By the end of the walk I could confidently identify the more common butterflies through flight pattern and glimpses of colour.
I can’t wait to get back out in the field and get some more practice in. Ken encouraged us to join Gloucestershire Naturalist’s Society so that we could all contribute to the recording of the county’s natural history records applying to both flora and fauna, coordinated by Gloucestershire Centre for Environmental Records.
I really recommend having a look through the GWT courses which are on offer. This is the third ID course I have attended (woodland flowers and Fungi were also very useful) and I’m looking forward to attending more. It’s a great opportunity to get out in the field and boost your CV during the summer months.
Hannah Stubbs, Biosciences Technician […of the year 2013! Do we mention that enough?! Ed.]
In Biosciences we pride ourselves on links with partner organisations like the Wildlife Trusts, with active research collaborations and rich opportunities for student internships to boost employability