I’m pleased to announce that we now have a colony of White-letter hairstreaks on the reserve. Our first confirmed record on the reserve was from last year (photographed by regular visitor Matt), but this year we’ve seen several of them around the Elm trees at the top of the zig zag. We saw several on 30 June 2019 around the Elms near the minibeast mansion, including two males who were spiralling upwards in a territorial ‘dog fight’. There are more elms further down along the northern side of the zig zags and also along adder alley so do look for them elsewhere as well.
If you do spot any, please let Anna have your records so we can map the distribution of them on site.
It is a beautiful butterfly when viewed up close the underwings are brown, with a white W-shaped streak, an orange edge and small tails.
It can be tricky to spot as it spends much of its time in the tree canopy particularly on Elm trees (as is the butterfly photographed above by volunteer Graham Osborne) but it will come down to nectar on bramble flowers and the purple flowers of creeping thistle. The population of this butterfly declined in the 1970s as trees succumbed to Dutch Elm Disease but it is now recovering in a few areas. We have planted some disease resistant elms as part of a project with the South Downs National Park and Butterfly Conservation.
We have now recorded 34 species of British butterflies on the reserve – this does include chalkhill blue, purple emperor and wall who are just occasional visitors. We’ve also recorded a couple of rare migrants – the yellow-legged tortoiseshell and the Camberwell Beauty (not included in our count).
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