Butterfly Conservation - saving butterflies, moths and their habitats
Butterfly Conservation
saving butterflies, moths and their habitats
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Welcome to the North East England Branch of Butterfly Conservation

Butterfly Conservation is a registered charity dedicated
to the conservation of butterflies and moths.

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Welcome to the web-site of the North East England branch of Butterfly Conservation. The aim of the site is to provide information about the butterflies and moths of Northumberland, Durham and north Teesside and about the activities of the branch.

The north east has a very diverse range of habitats including extensive areas of upland moorland, coastal dunes, farmland, broad-leafed and coniferous woodland as well as many interesting brown-field sites that reflect the industrial history of the area. These different habitats support a wide range of fauna and flora and about thirty species of butterfly and many species of moth may be seen within the region.

The North East England branch of Butterfly Conservation seeks to increase our knowledge of the region's butterflies and moths, to assist in their conservation and to encourage the study of these fascinating insects.  Please scroll down below for latest news from the Branch or navigate to the other pages of the web-site via the tabs to the left of the screen.

Moth Night Cancelled!  Unfortunately the moth trapping event planned for Friday 22 April at Flass Vale, Durham City has been cancelled.  Please pass the word to nyone you know who was planning to attend.

2016 events!  Check the Events page for details of events planned for this year.  Further events may be added throughout the year.  As events involving butterflies are obviously susceptible to weather conditons at the time it is recommended that you confirm with the leader before setting off to an event.

Autumn 2015 Newletter now available on-line..  Please click here for the latest edition of our newsletter.

2014 Butterfly Summary!  Publication of our annual summary report for 2014 was delayed by a number of factors including technical problems associated with transferring our database to a new version of the software.  It is now available on-line.  The report summarises the records received (casual and transect records) throughout the year and helps us keep track of how our butterfly species are faring.  As always, the report reveals that some species had a relatively poor year in 2014 whilst others seemingly did well.  Amongst those species for which numbers were relatively poor were Dingy Skipper, Small Copper, Holly Blue, Common Blue and Grayling.  "Winners" included Green-veined White, Peacock and Speckled Wood.  We have hopefully overcome all the difficulties experienced in producing this report and expect the 2015 report to be issued as normal in the Spring this year.

Happy New Year!!!  We wish all of our members, supporters, collaborators and partners in the conservation of our butterfly and moth fauna a happy and successful year in 2016! We will be kicking off the New Year with several winter work parties - please see our events page for more details.

Essex Skipper  We have a new species present in the region! Michael Wilcox discovered three Essex Skippers at Cowpen Marsh, Teesmouth on 22 July and subsequent intensive searching by Ian Waller and Mike Hunter has confirmed that the species is present in at least 27 1km squares in the Teesmouth area, indicating that it is well established and that the original record was more than simply vagrancy.  A full report will appear in the next Newsletter.  People recording 'small' Skippers, especially in the south of the region are asked to check carefully as Small Skipper and Essex Skipper are very similar in appearance; key points are the black tips to the undersides of the antennae on Essex Skipper (orangey brown on Small Skipper) and, on males, the shape and size of the sex brands.  On Essex Skipper these are short, very fine and parallel to the leading edge of the wing whilst on the Small Skipper they are longer, slightly curved and at an angle to the leading edge of the wing.  We shall publish additional ID guidance ahead of next year's flight season (both species are approaching the end of this years flight).

2015 Photographic competition results  Some excellent photgraphs were submitted and attendees at the Branch AGM and Members Day on 12 July voted on the winners.  This resulted in a three-way tie for first place.  The joint winners were Steve Austin, Graham Beckwith and John Preston and the winning pictures can be seen here.  Congratulations to these three and thank you to everyone who entered and to those who voted.

Spring Newsletter  The Spring 2015 edition of our newsletter is now available. A pdf copy can be downloaded from here.

New Atlas of the Butterflies of North East England  We are delighted to report that the Branch has just published a new Atlas of the Butterflies of North East England.  This updates the Atlas published by Dunn and Parrack in 1986 and reflects substantial changes since then.  The Atlas was published as a volume of the Natural History Society of Northumbria's journal "Northumbrian Naturalist" and we are very grateful for their support and collaboration.  We are also grateful to Northumbrian Water, Durham Wildlife Trust and Northumberland Wildlife Trust for financial support for this project.  The Atlas was a collaborative project and we are grateful to the editors and the authors of individual species accounts and above all to the many people who submit records every year and thereby make such an exercise possible.  Copies can be obtained for £ 6.60 including post and packaging and an order form can be downloaded from here.

Butterfly Summary Report 2013  Please click here to view the 2013 Annual Butterfly Summary Report for North East England.  The report summarises the results of reording the region's butterflies in 2013.

Butterfly Numbers Up in 2013  Analysis of the results of the Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey revealed that the fine summer weather of 2013 was reflected by increased numbers recorded for many farmland butterfly species.  See here for more details.

State of Britain's Larger Moths  Butterfly Conservation has just published an important report on the status of the Country's larger Moths.  The report makes gloomy reading with a 28% decline noted overall (for 337 "common and widespread" species) since 1965 and many individul species showing alarming declines of 90% or more.  Fortunately, the north of Country appears to have fared much better than the south (approximately below the Lancaster - York line)but this should not make us complacent.  To access the full report click here and follow the links.

Ash Die Back Disease  Members will be aware of news coverage of yet another plant pathogen threatening the UK's trees.  In this case the culprit is a fungal infection, Chalara fraxinea that fatally infects Ash trees and it is known that the disease has already had a devastating effect on Ash populations elsewhere, notably Denmark.  It appears that the fungus was introduced into this country on imported Ash plants from European nurseries.  Ash is an important native tree species that supports a number of moth species, for some of which it is the only known food plant.  These include the Tawny Pinion, Centre-barred Sallow, Dusky Thorn, Prays fraxinella and Zelleria hepariella all of which have been recorded in our region. 

As a measure to limit the spread of the disease the government has introduced a Plant Health Order prohibiting all imports of ash seeds, plants and trees into Great Britain, and all movement of ash seeds, plants and trees within Great Britain.  If you come across Ash trees which you believe are infected please report this to the Forestry Commission.  Information about how to recognise the symptoms is provided at the Forestry Commission web-site.

Phytophthora cactorum  Sadly juniper bushes on the Waskerley Way have been effected by Phytophthora cactorum (a fungus like infection that affects a wide variety of trees and woody plant and causes, amongst other problems, 'bleeding canker disease' in Horse Chestnuts).  This is happening in areas which are the habitat of Dark Green and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries.  There does not seem to any method of dealing with this disease.  Could I ask all members visiting sensitive sites to disinfect boots before and after and give a little thought to where they walk.
Dave Liddle, Durham County Council.

Lyme Disease  Members should be aware of the possible risks of contracting Lyme disease if they are visiting sites where ticks are present.  For more information about this disease and sensible precautions you can take, please see the web-site of the Lyme Disease Action charity

Where to watch woodland butterflies  The Wildlife Trusts have recently produced a short guide to nature reserves that are great places to see woodland butterflies.  The guide covers the whole of the UK and, as well as listing 3 reserves in our own region, could be used to plan that trip to go and see Purple Emperors or White Admirals.

Can you help?We are looking for keen individuals to help promote our activities and increase awareness of butterflies, moths and their habitats.  'North East England' covers the historic counties of Northumberland and Durham, i.e. the entire area between the rivers Tweed and Tees.  It would be great, if possible, to have people working in both the north and south.  If you have a little free time, and think you could help with the following, please contact us. It is not onerous being on the committee, and it can be good fun!

* Publicity and promotion: e.g. liaising with other organisations, the press and media;

* Organising events, field outings, workshops etc.

* Education: liaising with schools, colleges etc. and involving young people

New Moth Atlas!  Butterfly Conservation has recently published a new atlas of the British distribution of over 800 macro moths.  Click here for details of the atlas and how to order your copy.

Electronic Mailing List!  Would you like to be notified of Branch events by e-mail?  Butterfly Conservation members are invited to contact the Membership Secretary if they would like be added to an electronic mailing list.  This should help to provide more timely notice of events such as field trips, work parties and meetings.  This is entirely voluntary and will not affect existing methods of communication which will continue to be used.

Latest update April 21 2016.

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