|North East England Branch|
To increase the likelihood of news items being seen, we are now publishing them on the home page of this site and not on this page. Items of interest are also posted on our Facebook page.
Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey
Butterfly Conservation recently announced the intention to continue with the nationwide Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey in 2011: "We are delighted to inform you that we have decided to continue the Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey (WCBS) again in 2011. Once again this will be a collaborative project with BTO and CEH. We would like to thank everyone who took part last year and especially the WCBS Champions who helped promote the survey within the Branches. The survey had another successful year with nearly 700 squares sampled. We hope you will continue to survey the same squares in the same way as last year. Our priority is to re-survey these squares for at least the next 2 years so that we can determine trends in the wider countryside and see whether they differ from transect trends. We also welcome new participants either to help re-survey old squares, or to survey new ones for the first time. New surveyors will be allocated randomly selected 1-km squares in their Branch area. The squares need to be surveyed in July and August by two visits at least ten days apart. Anyone interested in taking part in the WCBS in North East England in the coming season should contact Brian Denham (the Branch Champion) for further information." Click here for more details of the survey and how to take part.
Durham Moth Recorder
At the latest Committee Meeting Terry Coult resigned as the Moth Recorder for Durham and also from his position on the Branch Committee. Terry has made an enormous contribution to the activities of the Branch over many years at the same time as playing a very active role in many other aspects of nature conservation within the region. We understand his need to reduce some of his commitments whilst being very sorry to see him go! In addition to his biological expertese Terry is also a gifted artist and has produced the art-work for our annual Butterfly Summary Report for a number of years; we are delighted to say that he has undertaken to continue doing this. We wish Terry well for the future.
November 14th 2010
Butterfly Conservation partnership with Marks and Spencer
Butterfly Conservation launched a new partnership deal with Marks and Spencer on 2 June at the Bath and West Show. The deal forms part of Marks and Spencer's 'Plan A' sustainability strategy and involves several elements. These include the donation of royalties from selected product lines to BC, working with BC advisers to promote butterfly friendly farm management practices on farms supplying the company and supporting the 'Big Butterfly Count'. There will also be some in-store events on 24th July and, in our region, the Newcastle City Centre and Gateshead Metro Centre stores will be participating in this.
June 5th 2010
North East England Butterfly Recorder
Since 2005 Dave O'Brien has been the Butterfly recorder for North East England, reviewing records received from across the region and overseeing the compilation of the Annual Butterfly Summary each year. This is an onerous task which he has combined with being the recorder for VC62 (North Yorkshire) and which he now feels unable to continue alongside other commitments and so at the recent AGM he tendered his resignation as Butterfly Recorder for our region.
We are very grateful to Dave for his enormous contribution over the past five years and wish him well for the future.
Arrangements for submitting records will remain the same as before; Northumberland based members should send their records to Roger Norman whilst Durham based members should send theirs to Steve le Fleming (See Committee page for contact details. Roger Norman has taken on responsibility for compiling the Annual Butterfly Summary for 2009.
March 22 2010
Children's Writing Competition
Children's author Elise Harter has teamed up with Butterfly Conservation to launch a writing competition for children to raise awareness of Butterfly Conservation. Children aged 8 - 11 are invited to put pen to paper on the theme of butterflies and caterpillars and parents and teachers are requested to submit entries by e-mail. Elise said: "Children might try to imagine what it is like to be a butterfly, or a caterpillar, or they may prefer to write about their observations of these little creatures. They may wish to write a poem. The main aim is for the children to enjoy writing, imagining and thinking about nature, and to convey that pleasure on the page for others to share." Entries should not exceed 400 words. They will be uploaded onto Elise's web-site where the public can vote on their favourites. Entries will be judged in two age categories, 8-9 years and 10-11 years and in each age category one winner will be selected by the judges and a second winner will be based on the votes received from the public.
Butterfly Conservation has provided prizes for the winners, including copies of Nick Baker's book, 'British Wildlife: A Month by Month Guide', free family tickets to Butterfly World, publication of the winning stories on our website and bundles of Insect Lore goodies, including a grow-your-own butterfly garden, huge floor puzzle and lifecycle butterfly soft toy.
Entries may be submitted up to and including 23 April 2010 and entry is free although vountary contributions to Butterfly Conservation are welcome. Winners will be announced on Elise's web-site and on the main Butterfly Conservation Web-site. For more details see Elise's web-site and the main BC web-site.
March 13 2010
See previous years' archived news: 2008.
2008: A Bad Year For Butterflies in NE England
Members should by now have received their copy of the Annual Butterfly Summary for 2008. The report shows that the Region's butterflies generally fared badly, confirming most people's perception of that summer as one of the worst in recent memory. Many species were recorded in very low numbers although one or two did buck the general trend. Species that did well in 2008 included Ringlet and Meadow Brown which both showed a significant increase on the previous year whilst Speckled Wood continued its march across the region with record numbers recorded. Gatekeper and Brown Argus also provided highlights and gave hope that they will emulate the Speckled Wood's spread into the Region: five records of Brown Argus were submitted including a first Spring record whilst a total of sixteen individual Gatekeepers were recorded - a substantial improvement on previous years.
An electronic version of the Annual Butterfly is now available from the downloads page.
September 12 2009
Butterfly Conservation Launches 'Match Pot Appeal'
Butterfly Conservation has launched an appeal to raise funds for its conservation work across the country. Called the Match Pot Appeal, it will raise £10 from landfill tax (via the Landfill Communities Fund) for every £1 donated by the public. If the donation is gift aided then Butterfly Conservation will receive even more money from each contribution. This is an exceptional opportunity to make your donation really count towards the costs of funding projects aimed at conserving Britain's butterflies. Members of Butterfly Conservation should have received a mail shot about the appeal and how to contribute. Alternatively visit Butterfly Conservation's Match Pot web page for full details.
May 22 2009
Photo Competition Winner
Congratulations to Bob Mawson for his clean sweep in the 2008 Photographic Competition in which he won the categories for Adult Moth, Adult Butterfly and Non adult butterfly/moth. His shot of a Marbled White was also judged to be the overall winner. The winning photos as well as highly commended entries by Mike Hunter, Mike Coates, Alan Davis and Mike Richardson can be seen here.
The competition will be run again this year and details are given in the April Newsletter (follow link in item below).
May 9 2009
Branch Newsletter Errata
Members should by now have received their copy of the April Newsletter. Unfortunately problems with the printers used on this occasion meant that several errors crept into the newsletter that could not be corrected before it was distributed. On page 14, the announcement of this year's photographic competition should be headed 'Photographic Competition 2009' (not 2008) whilst on page 17 the heading should read 'Some Highly Commended Photographs' rather than referring to the Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey. A corrected version of the Newsletter is available to download as a pdf file from the downloads section of the web site.
May 9 2009
2008 worst year on record for UK Butterflies
Results from the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme have confirmed many people's perception that 2008 was a particularly poor year for British butterflies. For 12 species it was the worst year since records began in the 1970s. These were: dingy skipper, large skipper, Lulworth skipper, small skipper, green hairstreak, white-letter hairstreak, high brown fritillary, pearl-bordered fritillary, small heath, wood white, small tortoiseshell and orange tip.
The analysis of 2008 butterfly records from North East England is nearing completion and the Annual Butterfly Summary should be published shortly when we will be able to see which of our own region's butterflies have fared badly and which have done well. See the national Butterfly Conservation web-site for more details on the poor butterfly numbers of 2008.
April 15 2009
Independent launches 'Great British Butterfly Hunt'
The Independent newspaper has launched its own butterfly survey. Readers are encouraged to search for as many of the UK's butterfly species as possible and a section of the paper's web-site has been set up so that they may record their sightings. A prize is being offered to the person or group who records the most species over the course of the summer. The winner's prize will be to accompany Butterfly Conservation's Chief Executive, Dr Martin Warren, on an afternoon expedition to find the Brown hairstreak (UK rail travel expenses covered and lunch provided). For details see The Independent'sweb-site .
New Code of Good Agricultural Practice published by Defra
Defra has released a new Code of Practice for farmers that consolidates and updates previous advice. Protecting our Water, Soil and Air: A Code of Good Agricultural Practice is principally concerned with prevention of the pollution that can arise from various agricultural activities but also includes information relating to the prevention of damage to natural habitats including those protected as SSSIs. The 124 page Code of Practice is available free of charge, both as a download or as a hard copy and details of how to obtain it can be found here.
Habitat Management for Dingy Skippers at Havannah Nature Reserve
On 25 January a small group of volunteers joined Newcastle City Council Rangers, Michael Holcombe and Neil Jenkins, to help cut back hawthorn and gorse which are encroaching onto grassland areas used by Dingy Skipper and other butterflies. Without this work the scrub gradually shades out the grassland and eventually develops into woodland. In the process the habitat becomes unsuitable for the Dingy Skipper and other grassland butterflies. The area worked on is crossed by Dave Stebbings' butterfly monitoring transect so the effectiveness of the work will hopefully be apparent in his records!
Volunteers sought for Large Heath surveying
For many years Harry Eales has surveyed the bogs and mires of Northumberland and in the process has greatly increased the number of sites known to harbour the Large Heath butterfly. Unfortunately, Harry is unable now to continue this work and is keen to hand it on to someone younger. The large area over which the sites are spread and the difficulty of accessing many of them mean that the job is best covered by several recorders and Harry has suggested a possible division of labour as follows: one recorder could cover sites in the north of the county (north of the Coquet) where there are relatively few sites; another recorder could cover the area south of the Tyne-Solway gap; and a couple of recorders could cover Kielder, Redesdale and Wark Forests.
Harry would be happy to provide any asssistance required to anyone taking up this challenge, including all the information he has on localities and how to access them as well as putting them in touch with the relevant land owners. The Large Heath is without doubt one of the true butterfly specialities of the County which has more sites for this species than anywhere else in England and Wales; hopefully we can continue to monitor the fortunes of this important species. If anyone is prepared to take up this challenge we will be happy to put them in contact with Harry.
January 20 2009
Butterfly Conservation launches new Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey.
After two years of pilot testing, a new method of monitoring butterflies in widespread habitats, such as farmland and upland moorland, is to be rolled out nationwide this year.
The Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey method has been developed by Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology as part of the UKBMS project. There has also been close involvement with the British Trust for Ornithology and the method is based on the highly successful Breeding Bird Survey.
The existing Transect network provides invaluable data on the status of butterflies, yet widespread habitats are under-recorded. More information on the fate of butterflies in these areas is needed. The new survey is intended to fill these gaps by complementing, rather than replacing, the existing Transect network.
The new method involves making a minimum of two visits to a randomly selected square near to your home between May and August to count butterflies along two 1km survey lines running roughly north-south through the your square. The survey will be co-ordinated centrally by BC but we aim to find a Champion in each Branch to help find willing volunteers. We are aiming for 20 squares per Branch.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01929 406036 to register interest in taking part and you will be contacted in early spring with instructions and the location of your random 1km survey square. Keep an eye on www.butterfly-conservation.org/wcbs for more information.
January 9 2009
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