Projects - The Midlands Fritillary Project
The Midlands Fritillary Project aims to direct effort on practical conservation measures to improve habitat for five fritillary species on 168 individual sites in the eight most important areas in the West Midlands, plus the Forest of Dean. In addition to the focus on the High Brown Fritillary, Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, work will benefit a further 11 UK BAP Priority Species of butterfly and moth, and two other fritillaries, the Dark Green Fritillary and Silver-washed Fritillary.
Introduction and project information
Match funding for the Midlands Fritillary Project has been derived from landfill applications to implement practical conservation work. The Biffaward funded Princethorpe Woods Habitat Restoration Project in Warwickshire will create 112 ride-side clearings as well as creating some coppice and butterfly banks. The SITA Trust funded Conserving the Wood White Butterfly in the South Shropshire Woods Project will implement an extensive ride-side widening and conifer removal programme on six sites in South Shropshire. So if you hear about any of the three projects mentioned above they are really all part of the same one.
The Midlands Fritillary Project is being overseen by Butterfly Conservation’s Senior Regional Officer Dr Jenny Joy and has two project officers Mike Slater and Nick Williams.
10/02/2011 Update January 2011
Recent work at Ryton Wood has involved the use of Ardennes heavy horse timber extraction by Logs on Draught as part of woodland management to help Wood White, Silver-washed Fritillary and other butterflies. This was recently featured on BBC Midlands Today on 24 January 2011.
Bruno did all the hard work. He is 10 years old and stands 16.1 hands tall.
The Ardennes heavy horse is one of the oldest breeds of draft horse originating from the Ardennes area in Belgium, Luxembourg and France. They are heavy-boned with thick, strong legs make them perfect for draft work.
The timber removed from Ryton Wood will be sold to the wood fuel market.
01/01/2010 Report for 2009
So far, there have been three major strands to the survey and monitoring work:
The first of these has been habitat assessment and survey for Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary in the Forest of Dean. The Forest of Dean is a fascinating area with a huge area of mixed woodland (42.5 square miles). It has been extensively mined for coal in the past so there are characteristic areas of open ‘forest waste’, and there is a long history of sheep grazing which still carries on in a limited capacity today.
To date, the Midlands Fritillary project has held 2 training days in the Dean involving 23 people, timed counts and habitat assessments have been carried out on 16 sites, and now Nick is in the process of translating the results into management advice.
Encouragingly 2009 seems to have been a fairly good year for the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary in the Forest of Dean and the survey work has identified a number of simple steps that could be taken to vastly improve the habitat for this butterfly. The Forestry Commission, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, and the RSPB are all key partners who have already implemented a number of management recommendations.
The main problem here has been trying to recruit recorders to cover this remote part of the region. A training day held near Snailbeach in June attracted 17 people only 2 of whom were Butterfly Conservation members but all of whom were very keen to learn more about this butterfly.
A very encouraging 68 Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary were eventually recorded on Brook Vessons (a Shropshire Wildlife Trust reserve) in the afternoon. Since then, Butterfly Conservation has been working closely with the Shropshire Wildlife Trust to encourage a number of the course participants to help survey additional sites. Interestingly, several of our ‘new’ sites for Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary have just gone into HLS schemes so there is a chance for further collaboration with Natural England over the management of these areas.
The third strand has been surveying woods in the Princethorpe complex in Warwickshire to assess both the dog violet populations and potential for these woods to establish colonies of the Silver-washed Fritillary and other violet feeding fritillaries.
We now have information on both the abundance and distribution of violets to use as a baseline for the Biffaward funded Princethorpe Woods Habitat Restoration Project. There are 5 full butterfly transects that have monitored the whole of Ryton Wood and Ryton Wood Meadows for 20 years. As this wood has been returned to active management the numbers of Silver-washed Fritillary have dramatically increased with 2009 being its best year yet. In 2009, new transects and monitoring regimes were established in other woods in the Princethorpe Project to provide a baseline to enable us to start to monitor the changes that the increased levels of active management bring.
We have also continued with partnership working in the Wyre Forest area (on the Shropshire / Worcestershire border) where large areas are being managed for fritillaries, a large number of timed counts have been undertaken by the West Midlands Branch volunteers and where the maximum benefits are being derived from SITA Trust funded ‘Back to Orange’ project work.
We have also continued working in the Malvern Hills with over 20 people being licensed to help with a Dark Green Fritillary/High Brown Fritillary ratio estimate starting with an event in June. Sadly, the weather deteriorated shortly after this ratio estimate got underway and while it is too early to draw firm conclusions, it looks like very few potential High Brown Fritillary were seen, let alone captured.