Butterflies come out to celebrate at launch of new project
by Jane Ellis (Regional Brownfields Officer)
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The sun shone, the butterflies danced and over 30 guests had a fascinating and fun time at the launch of a major new project to help the Small Blue butterfly flourish once more in Warwickshire.
Britainï¿½s smallest butterfly, the Small Blue is in drastic decline due to the loss of its chalk and limestone grassland habitat. Warwickshire (and the West Midlands now only hang on to this beautiful butterfly at 3 sites around Southam, all of which are active or former quarries.
Butterfly Conservation launched its Bringing Back the Small Blue project at Southam Quarry owned by CEMEX on Thursday 18th June.
Dr Martin Warren, Chief Executive of Butterfly Conservation the national charity for conserving butterflies and moths said ï¿½I am amazed by the fantastic habitats that I have seen at Southam Quarry, it really is an oasis for rare species. It has been heart-warming to see such a lot of positive action taking place on the ground and to speak to so many enthusiastic people, from CEMEX, the County Council, Natural England (English Nature and DEFRA), Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and local volunteers who are so keen to work with Butterfly Conservation to help the Small Blue. We have an exciting three years ahead in which we should start to see increases in Small Blue numbers and other rare butterflies and moths.ï¿½
David Lowe, Principle Ecologist for Warwickshire County Council said ï¿½Butterfly Conservation should be applauded for its very practical approach to nature conservation in the County. Its local volunteers have been gathering data for many years in advance of this project and it is great to finally see this partnership project coming together to create large-scale habitat improvements for some of the Countyï¿½s rarest species.ï¿½
In the afternoon the guests, which included representatives of some of the dozen partners in the project, local volunteers and CEMEX staff were led on a mini-safari across the quarry to try and see the rare Small Blue. They werenï¿½t disappointed, within 5 minutes they had reached a bank where dozens of Small Blues were dancing over colourful wildflowers including the yellow foodplant Kidney Vetch, Ox-eye daisies and Common Spotted Orchids. The guests had plenty of time to watch the butterflies and to get some snap-shots. For most, including many dedicated butterfly enthusiast this was the first time that they had ever seen this rare species. Other wildlife seen on the tour was a young peregrine stretching it wings for the first time, bright red and black Burnet moths and the dazzling Marbled White butterfly.
The guests also visited an area of the Quarry where the project had cleared a large section of scrub ï¿½ to created patches of bare-ground and wildflower-rich grassland to encourage the butterfly to spread. Project Officer, Jane Ellis and Volunteer Mike Slater described how the restoration works had been carried out and explained the features of the site that are so important for the Small Blue.
Ian Southcott, Community Affairs Manager at CEMEX said ï¿½CEMEX are delighted to support this project and to have hosted the launch at Southam Quarry. It is really gratifying to receive the compliments and surprise of people who are unaware of how closely companies like CEMEX work with organisations such as Butterfly Conservation. This project is vital to the preservation of the Small Blue and we are committed to providing our continuing support.ï¿½
The project aims to restore habitat for the Small Blue butterfly at 15 local sites in an area containing some of the richest habitat in the West Midlands for butterflies and other insects. The project aims to restore flower-rich grassland, where the Small Blue caterpillar will be able to thrive on Kidney Vetch plants. The three year project has major funding from SITA Trust, the Stratford Community Fund, Network Rail and CEMEX, with many smaller contributions from local companies and Parish Councils.
As well as the Small Blue, the three year programme of restoration works will also help many other rare insects including butterflies such as the Dingy and Grizzled Skippers well as the Chalk Carpet moth, bumblebees and the dotted bee-fly.
For further information contact
egional Brownfields Officer (East and West Midlands), Butterfly Conservation
Dr Martin Warren
Chief Executive, Butterfly Conservation
07775 590 750
Guests at the project launch enjoy watching the rare Small Blue. Photo by Dr Martin Warren, Butterfly Conservation (smallblue.jpg)
Speakers at the launch were, from left to right: Dr Martin Warren, Chief Executive Butterfly Conservation, Jane Ellis, Butterfly Conservation, Andrew Spencer, UK Sustainability Director, CEMEX and David Lowe, Principal Ecologist, Warwickshire County Council. Photo by Maurice Avent, Butterfly Conservation. (smallbluelaunch.jpg)
Dr Martin Warren, Chief Executive Butterfly Conservation photographs a Small Blue Butterfly. Photo by Kieth Warmington, Butterfly Conservation. (smallbluemw.jpg)
Permission to use the attached images is restricted to the purpose of this press release.
Notes for Editors
Other National UK BAP species which will benefit from the project are
Butterflies: Grizzled Skipper, Dingy Skipper
Moths: Chalk Carpet
Insects: Dotted Beefly
Bumblebees: Bombus humilis and Bombus ruderatus
Butterfly Conservation is the largest insect conservation charity in Europe with nearly 14,000 members in the UK. Its aim is the conservation of butterflies, moths and their habitats. It runs conservation programmes for over 60 threatened species of butterfly and moth and manages over 30 nature reserves. Further information www.butterfly-conservation.org
Company limited by guarantee, registered in England (2206468).
Registered Office: Manor Yard, East Lulworth, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 5QP.
Charity registered in England & Wales (254937) and in Scotland (SCO39268)
If you have any questions or require more information about this press release, please contact Jane Ellis (Regional Brownfields Officer) by email.