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Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire - Branch Logo featuring the White-letter Hairstreak butterfly.Butterfly Conservation.

Projects - Sutton Park Green Hairstreak Project

One of the actions in the Warwickshire Conservation update was to determine how many colonies of Green Hairstreak butterflies are present in Sutton Park (OS Grid Ref SP097971).

Sutton Park represents the most northerly site in Warwickshire (VC38) where the Green Hairstreak occurs. Sutton Park holds 2 colonies (as of 2010) which represents 17% of all known colonies within the whole of Warwickshire. It is also unique in Warwickshire because it uses a different larval food plant to all the other meta-populations in Warwickshire.

Exmoor ponies were introduced to Sutton Park in July 1999 in an effort to maintain a heath and acid grassland habitat, protecting Sutton Park from birch and woodland encroachment.There are many questions which remain to be answered about the Green Hairstreak at Sutton Park, not least key questions about its habitat requirements. Without this knowledge it is impossible to implement habitat management techniques in order to ensure its survival here.

Left: Exmoor ponies were introduced to Sutton Park in July 1999. Photo by Steven Cheshire.



Volunteers Wanted for Green Hairstreak Butterfly Survey

In order to ascertain the abundance and extent of breeding colonies across Sutton Park, Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire is looking for volunteers who can regularly visit or live near to Sutton Park and who would be willing to conduct survey's in the identified areas of Cowberry and Bilberry for Green Hairstreak during its adult flight period (early May to end June/early July).

Full training will be given to anyone interested in helping. For more information or to register your interest in taking part, please contact:

Mike Slater (01788 335881), Keith Warmington (01827 715873) or Steve Cheshire (07870 598691).

Map of Sutton Park showing location of casual records of the Green Hairstreak.Above: Map of Sutton Park showing location of casual records of the Green Hairstreak.

Sutton Park Survey 2009 to present

In August 2009, Mike Slater conducted a GPS (Global Positioning Survey) of Sutton Park. Areas of Cowberry and Bilberry were mapped and assessed for breeding suitability in order to help Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire establish cohesive monitoring of potential Green Hairstreak breeding colonies within the park.

View looking North-West of Blackroot Transect 1.This area is unique in Sutton Park as it supports Cowberry, Bilberry and Cranberry. Ling predominates in drier areas with Bell Heather in wet patches.In August 2010, Mike Slater, Steven Cheshire, Keith Warmington and Terry Southgate conducted another wider GPS survey. Areas of Cowberry and Bilberry were again mapped as were areas of Cranberry and Crowberry.

Left: Looking North-West at Blackroot Transect 1 in 2010, an area unique in Sutton Park as it supports Cowberry, Bilberry and Cranberry. Ling predominates in drier areas with Bell Heather in wet patches. Photo by Steven Cheshire.


Sutton Park Green Hairstreak Habitat Survey Report 2009

One of the actions in the Warwickshire Conservation update was to determine how many colonies of Green Hairstreak butterflies are present in Sutton Park and what foodplants the larvae utilize.

Sutton Park Habitat Survey Report (2009) View online - FlashPaper viewerDownload pdf.



What does it eat?

One of the most fundamental questions which remains unanswered is which larval food plant the Green Hairstreak utilise at Sutton Park?

Crowberry at Blackroot Heath Transect 1.Cowberry

Cowberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) is believed the primary larval food plant at Sutton Park although this is based on a single observation by John Roberts of a female egg-laying a few years ago. Most adult butterfly sightings are in the vicinity of Cowberry.

Left: Crowberry at Blackroot Heath Transect 1.
Photo by Steven Cheshire.

Bilberry at Blackroot Heath Transect 1.Bilberry

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) is presumed to be a secondary food plant but this is yet to be confirmed.

Left: Bilberry at Blackroot Heath Transect 1.
Photo by Steven Cheshire.



Cranberry at Blackroot Heath Transect 1.Cranberry

Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccus) may also be a larval food plant. Cranberry is much scarcer in Sutton park. Its presence is often associated with patches of Bell Heather and sphagnum moss in wetter areas.

Left: Cranberry at Blackroot Heath Transect 1.
Photo by Steven Cheshire.

Crowberry

Crowberry (Empetrium nigrum) is particularly rare in Sutton Park.

Gorse

Gorse (Ulex europaeus).

Bramble

Bramble (Rubus fruticosus).

Birds-foot Trefoil

Birds-foot Trefoil (Lotus sp).

Sutton Park Green Hairstreak Species Transect

A species transect for the Green Hairstreak in Sutton Park was conducted by Harvey Skelcher in 1998-9 and 2003-2006. Transect 1 is known as the Blackroot Heath Transect while transect 2 is known as the Bracebridge Transect.

UKBMS link to Sutton Park Transect 1 and Sutton Park Transect 2.
Detailed location of the Green Hairstreak Transects and location within Sutton Park.Above: Detailed location of the Green Hairstreak Transects and location within Sutton Park. We also receive casual records from across Sutton Park of sightings of Green Hairstreak and other butterflies.

UK BMS Week No 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Total
Transect 1 - 2006 - - 1 - - 2 8 6 - 17
Transect 2 - 2006 - 9 12 - 18 7 21 13 - 80
  Casual Records 2
  Grand Total 2006 99

Transect 1 - 2005 - - 2 2 1 8 2 - - 11
Transect 2 - 2005 - 1 20 27 10 23 2 - - 93
  Casual Records 5
  Grand Total 2005 109

Transect 1 - 2004 - - 1 12 8 10 1 1 - 33
Transect 2 - 2004 - - - 25 7 17 5 - - 54
Transect 3 - 2004 - - - - - - 1 - - 1
  Casual Records 4
  Grand Total 2004 92

Transect 1 - 2003 - - - - - 9 6 - - 15
Transect 2 - 2003 - - - 1 2 14 7 4 - 28
Transect 3 - 2003 - - - - - 6 - 4 - 10
  Casual Records 0

Grand Total 2003 53

We do not have any transect data for 2000, 2001 and 2002.

Transect 1 - 1999 - - - - 11 9 - - - 20
Transect 2 - 1999 3 - - - 26 3 3 - - 35
  Casual Records 0
  Grand Total 1999 55

Transect 1 - 1998 - - - - 5 5 4 2 3 19
Transect 2 - 1998 - - - - 2 3 - - - 5
  Casual Records 0
  Grand Total 1998 24

Overall total of transect sightings of Green Hairstreak since 1998 432




Map of Sutton Park showing location of casual records of the Green Hairstreak.Above: Map of Sutton Park showing location of Green Hairstreak breeding areas in 2011.


Map of Sutton Park from approx 1940-1950.Above: Map of Sutton Park from approx 1940-1950.

 

The Team

Mike Slater - Sutton Park Project Leader
Steven Cheshire - Green Hairstreak species champion.

About Sutton Park

Sutton Park is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and became a National Nature Reserve (NNR) in 1997. Large parts of the park have also been listed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM). It is also the largest urban park in the whole of Europe.

Situated 7 miles north of the centre of Birmingham, the park is surrounded by urban development. It covers and area of 2,400 acres (970 hectares) and contains seven man-made pools, associated streams and wetland areas alongside areas of lowland heath and woodland, all of which is ideal for wildlife.







View looking North-West of Blackroot Transect 1 in 2019. This area is unique in Sutton Park as it supports Cowberry, Bilberry and Cranberry. Ling predominates in drier areas with Bell Heather in wet patches. Photo by Keith Warmington.
Historic records of Green Hairstreak at Sutton Park

A list of historic records of Green Hairstreak at Sutton Park from and extended phase 1 habitat survey by Andrew McCarthy Associates Ltd for Bellway Homes (PN: 988.SB, 21 October 2009) is listed below.

1928 - SP098974. Frequent
1928 - SP103965. 2x adult butterflies
1928 - SP103965. 1x adult butterflies

1929 - SP104966 (Keeper's Well). 1x adult butterflies
1929 - SP104966 (Keeper's Well). 1x adult butterflies
1929 - SP104966 (Keeper's Well). 1x adult butterflies

1930 - SP103965. 1x adult butterflies

1935 - SP103965. 1x adult butterflies

1997 - SP098974. 1x adult butterflies

Wanted - Old Records

Contact Steven Cheshire, Green Hairstreak species champion.

Other butterflies and moths

Brimstones make an early appearance followed by Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Holly Blue and Small Heath. In some years, migrant species such as the Painted Lady, Red Admiral and Clouded Yellow can be seen. The more elusive species include the Green Hairstreak, Purple Hairstreak and White-letter Hairstreak also occur in good numbers.

The park is also home to some special species of moth including Merville-de-jour, Swallow-tailed moth, Large Emerald, Wood Tiger, Emperor, Heath Rustic and Fox Moth.

Further Information

Harvey Skelcher's Butterfly Page
Sutton Coldfield Natural History Society
FOSPA - Friend of Sutton Park Association

The Green Hairstreak in Warwickshire

The Sutton Park Meta-population is the most northern site in VC38. It is unique as the habitat is heathland with Cowberry presumed to be the larval foodplant.

The Princethorpe Woodlands Meta-population is centred on Ryton Wood Meadows Butterfly Conservation Reserve. This is a grassland colony. The larval foodplant is Birds-foot Trefoil.

The Central Lias Grasslands Meta-population consists of several colonies in the Southam area. This is a grassland colony. The larval foodplant is Birds-foot Trefoil.

The Great Central Railway Meta-population now exisits as a single colony at Wolfhampcote Railway Cutting. Wolfhampcote was once part of a far larger meta-population but recent changes in land ownership may have a detrimetal effect upon this colony due to a change in land use/managment. This is a grassland colony. The larval foodplant is Birds-foot Trefoil.

The Rugby Railways Meta-population now appears to have been lost. This was a grassland colony. The larval foodplant was Birds-foot Trefoil.

The Western Grasslands Meta-population now appears to have been lost . This was also a grassland colony. The larval foodplant was Birds-foot Trefoil.