Stedham Common, 27 June 2012
Amongst all the gloom and doom of what has undoubtedly been a difficult start to the 2012 butterfly season, I thought I'd share a ray of personal hope.
Despite previous losses of the Silver-studded Blue (Plebeius argus) from so many sites across Sussex, the last couple of years have seen Iping and Stedham Commons in West Sussex remain a key stronghold for this charismatic and beautiful butterfly, thanks to the combined management efforts of the Sussex Wildlife Trust and the various organisations and conservation volunteers involved with its management. 2010 proved to be a very positive year for the species in Sussex and show that it is possible to create and sustain ideal habitat conditions to save P. argus, at least in West Sussex. In 2011, despite inclement weather conditions at the time of the expected first emergence at Iping Common, adult butterflies were found and still being tended by ants that would have helped them through their early stages. In some areas, such as at Chapel Common on the Sussex / Hampshire border, numbers seen were up by 161% on 2010. In 2012, in a similar manner to 2011, we have seen poor weather follow a warm spring. My personal observations to date, based purely on my own site visits to Stedham Common, indicate a positive season for this beautiful butterfly, at least in this part of West Sussex.
Long may this positive trend continue ...