Monday, 26 November 2012

On the edge ...

Conserving the Duke of Burgundy, 28 April 2012

Yesterday I attended a Duke of Burgundy workshop organised by Butterfly Conservation and held at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park near Petersfield in Hampshire.

The event was billed as “An opportunity to share experience of the ecology and conservation of one of Britain’s most threatened butterflies, looking at examples from around the country. An indoor session of talks will be followed by a site visit to Butser Hill, one of the largest Duke colonies in the country, to look at suitable habitat, management techniques and (weather permitting!) see the butterfly”.

Dr Dan Hoare opened the proceedings giving a detailed and very interesting and informative outline of the Dukes on the Edge Project (conserving the Duke of Burgundy in southeast England). Dan was followed by Neil Hulme, who gave a comprehensive and experienced talk covering the efforts being undertaken to conserve the Duke in Sussex, with particular reference to Heysott Escarpment. The most important message that came across, was that of long-term conservation being about the successful maintenance of numerous metapopulations existing over networks of suitable habitat on a landscape rather than localized scale. Tim Bernhard followed and presented the findings from his research project “A comparative study of the Duke of Burgundy in woodland and downland in Hampshire”. Dr Sam Ellis (Butterfly Conservation's Senior Regional Officer) finished the highly thought provoking indoor proceedings explaining the conservation activities being undertaken in northern England at the Duke's most northerly range.

Following a brief interlude for lunch, those of us hard enough (or maybe that should be foolhardy) and with climbing gear at the ready, headed for the beautiful Butser Hill National Nature Reserve in what can only be described as “not the best weather conditions”. The advice of “bring appropriate clothing and footwear – the field visit involves significant steep slopes and uneven ground” was well placed as the ground was often slippery under foot and the slopes were extremely steep. Though sheltered in the valley floor, the cold driving wind, rain and low cloud really wasn’t welcomed, particularly as we headed back to the car park.

A beautiful site and one I will definitely revisit …

When the weather improves ...

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