Monday, 27 July 2020

What You Might See At The Butterfly Park


Comma on michaelmas daisies
Comma on michaelmas daisies

Surveys of the wildlife started with Mel’s butterfly records and photos. It appears from Mel's booklet (1991) that Barbara Greenwood, then Hon Recording Officer for Wirral Group of Cheshire Wildlife Trust, carried out a survey of the Park in 1984.  So there was some early conservation interest from what became Wirral Wildlife.


Small tortoiseshell
Small tortoiseshell

Hilary did a further plant species list in 1991 and Mel got Liverpool Botanical Society to visit to do a fuller one. By 1998, we had decided roughly how to manage the main parts of the Park, and Hilary wrote the first formal management plan. From 2002 we started the detailed butterfly records which still continue. Various other records arrived as we got specialists to visit.

Peacock on dandelions
Peacock on dandelions

Paul Loughnane organised and led the practical workdays, which became monthly from September to April once we had the Park in reasonable order. Paul is also secretary of Wirral Countryside Volunteers (WCV) and the relationship between the two organisations became closer in 2003 when the group relocated their tools to the park. 

WCV's tree nursery
WCV's tree nursery

The WCV have a small tree nursery on site, and the Park benefits from their expert work coppicing, hedge-laying and scything, and training others in these skills.

Paul Loughnane, secretary of Wirral Countryside Volunteers (WCV)
Paul Loughnane, secretary of Wirral Countryside Volunteers (WCV)

Paul scything at the Butterfly Park
Paul scything at the Butterfly Park

Coppiced poles
Coppiced poles

Other training courses developed e.g. Hilary’s on grasses and later on wildflowers, ones on bees led by Carl Clee and Tony Parker, ones on butterflies joint with Butterfly Conservation.  Since March 2018 apple grafting courses have been held ran by Dave Ellwand of Wirral Tree Wardens followed by apple pressing in October. 

Apple grafting course run by Wirral Tree Wardens
Apple grafting course run by Wirral Tree Wardens

Meadow creation study day
Meadow creation study day

All our terrestrial insects have found their own way there, helped by management e.g. planting alder and purging buckthorns, which eventually persuaded visiting brimstones to breed in 2014 (some 12 years after a local Cub group planted the main alder buckthorn row). 

Brimstone caterpillar
Brimstone caterpillar

Brimstone butterfly
Brimstone butterfly

Later on, for several years Manchester University brought first year students to the Butterfly Park to see nature conservation in action. The local branch of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management visited twice to see and discuss habitat creation and management for invertebrates. 

Bumblebee

Damselfly

Bird's foot trefoil

Dragonfly


We did not envisage, in the 1990s, that by 2020 insect conservation would have become a major topic, as the extent of insect decline nationally and internationally has become apparent.

No comments:

Post a comment