Nottinghamshire residents urged to keep an eye out for butterflies

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Nottinghamshire residents are being encouraged to keep an eye out for butterflies in their local area to enable a more accurate picture to be gained of the numbers and range of species which currently exist in the county.

The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme recorded an increase in the population sizes of a number of rare species in 2011 due to the warm weather last spring.

The increase included a 96 percent rise in the rare butterfly known as the Grizzled Skipper, which occurs at a small number of sites in Rushcliffe and southern Newark and Sherwood.

Despite last year’s much-needed respite, many of the most threatened butterflies remain in a state of long-term decline and need further targeted conservation work to turn their fortunes around permanently.

Nottinghamshire County Council is planning to hold public sessions in the Bingham area in late spring to raise awareness about the Grizzled Skipper, its habitat requirements, the reasons for its decline and how to identify it. These sessions are being funded by the SITA Trust.

The SITA Trust is funding these sessions along with habitat management works being carried out by the Council at 18 sites across Rushcliffe and southern Newark and Sherwood to help protect the type of butterfly.

Nick Crouch, the County Council’s nature conservation leader, said: “The national picture of increased numbers of the Grizzled Skipper last year is in line with our local experience.

“There were reports of the skipper from new sites in the Bingham area last year which gives a good indication that the conditions were favourable for the species locally, allowing it to spread into new areas.

“However, it is likely that numbers will be affected if this spring’s wet and cool conditions continue, underlining the importance of our work to improve their habitat locally to help reverse long-term population declines.

“The information that we receive from the public gives us a greater insight into how butterfly species are faring locally so we would encourage people to report what they see and refer to images of species on the internet or in books for assistance.”

It is believed that Nottinghamshire is the most northern location in the UK for this species, where it is now largely restricted to disused railways and old quarries.

It is a national conservation priority and is becoming increasingly rare due to habitat loss.

People with reports on butterfly sightings can contact the East Midlands Branch of Butterfly Conservation through the Butterfly Conservation website.