The next organisation that has been incredibly helpful in the lead up to our inaugural BioArtBlitz! is the fantastic wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation. This national organisation, and their Head of Science Dr Richard Fox, was on Radio 4's Today program this morning sadly warning us in their latest research that half of Britain's butterfly species are either threatened or near-threatened with extinction. But there is plenty we can do!
We are fortunate to have a Butterfly Conservation Cornwall Branch running field trips and other events for everyone interested in or dedicated to saving butterflies and moths, and the environment.
Their website is jammed full of information and there is a beautiful piece of film called 'Cornwall's Butterflies Back from the Brink' - I hope it inspires you to join the Cornish Branch on a summer field trip, offer a donation or join as a member.
There is also a bi-annual publication called Cornwall Butterfly Observer available online for anyone to have read.
At Sailors Creek we have already made more room for butterflies and moths at Sailors Creek by clearing back a little of the scrub species making way for woodland glade and the availability of more flowering herbaceous plants full of nectar for the moths and butterflies to feast on.
The Cornwall Branch are really keen to increase their membership numbers in order to further support the work they are doing and would welcome any records of butterflies and, if you are interested, moths, though they are apparently much more difficult to identify.
What else can we do?
Kath Wood, Membership Secretary of the Cornwall Branch wrote to us with these snippets of great advice:
"If you have oaks, any species, you may have Purple Hairstreaks. The caterpillars feed on oak leaf buds and the adults live in the canopy. They are often visible late in the afternoons in July and August, flying around the tops of the trees. They have dark purple upper sides and are brown underneath. You will need binoculars or a suitable camera to get a good view, and that is much easier if the ground slopes steeply and you can look down on the tops of the trees. If you can leave, or even plant, stinging nettles against a more or less south facing wall or bank sheltered from the wind, you may get Red Admirals, Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells and Commas, which all feed on them. Alder Buckthorn or Purging Buckthorn may attract Brimstones. Several species feed on long grasses, so leave plenty of that. You will also need nectar plants for the adults to feed. Bramble is good, and the Butterfly Conservation national website will give you plenty of other ideas.
If you would like to see some moths, even if not to identify and record, try spreading or hanging out a white sheet at dusk on a warm, calm evening and leaving a lamp or torch shining on it. You may well be pleasantly surprised. If you get really interested, we have people who can give you more information and advice."