Our butterflies need help!

This week saw publication of alarming news about the state of butterflies in the UK. A beautiful and important part of the UK’s wildlife, they are highly sensitive indicators of the health of the environment and play crucial roles in the food chain as well as being pollinators of plants.

The State of the UK’s Butterflies 2015 report found that 76% of the UK’s resident and regular migrant butterflies declined in abundance, occurrence or both over the last four decades.

Now Butterfly Conservation is warning that time is running out to save some of Britain’s best-loved insects, with the latest Red List assessment of butterflies, published this week, revealing a 26% increase in the number of species threatened with extinction. For more details, go to:


Conserving butterflies will improve our whole environment for wildlife and enrich the lives of people now and in the future.  To better understand why butterflies matter, go to:


One of the ways we can help make a difference for butterflies and other pollinators is to make our gardens more welcoming places for them, and Butterfly Conservation has published  two invaluable guides to help us: ‘Pit stops for Pollinators’ and ‘Gardening for Butterflies’.  They can be found at





Orchids in a changing climate

In his Weather Eye column in The Times on Monday 23rd May, Paul Simons reflected on orchids’ role as a good indicator of Britain’s warming climate.  In recent years, several foreign orchids have begun to appear here. Quite common in the Mediterranean, the Tongue Orchid Serapias lingua has begun to establish itself in England, having been found in Essex a few years ago. Last June, the Small-flowered Tongue Orchid Serapias parviflora was discovered on the roof garden of a London tower block and, subsequently, at sites in Suffolk and Cornwall. A third foreign orchid to arrive is Himantoglossum robertianum, a close cousin of the resident Lizard Orchid, discovered in Oxfordshire.

It is thought that orchid seeds are so light they are easily blown across the Channel – so have they been coming here unknown for many years? – and new varieties are only now growing and flowering as a consequence of the changing, warmer, climate.

In Rushcliffe we have a relatively small number of resident orchid species compared to Southern England.  One of them, the Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera, found at various sites including Wilford Claypits, Skylarks and Rushcliffe Country Park is experiencing something of a boom. In the 1960s it was largely confined to grassland in southern and southeastern England, but in recent years has spread northwards, appearing in different habitats including disturbed ground, reaching Scotland in 2003.  Interestingly, although an insect mimic whose flower imitates the shape, markings and furry texture of a bee, it is largely self-pollinating.

Bee Orchid (Chris Overton)

Sadly, the good news of the spread of Bee Orchids may not be entirely representative of the situation as a whole: in her Nature Notes in the next day’s Times, Melissa Harrison writing about Greater Butterfly orchids noted that “like most of the 50-odd orchid species in the UK, greater butterfly orchids have declined sharply since the middle of the last century…”

An update from the Grizzled Skipper hunters.

We are entering what is usually the central part of the flight season for the grizzled skipper. We usually get most of our sightings from around this time of the season and also it is a good time to search for both the butterfly and its eggs (as the females have been on the wing for a few weeks now).
On the 9th may we had reports of a grizzled skipper on the wing at Orston Plaster Pits. This is the first report at this site since 2015. 3 days later we received reports of the first grizzled skipper at Bingham Linear Park and on Saturday we received news of the first sighting of grizzled skipper at Saxondale. Also this week we had confirmation of the continued presence of grizzled skipper at Colston Gate. If you remember, last year grizzled skipper were discovered at this site for the very first time.
In the south west of the county, we received news yesterday of grizzled skipper still being present near Rushcliffe Halt along the Great Central Railway. Again having not been seen at this site for a few years, eggs were observed one of the butterflies food plants. (the previous sighting was in 2019). This is great news and illustrates the value of egg searches (see picture attached – thanks Brian).
In the east of the county, we have received our first records of the years from Cotham Station site and the adjacent Cotham disused railway line (including the sustran’s section running from Newark to Cotham). Records continue to come in from Staunton Quarry and Flawborough too.
Sadly, it sounds as though a large part of the suitable habitat on the eastern side of Langar airfield has been grubbed up or ploughed under. This was a very reliable series of sites so this is obviously very bad news. However, we are still seeing the butterfly in the general area as we received records from the disused railway south of Barnstone (near Langar) earlier this week.
We still haven’t had reports of Grizzled skipper from the Old Coal Stocking Yard at Newstead however I would welcome any records from across Nottinghamshire.
We still have space for our ‘Open your eyes’ event on Friday at Staunton Quarry. If you would like to come along please contact myself or Emma Gilbert
(Emma.Gilbert@nottscc.gov.ukand) we will book you’re a place. The forecast isn’t great but we may be lucky and even in not ideal conditions we can show you how to search for (and find) grizzled skipper eggs.
Chris Jackson

Visiting Local(ish) Reserves

Now is a good time to get Out and About visiting local wildlife sites around Rushcliffe, so here are some useful links to nature reserves in Rushcliffe, both NWT and Friends of sites.

Rushcliffe Nature in Rushcliffe leaflet    http://www.southnottswildlife.org.uk/content/?page_id=18

Rushcliffe Nature Reserves    http://www.southnottswildlife.org.uk/content/?page_id=228

NWT  Reserve Bunny Wood   http://www.southnottswildlife.org.uk/content/?page_id=29

NWT Reserve  Skylarks          http://www.southnottswildlife.org.uk/content/?page_id=258

NWT Reserve  Wilford Claypits  http://www.southnottswildlife.org.uk/content/?page_id=217

NWT Reserve  Wilwell Farm Cutting   http://www.southnottswildlife.org.uk/content/?page_id=35

In addition for more formal outings, see our Out and About with Wildlife Programme http://www.southnottswildlife.org.uk/content/?page_id=231

Outside of Rushcliffe you can go further a field

Notts Wildlife Trusts full list of reserves https://www.nottinghamshirewildlife.org/nature-reserves

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust       https://www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/nature-reserve

Leicestershire Wildlife Trust  https://www.lrwt.org.uk/nature-reserves

Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust    https://www.lincstrust.org.uk/nature-reserves  .

In particular I can recommend Leics WT`s Holwell Mineral Line& Browns Hill Quarry, Ulverscroft and Herbert Meadows, Lea Meadows, Wymeswold Meadows, Loughborough Big Meadow, Cloud Hill Wood, Dimminsdale and Charnwood Lodge which are all just over the southern border, no passport required.

Winter Wildlife Talks Programme 2022/23

Following our extremely varied and successful Talks Programme last winter, preparations are well advanced for this year’s Programme, which will once again be online using Zoom. We can currently confirm the Programme as follows:

6th October                  Winter wildlife in Finland

3rd November              Birds of Cornwall

1st December              Yellowstone and the Grand Teton National Parks

5th January                   Stories of our British Mammals

2nd February                tbc

2nd March                    Life in the Undergrowth

Full details will be published in the coming weeks so, for now, book the dates in your diaries for another varied and entertaining set of talks, which you can join from the comfort of your own home, cup (or glass) in hand!

Proposed Environment Act

Along with other Wildlife Trusts across the country, NWT is asking: Do you want to see a better future for nature?

For the past 50 years, habitat loss has led to a drastic decline in nature. Wildlife populations are the lowest they have ever been, and once-common species could be lost forever. By helping nature’s recovery, we can halt the decline in nature, and create a wilder future.  But current UK Government plans would mean less nature in England in 20 years’ time. This is not good enough.  We cannot allow the nature crisis to continue.  Demand more for nature.

Show the UK Government you want a wilder future by supporting our call for ambitious species abundance targets in the Environment Act by signing our petition.

To find out more, and to sign the petition, visit NWT’s webpage at https://www.nottinghamshirewildlife.org/nature-deserves-better

In a similar vein, Friends of the Earth are organising a separate, but similar, ‘Have your say on the Environment Act targets’ consultation, which can be found at https://action.friendsoftheearth.uk/target/env-bill-targets-consultation?refsid=2054&utm_source=email_share&utm_campaign=%5B2050%5D&utm_medium=share

Let’s make our voices heard!

Wildlife gardening

One of the ways we can help nature is through more wildlife-friendly gardening.   NWT’s  two-minute survey can score your garden and offer ideas to make it even better for wildlife. To find out more, and why this is so important, visit https://www.nottinghamshirewildlife.org/blog/thewildlifetrusts/put-your-garden-test

Complementing this, and encompassing more than just wildlife,  the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) has just published ‘How to Get More Wildlife into Your Garden and Absorb More Carbon’ which can be found on its website at https://cieem.net/how-to-get-more-wildlife-into-your-garden-and-absorb-more-carbon-by-penny-anderson/?fbclid=IwAR1amHpc0bMwYGVFYXYcHA5E7sd1ZBR0SFcw3-2uIDo9chkoAjtQCnN-k7Q