The Dingy Skipper -Erynnis tages on Gedling Country Park
A Volunteers Project for 2017
The Dingy Skipper Butterfly is registered as a ‘species of principle importance for conservation in England’ under section 41 of the NERC Act (2006). It is also listed as a species of conservation concern under Nottinghamshire’s Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan status and of high priority in Butterfly conservation.
The Dingy Skipper – Erynnis tages It is not particularly easy to observe this moth-like butterfly it being dark greyish-brown with grey bands on the forewings and a series of small pale dots on the outer margins of both wings and it is extremely well camouflaged on the bare ground. It habitats warm meadow areas with plenty of bare earth and/ or patches of limestone. It spends long basking on soil or stones resting with wings fully open. In bright sunshine it is flighty and difficult to approach. In dull weather and at night it perches on dead flowerheads in a moth-like fashion. It may be confused with the Mother Shipton moth-Callistege mi and the Burnet Companion moth-Euclidia glyphica both occurring in the park and also with the Grizzed Skipper-Pyrgus malvae not recorded in the park. It is a very territorial species and males can often be observed defending their territories from rival suitors.
Whilst widespread and common throughout most of Europe, the species has been in decline in many of the countries in the northern range of its distribution including the British Isles and is becoming increasingly rare There is one generation in England, from late April to Mid-June. Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil-Lotus corniculatus is the usual foodplant in all habitats. Horseshoe Vetch-Hippocrepis comosa is also used on calcareous soils, and Greater Bird’s-foot-trefoil-Lotus pedunculatus is used on heavier soils.
We are lucky to have a small, but thriving, population of this butterfly within the Gedling Country Park and there is also a further population within the area set aside for the Gedling Access Road (GAR). In agreement and support of Gedling Borough Council we, the Friends Group, are working with the Environmental Consortium for the GAR constructors to create further suitable habitats for the Dingy Skipper within Gedling Country Park, to monitor and to translocate the GAR population back into the park.
On Wednesday 08 February 2017 a group of nine volunteers commenced clearing scrub growth from a bank near the lower lagoons, this being considered one of a number of potential suitable sites for colonisation or translocation to occur. We removed a considerable amount of invasive scrub and cleared an area with limestone chippings and bare earth. Further work will take place over the next few weeks in another four sites with the hope they will provide suitable areas for the butterflies.
During the Summer period volunteers will search for eggs and caterpillars and move them from the areas where the GAR will be constructed into suitable habitats within GCP. This is not difficult work but can be very laborious, caterpillars can only be found feeding at night! It has also been agreed that suitable soil and plants can be moved from the GAR site into the park. Should you be interested in this or any other volunteer opportunities at Gedling Country Park please have a look at our Events Calendar.
You can find out more about the Dingy Skipper through the Butterfly Conservation website by clicking on this link http://butterfly-conservation.org/50-1101/dingy-skipper.html
Brian Osborne, FGCP Trustee and Wildlife Specialist