Event Report

Butterfly Conservation Ireland’s first event of 2019 which took place on Saturday 16th February enjoyed the benefits of dry, mild breezy conditions at Lullybeg’s Crabtree Reserve. Our members took on a section on the southern end of the reserve where re-growth from a cutting that we made about four years ago was tackled.

This main habitats in the area are poor fen and dry/humid grassland. The fen area is rich in mosses and Ragged Robin, a lovely flower seen in bloom in early summer. The grassy areas are rich in fine grasses with a smaller area of dense, rough grassland containing Purple Moor-grass. Two years ago the Marsh Fritillary moved in to breed in this area. Small Heath favours the finer grassland. This humble little butterfly has been in decline on the reserve for the last five years so this action of restoring open grassland is a necessary step, along with the grazing on a section of the northern side of the reserve last autumn. The fortunes of the butterfly will be carefully monitored in the coming months.

We managed to cut down to ground level all the sprouting scrub, leaving open grassland. It was hard work and we stopped for lunch to relax and catch up on each other’s news and views. Conservation is a good social as well as physical activity! Over the flight season, a weekly count will be taken at the cleared section as it represents section one of the transect that is run on the site. A report of the effects of this management will appear later in 2019.

On behalf of all our members and supporters, a special thank you for all who worked so hard on the site. Nature will thank us too in the months ahead!

Small Heath, rated Near Threatened in Ireland. © J.Harding.
Small Heath larva in its fourth instar. © J.Harding.