After two weather-related postponements, we finally met at Lullybeg to work on a section of the southern section of the reserve. It was a grey-skied day suitably supported by a stiff chilling breeze but our work site provided shelter from its effects.
We choose an area that contains Common Dog-violet, Devil’s-bit Scabious, Purple Moor-grass, and various mosses. The area is used by the Dark Green Fritillary and Marsh Fritillary for breeding and we caught our first sighting of Marsh Fritillary larvae this year, on a scabious leaf that faces south. This gave our work added impetus because birch saplings were working their way into this breeding area.
We uprooted hundreds of birch saplings and some young willow, carefully replanting any herbs disturbed by our work. There is something strangely satisfying, even during winter, at seeing the pile of saplings rise and the grassland become free of shading scrub.
We took a break for lunch, sheltering near our vehicles and catching up with each others’ news. Our prandial discourse was enlivened by a fierce altercation between two large mink, squealing and scrapping in the tall grasses. One ran out of cover so we got a full view of this beautiful yet invasive and destructive predator.
We resumed our work and cleared the work zone. We look forward to seeing how our butterflies respond in the coming months.
Thanks to all those who attended and to all our members and supporters.