Over 20 members of Ferring Conservation Group met up this week on the Ferring Rife to make their contribution to the national Big Butterfly Count organised by the Butterfly Conservation organisation. This was combined with a Summer flower challenge to see how many different plants could be seen.
Members split up into a number of smaller groups to check out areas protected from the strong westerly breeze on what was otherwise a bright and sunny day. The area of both the south and north lagoons on the East Preston side of the river were surveyed, and a total of 10 different species of butterflies were recorded, with 42 individuals around the south lagoon and 36 in the north. Amongst those seen were Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Common Blue, Holly Blue, Speckled Wood, Small White and Red Admiral. The results were duly forwarded to Butterfly Conservation to add to the 25,000 submissions so far, and build up a national picture of butterfly distribution.
The Group then moved on to attempt to find at least 12 summer wild flowers in the area as challenged by walk leader and committee member, Tricia Hall. A number of these plants such as Common Fleabane were proving attractive to butterflies and other insects. Amongst the other plants were the white flowered and pleasant smelling Meadowsweet, Hogweed (not the giant version!), Birds’ Foot Trefoil, Knapweed, Yellow Loosestrife, Bristly Ox Tongue and Yarrow. All of these plants together provide an attractive scene, as well as a valuable habitat for our wildlife in this Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI). Most people managed to complete the challenge and find at least 12 different plants, learning about them in the process.
Just to add to the interest, members also found a Bush Cricket, various Ladybirds, some Day Flying Moths and even a small frog discovered by the grandson of one of the Group members, which was released after a quick photograph.