13 members met at Wheelers Bay Car park today (22nd May) in warm sunshine to hear about Andy Butlers work with Ventnor Town Council and Natural England to create and enhance habitats for the Glanville Fritillary Butterfly.
First we walked towards Ventnor where we saw a man made area at Wheelers Bay where thousand of tons of soil had been brought in as part of the sea defences. The area was initially bare but has since been colonised mainly by “Winter Heliotrope” (Petasites fragrans) not the best habitat for the Glanville Fritillary.Andy pointed out a few areas where the Glanville could be seen and also showed us a Glanville chrysalis, which we had not observed before.
We continued walking towards Ventnor where we were shown areas where the Glanville had been active.Andy explained that the main food plant (“Narrow or Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) was not the only food source and he had observed them feeding on “Teasel”( Dipsacus fullonum), “Bristly Ox Tongue” Helminthotheca echioides and “Sea Beet” Beta vulgaris.
We then turned back towards Bonchurch and walked to the old boat park, where a new habitat had been created using large chalk boulders to enclose a large area which he hoped would be ideal for the Glanville Fritillary. The main criteria included (initially at least) bare ground,food plants and warmth, all of which were present in the newly designated area, where some food plants had already started to colonise the bare ground.
The area had been well fenced to prevent dogs from disturbing the site. This area had been created using grants from Natural England and Ventnor Town Council.
During the walk we were delighted to observe several Glanville Fritillaries and a highlight was when Andy was able to get a newly hatched Glanville to alight on his fingers, which gave the photographers in the group an ideal opportunity for some good images.
Andy with the Glanville on his fingers(photo Dave Trevan)
Other butterflies observed during the walk were Common Blues, Orange Tips and Holly Blues.
Gladiolus communis ssp. byzantinus “Eastern Gladiolus” (photo: Dave Trevan)
Several interesting plants were observed during the morning including Gladiolus communis ssp. byzantinus, “Eastern Gladiolus”Spergularia rupicola”Rock Sea Spurrey”, Lycium agg.sp “The Duke of Argylls’ Tea Plant” and Malva arborea “Tree Mallow”
Malva arborea “Tree Mallow”
We also observed a Ventnor Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis) sunning himself on a rock.
Photo: Dave Trevan
Dave and Hazel Trevan