Thursday, 25 July 2013

Flying through the summer

This year, as you are probably well aware, has seen the longest period of warm, sunny and settled weather in a very long time (some sources say since 1976). It also saw the coldest March in 50 years. These extremes create challenges for our native wildlife. Many of our birds were two or three weeks late with their breeding cycles and butterflies were slow to emerge in spring. To make matters worse this comes off the back of the two worst years for butterflies on record. 2012 was such a poor year that the majority of butterfly species suffered declines. For more information see the Butterfly Conservation website. The settled summer, so far, therefore comes as a welcome boost to many butterflies and moths. This year we have been doing lots of moth trapping and have added quite a lot of new species to the Skomer list. The latest was this handsome Blackneck moth.

Blackneck Lygephila pastinum
We also do weekly butterfly transects and after many many weeks of recording no butterflies at all we are now recording a healthy amount with almost 100 Meadow Browns Maniola jurtina alone recorded on the 12th of July. The star of the summer however was definitely a Marbled White Melanargia galathea butterfly which was spotted (and photographed) nectaring on thistle at North Haven yesterday. This may well be the first time that one has been recorded on Skomer. So it's not all bad...

Marbled White Melanargia galathea

On a different note, the staff from the Marine Nature Reserve (MNR) recently came over to record some boulder shore wildlife. Using quadrats and other methods they recorded Limpets, seaweeds and much more. Two of our volunteers - Erin Warner and Bridie Hamilton lent a hand and recorded amongst other things these Shore Clingfish or Cornish Suckers Lepadogaster lepadogaster

Shore Clingfish or Cornish Suckers Lepadogaster lepadogaster
 Plus eggs

We can also report that the Puffins are still around in good numbers and should be, albeit intermittently, for the next two weeks or so, until all the pufflings are fledged.

Eddie Stubbings, Skomer Warden

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