Friday 24 February 2012

Hunt for rare butterfly in Brighton

It is a mysterious brown creature which rarely ventures out of its natural habitat.
But nature lovers are being encouraged to help try to save a rare butterfly from dying out.
The elusive brown hairstreak has suffered a dramatic decline in numbers over the past decade but was last year spotted in Patcham.
Now Brighton and Hove City Council’s countryside rangers and butterfly experts are working together to try to turn the city into a haven for the insect.
Hunts have been organised at six different locations in the city for this weekend to spot eggs of the butterfly and try to find out where it is breeding.
Conservationists will then try to create sheltered spaces and hedgerows where the brown hairstreak can thrive.
Hunt in blackthorn
Environment cabinet member Pete West, who will be taking part in one of the hunts on Sunday, said: “Winter may seem a strange time to look for a butterfly, but in the case of the brown hairstreak the adults are so elusive that it is easier to find the eggs.
“These are laid on blackthorn twigs and children are particularly good at spotting them.
“We hope people of all ages will join in the hunts, they promise to be a great way of finding out more about wildlife on our doorstep.”
The aim is to see how far the butterfly has spread.
Dr Dan Danahar, from the Sussex branch of Butterfly Conservation, said: “This is a nationally scarce butterfly species which has shown a decline of 40% over the past ten years.
“With help from Brighton and Hove’s countryside rangers we hope to help to stem the national decline of this species.”
For more details call 01273 292929.
Dates and venues
 Benfield Hill – Meet outside Hangleton Manor, Hangleton Valley Drive, Hove
1.30pm Hollingbury Woods – meet at Hollingbury Park in Ditchling Road, Brighton
3pm Bevendean – meet outside the Community Centre in Norwich Drive, Brighton
 Beacon Hill, Rottingdean – meet at the top of Beacon Hill Road
Midday Whitehawk Hill – Meet at Wyevale Garden Centre in Warren Road, Brighton
2pm Waterhall – meet at the bottom of the Waterhall golf course car park, off Dyke Road

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