Gatekeepers top chart in Ferring Conservation Group’s Big Butterfly Count

Members of Ferring Conservation Group taking part in the annual Big Butterfly Count. Picture: Tricia Hall
Members of Ferring Conservation Group taking part in the annual Big Butterfly Count. Picture: Tricia Hall

Members of Ferring Conservation Group worked together for this year’s annual Big Butterfly Count.

Having met in the car park at the southern end of Ferring Rife, 11 enthusiastic spotters split into two groups and set off along the west bank to find as many butterflies and moths as possible.

The comma is a fascinating butterfly. Picture: Peter Dale

The comma is a fascinating butterfly. Picture: Peter Dale

Tricia Hall gave out lists for them to cross off, together with sheets of photographs to help with identification.

Jane Hayman, publicity officer, said: “The two groups were hoping to see the sun come out to warm the air, as this encourages butterflies to immerge from their resting places.”

The highlight for one of the groups was an uncommon wasp spider, found by Graham Tuppen in a damp area of the north lagoon.

This introduced species has a bright yellow and black abdomen to mimic wasps and thus avoid predators.

A wasp spider was found in a damp area of the north lagoon. Picture: Tricia Hall

A wasp spider was found in a damp area of the north lagoon. Picture: Tricia Hall

Nine different species were identified overall and a total of 54 butterflies were seen in the south lagoon, plus 43 in the north lagoon.

Jane said: “There were 58 gatekeepers, over half the total found. There were only three common blues but this included a fresh female.

“Only one red admiral was seen and no peacocks or small tortoiseshells.

“A limited number of large and small whites and speckled wood butterflies were counted and the commonest day-flying moth was a shaded broad-bar.”

The results will be added to the nationwide Butterfly Conservation survey, helping to assess the state of the environment. Butterflies react very quickly to change, which makes them excellent biodiversity indicators.

Tricia admitted: “More species may have been seen if the sun had come out. The lagoons are a mass of flowers at present, possibly benefiting from recent rain, which should have provided ideal conditions.”

The only dragonflies seen were the reddish common darter, a bright blue emperor male and an ‘extremely tatty’ old female emperor with torn wings.