Matt Baker goes looking for an egg in the Blackdown Hills...
Volunteers of the Brown Hairstreak egg survey have been noticed by the BBC and appeared on Countryfile with Matt Baker last weekend. The programme highlighted the Blackdown Hills AONB and picked out our survey work to tie in with the feature on hedgerows.
Our chief trainer for this years survey, Marjorie Taylor, spoke to Matt about the habits and habitat of the Brown Hairstreak butterfly, highlighting the creatures particular preference of blackthorn and ash. Then volunteer coordinator Jilly Ould helped Matt to locate the tiny white eggs on blackthorn scrub.
The Brown Hairstreak butterfly is an uncommon and elusive creature, which lays its eggs on the young blackthorn growth often found in hedgerows. Modern flailing methods can destroy an entire colony, wheras selective flailing over a 3 year rotation, can turn around the fate of the butterfly. The traditional method of hedgelaying is however the most preferable for the survival of eggs, and we are fortunate in the Blackdown Hills to have so many miles of hedgerows for the Brown Hairstreak to find a home in.
Incidentally, part of the hedgelaying featured in the programme, was actually completed by the Neroche Conservation Volunteers at Mount Fancy farm reserve – and I’m sure they recognised it too, as a lot of effort went into it!