Butterflies on the up, thanks to conservation volunteers

editorial image

A rare butterfly is on the increase along the Oxford Canal, thanks to the work of volunteers.

The grizzled skipper butterfly is becoming increasingly rare across England and Wales but along the canal at Fenny Compton the brown and white chequered insect is thriving.

There has been a 500 per cent increase in sightings of the grizzled skipper, thanks to the efforts of volunteers from the Warwickshire branch of Butterfly Conservation over the last three years.

Other species of butterflies such as the common blue, essex skipper and green-veined white are also frequently seen.

The volunteers are working in partnership with the Canal & River Trust – the charity that cares for 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales – to improve butterfly habitats.

They have cleared a 600-metre stretch of scrubland alongside the towpath and planted butterfly-friendly plants such as cinquefoil, kidney vetch and wild strawberries to create a butterfly have.

Canal & River Trust ecologist Penny Foster said: “The volunteers have done an amazing job and it is such a delight to see all these butterflies enjoying life alongside the canal.

“Before the volunteers got started, the site was massively overgrown and the work they’ve done has absolutely transformed the area. Clearly the butterflies love it too.”

Mike Slater, from Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire, said: “These results are really encouraging and show that, with a little bit of care and attention, nature will discover the little havens you create.

“We had a big job on our hands clearing away all the brambles and bushes and we still have a fair bit of work to do but it’s all worth it just to see our little colourful friends quietly fluttering around soaking up the sunshine.”