THE MODERN NATURAL HISTORY OF SELBORNE
One objective of the current Activity Plan for the Museum is delivery of a Modern Natural History of Selborne based on contemporary observations of the natural world in the grounds and surrounding area.
As part of this, the Field Studies Centre in the Museum has recently registered a Butterfly Transect with the United Kingdom Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS). A Butterfly Transect is simply a defined route for ob-servers to walk each week to identify and record the butterflies or moths that they have seen “on the wing” during the day. Our route takes us from the Field Studies Centre through the meadow, Six Quarters, Herb and Wildlife Garden, around the Ewell Field and back through the South side of the meadow to the Field Studies Centre. The walks take place across 26 weeks each year starting at the beginning of April when butterflies are likely to be active.
The UKBMS has access to data which has monitored changes in the abundance of butterflies throughout the United Kingdom since 1976. Forty years or so later, trends in butterfly populations have been compiled from a network of over 4,000 locations across all years, with nearly 2,500 sample locations now being monitored. A contribution from the Gilbert White Museum seems an important part of the legacy to advance knowledge in ecology of the natural world, including as a result of habitat and climate change, and to promote public awareness and understanding of butterflies.
Six volunteers have already completed several walks and reported observations on our new Butterfly Transect. We have recorded Orange Tip, Speckled Wood, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Brimstone and Holly Blue in the grounds this year and Green-veined White has been seen nearby. We’ve already had several Cockchafers or May bugs in the garden. More species should be on the wing soon when the sun shines and the days are long and hot(!). One part of Transect, in the Ewell Field, is managed under a Higher Level Stewardship scheme to provide the Blackthorn habitat to support the conservation of the Brown Hairstreak butterfly. Eggs were recorded earlier in the year and we shall be looking out for this species later on in the Summer. This is an important part of a wildlife corridor in Selborne running from Noar Hill.
There’s an opportunity to join a Butterfly Walk on 31st May at the Gilbert White Field Studies Centre. If you would like to learn more about UKBMS and our recording activity or contribute towards the observations please contact Emily at the Field Studies Centre.