Teme Valley Musings, April 2020

by Stephanie Mocroft

Calling all computer whizzes with an interest in wildlife! The Teme Valley Wildlife Group has recently had a plea from the county butterfly conservators for records of butterfly sightings in the Teme valley area. We know that our beautiful, quiet valley is home to many birds, mammals, plants and insects, but those who strive to protect them need information to plan their strategies. If you live within an area from Spurtree, near Burford, to Frith Common , west to east, from Spurtree to Thornbury north to south, from Thornbury to Lower Sapey, west to east, then Lower Sapey back up to Frith Common south to north, then reports of butterfly sightings are eagerly awaited by our local Butterfly Conservation experts.

Say you spot a brimstone or a holly blue, two early species,both common hereabouts, what next? Well, note the date and place, and here’s where the computer know-how comes in. This particular wildlife charity takes its records from an online database called iRecord. You need a computer and some computer skills to send along your sighting. If you live between the points mentioned above, don’t struggle with your 6-figure Ordnance Survey reference number, just put in SO66.

It is SO66 that they are interested in, because in the last five years only 148 butterfly records have been noted from here, compared with 9,200 from SO95. Now, I haven’t looked up where SO95 is, and I bet it’s a hot-spot for keen-as-mustard  expert butterfly-recorders, but I’d wager a pound to a penny that its butterflies are not better, rarer or more numerous than those in this lovely valley. So, if you spot a butterfly in 2020, head to a computer and grapple with iRecord to put us on the map.

If you’ve taken part in the Big Butterfly Count then well done, because you’ve already contributed some records to the database. What about enlisting a grandchild? Get them outside in the holidays, help them to identify what they find, then send off a record. The average 9-year old could probably do it in seconds on their phone.

The TVWG regularly does its bit to help children learn about butterflies. In the summer we take to Tenbury’s Burgage armed with butterfly nets, specimen pots and identification charts and a gaggle of small people in tow. This is organised by Tenbury Library as part of their summer children’s activities and this year, although we picked a day with sweltering heat, it was much enjoyed by all.

So, have I whetted your appetite? Can we put SO95 in the shade?  – I hope so.