The Butterflies of Somerset

Locations to see butterflies in Somerset

WALTON COMMON
TARGET SPECIES -
Dark Green Fritillary, Silver Washed Fritillary, Purple Hairstreak, Green Hairstreak, Common Blue, Brown Argus, Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper

Walton Common (grid reference ST428738) is a 25.5 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) near the village of Walton in Gordano, North Somerset, notified in 1991.

The Common which is both a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The Common remains in private ownership and the Avon Wildlife Trust has a lease to manage it as a nature reserve. The site has two saucer shaped round barrows from the Bronze Age, and the Walton Common banjo enclosure, a banjo enclosure from the late Iron Age that may be a univallate hillfort, with associated fields.

Wildflowers found on the common include thyme, marjoram, rock-rose, St John's wort, autumn gentian and violets. Butterflies are particularly notable including common blue, brown argus, grizzled and dingy skipper, green and purple hairstreak, and dark green fritillary. Other insects such as grasshoppers, glow-worms and moths are abundant. Birds identified at the site include; blackcap, whitethroat, buzzard, kestrel and sparrowhawk.

PRIDDY MINERIES
TARGET SPECIES -
Dark Green Fritillary, Dingy Skipper,Green Hairstreak, Marsh Fritillary, Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary, Small Copper, common Blue
MOTHS -
Burnet Moths, Chimney Sweeper, Speckled Yellow, Burnet companion, Mother Shipton
Priddy Mineries (grid reference ST547515) is a nature reserve previously run by the Somerset Wildlife Trust. It is in the village of Priddy, on the Mendip Hills in Somerset.
The reserve lies 3 miles north of Wells and 1.5 miles east of the village of Priddy. It is a site of 50 ha (123 acres) and is part of the Priddy Pools Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is mostly grassland / heather mosaic with an area of valley mire and some nutrient-poor pools. The site is one of the beauty spots of Mendip partly due to these pools with the changing colours of the vegetation and the pines and the heather slopes. It is adjacent to Stock Hill woodland,[1] and one of the paths form part of the long distance national footpath, the Monarch's Way.
There are wide range of plant and small animal species. More than 20 species of dragonflies have been recorded, most of them breeding on site. In particular this is the only site in the Mendips for the Downy Emerald. There are numerous species of water bug including Water stick-insect (Ranatra linearis) and also all British species of amphibian, except for the Natterjack Toad, in good breeding numbers.
The site was worked for lead for many centuries, probably 2000 years until 1908, and the earlier workings were obliterated by those of the Victorians which left a legacy of pools, mounds and spoil heaps. The buddle pits and condensation flues are the remains of the Waldegrave lead works of that time. The site is of great interest to industrial archaeologists and also to cavers on account of the existence of Waldegrave swallet (opened 1934) and the possible rediscovery of Five Buddles Sink or Thomas Bushell’s Swallet (named after the man who first discovered it).
A barrow or Tumulus can be found in the northern part of the Reserve
DOLEBURY WARREN
TARGET SPECIES -
Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper, Small Blue, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Wall.
Dolebury Warren (also known as Dolebury Camp) is a 90.6 hectares (224 acres) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and ancient monument near the villages of Churchill and Rowberrow in North Somerset, part of South West England. It is owned by the National Trust, who acquired the freehold in 1983, and managed by the Avon Wildlife Trust.
Standing on a limestone ridge on the northern edge of the Mendip Hills, it was made into a hill fort during the Iron Age and was occupied into the Roman period. The extensive fort covers 9.1 hectares (22 acres) with single or double defensive ramparts around it. The name Dolebury Warren comes from its use during the medieval or post medieval periods as a rabbit warren. The topography and differing soil types provide a habitat for an unusually wide range of plants, attracting a variety of insects, including several species of butterfly.

DRAYCOTT SLEIGHTS
TARGET SPECIES - 
Brown Argus, Chalkhill Blue, Small Blue, Common Blue, Marbled White, Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper, Wall.
Draycott Sleights (grid reference ST483518) is a 61.95 hectares (153.1 acres) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest at Draycott in the Mendip Hills, Somerset, notified in 1987.
The Somerset Wildlife Trust reserve lies 3.5 km (2.2 mi) south east of Cheddar. It includes Draycott Sleights, 40.4 hectares (100 acres), and Draycott Housegrounds, 10.21 hectares (25.2 acres). Draycott Sleights is part of the Draycott Sleights Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Draycott Housegrounds is a County Wildlife Site. The entire reserve is within the Mendips Scarp Prime Biodiversity Area (PBA) and Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Draycott Sleights supports extensive areas of traditionally managed species-rich unimproved calcareous grassland. Additional interest lies in a rich invertebrate fauna. The site is situated on steep south-west facing slopes of the Mendip Hills and ranges in altitude from 90 m (300 ft) to 270 m (890 ft). 165 species of flowering plant have been recorded. The varied topography together with the widespread scrub provide a number of locations with ideal conditions for invertebrates supporting a rich butterfly fauna typical of unimproved calcareous grassland. 32 species of resident breeding butterfly have been recorded. The occurrence of Adonis blue (Lysandra bellargus), silver-studded blue (Plebejus argus) and small blue (Cupido minimus) is of particular interest. Two nationally scarce species of fly, Symphoromyia immaculata and Bombylius canescens and one nationally scarce species of ant, Myrmica schencki have been recorded for this site.
GOBLIN COMBE
TARGET SPECIES - 
Brown Argus, Common Blue, Green Hairstreak, Grizzled Skipper, Dingy Skipper.
Goblin Combe is a valley in North Somerset which stretches from Redhill, near Bristol International Airport on the A38 through to Cleeve on the A370. The combe is located at (grid reference ST473652), and is a 52 hectares (128 acres) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) originally notified in 1999, with 9 hectares (22 acres) being managed as a nature reserve by the Avon Wildlife Trust. "Combe" is the same as the Welsh word "cwm" which means valley.
Above the valley is Cleeve Toot an Iron Age hillfort. It is a roughly oval settlement which is approximately 125 metres (410 ft) in length by 90 metres (300 ft) in breadth. Approximately 150 metres (490 ft) to the north is another, smaller settlement. They are thought to have been a satellite community of nearby Cadbury Hill Pits have been found at the site indicating the presence of round houses. There is a single stone rampart with a broad shallow outer ditch. There is also a prehistoric or Roman field system.


THURLBEAR QUARRYLANDS
Brown Argus, Brown Hairstreak, Green Hairstreak, Purple Hairstreak, Duke of Burgandy, Grizzled Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Holly Blue, Silver-washed Fritillary.
Thurlbear Wood and Quarrylands (grid reference ST270210) is a 26.7 hectare (65.8 acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest south of Stoke St Mary in Somerset, notified in 1963.
Thurlbear Wood is a species-rich woodland, formerly managed in a traditional coppice-with-standards system and situated on soils derived from Rhaetic shales and limestones. It is managed by the Somerset Wildlife Trust. The recorded history of the site, its Medieval embankments and the presence of several plants normally confined to primary woods, all suggest that Thurlbear is of considerable antiquity. The woodland has been used for educational and research work for more than 30 years. The 'quarrylands' are an area of calcareous grassland, and scrub occupying 19th-century workings in Lias limestone. Over 80 species of flowering plant occur. There is an outstanding butterfly fauna, with 29 species recorded. Breeding birds associated with the site include buzzard (Buteo buteo), nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos), and grasshopper warbler (Locustella naevia).
UBLEY WARREN
TARGET SPECIES - 
Brown Argus, Dark Green Fritillary, Dingy Skipper, Green Hairstreak, Grizzled Skipper, Silver-washed Fritillary,
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Wall.
There is some really interesting history and geology within the Charter house area of the Mendip Hills that includes Ubley Warren. For more history and details visit the below link...
POLDEN HILLS
TARGET SPECIES - 
Large Blue
(plus most others)
  If visiting the Polden Hills after the Large Blue I recommend that you speak with one of the local butterfly or wildlife conservation grouops to find out where you can and can't go and to make the most of your visit.
For further information visit the links below...

More Locations Coming Soon!

 
 
 

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Other Location Information

 

Above:
'Brown Argus feeding on Purple Loosetrife in my Wildlife Garden in North Somerset'

Recording Butterfly Sightings

Butterflies are 'key' indicator species for habitat decline, making it vital that we record our sightings whilst out and about in Somerset.

We have two official recording bodies covering different parts of the county. In North Somerset records are sent to BRERC who cover the 'old' county of Avon that used to encompass North Somerset.

The rest of Somerset is covered by SERC. Please try and submit your sightings whenever you can.


Somerset Environmental Records Centre


Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre 


It is also worth knowing that BRERC have an easy to use 'Interactive Mapping' system that can be used to look up current and historic records. I find this very useful when planning visits to new areas to give a guide as to what could be found there. You can find them at the link below...


http://www.brerc.org.uk/i-maps/index.html




 

Above:
'Common Blue feeding on Bird's-Foot Trefoil, a really good butterfly and caterpillar food plant that is well worth growing in your own garden'.

 

Above:
'Essex Skippers are now a regular visitors to my Wildlife Garden in North Somerset. If you can put aside and area of lawn for mixed grasses and wildflowers then this really is achievable'

 
 

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