Coppett Hill
Coppett Hill

Natural History: Fauna: Butterflies

Green Hairstreak. Photo Ron Harris
Mating Pearl Bordered Fritillaries. Photo Ray Thomas

With its range of habitats, Coppett Hill is home to about 25 species of butterfly. The most common or well-known species include Small and Large White, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Ringlet, Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper. But the hill is also home to some less well-known species and the table below gives details of when and where to see some of these.

It is best to look for butterflies on warm, sunny, still days. They tend to stay hidden if it is too cool or wet.



Butterfly

When

Where

Comments

Large Skipper

Throughout June

Lime kilns

Rather moth-like in appearance. Rapid flight –‘skipping’ above the grass heads. Caterpillars feed on wild grasses.

Green Hairstreak

Late May, early June

West side

Scarce on the hill, but unmistakable. Perches with wings closed, displaying bright metallic green undersides. Caterpillars feed on gorse.

Small Copper

Most likely in August

Along the ridge, near the folly

Lovely, brilliant copper upperwings. The caterpillars eat sorrel – the managed grassland near the folly is an ideal habitat.

Pearl-bordered Fritillary

Early - late May

West side

Bright orange with black markings. A threatened species nationally, our colonies seem to be small but stable. Caterpillars eat violet leaves that grow in the shade beneath the bracken.

Marbled White

Late June, July

Lime kilns

Unmistakable black and white chequered markings. During the day the caterpillars hide at the base of grass clumps that they climb at night to eat.

Small Heath

Late May to mid June. Again in August.

The grass and path near the folly

A small brown butterfly with a rapid, low, bobbing flight. Settles with wings closed, leaning towards the sun. Caterpillars eat fine-leaved grasses.

Purple Hairstreak

Late July, early August

Along the ridge, bordering Courtfield wood

Recorded for the first time on Coppett Hill in 2004. Lives high up in oak trees, visible only as a silver speck, tumbling in the sky above the tree tops.

 

Coppett Hill has long been recognised by local people as a haven for butterflies. On a warm, summers day, a walk along the ridge path and down the face of the hill is a rewarding experience for people who enjoy seeing these beautiful insects; Ringlet, Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper thrive on the unimproved grassland, and Large Skipper, Marbled White and Small Heath are also regularly seen.   Even on relatively cool days in spring butterflies can be found in sheltered spots – Speckled Wood, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell are among the first to emerge, and our most prized butterfly, the Pearl Bordered Fritillary, is on the wing as early as late April.

 

Monitoring Butterflies 

Back in 2000, The Trust began regularly and systematically to monitor butterfly numbers and species on Coppett Hill. This monitoring continues to the present day. On one occasion each week, from the beginning of April until the end of September, a local volunteer walks the same route, and records the butterflies seen along the path. This weekly transect is part of a national scheme run and coordinated by Butterfly Conservation.

 

Our transect results show that, of the fifty or so species of British butterflies, about half are found on Coppett Hill. On a national level, over the last fifty of sixty years, butterfly numbers have declined steeply. On Coppett Hill, since our records began, there have been fluctuations in numbers, but, even despite the recent run of cool, wet summers, it is probably fair to say that our numbers are steady. One butterfly that receives considerable attention is the nationally endangered Pearl Bordered Fritillary. Coppett Hill is one of only a few sites in Herefordshire where this butterfly can still be found. With the help of Butterfly Conservation, The Trust, with its volunteer workforce, has carried out habitat improvement work over recent years, aimed at securing the future of this butterfly on Coppett Hill. Although numbers are still low, signs are encouraging!

 

 The table below gives total butterfly numbers recorded in all transects during 2012. While it is not possible to draw many conclusions from this data alone, it is still possible to get an idea of relative abundance of one species compared with another. Where a figure of 0 is recorded, this species has been recorded on the hill in previous years, but was not recorded in 2012.

 

Large Skipper 

9

Grizzled Skipper

1

Clouded Yellow

0

Brimstone

1

Large White

15

Small White   

19

Green-veined White

9

Orange-tip

2

Green Hairstreak

4

Purple Hairstreak

0

Small Copper

2

Common Blue

2

Holly Blue

2

Red Admiral

25

Painted Lady

0

Small Tortoiseshell  

15

Peacock

50

Comma

10

Pearl-bordered Fritillary  

21

Silver-washed Fritillary  

16

Speckled Wood

15

Marbled White

26

Gatekeeper

110

Meadow Brown  

200

Ringlet           

101

Small Heath                          

9

TOTAL

664




Getting Involved

If you would like to join us and get involved in any of our activities,click Latest to find out more

or contact us on friends@coppett-hill.org.uk

 

 

Links to  Latest News 

 

NEW TRUSTEES FOR FRIENDS OF COPPETT HILL

 

 

NEW: NOW AVAILABLE ON LINE AND DOWNLOADABLE

The Settlement of Coppett Hill

Click on the link above

 

 

 

 

 

Print Print | Sitemap Recommend this page Recommend this page
© Friends of Coppett Hill, Coppett Hill Trust 2013