Why are we celebrating butterflies this month in Heddon Valley?

June is butterfly month, or so you are reliably informed by the colourful bunting decorating the Heddon Valley National Trust shop. Children are tucking into their ice creams, completed trail maps in hand, while others are enjoying butterfly arts and crafts activities put on by the Rangers. It seems the valley has gone butterfly mad. More on our June events.

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The Heddon Butterfly Trail: Follow the caterpillars to find the butterflies.

So what is the fuss all about? Well Heddon is home to one of the UK’s rarest butterflies, the High Brown Fritillary. It’s one of only three sites in the UK where the High Brown still breeds and a lot of the work of the National Trust Rangers is focused on improving the habitat for this species.

High brown fritillary butterfly (Argynnis adippe) on a fern, Cumbria, UK

We had some good news earlier in the season as 2014’s High Brown survey results were published. The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (BMS) released survey results from 2014, showing that the one of nation’s rarest butterflies, the High Brown Fritillary, increased by 180% compared to 2013.

The High Brown Fritillary is critically endangered due to the loss of its woodland habitats. Heddon Valley is one of its few remaining strongholds thanks to the work of the National Trust and its partners. Successful conservation management combined with a warm, damp spring last year to create perfect conditions for rapid growth of the High Brown Fritillary population.

West Exmoor Lead Ranger Julian Gurney said; “After many years of extensive habitat management, surveying and partnership working with Butterfly Conservation, Natural England and Exmoor National Park, it is fantastic to see numbers increase so dramatically. Let’s hope this summer’s survey results are equally encouraging.” Read more here http://bit.ly/1NDhdFs

The work and effort put into conservation won’t often yield results quickly or dramatically so it’s safe to say that all the National Trust team at Heddon are delighted with this morning’s news.

We will be celebrating the success of Heddon Valley this June with a month dedicated to our butterflies. A family friendly butterfly trail is running June 6th and run to June 28th, with arts and craft activities and butterfly painting. On June 23rd Jenny Plackett, a local butterfly expert, will lead a guided walk to find the High Brown Fritillary. Alternatively if you’d like to get stuck in and help build upon this success story you can join our Working Holiday on June 14th to 21st. Join us and leading butterfly experts managing and enhancing this very important habitat through vegetation control to benefit the High Brown and other fritillaries. Find out more.

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