Help us plant pots of hope

Foodplants for Marsh Fritillary toasted by Peter Kindersley, Bob Anderson, Jason Ball, Chris Blunt, Phil Robbshaw

Foodplants for Marsh Fritillary toasted by Peter Kindersley, Bob Anderson, Jason Ball, Chris Blunt, Phil Robbshaw

marsh fritillary (c) jasonpballThese plants might not look like much yet, but these are pots of hope for the Marsh Fritillary butterfly. Devilsbit Scabious is the caterpillar food plant for Marsh Fritillary. This spectacularly patterned insect has lost many colonies and is in danger of extinction at the Lambourn Downs, it’s last foothold in Berkshire.

“We are planting extra food for the caterpillars of Marsh Fritillary.” Explains Jason Ball, manager for biodiversity and alternative energy at Sheepdrove. “Plentiful patches of these plants and sensitive grazing are the keys to securing the future for Marsh Fritillary on the local downland.”

Find out more…

We need your help – 28 April 2009

Be part of the start and join us for the launch of this special butterfly project. We have 400 pots to plant into the target area at Bockhampton Down.

10.00 am – Welcome, tea and coffee.
10.30 am – Planting begins. Meet at the Red Barn, grid ref SU348816 
12.30 pm – Task ends. Why not bring a picnic and enjoy the view?

Please bring a spade if you have one, garden gloves and sturdy footwear. Be ready for any weather.

Locationclick here 
Sheepdrove Organic Farm, Sheepdrove Road, Lambourn, Berks. RG17 7UU.

Contact details:
Please tell us you’re coming – call Jason Ball on 01488 674727

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9 Responses to “Help us plant pots of hope”

  1. MF project - spread the word « the natureheads blog Says:

    […] LOCATION > Sheepdrove Organic Farm, Sheepdrove Road, Lambourn. DIRECTIONS > Map and download here. DETAILS > at the Sheepdrove Blog […]

  2. sheepdrove Says:

    LAMBOURN PARISH WEBSITE – Thanks for promoting our event !

  3. sheepdrove Says:


    Thanks for promoting our event !

  4. sheepdrove Says:

    Pang Kennet and Lambourn Valleys Countryside Project (FWAG)

    Thanks for your great support !

  5. sheepdrove Says:

    Kick FM radio interviewed us today…

    BIG THANKS KickFM for helping to promote our project.

  6. sheepdrove Says:

    Natural England are funding our project, and working with us to promote the wildlife project as an example to other farmers and landowners.

    Visit the NATURAL ENGLAND website.

  7. sheepdrove Says:

    BBC Radio Berkshire’s Henry Kelly will be interviewing us on Monday morning.

    Have you seen BBC Berkshire’s excellent web pages about Nature?

  8. Tim Lawrence Says:

    Hello there

    Sounds like an interesting project – very similar to one we are attempting here at Watchtree. We too are planting 1000’s of DBS in the hope that we can create the ideal habitat for the Marsh fritillary. Unfortunately we do not have Marsh fritillaries currently on Watchtree site and instead we will be working with a range of organisations in an attempt to ‘introduce’ the butterfly, as larvae, from authorised sites.
    The reason for me contacting you was to possibly share ideas and review success/failures of any habitat creation schemes – there’s plenty of information on established sites but seems to be a lack of useful, practical information relating to habitat creation for this particular species.

    Just to put Watchtree into context; the site was the dedicated burial site for animals effected with Foot and Mouth during 2001. It has since been restored with key habitats including meadows, hedgerows, woodlands and wetlands – all to attact local/National BAP species. The Marsh fritillary is but one of these species and the one we are focusing on for the next few years.

    We have recently ploughed approx 2.5 Ha of poor quality meadow and sown with a seed mix that will hopefully compliment the DBS plants we are currently planting. We plan to plough and sow another 2.5ha very soon and possibly another 10Ha or so in the forthcoming years – thus creating a good habitat resource on the one site.

    I am particularly interested in the ability of your resident Marsh fritillary butterfly to colonise the new patches (how far away are they at present?) and also the ability of the plant to self seed and thus be able to seed naturally. I have heard that DBS sometimes struggles to self seed after a period of a few years? Are you doing trials/monitoring

    Would be nice to hear from you
    Many Thanks
    Tim Lawrence
    Nature Reserve Manager

    • sheepdrove Says:

      Hi Tim,
      Great to hear about your project. Sounds bigger than ours!

      The advice and research on dispersal distances indicate that we’ve got a decent chance of the Marsh Fritillary females reaching us at some point in years to come. Our project’s target sites are 2km and 3km away from the existing MF colony.

      Introductions are not an option until we have the Devil’s-bit Scabious strongly established. Even at that point we will need to have had a serious study done on genetics, potential donor sites, etc.

      Management is the key to the successful seeding and the establishment of the plants. We chose to put strong potted plants into groups of five. Seed is not reliable, and plugs are too delicate to withstand drought and competition. To encourage seeding success the sward has to be gappy enough – and you can create germination opportunities in several ways:
      – with cattle grazing (extensive and seasonal)
      – anthills and molehills !
      – ensure that your grasses are not too vigorous, choose the right species in your mixes
      – get Yellow Rattle established, probably best as part of your grass & wildflower seed mix
      – collect some of the seed, grow it for 2 years, then plant more!

      We would be interested in knowing how your project goes. Are you able to send a copy of the habitat creation plans and Management Plan?
      Regards –
      Jason Ball
      Manager for Biodiversity and Alternative Energy

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