July 2022 - Butterfly Bonanza at Bannerdown
It was a warm, dry and wind-free July afternoon when members, Andy and Jane Daw, led us around Bannerdown Common in search of summer butterflies. We were rewarded with a plethora of species within open grassland and natural woodland, including Ringlet, Small White, Marbled White, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Speckled Wood, Small Skipper, Comma, Green-veined White, Red Admiral, Brimstone, Large Skipper, Holly Blue and, the highlight of the day – a Silver-washed Fritillary!
Marbled White
Small Skipper
Meadow Brown
We also saw a Scarlet Tiger (left) and Six-spot Burnet, both day-flying moths. Unfortunately it was too early to see the Chalk-hill Blue butterflies, they probably made their first appearance of the year the next day!
The common is formed from limestone and chalk grassland, and as far as is known has not had an industrial past (apart from possibly some small quarries), so it has had an uninterrupted natural history. The wealth of wild flowers, shrubs and trees attest to this, which attract (apart from butterflies) yellowhammers, chiff-chaffs, red soldier beetles, miriads of assorted bees and flies, Green Emperor and Brown Hawker dragonflies, Red Chaser darters, green grasshoppers and red-tailed bumblebees.
The grassland was full of yellow rattle flowers and their noisy seedheads; this plant is very important here as it is a partial parasite on grass roots, thereby limiting the spread of grasses to the advantage of wild flowers. So we were able to see and enjoy many common spotted, pyramidal and marsh orchids, as well as flowering brambles and nettles, which are so important for many butterflies, bees and hoverflies. Red and white clover, agrimony (a limestone specialist), buttercups, cranesbills, meadow vetchlings, thistles and hawkweed (among many dandelion-like flowers) were some of the many flowers seen.

Yellow rattle seedhead

Flowering bramble
Pyramidal orchid

Our thanks go to the very patient Andy and Jane for not only leading us on a very successful field trip, but also answering all of our many questions without complaint!

Liz Wintle

Photos by Andrew Harrison & Dave Sage

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Keynsham Group
Avon Wildlife Trust
Registered charity 280422

Email: keynshamawt@gmail.com