Rare butterflies found on Dover nature reserve

Rare butterflies found on Dover nature reserve

Adonis blue butterfly

During a recent guided walk around Old Park Hill nature reserve in Dover - one of Kent Wildlife Trust’s newest nature reserves - Adonis blue butterflies were recorded for the first time since it became a reserve in 2012.

The walk was organised to showcase what the Trust has achieved in restoring this beautiful area of chalk grassland on Dover’s doorstep.

Lizzie Talbot, the Outreach Officer for the Hill at the Heart Project for the reserve, led the walk up the hill from the Monk’s Way entrance, through the southern part of this 40-hectare site.

Amongst several other species of butterflies, four Adonis blues were seen basking on grassland alongside the footpath, providing excellent views for all those present.

These beautiful turquoise blue butterflies, with black and white chequered wing margins, are rare in the UK, confined to unimproved chalk grassland in Southern England. For this reason, they were chosen to represent Kent Wildlife Trust on its logo.

Lizzie said: “The Adonis blue butterfly only lives in grassland containing its caterpillar’s food-plant, the horseshoe vetch, and amazingly, it was while I was explaining this to the group on the guided walk that I spotted the first one perched close by.

“The reserve is now home to ten Highland cattle - a firm favourite with visitors - which are helping keep the scrub down, allowing the vetch to flourish and thus encouraging the Adonis blues to colonise the area.

“One local man, Terry, volunteers regularly on the site for the Trust, helping to keep it clean and tidy. He came along for the guided walk with his daughter and grandson, and commented at the end that it was very encouraging to learn more about what all his hard work is for and to see the benefits to the wildlife.”

The Hill at the Heart Project is a three-year project, led by Kent Wildlife Trust, which aims to restore species-rich chalk grassland and promote responsible use of the Old Park Hill nature reserve by engaging with the local communities. The project started in January 2016 and is funded by the Big Lottery Fund Reaching Communities.

You can find out more information about the site here.

For more information about future events, or to find out more about the project, please contact Lizzie at lizzie.talbot@kentwildlife.org.uk or on 07799 750531 or via the project’s Facebook page.