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With foliage on the trees, it is more difficult to see the bird life of the wood but the abundance and variety of songs suggests that the population is thriving. The same cannot be said of the butterflies. A report by Butterfly Conservation has recently highlighted the disastrous decline of much of Britain’s wildlife, with over 60% of butterfly species now in decline. The situation seems to be in the south-east of England and for moths,


particularly bad the story


may be even worse. Many species have declined by over 80% and this year is by far the worst I have ever known. By early June, I would expect to see typically about 20 -35 species in my garden moth trap each night and an average 40 to 80 individuals, with upwards of 150 on a good night. So far this year I have not had more than 10 species in a night and numbers ranging from about 6 to 15 over the last weeks of May and start of June (even worse before that). One consequence of the decline in moths is the shortage of caterpillars for birds such as blue tits feeding young. I have watched the pair in my garden frantically dashing in and out of the nest box with such small beak-fulls that it is impossible to see what they are taking in. Usually there is an obvious caterpillar to be seen. I wait to see how many young finally fledge.


Melwood now has its own website and the activities of the group can be viewed, along with the management plan, current tasks and work party dates. In the future, articles of current wildlife interest will also appear. We currently have seven species databases covering trees, flowers, birds, mammals, butterflies, moths and fungi and these can also be viewed on the website. We are always interested to hear of new sightings. Visit www.melwood.btck.co.uk.


Whilst the biggest management effort tends to be in autumn and winter, summer control of the more rampant vegetation is essential to avoid smaller species being shaded out of existence and to this end, some parts of the wood will be cut over the next few weeks.


Jim Reid Melwood Management Committee


27


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