As part of an on-going programme of improving habitat for endangered High Brown and Pearl Bordered fritillary butterflies, Jenny Plackett of The Two Moors Threatened Butterfly Project had asked us to carry out a second day of conservation work on Roborough Down, on the slope above the River Tavy to the west of Double Waters.
The first day, back at the beginning of June, had been very hot, however the weather forecast for the October day was rather wet. 16 members of the DPA conservation team and Jenny Plackett arrived at the car park in traditional Dartmoor drizzle.
Fortunately on this occasion we had transport to take tools to the work site, courtesy of Derek Collins’ son Christopher, so having retrieved tools from his Landrover, we made our way to the work area where Jenny outlined the required tasks, the drizzle by now having stopped.
Tree thinning with some removal of smaller trees along the leat at the bottom of the slope together with clearance to reduce shading was carried out by 2 chainsaw teams.
Since our last visit the bracken in some places now exceeded 2m high, but was dying back and creating a thatch which is not compatible the correct butterfly environment.
Clearance of bracken was carried out by 3 brush cutter teams to create stock access paths and improve environmental conditions for violets to grow for caterpillar feeding.
Invasive saplings, which would develop and create unwanted shading, were removed, some with the assistance of mechanical sapling pullers, although there were mixed views as to the efficiency on a time and effort basis of using these tools as apposed to cutting and treating the stems – no doubt further trials will be required.
The threatened wet weather passed us by, and the day even became unseasonably warm during the afternoon. Jenny was very pleased with the progress that had been achieved and is expecting the work area will now produce an increase in the butterfly population next year.
Following the usual tidy up of the site, we loaded tools back into the Landrover and made our way back up hill to the car park.
Thanks to all those volunteering for the project – Chris Francis, Claude Williams, Derek Collins, Christopher Collins, Elaine Viant, Hilary Luce, Hilary Marshall, John Lucas, John Viant, John Watson, Keith Ryan, Peter Butcher, Rachel Watson, Sylvia Hamilton and Val Barns.
A special thanks to Val for the cakes, and to Christopher for giving his time and providing the transport.
Photos by Jenny Plackett (The Two Moors Threatened Butterfly Project) and Rachel Watson DPA Volunteer).
Further information on the Butterfly Project can be found on: