Butterflies at Kiplingcotes

Last week I went to a conservation volunteer work day at Kiplingcotes Chalk Pit. As its name implies, this was once a quarry, but now it has become a spectacular chalk meadow, teeming with butterflies. At this time of the year the greater knapweed is flowering and nearly every flower had a marbled white butterfly on it. Our task for the day was to remove the ragwort which is poisonous to livestock, but we left a lot for the cinnabar moth caterpillars and other insects that depend on it.

Marbled white on greater knapweed

I realised that it would be a good place to return for a 'Big Butterfly Count', so I went back on Monday. The weather was not so good, being cooler and windy and it even started raining soon after I arrived. I walked along the track at the top of the reserve and in the 15 minute time limit I counted 55 marbled whites, two small whites, a large skipper, six meadow browns, two ringlets, a common blue and three six-spot burnet (moths). That's a total of 70 butterflies in 15 minutes. It shouldn't be too difficult to improve on that total given better weather, so I'll try and get back another day.

 Marbled white pair

Six-spot burnet moths and red soldier beetle on ragwort


Common blue


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