Rare Duke of Burgundy Sighted!

On Saturday 13th May the Pitton Hill site was visited and surveyed by Dr Sue Clarke from the Wiltshire Branch of Butterfly Conservation. Sue is kindly providing external expert advice on the management of the site to enhance the habitat for butterflies and other flora and fauna. This work is being funded by the Wiltshire Branch of Butterfly Conservation as part of a contract to offer advice on habitat and management for Duke of Burgundy and Marsh Fritillary.

The great news is that during the 88 minute survey Sue identified and photographed an adult male Duke of Burgundy. This butterfly is rare and a sighting in Pitton is extremely exciting and demonstrates the value of conserving this area of unimproved chalk downland.

Sue report of her visit says “The next step is to revisit the site in a few days to see how many adults have survived and to map the potential breeding patches. Later in the summer there will then be a search for caterpillar feeding damage. These surveys will provide the detailed information needed for a recovery plan to carefully create and restore breeding patches across the reserve, without risking damage to the existing population. On such a small site this will be tricky, but with help from the whole community it could be possible to rescue this rare butterfly and to preserve a small colony right on people‚Äôs doorsteps for all to enjoy.”

The surveys of the site undertaken by Sue have so far identified the following:

4th April 2023 Survey

  • Common Lizard (1)
  • Brimstone (3)
  • Comma (1)

13th May 2023 Survey

  • Orange-tip (3)
  • Brimstone (24)
  • Red Admiral (1)
  • Duke of Burgundy (1)
  • Holly Blue (7)
  • Broad-bodied Chaser (1)