Boost for rare wildlife on National Cycle Network

Dingy Skipper butterfly on black knapweed flower
6 February 2014

Two rare species of butterfly are to get help to flourish on a section of the National Cycle Network.

The Small Blue and Grizzled Skipper butterfly are known to be living along the seven-mile section which connects Fosse Way in south Warwickshire near Offchurch, to Coventry Road in Cawston near Rugby.

This project will not only protect and conserve their habitats, but it will also raise local awareness of these species

- Bernie Higgins,
Ecologist

Sustrans staff recently joined the Friends of the Small Blue and Butterfly Conservation, Warwickshire to remove scrub (small saplings and bramble) from the embankments near Draycote, on the Lias Line

The Grizzled Skipper has recolonized this area thanks to recent management. By clearing the bramble to allow wildflowers (such as the Small Blue caterpillar’s preferred food plant, Kidney Vetch) to grow, we hope that the Small Blue and Dingy Skipper butterflies (photoed above) will also colonise the route.

The event is part of a wider move by Sustrans to manage our greenways better for wildlife. Our Greener Greenways project will carry out work to protect and enhance biodiversity in the area.

Over the next three and a half years, ecologists and volunteers will identify which flora and fauna inhabit the area through surveys, data searches and consultation with conservation organisations in an effort to help reduce habitat loss.

Bernie Higgins, Sustrans ecologist described changes to the way routes were managed to protect unique wildlife as radical:

“We already know species like the locally-rare Bloody-nosed Beetle and Grizzled Skipper are found on the route. This project will not only protect and conserve their habitats, but it will also raise local awareness of these species and encourage people to use the network to see the amazing array of wildlife which is right on their door steps.”

Photo by Steve Batt

Read more about Sustrans’ Biodiversity conservation work, and how to become a Wildlife Champion.