Professor Mike Jeffries has been conducting surveys of Ouseburn's butterflies and dragonflies since 2006. His surveys have identified new species discoveries and show changing populations. In the most recent 2022 report, Mike notes how pond improvements in the orchard have an impact on the wildlife in the area. These improvements were made as part of the Ouseburn Green Spaces Project.

October 2022

An introduction from Cath Scaife, Ouseburn Trust's Project Officer looking after the natural environment and open spaces.  

I'm always really excited to read Mike's butterfly, dragonfly and damselfly surveys, to appreciate how much life and beauty there is on our doorsteps. It also makes me reflect on how changes to these areas can make a difference to the numbers and species found.We want the activities of the Trust's Environment Group to protect and enhance habitats for wildlife, for example by leaving scrub to evolve naturally in places and increasing areas of meadow grassland. I'm looking forward to working with experts such as Mike and with our local communities to understand and enjoy the richness and importance of what we have here in Ouseburn.

A snippet from the 2022 report introduction 

Butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies in and around the Ouseburn Farm were surveyed regularly in 2022, from late spring through to early autumn. Similar surveys have been carried out from 2006 to 2021 (Jeffries, 2006 - 2021), making the 2022 survey the 17th survey since the farm re-opened. In 2022 twenty-four walks were carried out, the first on the 8th March, the last on the 13th September.

The surveys covered the pond meadow, red fescue meadow, farm grounds, horse meadow, woodland path from the horse meadow through to the Cumberland Arms, the old orchard, and the meadow below the Cumberland Arms. Surveys were carried out where possible on warm, sunny days. In the Farm grounds cabbages and nasturtiums were also checked for eggs and caterpillars of small and large whites.

Interesting discoveries 

The white letter hairstreak (Satyrium w-album) was discovered for the first time here in Ouseburn. According to Mike, this butterfly can be tricky to spot because it flies in the tree canopy, however since Mike's discovery, Cain from Wild Intrigue has also spotted the same species which indicates they may be a resident here in the Valley.

The overall feel for the butterfly fauna is one of a continuing slight decline in numbers. 

The new pond in the orchard already showed evidence of improving habitats for dragonflies and damselflies. Red darters were particularly visible at the pond, with mating pairs and egg laying observed. On 19th July a large dragonfly flew in and spent a short time egg laying. The size, colours and behaviour matched the emperor dragonfly but the low early evening light made definite identification from photos uncertain. It will be worth checking possible larvae next year.

Access the reports

2022 Ouseburn Butterfly & Dragonfly Report

2021 Ouseburn Butterfly & Dragonfly Report

2019 Ouseburn Butterfly & Dragonfly Report