Swallowtail. Picture: Tim Melling

The British subspecies of the Swallowtail is just about restricted to the Norfolk Broads and is a species whose numbers have increased in recent years although its distribution may have contracted. It’s a species of conservation concern and is the topic of conservation measures and research.

Kevin Radley and Hannah Breach are finishing up an impartial research of overwintering pupae at a nature reserve in an SSSI which is a part of The Broads Particular Space of Conservation (though I’m conserving the precise location secret in deference to the positioning’s house owners, a conservation physique).

Their research includes discovering Swallowtail pupae and monitoring their survival. This winter, Kevin and Hannah situated 18 Swallowtail pupae; this one (pictured under) was situated in December 2020. Wonderful isn’t it?

Picture: Kevin Radley and Hannah Breach

Kevin and Hannah arrange a path cam to observe this pupa and on 18 March alongside got here a Pheasant and wolfed it up! The video under is wonderful though I had to take a look at it a number of occasions earlier than I used to be certain what I used to be seeing – all of it occurs so shortly (inside the primary four seconds of the video)!

That is the primary photographic proof of a Pheasant predating a uncommon butterfly pupa to my data but when there are tons extra I’d love to listen to about them.

One pupa being predated doesn’t show something – besides, for the primary time, that such occasions do occur – however Pheasant numbers are excessive, I’m informed, on this web site and that’s actually a trigger for concern.

This pupa, and most pupae, are situated at simply the peak which is able to carry them most simply to a wandering Pheasant’s consideration and be inside simple pecking attain. It’s the kind of incident that helps the considerations of Wild Justice and strengthens the necessity for DEFRA and Pure England to behave strongly on releases of non-native gamebirds on or close to designated websites similar to this one – a web site which is an SSSI and SAC. No Pheasants are launched on this web site – their presence is as a result of scale of launch on adjoining farmland.

DEFRA’s proposed safety measures which exhort gamebird shoots to stay to the prevailing trade pointers on densities in launch pens (that are at the moment extensively ignored) will do nothing to scale back any impacts of gamebird predation of invertebrates of conservation concern on this and comparable websites. There isn’t a suggestion that the prevailing releases are above the best-practice pointers – they could be, however no-one is suggesting that right here (no one is aware of). DEFRA’s proposed measures is not going to essentially restrict general numbers of non-native gamebirds launched and won’t scale back their ingress into websites of conservation concern.

DEFRA ought to do extra.

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