A new and innovative project, spearheaded by Whitby Naturalists Club is hoping to benefit the expansion of the breeding range of Brimstone butterfly by providing the foodplant for it to lay egg on. Brimstones are at the edge of their range here in North Yorkshire, though adults are regularly recorded in the Whitby area and across the region.
By planting Alder Buckthorn, a native but uncommon moisture-loving shrub (Frangula alnus confusingly neither thorny nor an Alder), the group hopes to provide stepping stones of habitat for it northward spread. A number of countryside sites including Calla Beck and The Cinder Track will be planted with Alder Buckthorn, with funds from Butterfly Conservation through their Yorkshire Branch, who are fully supportive of the venture. Scarborough Borough Council have obtained 300 bare-root whips of the shrub on behalf of the Club and already the first conservation task has begun the job of planting, with the help of The Cinders volunteers on 7th March, as part of a habitat improvement task at Middlewood Lane, Fylingthorpe.
The next task with The Cinders, also involves alder buckthorn planting, at Ravenscar station and the approaches to the old tunnel, where Brimstones have been recorded. To join in with this task meet at Station Square in Ravenscar on 28th March at 10.30am, or contact email@example.com to register with the Cinders group for notifications of all their future tasks on the old railway line.
Numerous members of Whitby Nats have pledged to plant Alder Buckthorn in their garden or land. We may not know if this mission is successful for several years, but BC Yorkshire reps are confident there is every chance it will help the species expand its breeding range. Naturally if you do spot a Brimstone butterfly, do please report it using i-Record or your local Naturalist’s society recorder.
More info on this pdf article by Whitby Nats: http://whitbynaturalists.co.uk/files/buckthorn_for_brimstones_project_sheet.pdf