Small Blue Champions
Woodlands Primary School in Carnoustie has become the first school in Scotland to champion the Small Blue butterfly. Earlier this year, residents from East Haven visited the school to raise awareness of this species which is rare in Scotland and the Angus coast is one of the areas where it can be found. The elusive butterfly is the smallest in the UK and it's population is declining.
The children have worked to create a poster and logo to promote the first Small Blue week in Scotland which runs from 29th May to 4th June 2017. Paul Kirkland said that, “we at Butterfly Conservation are really thrilled at the enthusiasm for Small Blue Week. It serves to highlight the tremendous amount done by volunteers to help safeguard our smallest butterfly, and raise awareness of the challenges it and many other pollinating insects face”. Volunteer surveyors will be visiting sites along the Angus coast to monitor the population of the butterfly. There will be a chance for volunteers to get together and for new volunteers to be trained on June 4th between 1pm and 4pm at Barry Buddon which is the stronghold for the butterfly in Angus. The butterfly can be seen from late May to early July.
Residents in East Haven planted more Kidney Vetch in partnership with Butterfly Conservation and the Tayside Biodiversity Partnership in April this year to create a linked corridor of the plant between East Haven and Carnoustie. They have also installed a new interpretation board at the Heritage point to inform the public about butterflies and encourage people to report sightings.
Catherine Lloyd from Tayside Biodiversity Partnership explained that, "the Small Blue has been found at several sites along the Angus coast from Buddon Ness to Kinnaber North of Montrose. However, it 's sole larval food plant is Kidney Vetch so the work carried out by volunteers to plant Kidney Vetch and maintain this important habitat for the Small Blue is of great importance". Extensive work has also been undertaken in recent years by Craig Boath, Head Greenkeeper and his team at Carnoustie Golf Links and the posters created by the children will be displayed at the Carnoustie Golf Hotel throughout Small Blue week from the 29th May. The children will be presented with prizes, badges and certificates when they vist East Haven on 26 May to launch Small Blue week.
Planting Kidney Vetch 2017
Glyn Edwards and his wife Jane from Butterfly Conservation joined residents in April 2017 to plant further Kidney Vetch between East Haven and Carnoustie. Kidney Vetch is the sole larval food plant of the Small Blue and planting at intervals along the coast will strengthen the corridor of Kideny vetch between Barry Buddon and East Haven.
Launch of the Small Blue project in East Haven (6th May 2016)
In a joint venture with the Tayside Biodiversity Partnership and Butterfly Conservation Scotland, Kidney Vetch was planted across six designated sites within East Haven. Kidney Vetch is the sole food plant of the Small Blue which is the smallest butterfly in the UK. In what was a true partnership project, local Angus business Scotia Seeds provided the locally-sourced seeds and new business Celtica Wildflowers from Perthshire grew them on into robust plants.
Anne Bancroft from East Haven Together said that residents were really delighted to be involved in the Small Blue project – “We are very keen to conserve and protect our natural habitat and we are particularly keen to do what we can to help create a kidney vetch corridor for this rare butterfly to thrive along the Angus coast.”
Catherine Lloyd from the Tayside Biodiversity Partnership explained that the butterfly is easily overlooked because it is so small and, she admits, “a bit dull”. It is often confined to patches of sheltered grassland where the yellow-flowered Kidney Vetch, grows. In Angus this tends to be along the coast and in a few sheltered areas inland.
The Small Blue is a rare butterfly and a priority species, which has suffered severe declines in recent decades. The Tayside Biodiversity Partnerships and Butterfly Conservation are currently trying to assess the status of the Small Blue in Angus. We are working with them to see what we can do to attract the Small Blue to East Haven and also help with some of the surveying on the coast.
The Small Blue has been found at many sites on the Angus coast from Buddon Ness to Kinnaber North of Montrose. You can find our more about this rare butterfly in some of our fact sheets which can be downloaded at the end of this page. When flying, the delicate wings of the Small Blue create a shimmering spinning coin effect. Normally, the butterfly is only seen in mid May and throughout June but in Angus it has been noticed that we have a probable second brood flying in July and August. Areas at the coast where there are few or no recent records unfortunately include East Haven to Elliot, Gaylet Pot to Auchmithie and from Red Head all the way North to Kinnaber. However, we hope to do something to change this and will be planting Kidney Vetch which the Small Blue feeds on.
You can participate by reporting sightings of Small Blue adults, eggs or the caterpillar. You can also report any Kidney Vetch that you come across as this is a useful indicator of potentially suitable habitat. Try and get a good grid reference for anything you report, preferably using a GPS, and a photo of any quality would definitely help. Negative results should also be reported.
More information on likely sites to visit and participating in the survey is available from David Lampard who is also the person to report your sightings to. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about the Small Blue and to see the regional action plan for butterflies and moths in Angus download the documents below.
Small Blue Recording Form
Use this form to record any possible sightings of the Small Blue
Training to spot the Small Blue
Barry Buddon opens it's gates to the public once a year which enables conservations to visit and view the wonderful wildlife and natural habitat in this special place.
A number of us from East Haven took advantage of the open day in 2016 and the training led by David Lampard to identify the Small Blue.