Butterfly returns to mossland
AT the Wildlife Trust life can be varied. One day you can be standing knee deep in a bog and the next sailing in a boat carrying sheep to an island.
It seems I have constantly been emptying bog water out of my wellies over summer.
This week I have been cutting out butterfly masks for children to colour in and decorate at the Manchester Science Fair, at the Museum of Science and Industry.
My colleague and mosslands engagement officer, Lydia McCool, joined forces with the team from Chester Zoo to come up with wildlifethemed activities for children visiting the museum.
Our part was themed on the re-introduction of large heath butterflies to our mosslands, which we have been doing with the help of the wonderful zoo team.
These butterflies have been extinct in much of the north west for a century, because they rely on plants likes hare’s tail cotton-grass to survive.
Over the past two years we have collected butterflies from one of our moss reserves, taken them to Chester Zoo where they have laid eggs, and the chrysalises have grown. When the butterflies emerge they are taken to Heysham Moss, in north Lancashire, to be released.
On a recent visit I saw a number of them from the previous year’s release, so they are obviously doing well. The event at the museum gives us an opportunity to talk to children, parents and grandparents about the large heath and other work we are doing in their area.
Lydia is involved in lots of these events around the Salford mosslands area, and she wasn’t surprised that we were mobbed with families for more than six hours.
I was astonished and really pleased that all the parents involved, from all over the country, were keen that their children should get out and experience the wild spaces around them and visit educational events at local museums.
The children chose between ‘camouflaged’ designs or colourful ones aimed at frightening predators away.
My faith in north west families was restored by the number of polite children of all ages who came back to say ‘thank you’. If this lot are our future, then nature will be in safe hands. If anyone is interested in Lydia’s events, they can find them on the website lancswt. org.uk or on the Chat Moss Facebook page.
The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside is dedicated to the protection and promotion of wildlife in its areas. To become a member, go to the website at lancswt.org. uk or call 01772 324129.
For more information about Cheshire Wildlife Trust, call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewildlife trust.org.uk.
A large heath butterfly