West Williamston – brown hairstreaks on the wing

The brown hairstreak butterfly is now actively laying its eggs on the blackthorn at West Williamston nature reserve and avid spotters have been busy recording sightings. The good weather certainly helps both the spotter and the butterfly with records coming in thick and fast. This year has also been a good one for other butterfly species on the reserve including the silver-washed fritillary and purple hairstreak.

Autumn gentian at West Williamston

Autumn gentian

At the beginning of August, before egg laying starts in earnest, a joint work event was organised with volunteers from Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion coming to the reserve to help manage the blackthorn. Areas are cut on a 5 year rotation to provide a constant availability of young blackthorn on which the brown hairstreak prefers to lay its eggs.

The weather was hot, the volunteers were hot and the fire burning the cut blackthorn was hot! An ice cream treat at the Cresselly Arms afterwards was certainly called for. A good area was cleared and this year’s rotational cuts were all completed before the brown hairstreak started to lay.

Further scrub management at the reserve continues on the limestone ridge, clearing vegetation from the open calcareous grassland. This area of the reserve is rather special as it provides an ideal habitat for species of plant such as the bee orchid, autumn gentian, ploughman's spikenard and yellow-wort.

The reserve continues to be a popular place to visit with many holiday makers popping in over the summer months and leaving positive comments.

If you would like to know more of the reserve, please contact Nathan Walton, the Wildlife Trust Officer for Pembrokeshire (n.walton@welshwildlife.org).

West Williamston Volunteers

West Williamston Volunteers