Identify UK Lycaenid?

Neil Jones Neil at
Wed Aug 23 08:05:40 EDT 2000

In article < at>
           A.P.K.Torry at "Andrew Torry" writes:

> Neil Jones' comment on the Silver-Studded Blue
> >It isn't a Silver Studded Blue these really are scarce
> What distribution maps are you using these days.

I am in the priviledged position of having access to the latest data
on butterfly distibution in the UK which have not yet been published.
I was part of the original steering group which first started to work
on the latest UK survey around eight or nine years ago.

The previous published data are nearly 20 years old. 
For obvious reasons I am not going to quote from stuff which is still
fairly confidential. However I can give some statistics from some of the
provisional data which is recent but not entirely complete.
It is far more detailed than the old stuff anyway. The full dataset
for the completed project contains more than 1 million records.
> The SSB is clearly a local species and NOT scarce. 

I feel that you are nit picking over the use of a word. You have removed
the context which is not entirely fair. To remind people someone had
seen a butterfly in his garden in Cambridge and wanted to know if it
was a Silver Studded Blue, a Brown Argus or a Common Blue.

The provisional atlas for the UK's Butterflies for the New Millennium
project covering the data collected betwwen 1995 and 1998
and distributed to recording coordinators in 1999 shows the following
results. The Common blue is recorded in over 60% of all the ten
kilometer squares which had been surveyed. The Brown Argus
shows up in around 20% and the Silver Studded Blue in only about 2.5%.
Since then more data have been added from areas of the country which
have no SSBs.

In the context of a species that had turned up "out of the blue"  in
a garden I think it is appropriate to say the the SSB is scarce.
It is even rarer in East Anglia where the original questioner lives
there are, I am reliably informed, less than a dozen sites there.

> In Cornwall it occurs on
> nearly every piece of suitable habitat ranging from Cliff top heaths to
> Sand dunes and even occurs in light scrubland areas inland, the PENHALE
> SANDS and GWITHIAN TOWANS dune complexes hold huge populations numbering in
> the tens of thousands at peak flight time. They have indeed had two very
> good seasons thanks to the rather damp summers we have had. This year was
> the best ever.

You are very lucky. You are in the extreme south of the country where the
warm condidions benefit this species. More of the habitat is suitable and
therefore it survives pressures more easily. 

I would have thought you should have known that this
is a colonial species and like all such species can have large numbers 
where it does occur. This does not mean that the species is common 
elsewhere. For me to reliably see a Silver Studded Blue I would have
to travel a considerable distance.

> Stop trying to frighten people into believing that things are rarer than
> they are eventually people will stop believing you when it really does matter.
> Andrew

Well Andrew I am perhaps more concerned about this species survival than you 
are. You have repeatedly attacked conservationists on  this
list as anyone who looks in the archive will see. I know that you would
advocate developing on the habitat of a protected species , where I would not.
This is not intended as an attack on you. I believe in free speech and
you are entitled to your opionions. I am saying this because I believe
in the interests of democratic free expression those reading the debate
should properly understand the position of all participants.

If you are really as concerned about conservation as you have suddenly
decided to claim, then I think it would be a far more enjoyable exercise
if you were to devote your efforts to going into the field and recording
butterflies for the project. I grow weary at having to respond to your
angry outbursts. We can all get angry at times but I always find that a 
nice day in the country studying butterflies helps me see the world in 
clear relaxed way.

While an atlas is in preparation it is clear that the recording efforts
will continue and I would encourage everyone in the UK to participate.

Neil Jones- Neil at
"At some point I had to stand up and be counted. Who speaks for the
butterflies?" Andrew Lees - The quotation on his memorial at Crymlyn Bog
National Nature Reserve

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