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Searching for the Silver-spotted Skipper in Shaftesbury

PUBLISHED: 10:36 19 August 2014 | UPDATED: 10:36 19 August 2014

Silver-spotted Skipper by Peter Eeles

Silver-spotted Skipper by Peter Eeles

Archant

Wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation is inviting families to make the most of the final weeks of summer by joining the search for one of our rarest butterflies, the Silver-spotted Skipper.

The orange and brown butterfly was close to extinction in the 1970’s, but has made a fantastic recovery over the last 30 years and is now only found in the chalk downlands of southern England, including the Fontmell Down Reserve near Shaftesbury, North Dorset.

Distinguished from other skippers by the silver spots on its underwing, this small and charismatic butterfly spends much of its time basking on warm, south-facing slopes.

A guided walk to find the Silver-spotted Skipper is taking place on Saturday 23rd August from 11am until 3.30pm. Butterfly Conservation’s Frank Cosier explained: “This is one of the last skippers to emerge and it really is a smashing little butterfly. You get them in neighbouring Wiltshire too, but they can only be found on Ministry of Defence land there, which means you need special permission to visit.”

He added: “The walk is perfect for beginners as we’ll have volunteers from the Dorset and Wiltshire Branches of Butterfly Conservation helping to identify what people see. There should be plenty of other more colourful species about too, like the Chalk Hill Blue and Adonis Blue. All you need to do is turn up with some good walking boots and a packed lunch.”

Fontmell Down is a steeply sloping area of the North Dorset Downs with far-reaching views across the Blackmore Vale. Interspersed scrub and woodland provide shelter for many species of butterfly, while the open chalk grassland of the lower slopes is covered in wildflowers in the summer months.

Anyone interested in attending the event is being asked to meet at the National Trust car park on Spread Eagle Hill, not far from the Compton Abbas airfield.

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