On 16 January, staff and volunteers from the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) discovered approximately two hundred brown hairstreak butterfly eggs. The brown hairstreak butterfly is considered to be critically endangered by ongoing habitat destruction in the United Kingdom.
Members of the BBOWT have been working to cultivate blackthorn hedges, the brown hairstreak’s preferred egg laying spot, in and around the Oxfordshire countryside. The majority of the eggs were found at Leaches Farm. The team checks the hedges for eggs at the beginning of each year. The last time they searched this location was in 2016, where they found only 32 eggs.
The discovery of the eggs can be seen as a great success for the BBOWT and a positive sign for the state of British wildlife.
Following the discovery, Senior Ecology Officer at BBOWT, Colin Williams, released a statement on the BBOWT website: “This is a really brilliant result, especially for the members of our team who spent four hours hunting for eggs in the freezing cold this week…[and also given that] we are currently living through a nature and climate crisis, and the numbers of so many of our beloved species are declining across the UK.”
Williams was keen to attribute the discovery of the eggs to the hard work of the BBOWT staff and volunteers who have been committed to the upkeep of potential butterfly habitats in the Oxfordshire area all year round.
In September, the BBOWT launched The Nature Recovery fund, which is a means of funding their ongoing commitment to protecting biodiversity in the local area. They aim to raise three million pounds in three years which, they hope, will lead to more successes. This is the trust’s biggest-ever appeal to date.
This is not the first time there have been important wildlife developments under the watch of the BBOWT. Last summer, a group of volunteers discovered 303 glow worms at Whitecross Green Wood reserve, near Bicester. At the same site, the volunteers also found a rare group of breeding southern migrant hawker dragonflies – this was the first time the species was spotted in Oxfordshire. The work of the BBOWT appears to be an effective force for good in the protection of Oxfordshire’s wilderness.