Small Blue Butterfly

Small Blue Butterfly project

Foreword by Tony Bradford 2014

Caithness has three known colonies of small blue butterflies on its north coast. These are the most northerly in Scotland.  The small blue is a Scottish Biodiversity Action Plan species and is of conservation concern. In a past project, funded by landfill grant, the Caithness Biodiversity Group planted kidney vetch at Scrabster harbour adjacent to a small blue site and erected an interpretive panel. The vetch took well to the site and small blue have used the food plant.

In this project our aims are to improve the habitat for our other small blue colonies; to have a better understanding of where the caterpillar food plant (kidney Vetch) is to be found, to raise awareness of their existence, and plan for their future.

Our longer term aim would be to try and link the occupied sites up by creating new patches of habitat in between.  This would make the overall population far more robust and reliant against threats like climate change.

This summer (2016) we will improve the habitats of two colonies using both volunteers and contractors to clear moss and invasive cotoneaster and Chinese bramble.

We want to grow robust plugs of Kidney vetch so local provenance seed will be collected  and grown on to plant out as strong plugs to boost kidney vetch sites. This will be carried out with volunteers and HC rangers working with a local school.

A training and awareness raising event took place on June 11th 2016 based at Seadrift during the flight period of the small blue. This was be run with Butterfly Conservation Scotland to raise awareness and recruit help in monitoring small blue colonies and kidney vetch sites, ID caterpillars etc.adults group sblue

Following on from the event there will be a chance for Butterfly Conservation Scotland and Caithness  Biodiversity Group  to look at the sites, speak to land owners and advise on a way ahead .

This project has been funded by Landfill Communities Fund and Dunnet Bay Distillery ltd .