I have been a member of the Bradford Urban Wildlife Group Oh! for many years and you may recall how I found earlier in the year a number of Bee Orchids at the old Low Moor tip site off Dealburn Road. Well Joan Dobson a member of the group informed me that an article about the group, Marbled white butterflies and my Bee Orchids had recently appeared in the local paper. So a bit of research and I found the article which is below:
Helping district’s wildlife to thrive
26 Oct 2016 / Helen Mead , T&A Reporter
ASK most people to identify a marbled white and they will probably think you are asking about paint.
But to anyone with a keen interest in nature, marbled white is a species of butterfly – and one which in recent years has been spotted in the Bradford district.
A distinctive black and white insect, the butterfly inhabits natural grassland and is commonly found in downland in the South of England. Adults may be found roosting halfway down tall grass stems.
It has a preference for purple flowers such as wild marjoram, field scabious, thistles, and knapweeds.
The marbled white has over the last 20 years expanded northwards and eastwards, with sightings in particular in Yorkshire and south-west Wales. In Yorkshire, their main habitats are the Yorkshire Wolds in the east and Brockadale Nature Reserve near Pontefract, but in 2012 a number of them were spotted in a field off Leeds Road close to Shipley station. Since then, there have been numerous sightings, most recently this spring and summer.
This comes as exciting news to Bradford Urban Wildlife Group, whose members have dedicated themselves to protecting wildlife and habitats for almost 30 years.
“How they arrived in Shipley we do not know,” says group secretary Susan Stead. “The latest sighting came from someone who spotted one flying near the station. The grass species red fescue, which is present in the field, is thought to be essential in the diet of caterpillars.”
Amid a threat of development, the wildlife group is hoping that the land on which the sighting occurred will remain as meadowland. “We would like the field preserved as there is a good-sized colony of marbled whites,” says Susan. “It is not a rare butterfly but it is rare in Shipley.”
A recent proposal, following an ecological assessment of the Shipley/Leeds Road corridor by Wakefield-based West Yorkshire Ecology, proposes a butterfly-friendly ‘nectar highway’ along a route that includes the field.
“We have support from the charity Butterfly Conservation,” adds Susan.
The group’s efforts to preserve the green space follows many previous campaigns fought by its members to safeguard land for wildlife. They have been instrumental in preserving areas such as Bingley North and South Bog – the latter which became a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) – which were at risk during the building of the Bingley bypass, the creation of Boar’s Well Urban Wildlife Reserve and the classifying of Trench Meadows below Shipley Glen as an SSSI.
They also helped to create a wildlife reserve at Shipley Railway Station. Owned by Network Rail, it is managed jointly by Bradford Urban Wildlife Group, Butterfly Conservation and Leeds Groundwork Trust. Protected by fencing, this area of herb-rich grassland supports the larval food plants of many grassland butterflies and moths.
Bradford Urban Wildlife Group carries out surveys of plant and animal life, resulting in increased levels of protection. Joan Dobson is responsible for botanical recordings, which this year included the presence of the and Southern Marsh Orchid at a reclaimed quarry and waste disposal site in Low Moor.
“We were overjoyed,” she says. “No orchids had been found there before. One of our members, Martyn Priestley, placed netting cages around them to protect them. When he returned later he found six bee orchids nearby.
“We are trying to get the site protected and this really helps. The group plays a vital role – we hear of things that may be happening such as planning proposals, we monitor situations and put in a voice for wildlife.”
The group has been approached by the Friends of Roberts Park to carry out a survey, which is on the agenda for 2017. “They want to look at areas which are not planted in formal beds, which they may be able to leave for wildlife,” says Joan.
The group also monitors legislation surrounding the environment and wildlife.
Honorary president and co-founder of Bradford Urban Wildlife Group Les Barnett is proud of the group’s achievements over the years. “Whether in Bradford or anywhere else, wildlife needs to be considered in any plans for an area.
“We have spent a lot of time lobbying and working with councillors to make sure that wildlife has a place. Over the years we have met with a lot of success.”
For more details about the group and how to join, ring Susan Stead on 07789 660574 or visit buwg.btck.co.uk.