News and Events

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Buxton Festival Walk

The Duke's Legacy - A guided walk around Grin Low Wood

A 1 hour gentle walk through Grinlow Woods, Buxton, guided by Alyson Phillips, Director of the Buxton Civic Association (BCA). Walkers will be introduced to the variety plants and trees in the woodland, including those planted over 200 years ago, for the 5th Duke of Devonshire, and the history of the industrial landscape they mask.

Please meet at the café at Poole’s Cavern. Parking is available at the starting point: Poole’s Cavern and Country Park, Green Lane, Buxton, SK17 9DH.

The tickets for the walk go on sale to priority bookers on 27th February. It will be open for general sale on 27th March. Booking is via the Buxton Opera House box office 01298 72190, or you can book via the link below.

Grinlow Butterfly Survey 2016

Increase in Butterflies in Grinlow Bucks the National Trend

The recent report in the Guardian and on the BBC Today programme (10th October 2016) of an overall decline in the number of Butterflies observed in nationwide surveys has been bucked, according to the early results in from BCA's Grinlow Butterfly Survey.

Steve Orridge, who heads up the survey team, reported that not only were numbers of butterflies seen during the survey up on last years figures, the number of species surveyed had also increased.

"We are clearly seeing the benefits that the forest ride brings to the woods as well as the importance of the glades. The increase light and variety of plant species is hugely beneficial to the butterflies." Steve went on " This is only the second year of the survey , but already it is giving us important feedback and information on the health and well-being of the woods."

Peter Philipson, BCA Director with responsibility for the woods also commented "The wildflowers in the glades have been fantastic this year, and this has contributed to the increase in numbers of butterflies and other insect species. A key part of our Woodland Management Plan is to support the increase in Bio-diversity and it would appear that the survey results show this to be working."

A full report on the 2016 survey will be available later in the year. If anyone is interested in helping out with the 2017 survey, please email us at

Outdoor Event

Dawn Chorus Walk 1st May 2016

The brave few that ignore the incessant rain last year.

Event details:

Location: Grinlow Woods - meet at Poole's Cavern carpark Postcode: SK17 9DH Date: 1 May 2016 Start time: 04.30 Duration: 2 hours Notes: Keep an eye on the weather but warm clothing and walking boots are important. Bring some binoculars.

Winter Talk – Bialowieza Forest

The last Primeval Forest In Europe

Imagine walking along a woodland trail deep in the heart of an ancient wood. Birds sing from almost every branch, filling the air with their song. The trees tower forty metres or more above your head and around you, on the ground, the dead and the dying trunks are alive with fungi and insects.

Imagine as the trail turns a corner in this ancient woodland, you briefly glimpse a dark shape, a shadow, as some creature of the forests breaks cover ahead of you. Was it a wolf, a bison or a wild boar? Your heart rate accelerates and for a moment you are back with your ancestors as the flight or fight instinct tries to take over.

Or is it your imagination playing tricks on you, surrounded as you are by the forest, its legends and stories stretching back 10,000 years. The shape disappears and the bird song, temporarily drowned out by the rush of fear you felt, returns and you continue, more cautiously now, on your way.

This is Bialowieza, the forest that straddles the Polish, Belarus border, and is the largest remaining area of European lowland wild wood that once stretched from Siberia to Ireland.

To a packed visitor centre at Poole's Cavern, Buxton Civic Association members and friends listened enthralled as Peter Phillipson, aided by Susan Cross brought the forest to life, with a clever combination of words, pictures and sound recordings, to show the beauty, tranquility, and astounding variety of life in this world heritage site.

Key to the forest's richness of biodiversity is the deadwood and the animals that thrive there. As much as 50% of the trees are dead, either fallen or in some cases still standing. But the "decay is the future", as the forest recycles the nutrients from the dead wood, aided by a wealth of fungi and invertebrates for the next generation of trees.

Wild boar root amongst the leaf litter turning the top two inches over, to provide a habitat for plants and insects, bison create small clearings and the beavers dam the rivers and so reengineer the landscape and create new places for flora and fauna to thrive..

The deer population is kept in check by the Lynx and the Wolf packs so the young saplings are not over grazed. So the cycle continues and has done for thousands of years.

There are challenges to overcome, and tensions between the foresters and ecologists. But the central section of the forest is effectively closed off and nature left unhindered to do what it does best. Access is limited to the fortunate few and then only for a few hours.

Bialowieza is a shining example of how to do conservation. It is a reminder of the landscapes that we have lost but also an example of what can be achieved if the will and understanding is there.

Derbyshire Butterfly Transect Report No 19

Including the First Large Skipper sighting of 2015

Hi Everyone,
In meteorological terms, today is the last day of Spring and May 2015 will go down as a cold and wet month generally (similar to 2013) which explains why the transect results have been particularly poor for what is normally a very productive month for butterflies. Surprisingly, the total number of species seen in the month has been 20 with the addition of the Large Skipper during the last 10 days, the first sighting being on the 21st of May 2015 at Williamthorpe NR (Willy Lane).only 4 days later than the earliest date for this butterfly in 2014. This is the first of the summer skippers to emerge and it is somewhat larger than the other 2 golden skippers – namely the Small Skipper and the Essex Skipper. It also has a chequered pattern on both the upperside and underside of the wings which the other 2 skippers do not have. Also the tips of the antennae, although black underneath, have a hooked end. They are also usually seen perched on foliage, rather than grasses, with bramble being a favourite plant. The other 2 skippers are not expected to be on the wing until mid June (for the Small) and early July (for the Essex) so any golden skipper that is seen in the next couple of weeks is likely to be the Large Skipper.
It is pleasing to note that the Dingy Skipper has managed to survive at most of its known areas in the County with recent sightings coming from 21 sites, mainly brownfield, with a maximum count of 15 being noted on the 22ndth of May 2015 at Ashbourne Airfield (Gary Atkins) and 14 being seen on the 27th of May 2015 at Drakelow NR (Tom Cockburn).
Records of another BAP species, namely the Small Heath are mainly being received from brownfield sites in Lowland Derbyshire but the first sighting from the Peak District and Peak Fringe areas have come from Clough Wood (Peter Faulkner), Northwood Hillside, Darley Dale (Christine Gregory) and at Longstone Edge
(Brian & Jean Hallam).
Even the Holly Blue has managed to take advantage of the odd day that proved to be sunny in May 2015 with a reasonable number of recent sightings coming from a total of 15 sites in Lowland Derbyshire but no recent records from the Peak DIstrict or Peak Fringe areas where presumably the wind chill factor and consequently the temperature had an adverse effect on its appearance there.
However, the Brown Argus migrating has only been reported in very low numbers from a few discrete colonies in Lowland Derbyshire including Drakelow NR (Tom Cockburn), Woodside NR, Shipley (Jim Steele) and Stanton Ironworks (Steve Plant & Ian Hunt).
Common Blues are now being more regularly sighted in the County, although the first record from the Peak District is still awaited, with the Blackwell Trail proving to be a ‘hot spot’ for this species with 73 being seen on the transect there on the 23rd of May 2015 (Helen Naylor) and over 100 noted at the same site by Willy Lane on the 30th of May 2015.This site has benefited by both the current owners, Hall Construction, together with the eventual owners,Derbyshire County Council, working together including taking on board advice from both the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and Butterfly Conservation to produce a really good habitat for wildlife generally and butterflies in particular, so this site is well worth a visit at sometime during the forthcoming summer (whenever that arrives!)
Only a couple of the ‘blue spotted’ Small Copper were seen recently with sightings at Eyes Meadow, Duffield on the 21st of May 2015 (Mick Ball) and at West Hallam Tip on the 30th of May 2015 (Pat & Ken Orpe) and only a few sightings of the normal version of this species coming from only 6 other sites in the County.
No sightings have been received yet from the Peak District for either the Brown Argus or the Dark Green Fritillary, but the Wall Brown has been noted at Clough Wood (Peter Faulkner), Chee Dale (Robert & Margaret Davies) with a maximum count of 12 at Longstone Edge on the 30th of May 2015 (Brian & Jean Hallam).
Fortunately the poor weather of May 2015 has not curtailed the flight period of the Green Hairstreak with recent sightings up to and including the 30th of May 2015 coming from Northwood Hillside, Darley Dale (Christine Gregory), Coombs Dale (John & Aline Roberts), Hall Dale (Nikki Mahadevan), Padley Gorge (Jim Steele & Karl Proctor) and at Longstone Edge ( Brian & Jean Hallam). Similarly the Orange-tip is still being noted in many parts of the County, albeit in low numbers.
It is pleasing to confirm that a handful of fresh Red Admirals have been seen during the last 10 days including sightings at Aston Brickyards (Pat & Ken Orpe), Hatton Meadows (Alex Charles-Roe) and at Rosliston Forestry Centre (Felicity Towns).
Fortunately the small numbers of butterflies seen on transects have been supplemented by some day flying moths including Burnet Companion, Mother Shipton and Latticed Heath (photos of which were attached to Update no 17) and, in the Peak District, the Speckled Yellow, and recently the Cinnabar moth has emerged (photo attached) to add some colour to the general countryside, especially at those sites that contain the much maligned ragwort plant, upon which this moth depends as it is the main foodplant of its caterpillar, the colour of which are bright yellow with black bands which warn predators that they are very distasteful!
Finally, it will probably not be too long before the first sighting of our most common butterfly is made in the County – namely the Meadow Brown followed by the almost equally abundant Ringlet. both of which were flying by the 9th of June in 2014.
Only your records will be able to confirm whether the above mentioned butterflies have emerged yet within the County – thanks again in anticipation of them!
Ken Orpe

Butterfly Transect Report

Photograph by Steve Orridge

We have been taking part in the Derbyshire Butterfly Survey, and Steve Orridge has been organising a group of volunteers to carry out a weekly survey in Grin woods. We have attached the latest report for the county wide survey, though at this stage Grin woods do not feature , mainly because the weather has been poor. The report has been compiled from reports across the county by Ken Orpe, the county recorder.

We will be posting these reports on a regular basis and also highlighting the results from Grin woods.

Hi Everyone,
With still no let up in the cold and wet conditions already experienced during May 2015, this has meant that several recorders failed to see even one butterfly on their transects during the last week. Despite this 2 additional butterfly species have managed to defy the odds and emerge recently in the County. First of all Simon Roddis was very surprised to see a fresh Wall Brown in his garden in Darley Dale on the 15th of May 2015 and then on the following day a mint Brown Argus (migrating) was seen by Pat and Ken Orpe at the Stanton Ironworks site, this bringing the May 2015 total to 19 species which is quite a surprise given the very unfavourable weather conditions experienced during the first 3 weeks of this month.
Not surprising but only a few Green Hairstreak sightings have been made during the last week including in Lathkill Dale (Ian White) and at the excellent site in South Derbyshire, namely Stanton Ironworks (Lyn Martin).Similarly only a few Small Copper sightings have been made including Rose End Meadows (Martin Cobham) and Lathkill Dale (Ian White), none of which were noted as being of the ‘blue spotted’ form. Just a handful of sightings of both the Common Blue and Small Heath were made recently including the former species at Stanton Ironworks (Lyn Martin) and the Derbyshire part of Toton Sidings (Brenda Meakin), whilst sightings of the latter species were made at Langley Mill Tip (Colin Penny) and at Stanton Ironworks (Pat & Ken Orpe). Although there have been no further sightings of the Painted Lady in the County recently, it is pleasing to report that Red Admirals were noted at Carsington Water (Brian Romans) and at Buxworth (Damian Hughes) during the last 7 days.
The highlight of the last week has been the number of sightings of the Dingy Skipper including at a new site at Ashbourne Airfield (Trevor Taylor) together with those at known brownfield sites in Lowland Derbyshire including Kilburn Tar Pits (Austin Thomas), Langley Mill Tip/Station (Colin Penny), the Derbyshire part of Toton Sidings (Brenda Meakin & Richard Rogers), West Hallam Tip/Peewit Carr Complex (Pat & Ken Orpe), Stanton Ironworks (Lyn Martin; Pat & Ken Orpe),
Drakelow NR (Tom Cockburn), Williamthorpe NR (Willy Lane), Poulter Country Park (Andy Laking & Shell), Poolsbrook Country Park (Glyn Morris), Barlborough Links (Colin Morris) and the Avenue Washlands, Wingerworth (Sam Ellis). In the Peak District sightings have been made at Cheedale (Steve Orridge) and Rose End Meadows NR (Martin Cobham & James Bradbury)., whilst in the Peak Fringe area, this species was noted at Crich Chase (Ross Pearson) and interestingly in an open area on the woodland walk at Crich Tramway Museum (Ian Hunt).
Finally although not actually to do with Lepidoptera, many recorders enjoy the sight and noise of ‘screaming’ swifts as they swoop around the rooftops of our area having travelled to us from Equatorial Africa. The Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and the Derbyshire Ornithological Society are running a project on Swifts, which is a rapidly declining species. While they have only two and not four wings (!), should you see any flying BELOW roof height or even entering buildings please send full details (including property numbers/street names, post codes) to the survey organiser, Nick Brown
Also, recently a definitive book on the Flora of Derbyshire was launched which is the first book on the subject since 1969 and it describes over 1900 plant species that can be found in the County together with over 1100 distribution maps of most of the species. In this connection it is possible to compare food plants of the caterpillars of Lepidoptera with the current distribution maps of particular butterfly species with, for example, Common Rock Rose and the distribution of the Brown Argus in the Peak District. With permission of Nick Moyes, one of the authors, I have attached the distribution map of Common Rock Rose for comparison with the distribution of the said butterfly. It can clearly be noted where the plant has been seen and then it is possible for searches to be made to establish whether the butterfly is also resident in those areas – clearly a challenge if recorders want to contribute to the knowledge of this Peak District speciality butterfly!
If you wish to purchase a copy of this excellent new hardback book, please look for the "Buy The Book" tab here:
Ken Orpe

PUBLIC LECTURE – A New landscape for England

Sophie Churchill OBE led the creation of The National Forest, a new forested landscape for England stretching across 200 square miles and including parts of Derbyshire from 2006 – 2014.
Sophie was awarded an OBE for Services to the Environment and cited as ‘a powerful advocate for the forest and its values’. She is an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Foresters, soon to be the first female President of the Royal Forestry Society and is Chair of TREE AID which works to make communities in the drylands of Africa more resilient to poverty and drought, through trees.
The world of trees can make a big contribution to human well-being and prosperity. In this inspirational lecture Sophie looks forward to the opportunity to describe how, in the Heart of England, we are making the most of our landscape through The National Forest - and how this can happen throughout the globe.
This event will be taking place in the Lecture Theatre (DO/G04) at our Buxton Campus:
The University of Derby
Devonshire Road
SK17 6RY