Survey for Duke at Pitstone Hill and NT Bradenham estate

Hello everyone, I hope you wont mind me contacting you but the National Trust, who survey for the Duke on their land at Ivinghoe, would like us to do the same on Pitstone Hill in the coming late spring and early summer.

As you are probably aware the Duke is now extinct in Oxfordshire. Reduced to perhaps a single site in Berkshire (it wasn’t reported at all in 2016) and is hanging on in three sites in Bucks.. By far the largest of the three extant colonies is at Ivinghoe and the National Trust have not only been caring for it there but also managing Pitstone Hill so that it’s condition becomes suitable for the species to spread. This is essential if we are to make a successful job of saving the Duke. It must expand from its relatively small breeding areas into new patches of suitable habitat. The Natioanl Trust’s own volunteers will be surveying the large expanse of the Ivinghoe complex for the species but they feel that they cant adequately survey Pitstone Hill as well.

I plan to hold an initial meeting at Pitstone Hill at 11.00 on Thursday 25th May. (OS ref. SP955148 , Nearest postcode: LU7 9EN  )

We will take a walk to see the areas where the Duke is most likely to set up a new colony and with luck see the butterfly, its eggs and maybe even a larvae. Even if we don’t have any luck I shall show you images of the butterfly, egg, larvae and the type of feeding damage the larvae causes on leaves, which are readily spotted and make surveying for the Duke fairly straightforward. This meeting will last about 2 hours and after that you will be able to go back and survey at times to suit yourself, and we can also agree on two further search dates, to resurvey as a group if you would prefer to search with others.

This  is a chance to take part in a very worthwhile exercise. It would be brilliant to discover a new colony of the Duke, the first for decades. Even if we don’t succeed this year, we will establish a group to return each year, because eventually the Duke will make it the 500 m or so from the edge of the Ivinghoe colony to the slopes of Pitstone Hill.

There is also a previous event at NT Bradenham estate (meeting point to be decided, probably the cricket ground), this initial visit will be 17th May.

If you think you might be able to help with this work, even only making a single visit; please email me (Nick Bowles <> ) so that I can add your name to my list of those receiving updates. Thank you.

best wishes Nick Bowles
Chair, Upper Thames branch / BC
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