Species Champion

Species Champions

Our butterflies need help – moths too

Champion is the title given to people who take a greater interest in a particular species than most recorders and are therefore the ones to speak to about the butterfly or moth. A champion idea and champion in deed.

The role is an essential conservation activity; we need more than just squares on a map to understand the species and what is happening to its populations. We also need records from the general countryside, not just the hot spots and well known reserves.

Why is it becoming so important?

Have you heard of the drive for improvements to Sites of Special Scientific Interest [SSSI] by 2010? It is being undertaken by Natural England due to an EU initiative, to stop the deterioration in the populations of rare species. A review by Butterfly Conservation showed that all was not well with the work as many species have been lost from SSSI’s due to scrub removal and cutting hedges back to the fences.

There was also the recent review of Biodiversity Action Plan species which lead to a major increase in the number of lepidoptera being added to the list.

Planners, and other bodies involved with decisions about the use and management of land, need ever more detailed and better data on species to be able to undertake their work.

What is it all about?

The amount you can do is basically your choice and here is the range of things you can consider:

    • First decide the species or group then pick your favourite, one you have heard is in trouble, one we have suggested to ease identity issues.
    • Then think about the area or location.  The area to cover is up to you, it can be the whole county, your locality or half way across Surrey and Kent to cover soil types and current ranges
    • Try to annually check the known locations and populations
    • Find new habitats and sites
    • Photograph the species for the newsletters and websites
    • Monitor the effectiveness of management activities, is it working?
    • Look up the historical records in books and understand the flow of where the species used to be
    • Learn to discover the early stages – become able to teach others too
    • See the full flight periods and different generations
    • Carry out timed counts to judge populations.


  • Data is available to guide and inform you

There is help and advice offered. Chat to Ken Willmott and Malcolm Bridge for Surrey and for Kent, Peter Kirby, Mike Easterbrook or Ian Ferguson, as detailed in the newsletters. You can also email them from the websites and, of course, you may contact David Gardner about butterflies and moths in both branches, particularly for cross border species of concern. Judging by other branches, the enjoyment and knowledge the champions gain is amazing and very rewarding for them too. Just develop your interest or become the person to ask.

Here are some of the aims for the future:

    • Discuss your species with champions from other branches; Butterfly Conservation head office is currently considering creating National Champions, to co-ordinate news and take the understanding and help given to a species to another level.
    • Conduct annual gatherings to discuss what is happening and what is new.   Join inter-species discussion round the table at the conservation days.  By 2010, we hope to have champions established and data to exchange.
    • Overlay weather reports to establish any particular links with the success or failure of a species.
  • You can restrict your area to just where you live, for example the Reigate area and compare notes with the old book on local lepidoptera!

Some species have champions or contacts in place, namely:

Surrey – Butterflies


  • Adonis Blue Adonis BlueCurrent Species Champion(s): Gail Jeffcoate.

    Gail would appreciate help with some of her species.

    Adonis Blue Chalkhill BlueCurrent Species Champion(s): Gail Jeffcoate.

    Gail would appreciate help with some of her species.

    Small Blue Small BlueCurrent Species Champion(s): Gail Jeffcoate.

    Gail would appreciate help with some of her species.

    Silver-spotted Skipper Silver-spotted SkipperCurrent Species Champion(s): Gail Jeffcoate.

    Gail would appreciate help with some of her species.

    Dark Green Fritillary Dark Green FritillaryCurrent Species Champion(s): Gail Jeffcoate.

    Gail would appreciate help with some of her species.

    Wood White Wood WhiteCurrent Species Champion(s): Steve Jeffcoate.

    White-letter Hairstreak White-letter HairstreakCurrent Species Champion(s): Richard Donovan.Helped by: Malcolm Bridge & Alan Hunt
    Purple Emperor Purple EmperorCurrent Species Champion(s): Ken Willmott.
    Purple Hairstreak Purple HairstreakCurrent Species Champion(s): Alan Hunt.
    Silver-studded Blue Silver-studded BlueCurrent Species Champion(s): Howard StreetHoward would welcome any of your Silver-studded Blue sightings. Please click here to email him.
    Grayling GraylingCurrent Species Champion(s): Howard StreetHoward would welcome any of your Grayling sightings. Pleaseclick here to email him.

    The following are key Surrey species without champions or contacts:

    Dingy Skipper Dingy SkipperCurrent Species Champion(s): None.
    Grizzled Skipper Grizzled SkipperCurrent Species Champion(s): None.
    Small Blue Brown HairstreakCurrent Species Champion(s): None.
    Silver-spotted Skipper White AdmiralCurrent Species Champion(s): None.

    Our colleagues in Kent share most of the same priority species plus Duke of Burgundy and Wall. Moths will be tackled in the next Surrey Skipper and will be added to this page soon.

    Not surprisingly there are significantly more moths which deserved to be championed.

    If you think you can help please contact David Gardner or one of the other two Surrey contacts.

    Contacts for Surrey:

    Name Email Address Link
    Overall Contact David Gardner Email David
    Surrey Contact Malcolm Bridge Email Malcolm
    Surrey Contact Ken Willmott Email Ken
    David Gardner – March 2009


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