Saving England's most threatened species from extinction

Memories of the Chequered Skipper Butterfly

Can I write a short blog on my childhood memories of the Chequered Skipper? No problem said I!
Big problem thinking about it, it was 50 years ago and I was only ten!

In 1969, a friend had talked me into going on a nature based holiday with the local Natural History club. We were based in the village of Nassington and I think the building we stayed in with half a dozen like-minded children was some sort of outdoor pursuit centre. Our leader, as far as I can remember, was a Mr Payne from Northampton.

Activities I can remember included laying a big sheet under a Sallow tree, giving it a good shake and beating the branches and then spending the next few hours with a book on caterpillars trying to identify what had fallen out of the tree! We also set up an overnight moth trap in one of the local woods, Castor Hanglands I recall, returning in the morning to see what we had caught, and again trying to identify all the contents of the trap.

On our last day we were taken to woods, somewhere in the area of Bedford Purlieus, where we were given saws and axes! - no Health and Safety in those days, and spent the day cutting down small Turkey Oaks which had taken over much of the terrain.
It was during the day that we were called over by a very excited Mr Payne who showed us a small brown and gold butterfly perched on some vegetation. We were told by him that this was a Chequered Skipper and it was quite a rarity. I do remember that he managed to get a photograph of it on a very old camera!

The butterfly we saw that day has always stuck in my mind and it wasn’t until my interest in butterflies surfaced again in later years that I found out that it was no longer with us and I now realise just how lucky I am to have seen this butterfly before it disappeared completely.

 

Andy Wyldes 

Beds & Northants Butterfly Conservation   

 

 

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