Rockingham Forest celebrates rare butterfly's birthday

It's a year since the first English-born Chequered Skipper was spotted in the forest

By Phoebe Radford
Thursday, 21st May 2020, 6:00 am
The Chequered Skipper butterfly as pictured by Dave James
The Chequered Skipper butterfly as pictured by Dave James

Rockingham Forest is celebrating the anniversary of the first sighting of a rare butterfly, the first to hatch in the country in more than 40 years.

An English-born Chequered Skipper was spotted in the forest on May 19, 2019 after a successful reintroduction project.

The Chequered Skipper had become extinct in 1976 but was reintroduced to Rockingham Forest in 2018 from Belgian populations.

You could bake a cake like this one, pictured by Liz Morrison

Back from the Brink project officer for Rockingham Forest, Susannah O'Riordan, said: "This project is an example of great conservation at work in Rockingham Forest.

"We want to celebrate the first birthday of this beautiful butterfly, native to our area, and raise awareness that it is possible to make good, positive change to our environment when we nurture and look after it.

"We'd love local people to celebrate with us by entering our #ChequeredSkipperBirthday competition."

The competition is open to all ages and will be running until Tuesday, May 26.

To enter, make a birthday card or bake a cake inspired by the Chequered Skipper butterfly and post a photo on either Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and tag @naturebftb and #ChequeredSkipperBirthday."

Susannah said: "Winners in each category, card and cake, will receive a beautiful framed photographic print of the first English Chequered Skipper spotted in Rockingham Forest and a 'Back from the Brink' pin badge."

Dave James, Northants Butterfly County Recorder and spotter of the first English Chequered Skipper, will be judging the card competition.

The cake judge will be chairman of Bedfordshire and Northants Butterfly Conservation Branch, Doug Goddard, who is described as Rockingham Forest's cake connoisseur.

As he won't be able to taste the cakes, entrants are encouraged to share some information about their ingredients.

For some inspiration, you could take a look at the Roots of Rockingham blog to learn more about the Chequered Skipper.

The celebrations come just as recorders are about to resume looking for the butterfly and document more sightings.

Some campaigners are hoping that Weekly Hall Woods, in Kettering, is within reach of the Chequered Skippers at Rockingham.The woods are currently under threat from warehouse plans, but campaigners say the grassland and wildflower meadow at Weekly Hall Wood was a historic habitat of the butterfly and they could return to the area.

Two other rare butterflies, the Dingy Skipper and the Grizzled Skipper, have been sighted at the wood this spring.

At Rockingham Forest, Susannah said: "This year, recorders are just about to resume looking for this butterfly and hope to be documenting some sightings very soon."