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News Autumn 2023

Intrepid volunteers dodge the rain to plant drifts of spring flowering bulbs

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In spite of torrential rain earlier that morning, an army of Shamley Green residents turned up on Saturday 21st October with their spades and bulb planters to help SGEG brighten up the village next spring. And unbelievably the rain STOPPED, so it couldn't have been better - nice soft ground to plant in, and no need for waterproofs after all!

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Two areas were planted with swathes of Crocus and Narcissi, one by the Lords Hill playground and the other under trees by the Cricket Green, providing an early season source of pollen and nectar as well as looking beautiful every spring.

 

HUGE thanks to you all! And to Ginny Wicks , Alison Harding and Hen West who provided very welcome refreshments afterwards to this hard-working bunch who got finished in record time!

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Huge Thanks to SG’s Great Big Litter Pickers!

Huge thanks to everyone who joined us for SGEG’s Great Big Litter Pick on 7th October. More than 20 of you gathered for a couple of hours of litter picking on a brilliant Autumnal morning. Just look at the clear skies and short sleeves! We picked around the greens and surrounding roads, and walked the routes to both schools, plus the footpaths  to WSG Primary and Castle Nursery crossing and rounding Nursery Hill, through the woods and ending in Norley Lane.

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SGEG’s motivation was to remove hazards to wildlife and the environment. Broken glass can start fires and cause injuries, and removing plastics helps minimise ingestion by wildlife and eliminates this durable material from the food chain. Doing so keeps the village looking fabulous too. The teams collected a surprising amount of rubbish and relaxed afterwards with tea and cake hosted by Glynis and Jim at the Malt House, baked by the volunteers.

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Particular thanks to those who joined us, WSG and Longacre Schools, WPC for proving litter pickers, vests and PL insurance, David Ball for bringing child-sized hi-viz tabards from 1st Wonersh Scouts, and to everyone who baked for the post-pick tea. And to the Lengthsmen, Wombles and dog walkers that bin it when they see it.

 

Have you seen one of these in your garden?

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The Lords Hill caterpillar
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Adult Death's Head Hawkmoth

This unusual visitor was seen in a Lords Hill garden this week, an amazing caterpillar 8-10cm long!

 

It's the larva of Acherontia atropos, the death's head hawkmoth, so called because of the skull-like markings on the thorax of the adult moth.  This incredible creature has a wingspan of up to five inches (13cm) so it's a powerful flyer and is a regular visitor from Europe and Africa where it is native. It only flies late at night, so the adult is not often seen, but if alarmed it emits a series of loud squeaks - these may deter predators, and it's thought they may also pacify the bees when the moth is raiding their hives for honey!

This caterpillar may have been looking for a suitable spot to pupate - most sightings are at this stage, when they wander away from the plants thay have fed on for the last 4 weeks (often potato plants) and dig down 5-10cms to make an underground chamber. Most pupae do not survive the winter, but some do. Let's hope our Lords Hill visitor is one of the lucky ones!

For great information about the death's head hawkmoth see https://www.wildlifeinsight.com/british-moths/deaths-head-hawkmoth-and-caterpillar-acherontia-atropos/

 

Big Butterfly Count - results are in!

A massive thank you to all those who took part in this year’s Big Butterfly Count.


Butterflies and moths are excellent indicators of the impacts of climate change and other human environmental factors, so collecting data on their numbers is really important!


As a result of the records sent to Butterfly Conservation, we now know that last year’s drought hasn’t been as bad for butterflies as had been feared. The wetter summer experienced across most of the UK this year has helped our butterflies, as there have been more nectar sources for the adult butterflies and foodplants available for caterpillars.

 

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Over 1.5 million of these beautiful insects were recorded during this year’s Big Butterfly Count – more butterflies and moths were spotted than over the last four years. That’s an average of 12 per Count, up from an all-time low of just 9 in 2022. Get the full results here

 

But there is also some alarming news that has been revealed by the survey's long term trends.


Over the last 13 years of Big Butterfly Count, many species of butterflies have significantly declined. Species loss is happening in our own backyard. Plenty of common British butterflies are in trouble: the Green-veined White has had the most severe Big Butterfly Count decline in the longer term with a decrease of 61%, the Ringlet has seen a decrease of 40% and another garden favourite, the Small Tortoiseshell, has seen a decline of almost 30%.

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Green-Veined White
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Small Tortoiseshell

One of the biggest threats to butterflies in the UK is habitat loss. Butterflies need places where they can feed, breed and shelter. That’s why Butterfly Conservation is asking for your help in creating more Wild Spaces where butterflies and moths can live!

Nearly 137,000 Big Butterfly Counts were recorded this summer. If every single person who helped with the Count creates a Wild Space, there could be a UK-wide network of butterfly corridors, and maybe next year we’ll see even more of these colourful creatures in the Big Butterfly Count!


If you want to find out more about how you can create your own Wild Spaces please visit: https://wild-spaces.co.uk/

 

SWT Community Groups evening

In August SGEG was one of the Community Groups invited by Surrey Wildlife Trust to an evening to celebrate Surrey Community Action at West Horsley Place. It was an opportunity to chat to other environmental community groups and exchange information.  SWT also handed out some Community Champion Awards. All groups assembled a submission board outlining their past achievements and future goals: here is what was written on our submission board which we completed after the event. 

We will try to be more organised next time!

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