Butterfly Bank  

The Brilliant Butterflies Project is working with Croydon Council and local communities to create more wildflower areas for butterflies and other insects. They selected a site in our car park field on which to build a Butterfly Bank.

They created a chalk bund in our car park field on 19th  April 2021. Low nutrient chalk provides excellent conditions for wild flowers. See the section Creating the Chalk Bank 19 April 2021 below for details of the construction work.

On Sunday 25th April this was sown with butterfly friendly seeds and planted with 250 small plug plants of various wildflower species (Birds-foot Trefoil, Cowslip, Knapweed (greater & lesser), Ox-eye Daisy, Rock-rose, Scabious, Thyme and Yarrow) to supplement the chalk grassland seed mix. This will help support many species including the Small Blue Butterfly. Sadly the Kidney Vetch and Marjoram plug plants that should have been included would not be available for another month which would be too late for planting so the order is being delayed until September. See the section Planting the Chalk Bank 25 April 2021.

The Butterfly Bank is likely to take a year to establish and 2 or 3 years to thrive. Even this is weather dependent, with the current dry spring not the ideal conditions So it will take time to establish, but the low nutrient chalk means that, thereafter, the wildflowers will last for many years with very little maintenance.

We shall be keeping and annual photographic record in July of each year and hope to appoint a volunteer "butterfly champion" to help record the butterflies seen on the area. To begin with this would be a 15 minute annual survey in July and once the wildflowers are established after a couple of years a monthly survey in spring and summer. 

Please do not walk on the planted area and keep your dogs away.

Entries below show development of the chalk bank in reverse order with the most recent at the top.

Butterfly Bank - October 16-31 - 2021
Spotted a number of worm casts on the BB today - see centre of the photo. This is another sign of new life. A bank of chalk would not seem to be a very attractive environment for worms and it is perhaps surprising that the casts are so brown.
Butterfly Bank - October 1-15 - 2021
There are still flowers on the BB this month including this one which is new to the wood and new to me. It is a spiked flower that I have been watching, waiting for the colour of the flowers to show. They are now clearly yellow and can be identified as Weld - one to add to the Flowers Full List.
Also on 10th October I spotted this solitary red Poppy. We had a Poppy on the BB back in August but it wasn't a red one.
Butterfly Bank - September 2021
Plenty more growth on the BB this month as shown in the gallery below - photos by Ruth. New sightings are:

Small White Butterfly
Ox-eye Daisy
Knapweed
Butterfly Bank - August 2021
The photo below shows the state of the BB on 12th August with some large plants now appearing and the general dusting of seedlings thriving. The gallery photos, most by Ruth Budd, show some of the identifiable plants (species seen by end of August recorded below).

Autumn Hawkbit
Bird's Foot Trefoil 
Corn Chamomile
Cornflower
Corn Marigold
Groundsel
Hedge Mustard
Knotgrass
Poppy
Scabious
Scarlet Pimpernel
Smooth Sow Thistle
Speedwell
Yarrow
Butterfly Bank - July 2021
These photos by Steve Budd show the state of the bank in July 2021. There is sporadic growth of plug plants and some seedlings especially in the flat area. 

Butterfly Bank - first flowers, June 2021

This Ox-eye Daisy (right) was photographed by Ruth Budd on 11 June 2021 - the first flower to appear on the Butterfly Bank. Two more Ox-eyes appeared followed on 24 June by this Birds Foot Trefoil (below) - again photographed by Ruth.

Butterfly Bank greening after the rain 25 May 2021

The photos below taken by Ruth Budd show the response of the BB to a few days of heavy rain. The seeds have begun to sprout and even a worm has come to visit.

Fencing the Chalk Bank 9 May 2021

The ridge fence on the top of the bund had been knocked down so FSW decided to replace it with a perimeter fence. BB supplied some extra fencing as we had run out and the FSW workdays team erected this and relocated our earlier fence so that the whole bund was enclosed. This was done on a workday and is reported in full on the Workdays page.

The photograph shows the team working in the distance.

The past fortnight has been very dry and the FSW have been watering the plants. However, the last 2 days have seen a lot of rain and unless the drought resumes it should not be necessary to water much from now on.

Planting the Chalk Bank 25 April 2021

A number of FSW volunteers were ready and waiting by the toilet block when Laura Suckley from Wild London arrived in her camper van with the plug plants and trowels and dibbers. We opened the height barrier at the entrance to the car park to let her through. She drove up to the chalk bank and unloaded everything then advised us on how the planting should be done. The plants were to be spaced out over the bund and the flattened area and after that was finished she would give us all seed to sow. The plug plants comprised Birds-foot Trefoil, Cowslip, Scabious, Knapweed, Ox-eye Daisy, Thyme and Yarrow. We set to work, assisted after a while by an 8 year old girl and her mum who readily joined in.

While we were planting Neale undertook another job - the provision of a low fence along the top of the bund to deter dogs and people from running or walking over it.

Once the plugs were all planted we each took handfuls of seed and strewed it over the surface, raking it in with our feet to prevent it being blown away by the wind. A full list of all the plant and seed species is given in the link below.

The final job was watering in al the plants and seeds. Several folks had brought watering cans and Laura supplied a few more. Laura also had a large container of water but most of it had to be carried up from the toilet block. The weather has been very dry of late but Laura assured us that there would be no need for more watering for a while, even if the drought continued, as the plants are all very tolerant of dry conditions.

Many thanks to all who helped today and to those who took the photographs in the gallery below.

20 April 2021 

The gallery of photos below shows the completed chalk bank from different directions before any planting took place.
The photograph to the left, by Terri McNally, shows the team setting up for the construction work and that above the location and size of the new chalk bank relative to the field. 

Ted Forsyth watched the creation process and his report and photographs are shown below.

Creating the Chalk Bank 19 April 2021

I arrived in the car park field at 8.30am and found an assortment of vehicles already there. Steve Bolton, from Butterfly Conservation, and his two helpers were setting out the area on the ground where the bund and flat area were to go. 

Once that was done the area was surrounded by a temporary plastic fence then the digger was used to remove the turf layer.  The turf was then moved to create the bund and the digger was used to run over it to firm it before returning to scrape up subsoil which was spread over the new bund. The digger bucket was used to smooth out the soil over the bund surface. 

Two large tipper lorries arrived with their loads of fine chalk and tipped it in piles on to the flat scraped area. The chalk was transferred to the bund to cover it up to 30cm deep and the flat area was then smoothed out. I left at 11.48am before the work was actually finished but there was little more to do other than tidy up.