Saturday, 7 January 2017

Start planning your 2017 butterfly garden now

The Small Copper butterfly

Last year was a pretty miserable one for garden butterflies. How many butterflies did you see fluttering around? The Big Butterfly Count results revealed the Gatekeeper, Comma and Small Copper were down 40%, 46% and 30% respectively compared to 2015. This is a devastating reduction in numbers. It is tragic that the next generation of children might never have the healing experience of butterflies and Summer days that we once took for granted. We need to give it back.

These common species will all visit gardens to feed on nectar. Some species are declining in the South and are attempting to spread North. You can help them recover this year by making sure your garden offers sustenance throughout the butterfly season.

Winter is a great time to draw up planting plans for your flowerbeds but even adding a pot of pollinator-friendly flowers can make a difference. The Butterfly Conservation Society's Secret Gardener blog publishes monthly tips and for January suggests some of the following easy ways to start turning over a new leaf in your garden in 2017.

Add some more nectar plants
Aim to provide a food source for butterflies and moths from at least spring to autumn. It can be a simple as planting the evergreen Perennial Wallflower Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’ which can have purple flowers all year round and is attractive to the Small Tortoiseshell and Large and Small Whites.

Having plants in flower during the winter is useful for any butterflies coming out of hibernation early on warm days.  Witch Hazel, Hamamelis,  provides both colour and nectar in January.

For moths chose something scented or white or with tubular flowers. Honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum 'Scentsation' is a climber which flowers from mid-summer to mid-autumn.

Add some more foodplants
Encourage butterflies and moths to breed by leaving a small patch of grass to grow unchecked. A wild patch provides vital foodplants for caterpillars.

If you don’t have much room you can still cater for the Mint Moth Pyrausta aurata with a pot of Mint.  Bowles (Apple) Mint Mentha x villosa alopecuroides grows to 75cm with pretty flowers and can also be used for your mint sauce. A container of Nasturtiums will attract white butterflies, providing a useful distraction from your Brassica vegetables.

The Butterfly Bush (Buddleia) –  The cone shaped flowers have a rich fragrance that attracts butterflies and bees.  If you don’t have room for one of the older varieties such as “Black Knight” or “Royal Red” there are new dwarf variants such as the “Nanho” or “Pixie” types.

Potentilla fruticosa – There are a range of varieties with different coloured flowers through summer. ‘Lovely Pink’ and ‘Goldfinger’ are examples of small shrubs that will attract butterflies and bees.

Creeping Thistle
The Lancashire Wildlife Trust tell us that Buddleia and Nettles (!) are ideal plants for Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral butterflies, while Creeping Thistle (Cirsium arvense) supports Painted Lady butterflies. Jack-by-the-hedge and Cuckooflower attract breeding Orange Tip butterflies, whose caterpillars feed on these plants. A sheltered garden or an enclosed suntrap will help to create the best conditions.

Watch out for the wildlife
Keep an eye on the butterflies and moths in your garden and see which plants are popular nectar or food sources, so you can grow more of them if you have space.

Plan to take part in Butterfly surveys. Make a note in your diary of the dates of the Big Butterfly Count (14 July to 6 August) and aim to have some plants in flower providing nectar during this period.

Moth Night this year runs from 12 to 14 October with the main theme of Ivy so you could plant one now in readiness.

If you have more time available then why not keep a record of the butterflies you find in your garden all year round with the Garden Butterfly Survey. 


Friday, 6 January 2017

Appeal to trace two youths following burglaries in Lancaster



Local police have released an image of two people they would like to speak to in connection with two burglaries in Lancaster.

Officers attended Cowdrey Mews at around 2.00 am on Tuesday 3rd January following reports two youths were seen putting a television into a red Citroen Berlingo. The pair decamped from the car further down the road and fled the scene.

Further enquiries revealed that the car had been stolen following a burglary on Westbourne Road which took place between 11.00 pm on 2nd January and 2.00 am on 3rd January. A second car, a silver convertible Mercedes E200, which had been stolen following a burglary at an address on Nairn Road on the same night was also found abandoned nearby.

The television that was recovered from the Citroen Berlingo is thought to have been stolen from the property on Nairn Road.

DC Jill Neil of Lancaster CID said: “We are keen to speak to the two pictured in connection with these car thefts and would urge anyone who knows who they are, or who has any information about the two incidents to contact us.”

• Anyone with information can contact police on 101 quoting log 80 of 3rd January. Alternatively independent charity Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at Crimestoppers-uk.org

Monday, 2 January 2017

Lancashire County Council puts six Library buildings up for sale

Bolton-le-Sands Library. Image: Google
Lancashire County Council is selling six former library buildings, including the building in Bolton-le-Sands.

Six former libraries are up for sale, or due to go on the market shortly - Barrowford, Bolton-le-Sands, Earby, Freckleton, Fulwood, and Whalley.

The initial asking price for the buildings has not been revealed at this stage. Plans to close more than 20 of the County Council's 73 libraries were approved in September following public consultation, to the dismay of library users and some county councillors.

These buildings are being sold as part of the council's property strategy as, the Council, says, it "works to ensure people still have good access to good services close to where they live, whilst facing the need to make massive savings. "

The strategy will reduce the number of buildings the council owns and rents. In their place, the Council plans to form a network of multi-functional buildings known as neighbourhood centres, which they claim will provide a base for a range of different services in one place.

There will be changes to where some services are delivered in the future, including libraries, children's services, children's centres, young people's centres, youth offending teams, older people's daytime support services, adult disability day services and the registration service.

These buildings were initially offered to other public sector organisations, to consider if they could use the buildings for their own services.

County Councillor David Borrow, deputy leader of the county council, said: "These buildings are the first to go on sale following the county council's decision to change how we deliver our services, and develop new neighbourhood centres with services designed for local needs.

"We’re faced with a very difficult budget position. In 2020/21 we will have a funding gap of £146m as a result of ongoing government cuts to our budget and rising demand for services.

"We looked into options for community groups to take on responsibility for these buildings, but unfortunately no viable plans came forward, so we're looking to sell these buildings and bring in additional revenue.

"We don't want to be in this position, but we have to make difficult decisions.

"People will still have good access to good services, whilst allowing the council to deliver some of the huge savings we need to make."

The closure of Lancashire's public libraries has been criticised by local MPs including Paul Maynard, the Conservative representative for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, who complained to the government.

The BBC reports the situation is being monitored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport which said that local authorities have a statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service.

Three libraries - at Crawshawbooth, Oswaldtwistle and Trawden - are to be handed over to community groups with some financial support from the council.

• Find out more about the County Council's plans for its services by following links to 'Changes to our buildings' at www.lancashire.gov.uk