The Grey Long-Eared Bat Project

The East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Team and Bat Conservation Trust are working together on this exciting project, in both East Devon and West Dorset, to help enhance wildflower meadows in these areas to benefit both bats and people.

Our most endangered bat

The grey long-eared is one of our most endangered bats and is now confined to only a few areas on the southern counties. They tend to roost in old houses with large open roof voids and will fly up to 6km away to forage over meadows, grasslands, gardens and along woodland edges.

Loss of wild meadows

Since the 1930s, the UK has lost 97% of its wildlflower meadows and this dramatic decline has impacted heavily on the bat. Also the landscape has become more fragmented, making it difficult for them to find safe continuous commuting routes to roost or feed

FREE ADVICE – Craig Dunton, the project’s Land management advisor is working with landowners to help enhance their meadows.

If you would like advice on improving your land for bats and wildlife, contact Craig Dunton, or ring 07807 215270.

We are hoping we can connect up bat friendly commuter routes through the landscapes of East Devon and West Dorset – so please do get in touch if you own land and want to find out more.

Brown Hairstreak Butterfly Survey

At the end of 2020, our volunteers joined a county-wide egg hunt to help monitor Brown Hairstreak butterfly populations.  After a very successful survey, which closed at the end of February, Jess Smallcombe at Devon Biological Records Centre has the challenge of analysing the many surveys submitted countywide.

Results so far

So far 85 surveys have been submitted for East Devon and 110 eggs have been found. In addition, eight 1km square ‘plots’ now have data records where they didn’t before, more than doubling the recorded sites.

The perils of tidy hedgerows

Although a few eggs were found on flailed hedges, eggs were missing from most of the surveyed areas with regularly flailed hedgerows.

Brown Hairstreaks only lay eggs on blackthorn and laying is prevented or eggs are destroyed when hedges are mechanically cut back on a regular basis. To help their conservation, we need to cut our hedges less frequently and plant more blackthorn. Ideally a 2-3 year cutting rotation would support a thriving population.

Emerging in springtime 

Shortly Brown Hairstreak eggs will be hatching into bright green larvae, well camouflaged on the bright green leaves bursting from blackthorn buds in our Devon hedgerows.

Watch our short film for more information about this rarely seen butterfly and how we can help protect it here


The Brown Hairstreak Survey was a Butterfly Conservation, Devon Wildlife Trust, Devon Biological Records Centre and East Devon AONB Partnership collaboration. The Saving Devon’s Treescapes project is also monitoring lichen and recording notable trees. Information on these other surveys can be found on the Saving Devon’s Treescapes website.


Pearl Bordered Fritillary – the April Fritillary

Two more butterflies we are working to support in East Devon are the Pearl and Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries.

April Fritillary 

The Pearl Bordered Fritillary is one of the earliest butterflies to emerge, hence it is also known as the ‘April Fritillary’. Its appearance in spring coincides with the greening of the woods, with their floods of bluebells, violets and primrose, and birds in full song.

Sadly, a loss of habitat has contributed to its demise – needing open glades in woodland where overwintering caterpillars can feed on dog violet.

The Small Bordered Fritillary (SBF) – its close cousin – is very similar and it’s very hard to tell them apart. Both have distinctive spots or ‘pearls’ on the undersides of their wings, but the SBF is more contrasted, with a few extra spots as well as being smaller. Its population is larger than the Pearl Bordered as it also occurs in grassy marshy places as well as woodland edges and glades.

Have you seen one? 

The main recorded sightings are Aylesbeare, the Southleigh area and the Undercliffe National Nature Reserve. Their favourite food plant is the dog violet – Please look out for dog violet in your local woodlands and let us know if you see either of these elusive butterflies fluttering nearby. A short film about the fritillaries and their habitat needs is coming soon.

For more information on the butterflies:

Pearl Bordered Fritillary
Small Pearl Bordered fritillary

Spot and record your butterflies – download the free Butterfly Conservation app for recording the butterflies you see. Find out more. 


For further information on our species recovery project, contact Ruth Worsley – our Wildlife Engagement Officer: