Butterfly Walk at Penambol back in full swing!

In 2000, Chris Wilson and I set up the Butterfly Walk in the Penambol Conservation Park with the last section of the walk finishing along the track between the park and Warreanga Native Forest Reserve. For 12 years I walked this tracked every week for ~25 weeks/year (the warmer months) counting and observing all the butterfly species seen along the 1.5 km walk which is divided up into 7 sections. The seven sections reflect different habitats along the walk, such as open and grassy, shaded and leaf litter, to tussocks and wattles.

After a few years’ break I restarted my weekly walks last November. So the walk has been back on with 1/2 complete for another year, and what a season it’s been so far!.

The Common Brown, which is one of the most abundant butterflies in southern Australia, has been out in enormous numbers compared to any other year of monitoring at Penambol CP. From 2000 to 2012, the maximum number of Common Browns I counted in a single walk was 250, although such a high number was a rare occurrence. This season, on one occasion I counted a whopping 500+! In fact, for six weeks straight the total ranged from 290-509 individuals of this species. So if you’ve been wondering if there were more butterflies than normal lately…. you would be correct.

Common Brown (Heteronympha merope) male

Common Brown (Heteronympha merope) male

Common Brown (H. merope) female

Common Brown (H. merope) female

Skippers have also been out in larger numbers than previously recorded, with the Splendid Ochre seen every week for 5 weeks and they emerged earlier than ever recorded. Numbers per week are up also with 7 in one walk – which is unheard of, with 4 the previous highest number recorded.  Bright Shield-skippers are another species which is flying at the moment, and they’re simply show-offs allowing close views when perched on flowers.

The Shouldered Browns are beginning to emerge now, so there is still lots to see.

Splendid Ochre (Trapezites symmomus)

Splendid Ochre (Trapezites symmomus)

Shouldered Brown (H. Penelope)

Shouldered Brown (H. penelope)

A huge thanks to the Mt Gambier Friends of Parks group who keep the trail mowed and trimmed which makes for a pleasant and safe walk. If you get a chance to head out there, I suggest you do. Either book in for a guided walk or self-guided is perfectly fine. To book in for a walk simply call the Nature Glenelg Trust office on 8797 8596.

Bryan Haywood
Bryan Haywood


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