The Marbled White in Nottinghamshire
     
The existence of the Marbled White in Nottinghamshire has been well known since the early 1990's and the colony's precise location at Portland Park, was originally publicised in the much missed Nottinghamshire Naturalist Vol 2, Issue 4, Aug 1999.

We visited the site in July 2005 and following the directions given in The Nottinghamshire Naturalist, eventually found the colony in the old quarry workings area. This was quite well away from where it was originally mentioned, but the Marbled White was indeed present - and in good numbers too.

For many years, Portland Park (situated between Kirkby-in-Ashfield and Annesley at SK499551) held Nottinghamshire's only Marbled White colony. But in recent years, this delightful butterfly has increased its local range and has also been successfully introduced at a number of other sites.

 
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Recent range expansion

The Marbled White's range expansion in Nottinghamshire, coincides with a national north and easterly range expansion. In Nottinghamshire, the Marbled White has occurred (or is still present) at Netherfield Ash Lagoons, Portland Park, Warsop Main Pit Top, Hills and Holes at Market Warsop, Dyscarr Wood, Toton Sidings, Bingham Linear Park, Langar Wildflower Farm, Worksop Manor, Freckland wood (Newstead) Shirebrook Pit Wood, Shireoaks Pit Top and Attenborough NR, but there are probably more sites where it is present.

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  Captive-bred releases of the Marbled White

Disused Colliery railway lines have certainly been an aid for the Marbled White to spread and colonise new sites, but it has also been helped by a number of unofficial releases of captive-bred stock, which certainly includes the Hills and Holes colony and probably several others in the Mansfield and Worksop area.

This colony has been present in an ungrazed section of the site since 2012, when we counted 50 adults during one visit in the July of that year.

Word of the Marbled White's occurrence at Hills and Holes soon got out locally and there was a steady number of local people who visited the site, specifically to see and photograph them.

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In Market Warsop at least, the release of this butterfly generated much interest and certainly encouraged more people to visit the site, than normally would have done. Was the release such a bad thing? At this point, many people will already be saying yes it was.

Opinions on unofficial releases of native butterflies vary and the person responsible for some Marbled White releases is well known in butterfly circles and has often been vilified for his actions. However, there are other people releasing captive-bred butterflies in Nottinghamshire.

Whether you agree with the release or re-introduction of butterflies is a matter of personal choice and in many cases (of species not native to the UK) it is clearly wrong and we personally would not agree with such actions.

This man's regular releases of good quality, captive stock is not just a matter of throwing butterflies from a car window. The sites chosen are carefully selected on habitat and suitability for the particular species to be released, or where that species was historically known to have previously occurred.

Breeding butterflies is not easy and indeed, some species are notoriously difficult. In our view, the conservation organisations may have missed out by not employing this butterfly breeder's obvious talent and skill. Not relevant to Nottinghamshire we know, but maybe the Large Blue could have been saved, rather than us have to use continental stock to reintroduce it back in to the UK.

However some colonies appear, should not lessen the value of having Marbled Whites and some other species such as the Purple Emperor successfully re-established in the county. As a grass feeding species, there is certainly no danger of Marbled Whites being detrimental to any of the other butterflies found on site.

Many butterflies have done well over the past number of years, perhaps better than some media reporting would suggest. So although we know that some Marbled White colonies in Nottinghamshire are introduced, this is one butterfly which has also arrived here naturally.

 
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Above right:- The latest distribution map of the Marbled White in Nottinghamshire, showing the westerly bias to its range. The three squares in the south-east of the county are probably through natural recolonisation.
 
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