The Dingy Skipper, Erynnis tages is a butterfly that is becoming increasingly rare in the UK. In the High Weald it is becoming rarer due to habitat loss and has been lost from several key sites in the Rother area for example, due to scrub encroachment and agricultural intensification.
It has grey-brown wings with mottled brown markings and two rows of small white spots and is a small butterfly with low, darting flight. Look for it basking on bare ground in bright sunshine.
Colonies might be found in a wide range of open, sunny habitats including woodland rides and clearings, coastal habitats such as dunes and undercliffs, heathland, old quarries, railway lines, and waste ground. Suitable conditions occur where its main foodplant, Bird's-foot trefoil, grows in a sparse sward, often with patches of bare ground in a sunny, sheltered situation. Taller vegetation is also required for shelter and roosting.
Bird's-foot trefoil is a valuable wildflower found in semi improved grasslands in the High Weald, one of the habitats which determine the character of the High Weald landscape. The Management Plan, written specially for the AONB, sets out targets (which encourage everyone) to enhance the ecological function of field and heath. Long term management of meadows – maintaining the extent and preventing further loss or degradation is needed to provide habitats to ensure the survival of species such as the Dingy Skipper.