Small Skippers, Thymelicus sylvestris are marvellous flyers, manoeuvring expertly through tall grass stems. It is these darting flights that normally alert an observer to their presence. Closer examination will reveal many more individuals basking with their wings held in the half-open posture distinctive of skipper butterflies.
Small Skipper colonies are found where grasses are allowed to grow tall. Typical habitats are unimproved rough grassland, verges, sunny rides, and woodland clearings. Colonies can occur on small patches of suitable habitat such as roadside verges and field margins. The Small Skipper uses the grass Yorkshire-fog, although several other grasses have been recorded as foodplants. Therefore it is likely that you will be able to see them in the meadows of the High Weald AONB.
Meadows are a habitat 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 for species such as the Small Skipper.
Visit Brickfield Meadow near Fairwarp, a good example of an unimproved meadow where you may see Small Skippers.