A NATURE reserve in Gloucestershire is set to star in an episode of Sir David Attenborough’s new BBC nature series Wild Isles. 

Episode three of the five-part documentary pays a visit to Daneway Banks nature reserve in Sapperton, a site of limestone grassland near Cirencester. 

Managed by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, the reserve has become world-renowned for its population of large blue butterflies, an endangered species that were once extinct here in the UK.

The sequence takes a closer look at the complex and unexpected relationship between the large blue and red ants, showing in minute detail the interconnectedness of our natural world. 

The episode will air on Sunday, March 26 on BBC One at 7pm. 

Alan Sumnall, lead land manager at Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust said he 'can’t wait' to see this intimate relationship close up

“We’ll get a chance to see the large blue’s lifecycle like we’ve never seen it before, which is really exciting,” he said. 

Gazette Series: A large blue butterfly at Daneway Banks nature reserve - photo by Billy HeaneyA large blue butterfly at Daneway Banks nature reserve - photo by Billy Heaney (Image: Billy Heaney)

“The large blue’s success story here at Daneway Banks is just one example of how our work to connect habitats across the county increases the resilience of species like the large blue. 

“They’re now naturally dispersing over a wider area and our management of the reserve is encouraging so many other species to thrive too. It’s all about this joined-up approach.”

“Our volunteers carry out regular checks on our grazing livestock and help to manage the habitat on the reserve. 

“Once the butterflies are ‘on the wing’ in early summer, volunteer large blue wardens patrol the site to ensure their safety. It’s a real team effort.”

Gazette Series: Daneway Banks nature reserve Daneway Banks nature reserve (Image: Nathan Millar)

David Simcox, conservation project manager at the Royal Entomological Society is equally excited about the series. 

He said: “The success of the large blue at Daneway, which we’re proud to co-own with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, is a great tribute to partnership working and what science-based conservation can achieve.

“It’s one of the most beautiful limestone grassland sites in the UK, festooned with wildflowers and alive with insects.”

Having become extinct in the UK in 1979, the butterfly was originally reintroduced to a Somerset Wildlife Trust site in 1992. 

In the next phase of the project back in 2010, 300 large blue caterpillars were collected from Somerset and released at Daneway Banks. 

Last year, the reserve was recorded as having the largest known population of large blue butterflies in the world.