Each Summer Butterfly Conservation, in association with Marks and Spencer, organises "The Big Butterfly Count" - a nationwide butterfly survey. This year its being held between 20th July and 11th August and all you have to do is spend 15 minutes in your garden, or park, or woodland etc., and count the butterflies or certain species of day flying moths that you see in a fifteen minute period.
The survey was launched in 2010 and last year 27,000 people participated spotting 223,000 butterflies. Butterflies react quickly to environmental changes and are, therefore, excellent biodiversity indicators and can provide a warning also of other possible wildlife losses. The survey will also help the charity to spot butterfly trends and identify any declining species.
For more information please visit the website www.bigbutterflycount.org which gives details on how to take part and you can also download an id chart. You can repeat the survey as many times as you like and submitting results is really easy and only takes minutes.
I spent 15 minutes looking for butterflies in my garden on Tuesday, 23rd, seeing one Large White and one Small White.
Unfortunately its a bit like the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch when half the species you normally see refuse to visit the garden during the hour you are doing the survey - only to appear a minute after the hour has finished!!! So the Holly Blues and Comma seen the same day remained absent during the 15 minutes!!! This doesn't matter though and nil results are also important.
I tried again today and managed 2 Gatekeepers, 2 Large White and 1 Small White.
If you get the time give it a go because its good fun and you are helping science at the same time and it would be a great activity for young children in the school holidays.
I haven't had much luck so far this year in taking photos of garden butterflies so have to admit that the Gatekeeper below was taken in 2010.
I've managed some butterfly photos at Brandon Marsh in the past but most of the better ones seem to have been taken at National Trust gardens where there are that many flowers the butterflies just seem to get "drunk" on the nectar and are quite happy to pose!
We are starting to see more hoverflies in the garden and lots of Red-tailed, White-Tailed and Buff-tailed bumble bees plus the Common Carder Bee as in the photo below nectaring on bramble flowers.
We finally have a decent clock in the garden so it was easy to keep track of the 15 minutes - a birthday present for Brian from David.
And a reminder that there is a BBC Springwatch Special on Butterflies tonight at 9.00.