"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Big Butterfly Count

Butterfly Conservation, in association with Marks and Spencer, are again running their annual Big Butterfly Count. This is a UK nationwide butterfly (and daytime moth) survey aimed at assessing the state of the environment. Butterflies react rapidly to environmental change and thus are excellent biodiversity indicators. Declines in butterflies can give early warning of other potential wildlife losses.

Anyone can take part you just need to watch your garden, park, woodland or anywhere suitable for 15 minutes making a note of any butterflies or day flying moths seen and enter your results at www.bigbutterflycount.org.

This year the survey runs from 14th July to 5th August so you've still got time to take part! The Count was launched in 2010 when 10,000 participants saw 210,000 flutters and day flying moths and in 2011 34,300 participated seeing 322,330 butterflies and moths. Its great fun especially if you have children.

I did my first count last Thursday and saw absolutely no butterflies at all the only insects around were two white-tailed bumble bees and one common carder bee. I repeated the count on Friday and this time managed to see just one butterfly - a Small White. This year is the poorest year I can remember for garden butterflies. I have only seen 5 species all year - Brimstone, Speckled Wood, Orange Tip, Holly Blue and Small White. No Peacocks, Large or Green Veined Whites, Red Admirals, Small Tortoiseshells,Commas, Gatekeepers or Meadow Browns have yet to put in an appearance.

Changing the subject entirely, I drove past the Fairy Door on Friday and it looks as though the gnomes are celebrating the Olympics too!



ShySongbird said...

Hi again Caroline :-) I just refreshed the page and found another post! It will be interesting to see the eventual results of the survey. My betting is that Meadow Browns will have done well at least judging by local sightings. Oddly, I have seen a lot of Marbled Whites in several different locations in the last week which is good.

Just in case you didn't realise, Andy Murray is playing at the moment on Freeview channel 301 if you have it. They have the roof on as it is throwing it down with rain!

ShySongbird said...

Whoops! Forgot to say the fairy door is a hoot. I wonder who does it :-)

Ragged Robin said...

ShySongbird - Hi again Jan! I saw a lot of Meadow Browns when I was out in the week taking some photos for another Edith post but I haven't seen any at home. Well done on all the Marbled White sightings - a good sign as you say. I would love to go to Brandon Marsh tomorrow to look for butterflies as I think its going to be raining for the rest of the week :( but I think instead I will have to clean my car inside and out it hasn't been done for months!

Thanks for the tip re: Andy Murray - sadly I read your comment too late and was up to my eyes in moths! - see comment on previous post!

Glad you like the Fairy Door. There was an article in a local newspaper but no-one came forward to claim responsibility! I suspect the first additions like the letterbox, doorknob, door number and bucket were done by an adult. They were added one at a time over about 6 months. Then suddenly last Cmas all the other items were added very quickly and don't seem "in keeping" so I suspect someone else (young children??) may have added these. Its all rather cute though :)

Rohrerbot said...

Who knew the fairy door would have Olympic aspirations?:)

That butterfly count website is really a great idea. I went on to visit. What an excellent way to get a look at the insects found around the area.

I see a lot of "downs" in the population numbers. Perhaps the weather has a bit to do with it. Butterflies need sun and humidity. We have so many around here that I sometimes overlook that in many places around the world, they are struggling. They are important to have around the landscape and can't imagine a world without them.

Ragged Robin said...

Rohrerbot - I think the gnomes could answer the first paragraph Chris :) LOL!

I'm so glad you visited the Butterfly Count website. It is a great idea to encourage interest in these beautiful creatures especially in the younger generation. I think schools take part which is great. Anything to get people interested in and caring for the environment.

I think the past few years of cool, wet summers have affected butterfly numbers short term. But long term its the usual culprits - agricultural intensification, loss and degradation of habitat etc. etc. A world without them would be horrendous :(

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen any butterflies locally since the warm weather in March/April. (Is that right - I can't recall?)

I have some tiny day flying moths in my garden but I have no idea what they are so can't include them in the survey.

Ragged Robin said...

Hi Toffeeapple - I think it was warm end of March and then another short spell of hot weather end of May. I am still hardly seeing any butterflies locally - very worrying.

A shame about your day flying moths - I think there are only 2 listed on the BC survey form(from memory) - Silver y which is browny grey with a white y marking and 6 spot burnet (black with red spots). You are lucky to have day flying moths in your garden - we get very few although plenty at night!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, my memory is not up to much. I looked at the BBC survey and my moths are not included there at all. I did once trawl a British moth site and eventually found it but have now forgotten the name. I have seen Silver Y locally and 6Spot Burnet so know what they look like and they are larger than mine.

Ragged Robin said...

Toffeeapple - Ever so sorry didn't mean to imply that you didn't know what Silver Y and 6 Spot Burnet looked like.

If you can describe the moth I will have a look on a Field Studies Guide leaflet I've got that shows some day flying moths to see if I can identify it.

Anonymous said...

i hope you dont mind me asking but could you tell me what sort of area this is in?? thanks:)

Ragged Robin said...

Anonymous - Thats fine - if you mean the Fairy Door - its in a Solihull suburb.

Ragged Robin said...

Anonymous - Sorry re: fairy door if you wish to know exactly where it is please let me know and I will happily advise of location.

The Big Butterfly Count also took place in a suburban area - but some way from the Fairy Door :)