Big Butterfly Count

Big Butterfly Count

David Attenborough is a bit of a household hero here so when he appeared on our screens promoting the Big Butterfly Count recently, I of course jumped to! A legitimate excuse to spend 15 minutes lazing in the sunshine in the garden, watching the wild world go by? Oh go on then Sir David!

We have been recording butterflies all summer via the iRecord Butterflies iPhone app whilst out on walks. I’m not sure if it’s just because I’m on the look-out for them or if it’s a particularly good year for butterflies round here but the garden and hedgerows seem to be teeming with them. Roo even found a butterfly above her bed!

Today we have had butterflies flitting in and out of the patio window all morning and so I decided it was probably their way of reminding me to get on with submitting a count for the garden. I headed out and almost immediately had a striking fluorescent greeny-yellow butterfly skim past my nose and head for the rhubarb patch. This required some looking up as of all the butterflies I’ve seen this year so far, this one was a new visitor to my garden. Turns out it was a Brimstone – its almost handkerchief shaped wings the final give-away.

As expected, the garden count showed up a large number of Small and Large Whites – all making a beeline (or should that be butterflyline?) straight for my brussel sprout plants where I caught several looking suspiciously like they were laying eggs. I really don’t know why I bother kidding myself that I’m planting brassicas for us – when it’s not the caterpillars munching their way through my Christmas cabbages then the Wood Pigeons are having a go too! At least they are good news for the butterflies even if we miss out on some of our winter greens.

Brimstone butterfly

One of the few butterfly photos I managed to take of what I believe is a Brimstone (correct me if I’m wrong please)!

We also spotted a couple of Meadow Browns – butterflies we see quite a bit of in the hedgerows out and about round us as well as a new sighting of what I think is a Ringlet – a very drab looking kind of butterfly compared to the other flashy bright numbers I counted! No sightings today of the Small Tortoiseshell we often see in the garden but in total I spotted twelve different butterflies over the course of my allotted 15 minutes – not a bad representation, even if most of them were of the cabbage munching variety! Unfortunately I was so busy counting and the butterflies so intent on staying in the air that I didn’t get many photos and even fewer that are usable – so sorry for the picture light post!

If you fancy becoming an armchair (or sunlounger) scientist and taking part in the Big Butterfly Count then you have until the 10th August to get counting and record your sightings.  Your findings help build up a picture of the nation’s butterflies’ health so even recording no sightings is important.

You don’t need anything special – just your eyes, a spot of open land and the free butterfly ID chart. Any back garden, park or walk route will do – just count the maximum number of butterflies of any one species you see at any time during the fifteen minutes! It’s a great activity to get the kids involved in and you can repeat your count for different days and areas as much as you like. There’s even a handy little iPhone app to record your sightings on the go!  All the details on how to take part can be found over at the Big Butterfly Count website – so go on – grab the app (and possibly an ice-cream) and head out to the sunny garden to do some research! If you’ve already taken part then let me know how you got on – are the Small Whites doing well in your garden too?!

The #wildlifewednesday linky is now open so please come and and join in by linking up your posts (old or new) on all things nature, wildlife and enjoying the Great Outdoors.

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