Saturday, 25 July 2015

Dust to Dust, Ashes to Ashes: Big Butterfly Count 2015

Common blue butterfly (Jo Sinclair)
David Attenborough encouraged me from the very start (doesn't he always?). The charity Butterfly Conservation tweeted all day everyday, but I read Michael McCarthay's article reminding me yet again about the staggering decline of species in my lifetime and found myself a little bit scared to go out and count local butterflies. What's the point, I wondered. Would there even be any? But the Big Butterfly Count is not a trophy hunt. It's not about showing off a triumphant list of rare species. The 25,000 contributors who have already submitted their results provide useful 'citizen science' data. Perhaps the best contribution I could make might in fact be to report that on a fine summer afternoon with a moderate breeze all I noted was one or two tatty cabbage whites?

Three books on butterflies this year reviewed in The Guardian by Patrick Barkham inspire the combination of gloom and wonder that anyone with an interest in natural history knows all to well.
I pulled myself together and waited for the right conditions between torrential rain, unseasonal high winds and grey cloud. My perfect day dawned fine, hot, sunny and gentle. I saw peacocks, red admirals, meadow browns, brimstones, common blues, large whites, a brown argus and a small copper among thistles, teasels and ragwort in the meadow I walk through every day.

You can do a count for the Big Butterfly Count until the 9th august and you've got until the end of the month to log the results.

Big Butterfly Count 2015: Butterfly Conservation's downloadable guide

Meadow browns on ragwort (lower black dots on the 3rd from left are a variable feature). image Jo Sinclair

Large white butterfly on teasel by Jo Sinclair

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