Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Big Butterfly Count 2014

It's not often that I get an excuse for wandering round the garden for quarter of an hour but the Big Butterfly Count gave me one. Between the 19th of July and the 10th of August, people all over the country counted butterflies for periods of 15 minutes. This fine example of citizen science is backed by The Butterfly Conservation people. This year’s results can be found on the web site.  

I did 10 counts in our Uckfield garden. Here is my top five countdown ...

At number 5, the Small Tortoiseshells. There were just 3 in my counts but, as a Guardian article explains, their numbers have been very low over the last few years and have recovered due to the wet weather earlier in the year, which boosted the nettles that feed their caterpillars.

Small Tortoiseshell on a dahlia.
We have a joint number 4 this week, with 4 sightings each: Red Admiral and the Ringlets. The Red Admiral was probably the first butterfly I became aware of as a child, as it visited the asters and buddleia in our London garden. I’ve only become aware of the Ringlet this year. The open wings are the colour of fine dark chocolate and it was only when I started looking at the butterflies properly for the count that I realised that they were not Meadow Browns.

At number 3, with 11 records, Large Whites appeared to dance around the garden.  Lovely to see but, in previous years, their caterpillars have wreaked havoc by chomping through nasturtium leaves.

At number 2, with 14 sightings, modest Meadow Browns fluttered round marjoram during the earlier weeks of the count.

Finally, in the lead with 24 sightings, orange and brown Gatekeepers, seemed to explode from beneath my feet almost every time I walked across our shaggy grass.


We have had a super variety of butterflies in the garden this year.  This chart shows the totals from my 10 counts.

Sadly there are some absences such as Holly Blue and Small Copper. We can only hope that they’ll be back another year.

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