Monday, 7 August 2017

The Big Butterfly Count for this year has just ended. I don't even have to wait for results to know that this year has been a much better year for butterflies than last. This year I decided to do my counts in as many different places as possible so I don't have as many garden counts as usual.

Counts from an Uckfield (Sussex) garden

I recorded more butterflies per count than in previous years.

Year Number of garden counts Average number of butterflies Total number of species Most numerous species
2014 10 6.6 10 Gatekeeper
2015 12 9 13 Gatekeeper
2016 10 6.1 8 Large White
2017 4 11.75 9 Meadow Brown

For the first time, since I started taking part in this survey, Small Coppers appeared in my counts.

Small Copper in our Uckfield garden.
One morning, when coming back from getting my newspaper, I saw several Six-spot Burnet Moths clinging to the long grasses in our no-mow zone. I started my count right away so I could include them.  I found a chrysalis attached to one of the stems and wondered if they were all newly emerged.

Six-spot Burnet moth in our Uckfield garden.
The graph below shows that Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers dominated my garden counts.  Last year, Large Whites took the lead.

Butterflies counted in our Uckfield garden during 4 counts.

Hempstead Meadow Nature Reserve, Uckfield

I did one count at Hempstead Meadow.

Hempstead Meadow count 1
Common Blue 3
Gatekeeper 4
Large White 1
Meadow Brown 5
Red Admiral 1
Ringlet  1
Small Copper 1
Speckled Wood 1

I was charmed to see a trio of Common Blues dancing around the Meadow Vetchling in the grassy area.

Common Blue dancing amongst the vetchling flowers.

West Park Nature Reserve, Uckfield

I did two counts in West Park Local Nature Reserve and someone else did a third. I know about the third count because the Big Butterfly Count results page enables you to zoom in on a location and find out more about the counts taken there. The counter found a fantastic number of Common Blues.

West Park Nature Reserve count 1 count 2 count 3
Common Blue 4 10
Gatekeeper 5 3 10
Large White 2
Meadow Brown 5 2 4
Red Admiral 1 1
Ringlet  2
Silver Y 1
Small Copper 1 1
Speckled Wood 1

Of course, there are butterflies that I missed. One of the ones that got away was a possible Fritillary in West Park. It was big, orange and too fast for me to catch up with. I also did some counts in Leatherhead, where I took the photo below.

Silver Washed Fritillary - Leatherhead
Now I just need to wait for the results of the whole count to be analysed and published.

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