Wednesday, 12 August 2009


This is the time of year when I fret about butterflies! Earlier in the year there seemed, yet again, to be very few in evidence, but in recent weeks there have been good numbers of red admirals, painted ladies, peacocks and large whites around the garden (especially on the buddlejas), with smaller numbers of small tortoiseshell. In the lane there are ringlets and meadow browns as well, although not in such large numbers as in good years. At the weekend I was delighted to see a small copper - pictured below - which isn't very common on our patch, and this made me think idly about keeping some sort of more formal record of the species I see.

The thought led me to the site of the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, from where this picture comes, and where I discovered that there are two people recording species locally (which is done by walking the same route every week for six months of the year). One of them is on Lindisfarne, and the other just a few miles north. They are both recording all the species that I see regularly, as well as a couple more, such as the green-veined white, a butterfly I may well have seen without realising it. I must start looking at the white butterflies more closely.

It would be quite an undertaking for me to walk the same route every week at the moment - I'm away too much - so I am not going to join the scheme, but I walk our track most weeks and it would be interesting to get into the habit of using the recording methodology. Then, if I ever get the chance to retire, I can start doing it properly! Before I got so busy, I used to record for the Nature's Calendar Survey, which tracks wildlife in relation to climate (and ties in to the Spring and Autumnwatch surveys) so my observations will still be useful and I'll be able to compare them with my own records on that site. And maybe I can get younger son interested in taking part, as he takes the dogs along the lane most days (he was with me when we saw the small copper, and wanted to check on its identity as soon as we got home).


elizabethm said...

We have a lot of butterflies this summer but sadly I am not great at identifying them. I must get a book and sort it out as it would give me great pleasure to be sure! and you were right about the swallows, they haven't gone yet.

Table Talk said...

We seem to have lost all our Red Admirals in this part of the country; I haven't seen one in years. We have got a large number of Peacocks around at the moment, though and vast quantities of moths. I had to put quite a few out last night to stop them committing suicide on the lights.

GeraniumCat said...

Glad you've still got your swallows, Elizabeth! And indentifying butterflies is fun - you should have quite a few species wher you are. I have a useful little laminated chart which is good for quick reference (can't remember where it came from, I'm afraid, and I'm not at home to look, but if you are interested, let me know and I'll check when I'm back).

TT, how I envy you lots of moths - we have very few here, and it is so long since I needed to look something up in my moth books that I can't remember where I put them.