Big Butterfly Count 2019
On the 19th of July, the 10th Annual Big Butterfly Count started. Organised by Butterfly Conservation, this is a nationwide citizen science survey which aims to help assess the health of our environment.
The UK is home to 59 species of butterfly - 57 which are resident here and 2 which are regular migrants. Some are abundant and widespread, while others such as the Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis lucina) are confined to small areas in the UK.
This has been my first year of really serious butterfly watching and so far I have managed a fairly respectable 16 species including some firsts for me - Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus), White Letter Hairstreak (Satyrium w-album) and Comma (Polygonia c-album). I am hoping to add to this list over the next few weeks....
Finding and photographing butterflies provides an excellent challenge - where to find them, what lens to use and so on. Some are easy and happy for you to photograph them while others fly about at speed and rarely settle long enough. The slightest movement from you and they are off, darting about again or hiding in the long grass. You can spend ages stalking them in the grass only for them to fly off as soon as you get there. For that reason, sometimes a telephoto lens is best as it can allow you to photograph the butterfly without disturbing it.
The same lens was used to photograph this Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris). I don't remember ever having seen these butterflies before but they have become one of my favourites. They look very different to what we expect butterflies to look like and may even be mistaken for moths. It is one butterfly that seems to be expanding its range through the Scottish Borders and one that I am almost guaranteed to see when out walking.
The Big Butterfly Count runs until the 11th of August and so there is still plenty of time to take part. All you need to do is sit somewhere sunny for 15 minutes and count the different butterflies you see. The website www.bigbutterflycount.org has lots of useful resources that can be downloaded to help you with ID. So have a go. Give yourself the chance to sit outside in the sun and enjoy being close to nature while also helping with a valuable and worthwhile project.
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