The Big Butterfly Count

This is the third year I have taken part in The Big Butterfly Count, so I’m now able to start comparing the results.

24th July 2014 – I counted 9 Peacock butterflies, I Brimstone, 3 Small Tortoiseshell and 1 Comma. Plus 1 speckled wood, 2 Gatekeepers, 2 large whites and a meadow brown.

17th July 2015 – I counted 12 Small skippers, 1 Brimstone, 2 Painted ladies, 1 Comma, 7 Small Tortoiseshell, 2 Peacocks, 3 Gatekeepers, 4 Ringlets, 9 Small Whites. Weather: Sunny and cloudy, 20 degrees, no wind.

18th July 2016 – I counted 2 Small Tortoiseshell, 6 Small skipper, 1 Marbled White, 5 Ringlets, 6 Meadow Brown, 4 Small whites and 1 Gate keeper. Weather: Sunny 24 degrees, no wind.

The Big Butterfly Count encourages members of the public to spot and record 18 species of common Butterfly. The count helps The Butterfly Conservation to gauge how much Butterflies are in decline and in turn the health of our environment.

All you have to do is spend 15 minutes in your local patch counting butterflies anytime between the 15th of July and the 7th of August. You can do the count as many times as you want.

I did my butterfly count in the same place as the last two years. It is in a corner of a wheat field backed by a hedge of Hazel, Hawthorn, Oak, Ash and Field Maple. There are a wide variety of plants including Cow parsley, Thistle, Clover, Bramble, Dock, Grasses and Knapp weed.

I noticed this year that I didn’t see any Peacocks, Commas or Brimstones. Overall there weren’t as many butterflies but there are many more Meadow Browns and Ringlets this year. This is the first patch of consistent sunshine so maybe things are just a bit later this year.


Marbled White

The Marbled White’s favourite plant is Knapp weed. The butterfly can be found from June to mid August.


Small Skipper

There were lots of Small Skippers amongst the thistles and grasses. Three or four of them would come together, fluttering around in circles before flying off again. They can be found from June to the beginning of September.

The Small Tortoiseshell spends a lot of time being territorial and will chase off other butterflies and even insects. They have two broods, the first one can appear in March then the second brood from June.

The Meadow Brown is the butterfly I see most of on my local patch. Sometimes I can count up to 30 whilst walking around the field. They are quite difficult to photograph as they spend most of their time fluttering around amongst the tall grasses or resting close to the ground. Meadow Browns can be seen from late May to October.

The Ringlet tends to stay in the shade of the hedgerow. When they are fresh they look just like velvety chocolate. They can be seen from Mid June to Mid August.


Small White

Most of the Small Whites I see are normally fluttering about over the crops, they also fly quite high up in the air over the top of the hedgerow. They have two broods the first in April, the second one around the end of June.

I also saw a caterpillar for a cinnabar moth.


Finally, when we got back home after the count had finished, I saw this Red Admiral on the washing.


About Alex White - Appletonwild

This is my diary of the wildlife where I live in Oxfordshire, and sometimes the places I visit. My passion is for British wildlife, especially Badgers and Hares. This year my debut book "Get Your Boots On" was published I am a keen amateur photographer. All the photographs on this blog are taken by myself unless stated otherwise. I am a member of A Focus on Nature, the network for Young Nature Conservationists, BBOWT, The Oxon Mammal group and The Oxfordshire Badger Group. You can also follow me on Twitter @Appletonwild Instagram appletonwild
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