Today sees the launch of the 2019 Big Butterfly Count. The event is organised by Butterfly Conservation, the UK charity dedicated to saving the nation’s moths and butterflies as well as undertaking crucial research to assist conserving and restoring threatened habitats.
The 2019 count runs from 19 July to 11 August and taking part is easy. Simply seek out a sunny spot and spend fifteen minutes identifying and counting the butterflies you see before submitting your sightings online at www.bigbutterflycount.org or by using the free Big Butterfly Count app on your smart device.
The really good news is that if you are not sure about identifying butterflies there are some excellent resources to help you. This year’s count is seeking sightings on 17 common species of butterfly and two species of daytime flying moth. All of these are featured on a beautifully illustrated identification chart which is free to access and makes identification easy.
As well as doing your bit for butterflies, there are some tantalising incentives for getting involved. Increasing evidence shows the astonishing benefits to our mental health by spending time outdoors immersed in activities such as the count. Also, there is a chance this year’s participants may be rewarded by witnessing ‘a once in a decade wildlife phenomenon.’
There are promising signs from Europe this could be a ‘Painted Lady Year’. In other words a ten yearly event when the numbers of this common summer immigrant to our shores sky rocket into the millions making for some truly spectacular sights!
The count is a great activity to involve the whole family and encourage the kids to learn more about their natural environment. It also makes a great excuse for anyone seeking a moments peace, quiet and solitude! You don’t have to trek miles into wilderness to take part either, your garden at home or a local park may yield some surprising results.
Tamar Valley Vibe Tips
- Mornings may be easier for newcomers to butterfly spotting when the creatures are still warming up for the day
- For the best results seek out sheltered South facing banks and flowery shrubs
- If you are taking binoculars, a wide field of view is more important than magnification
- 8 X magnification birdwatching binoculars will be fine but if they are not quick focus then plan ahead by focussing on an object a few metres away before starting to search
- Taking a smartphone picture of any butterflies you see (and identifying them thereafter) can really take the pressure off making an accurate identification and keep younger participants motivated and interested
- Whatever you do, don’t get between the sun and a butterfly you are trying to spot. Cast a shadow and they will be off!
- The Butterflies of Britain & Ireland by Jeremy Thomas and Richard Lewington (published in association with the National Trust) is an amazing and beautifully illustrated book for identifying any species not included on the Butterfly Conservation chart.
If indeed we do end up with a ‘Painted Lady Summer’ in the Tamar Valley, we would love to see and share any of your pictures on our social media channels.
Tamar Valley Vibe photos are of a Red Admiral (article header) and female Wall butterfly.