Thursday, 3 August 2017

Big Butterfly Count 2017

Anyone who knows me well will know that I am a nature nerd, an animal lover, that I have always been passionate about wildlife. I have a degree in Zoo Biology and I have forever been fascinated with animal science. One of my most loved hobbies is nature photography because I love to capture the little details I see so that I can treasure them always. Since becoming an amateur wildlife photographer, I have really enjoyed getting up close and personal with wildlife, but being a spoonie means that a lot of that wildlife tends to be the small creatures that dwell in gardens. Since I was around 16 years old, I have loved taking photographs of insects, and the more I photographed them, the more I became interested in their behaviour, their physiology, their biology. I started reading more and more about different species because I wanted to ID them, and I wanted to know everything I could about them. As a result, I grew into a geek when it came to bugs. I've even had them as pets over the years... giant African Land Snails and giant Australian stick insects! 

I love the variety and diversity that makes up the order of Insecta, and I think they are such an under-appreciated group of animals even though they are so crucial to all of the ecosystems in the world. Without insects, so many other species couldn't survive. So it's super important to help conserve insects, to help protect their habitats and to make sure that we do all we can to ensure the survival of them. One of the ways that people can get involved in animal conservation is to take part in wildlife surveys. There's several that go on throughout the year, with the most well known being the RSPB's 'Big Garden Bird Watch', and the Butterfly Conservation charities 'Big Butterfly Count'. Today, I'm talking about the Big Butterfly Count, that has been ongoing since the 14th July. It ends on 6th August and I was supposed to blog about it sooner, oops! You have three days left to take part and its super easy! Keep reading to find out how you can join in to help save our butterflies! 

Big Butterfly Watch

 It was amazing last year that 36,000 people took part in the Big Butterfly Count! I am proud of be one of them :) All you have to do to take part is take 15 minutes out of your day to sit outside, whether it's in your garden or the park or just whilst you're out and around on your lunch break from work or class or whatever. All you have to do is record any butterflies you see within those 15 minutes. On the Butterfly Conservation website, there is an identification chart that you can download and print out to make this easier too, as it has pictures of some of the different species of British butterfly. 

Big Butterfly Watch

As you can see, the chart has tick boxes to help you record any butterflies that you see, and can also help you learn to ID butterflies. This makes the Big Butterfly Count a great activity to do with children, as it's both fun and educational. I know that my nieces love helping me spot butterflies! You can do the count as many times as you want, and you have until the end of August to log in your results online. 

Big Red Rose

Big Butterfly Watch

It's summer time and so I've been spending a lot of time outside in the garden, which means that I've had so much opportunity to survey for butterflies. All I do is set a timer on my phone for 15 minutes and if I spot a butterfly, I jot it down. I write down, usually in a notebook, the time that I started the count and the time when I'll finish, then I write down the names of buttefly species that I know I'm more likely to see: Large Whites, Green-veined Whites, Red Admirals and Speckled Woods are the butterflies that mostly visit my garden. I will tally any butterflies I see next to the names. It's super easy and everyone can spare 15 minutes of their day to watch for butterflies; you can even do it from the comfort of your home. You can look out of your window into the garden if you want to. 

You have until Sunday night to join in and it would be wonderful if you could! Even if you don't spot any butterflies, it's still super important to record this. What the survey allows scientists to do is see how healthy our environment is. Some butterflies can only thrive in certain conditions so by recording which species you see and where can help work out if the habitat of the butterflies is stable and if there are any problems that need fixing to protect the butterflies and also the other animals that live in the same area. Please join in if you can! Here's a link to find out more or to download the ID chart. Let me know in the comments if you do :) 

Today, I did another count (my 5th count so far) and I will do my final one on Sunday afternoon if the weather permits. I took photographs of some of the butterflies I saw, other than the ones that flew away too quickly like the speedy Speckled Woods. Butterflies, and moths, are beautiful and it would be so sad if we lost them, so it's crucial to do everything we can to make sure they are protected. 

Big Butterfly Watch
I saw the first Peacock Butterfly (Aglais io) today that I've seen since 2012! I had to climb up high to photograh it which was scary, but worth it haha!
Big Butterfly Watch
We keep getting visited by a large Red Admiral butterfly. This is what they look like with their wings closed!
Big Butterfly Watch
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta). I had to stand around for so long to wait for this little guy to open it's wings!

These next two photographs are not from today, but were taken over the last month or so and are too lovely for me not to show you all...

Big Butterfly Watch
Another very gorgeous Red Admiral. These were always my favourite butterflies when I was a child :)
Big Butterfly Watch
This year I spotted my first ever Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album) and I was so so happy! Look how pretty it is, and I love the unique patterns on its wings as well as the shape of them!

So, that's it for today's post. I hope that you enjoyed reading and looking at my butterfly photography. I know I've said this so many times already, but please do a butterfly count yourself before the end of Sunday 6th August. The Big Butterfly Count is really important for monitoring nationwide populations of butterflies and moths, and it really doesn't take long. Help your beautiful little fluttery friends out :)

Thankyou for reading!

What is your favourite butterfly species?
Have you spotted any butterflies lately? I'd love to hear about them! 

 Are you a fellow nature lover? Then you may enjoy these posts too!


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