Honestly I didn't have high hopes for a butterfly hunt. We must to be having the worst possible weather for butterflies. But my daughter had got her hands on this identification chart...
...and she was absolutely convinced we were going to find clouds of them, fluttering around the garden.
There were plenty of clouds, but no butterflies.
The chart is part of the Big Butterfly Count that runs from 14th July to 5th August. Anyone can join in - all you have to do is spend 15 minutes in any sunny spot and record how many butterflies you see.
Not easy when there's no sun though. The wet, cold summer we're having is a real worry - rain means less chance to feed and breed for butterflies. There are 58 species in the UK and half of them are threatened with extinction. So really it's more important than ever to help build up a picture of how butterfly populations are faring across the UK. Their numbers are also seen as a strong indicator of the overall health of our countryside. Last year 30,000 people took part and over 300,000 butterflies and moths were recorded.
There are lots of interesting and fun facts for kids on the Butterfly Effects website. You can also download an identification chart like ours and add your count online.
Our count was not going that well - my little butterfly hunter had been distracted by some wild strawberries she found hidden on a grassy bank.
And then joy of joys I spotted one, resting on a leaf. Looking at the chart we think it's a Gatekeeper.
The plan was to try again on a sunny day....
We waited...and waited....
The first glimpse of brightness and out we went again, this time specially dressed for butterflies.
And the warmth and sunshine happily made a difference. We spotted 12 - 3 different species, I think! Have you ever tried chasing butterflies? Not easy but a lot of fun. We think we saw a large white, though it might have been a small white...? Very satisfying when you catch one on camera.
Small Tortoiseshell butterfly
The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a favourite book and my daughter's been learning about the lifecycle of butterflies at school. So our count fitted in very well with what she knew. We talked about them feeding on nectar from the flowers in the garden and she asked where they went at night or when it rains. We looked it up and found out they shelter on the underside of leaves. Must be busy places at the moment.
Both of us enjoyed counting butterflies, and 15 minutes was about the right length of time to hold her interest...There was another flurry of excitement when I helped her add our count to the online survey which was very easy to do.
Something about having a chart brings out the spotter in me, so I'm hoping we'll be able to tick a few more off the list before we go away. Just need a bit of sun....
You can join in with the Big Butterfly Count at www.bigbutterflycount.org/
I'm linking up with country kids at Coombe Mill.