Sunday, 19 May 2013

Chasing Butterflies

Always lovely to see the butterflies back, fluttering among the flowers; but they haven't had the best start, which is worrying, because 2012 was the worst on record for butterflies. Not a great surprise, seeing as last summer was such a wash out.

We took part in the Big Butterfly Count - between the showers - along with thousands of other volunteers, and the dismal results show numbers have fallen for nearly all the species monitored in the nationwide survey.

And it's not just the rarer ones either; the more common species like Tortoiseshells and the Large and Small Whites are struggling as well.
To raise awareness about this, lots of events are being held across the country from the 18th to the 24th of May - all part of Save Our Butterflies Week. If you'd like to find out about any guided walks or talk sessions happening near you, do have a look at the Butterfly Conservation website.
Keeping track of the butterfly population has wider implications too, because it's seen as a really good indicator of the state of our countryside.

I know I'm more conscious of them since the BB Count last year, and was pretty excited the other day when I spotted a not so common, Common Blue fluttering by a road in Hereford. I haven't seen one of these bright little beauties for ages, and got a few funny looks as I clambered up a grassy bank after it...

So, as the weather seems to have picked up a bit, I thought we'd have a go at butterfly hunting in the garden, to see what we could find.


A slow start - loads of bees, no butterflies - then suddenly there were 3 Orange Tips floating around us. It was at this point I grabbed the cat and chucked her inside because she thought butterfly hunting was BRILLIANT...and looked like she might be a little too good at it...

Apart from removing the cat, one simple way to entice butterflies and caterpillars into your garden is to leave a patch of wildflowers - and they're very fond of nettles, which is perfect, because that's something we're definitely not short of.

After a fair bit of chasing....


....and not a single butterfly photo to show for it, my luck changed, and I managed to zoom in on this Small White (I think - several different white ones) on a dock leaf.



Then we spotted an Orange Tip, landing on a daisy. Amazingly it rested there for a while, so I snapped away..




But the icing on the cake was this rare sighting of a lesser spotted chocolate button butterfly... apparently only appears on birthdays...and it's never around for long..




18 comments:

  1. I was such a butterfly geek as a child. I knew all the common varieties and would look up any I wasn't sure of in my Observers book of Butterflies which I saved up to buy. These photos really take me back to those days. There are no way as many around these days, such a shame as they are such a joy to see on a summer flower. Glad you found some and so beautifully captured. Thank you for linking up to Country Kids.

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    1. That's a lovely thing to have done. We have an ID chart, downloaded from the BC website, but must get a book. The youngest seems keen and can name a few now, so will have to encourage her :)

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  2. Are you on twitter? I'd love to give you a shout out but can't find your ID here? I was sure you were there as Single Married?

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    1. I'm not on Twitter, but thanks for the thought, really kind of you x

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  3. Wow, these are beautiful Tracey!
    I love butterflies. Here in Australia they seemed to disappear while we were in drought for 14 years. I remember saying that when I was a kid you saw butterflies everywhere and now you never see them. Then thankfully three years ago the drought broke and they've been back. So gorgeous.
    We mainly get white ones and Monarchs around here.

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    1. Thanks Jackie, I got lucky!! Lovely to hear the butterflies are back with you - forget it's the dry as well as the wet that can have such a drastic effect. Reading the info, seems numbers can also pick up quickly when conditions improve, which is good news, though still think there aren't nearly as many around as there used to be.

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  4. What a brilliant butterfly hunt and the cookies looks soo tasty

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    1. Thanks Leila! It's actually a cake, decorated by my daughter for her birthday last sunday...and it was rather lovely! :)

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  5. How beautiful... We have plenty of nettles too, so they should like our garden as well! :D

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    1. perfect excuse to cut back on the weeding really! Thanks Emma x

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  6. That's sad about the decline in butterfly numbers, I used to love chasing them as a little girl too. Lovely shots of them!

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    1. it is sad about dwindling numbers, and sounds like some species are close to disappearing in certain parts of the country. Such a shame. Still, several UK species would probably be extinct by now if it wasn't for Butterfly Conservation.

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  7. I did not know that we were losing our butterfly nor that there was a count.
    What amazing captures too.
    Thank you for sharing with #MotivationalMonday

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  8. Sorry I mean the Spring Carnival - it has been a long day.

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  9. I always smile with delight at the sight of the first butterfly in the spring. Sweet, sweet photos. And thanks for that orange tip photo--I just saw one in my garden yesterday and wondered what it was as I haven't seen one before.

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    1. glad to have helped :) Some I know, but still get a bit muddled with the various white ones. Btw only the male Orange Tip has orange tips, the female is plain white. Just typical!

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