Big Butterfly Count

Tomorrow is the start of this year’s ‘Big Butterfly Count‘ – a nationwide survey (and the world’s largest butterfly survey) held by the British charity, Butterfly Conservation and Waitrose, to gain an understanding of the health of our environment.  Counting butterflies helps determine natural health as they “react very quickly to change in their environment which makes them excellent biodiversity indicators“.  If we begin to see a reduction in butterfly numbers and/or species, it could warn us of other wildlife declines.

To take part, you simply have to count the butterflies that you see in any location within a 15 minute time period.  Like the Big Garden Birdwatch, if you are counting in a single area, you should count the maximum number of each species that you can see at a single time.  However, if you decide to count the butterflies you see on a 15 minute walk for example, then you can add up the number of each species that you come across.

Your results, even if you see no butterflies, will not only support the environmental health assessment, but also help the charity identify species’ trends and consequently develop protection plans.

To help you with your 15 minute butterfly count, you can download a useful identification chart from the Butterfly Conservation!  Once your sightings have been tallied up, you then simply have to submit your results online or via the free Big Butterfly Count app.

The Big Butterfly Count runs from Friday 14 July to Sunday 6 August, so if you find yourself with a spare 15 minutes, do something wild, get counting and have fun!

pb© Peacock Butterfly

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The Robin

As many of you know, the robin was voted the UK’s national bird last year and has certainly had a place in my heart from a young age.  As children, my sister and I often walked by a large house owned by an elderly man, who without fail would be joined by his loyal robin friend whenever gardening… so of course, we called him the ‘robin-man’.   My mum also collects tasteful robin ornaments, so the little plump, bright-breasted bird is a definite favourite.

Living in a terrace house with a humble garden, birds tend not to visit – there has even been an untouched bird feeder hanging up for over a year.  So as you can imagine, I was overjoyed when a robin wanted my little backyard to be part of it’s territory back in October.   My mind was filled with images of the robin singing to me, watching me preparing the plants for winter… even sitting on my palm eating meal-worms.  This all seemed possible apart from the fact that the ‘territory’ has always been fought over by our neighbours’ cats!

Five days away in Sweden meant that we would not know if the robin would be scared away, but as soon as we returned, I bought some dried meal-worms and put them out on the table.  Although a few were secretly eaten and the bird-feeder was finally enjoyed, the robin must have thought that a yard with a cat either side was not the best area to stay in.

There are now moments when I see a falling leaf out of my back window that I think and hope that the robin has returned and had to smile when my partner compared me to the girl in my favourite #HomeForChristmas advert of the year by Waitrose…

…and that got me thinking.  Do robins migrate?

Well I did a bit of research and as expected most British robins are residents to the UK all year round.  They defend their territories and many females also establish their own winter territories, which perhaps my little robin was trying to do.  Their nests are made from grass, moss and dead leaves, lined with hair and wool, and are usually built in holes in trees or walls.

However, there are some that DO actually migrate south to winter on the Continent whilst others return to the UK in the autumn from Scandinavia and northern continental Europe.

Do you have a little robin friend who returns to you?  I would love to hear about it!