Monday, July 27, 2020

The Big Butterfly Count

The UK's Butterfly Conservation organization is currently holding its annual Big Butterfly Count. Every year Butterfly Conservation asks members of the public to take part in a national survey on the health of the UK's butterfly species by spending 15 minutes counting butterflies.

Since 1976 76% of UK butterfly species have declined in either occurrence or abundance. This is of concern both for the health of these butterfly species but also for other wildlife species and the overall environment. It is therefore important to continue to monitor the health and abundance of the UK's different species of butterfly

Last year over 113,500 people took part in the Big Butterfly Count. To take part in this year's survey you just need to count butterflies for 15 minutes during a bright day. You can download an identification chart to help you identify how many butterflies of different species you see in your chosen fifteen minutes. If you want to take part you can count butterflies for the survey on any day between Friday 17 July and Sunday 9 August.

You can learn more about each species of UK butterfly on Butterfly Conservation's A-Z of Butterflies. This A-Z guide provides detailed descriptions of each butterfly species (and photos) and information on the species' health & conservation status. Each species' entry also includes a distribution map which shows where in the UK the species can be found (presumably at least partly based on previous Big Butterfly Counts).

Citizen science survey counts are beginning to become popular in animal conservation efforts. Earlier this year, in January, the Dutch National Garden Bird Count and the UK's Big Garden Birdwatch took place, to measure the health of different bird species in the Netherlands and the UK. The National Garden Bird Count results page includes an interactive map which allows you to view the numbers of different species of birds spotted in each region of the Netherlands over the weekend of the Dutch survey.

Unfortunately the RSPB are not as good at publishing bird distribution maps as their Dutch counterparts. You can view the top ten list of birds counted across the UK in this year's bird count on the Big Garden Birdwatch results page. The House Sparrow is the most common bird seen in both Dutch and UK gardens.

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