Sunshine Wildlife: The Big Butterfly Count 2013

by Russ on July 20, 2013

Gatekeeper Butterflies have more orange on the wings than Meadow Browns. Also look out for the brown lines on the fore wings to identify.After the complete washout that was 2012, it’s just fantastic to see the sun and feel it’s warmth for such a long length of time. As we come to the end of a third week of hot and bright weather, one group of creatures has suddenly surged back into life, something that conservationists are more than pleased about. I am, of course, talking about our butterflies.

The Skipper Butterfly can appear like a moth because of the way it holds it's wings. But have a look at the antennae and you'll see they are much smaller than a moth's.In the wind and rain of last year, butterflies simply couldn’t fly to look for food or a mate, otherwise their wings would have become damaged. They need patches of clear and calm whether to search for a mate and visit as many flowers as they can. Like all insects, butterflies are cold-blooded and as such rely entirely on their environment for their energy. Once the sun comes out, they can travel confidently around the meadows and chase each other over roads and country lanes.



Meadow are a brilliant place to find Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper and Small Skipper Butterflies.If you are walking through a flower filled meadow, there are three main butterfly species to watch out for. The Meadow Brown is the easiest to spot. Large and brown with a hint of orange on the fore wings. There is also the Gatekeeper, which is very similar, but the orange on the wings is much more prominent. Smallest of the three is the Skipper. This small orange butterfly looks more like a moth at first glance but it lacks the large, fluffy antennae that most moths possess.

Speckled Wood Butterflies can be seen flitting through the undergrowth in our woodlands. Their colours help them blend into dappled sunlight.Look up to the canopy to spot the Large White Butterfly and down to the forest floor for the Speckled Wood which can be recognised by it’s brown wings and yellow spots. With this in mind, why not take part in the Big Butterfly Survey? It’s quick and asy to participate and only takes 15 minutes. Find out more information and get your pack here: Big Butterfly Count 2013.

Butterfly Photography by DenisG.


Earlier this month Bill Sheridan wrote in about a small robin his garden with a bit of a difference…

Young Robins lack the red breast that both the adult male and female possess.‘I have noticed in my back garden a robin red breast, without a red breast. I thought at first it may be a young bird, but it appears fully grown and is on its own and feeding itself…I’m not a professional bird watcher, but I do like to feed them in the garden and sit in my kitchen and watch them. I have seen this robin several times.’

Many thanks for writing in Bill, this certainly sounds interesting. You’re absolutely right in saying it could be a juvenile Robin. When they are young they lack the red breast, but they also have patchy brown feathers making them distinguishable from the parents. You do get variations like this popping up now and again, but this is the first time I’ve heard it appearing in Robins. Keep us updated on the mysterious little bird Bill and happy birdwatching!

Don’t forget…

Leave a question or comment below about any butterflies you have seen so far in 2013 and you could be featured in our future blogs! You can send any queries to:

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Take care and remember, stay on the wild side.

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