Butterfly update

Butterfly Conservation are holding an organised Painted Lady count this Saturday when they’re asking people to count passing butterflies for two hours and post their sightings online. It’s an exciting aspect of the internet that it allows this kind of rapidly organised exercise in citizen science.

Anyway, I thought I’d do a little preliminary count of my own at lunchtime and just counted PLs in the half hour between 12.30 and 1.00. The result: 36. Slightly over one a minute.

What’s interesting is that on the one hand, that’s a staggering number, when you extrapolate out over the whole country: butterflies going past at the rate of one a minute for days at a time over the whole of England (the whole of Northern Europe, possibly). And yet if you weren’t paying attention, it would be possible to be out in the garden and not even notice that this huge natural phenomenon was going on.

2 Comments

  1. Jee Leong Koh
    30 May 2009 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    Harry,

    I wish I have your appetite (appreciation?) for wildlife, but I don’t. I recently chaperoned students to study tidal flats. After twenty minutes of poking around and peering at mussels, worms, tiny crabs, dead man’s fingers and such, I was ready to retreat from the cold and wind back to the bus.

    Jee

  2. Harry
    31 May 2009 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s something that people generally absorb when they’re young if they’re going to at all. Not everyone who is a child or teenage birdwatcher/bugcatcher/flowerspotter keeps up the same intensity of interest, but I think once you’re in the habit of keeping your eyes open for what’s around you, it never quite leaves.

    And however keen you are, it’s never quite as much fun in the cold.

    I didn’t actually do the butterfly count on Saturday because there was the opportunity to go and meet kittens. And you know, butterflies are attractive enough and everything, but: kittens!

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