Butterfly Count

As some of you may kntow there is an ongoing butterfly count recorded in annual National statistics and we,here in the Mendips,do a regular weekly count for this record of a fairly extensive patch of our Mendip hills territory ,initially under the able leadership of Leslie Cloutman, and thrillingly joined some 6 years ago by an esteemed specialist in this branch of natural history ,an ex Royal Marine soldier but also a butterfly and moth enthusiast since the cradle, I believe. He is called Captain Peter Smith and although now coming up to his 90th birthday has never missed an opportunity to help us record the current population and identify any rarities blown into our section of the Mendips.
  We divide our territory into 9 "transacts," as they are called,ie 8 fields and a path and the walk takes about 2 hours. The months we do this are from April1st till October 1st and It must be done weekly between the hours of 10 and 4  ie butterfly flying times,although I notice many out at later hours! The weather temperature has to be above 13 degrees and there are minimum requirements of actual sunshine. Sometimes it is a complete nightmare getting a day with enough sun in the week, and carrying on life around the timing of the butterfly appointment.
This week however was an easy choice for today Sunday 9th as we knew well in advance that the weather would be gorgeous.
Caroline Tetley and I have done this for ten years and as I am mid 70s and a little arthritic in one hip I am  looking for younger teams to replace me.
Today there were indeed interested parties and although Caroline could not be with us we were joined by Colin Babb and Joanna Davey and Rebecca Hayes,luckily all really interested.
We had a beautiful walk,clear blue sky ,100% sunshine, mist in the distance but clarity all around and got quite a respectable tally for so early in the season. There were Speckled Woods,Orange Tips, one Holly Blue, Peacocks ,iBrimstones and one or two whites in too much of a hurry for safe identification. It is important to be certain and if there is an unusual find then a photo is required for confirmation of accuracy. We have marvellous charts in laminated form,invaluable for getting to know each species.
We climbed all the styles and had a very energetic but enjoyable time going very near the top and Les filled us in with the orchids and other beauties to be found in our path.
I have felt very privileged,if a bit stretched!, to do this tallying of our wonderful butterflies
Lucy White

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