Friday, 30 July 2010

The Private Life of Butterflies

Today I was priviedged to get a peek into the private life of butterflies.


I found this pair of Common Blues (above) on a Nettle by the side of the path at Pulborough Brook RSPB Nature Reserve.

Below are some more photos of the variety of spectacular butterflies I saw around the reserve today.

Large White (above)

Small Copper (above)

Brimstone (above)

A day spent counting butterflies - Heaven!

Today I sent the day at Pulborough Brooks RSPB Nature Reserve near Pulborough, West Sussex, collecting records for the Big Butterfly Count. This is a national Butterfly survey organised by Butterfly Conservation and sponsered by Marks and Spencers.
The weather was sunny and warm, although cloudy in the afternoon, and the butterflies were very active! We recorded many species during our 15 minute counts, as well as a few others while walking round the Reserve's Nature Trail.
Species seen included:
Common Blue
Brimstone
Large White
Meadow Brown
Gatekeeper
Small Skipper
Ringlet
Small Copper
Small White
Silver Washed Fritilary


The highlight of the day were fantastice views of both Purple Hairstreak, and the elusive Brown Hairstreak, both Lifetime Firsts for me!


(Above) - A Brown Hairstreak Butterfly nectaring right beside the path, inches from my camera lens; I couldnt belive my luck!

The Big Butterfly Count survey is running until Sunday 1st August and is open to anyone to take part. For more information please visit http://www.bigbutterflycount.org/

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Bio-Square May - July 2010

The year, as a personal project in support of the International Year of Biodiversity, I decided to build a 'butterfly' garden. Having recently built an approx, 1 metre x 1 metre raised bed in the corner of our tiny garden, I wanted to grow a flower bed that would benefit and attract into the garden, all kinds of butterflies, moths, bees and other insects. The project soon developed the nick-name 'Bio-Square 2010'. Reluctant to spend large amounts of money on expensive plants from supermarket-like garden centres, almost all of the plants used in Bio-Square were grown from seeds or 'rescued' from other areas of the garden. In my efforts to attract a wide range of insects, I chose plants that were either native wildflowers, or rich nectar sources. These plants included Scabious, Corn Marigold, Thyme and Lavender, Poached Egg plants, Corn Flowers and Corn Cockles, Nasturtiums, and Night-Scented Stock. I also included some of my favourite flowers; Sweet Peas, to add some height and make the most of the upright, as well as the flat growing space available to me.
The photos below show Bio-Square 2010 in its early stages. (The structure on the left of the photo is our Wild Bird Feeding Station, regularly invaded by the local mob of House Sparrows, among other species.)




The flowers have been spectacular; a total riot of colour that buzzes all day long with uncountable bees and flying insects. The variety of species attracted to the Bio-Square project has been amazing.















Its interesting, and quite exciting, to think that if everyone planted just one square metre of wildflowers or other nectar rich plants, or even a window box, what a huge difference it would make to our native Butterfly, Bee and insect populations, all of which really need our help.