Survey Butterflies on BBS Squares and Beyond

For a few years now, BTO has worked in partnership with Butterfly Conservation (BC) and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), monitoring butterfly abundance through the Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey.

Small pearl-bordered fritillaries by Gnilenkov Aleksey, on Flickr
Small pearl-bordered fritillaries by Gnilenkov Aleksey, on Flickr

All BBS volunteers have been invited to make extra visits to their squares between June and August to count butterflies, and a number are taking part locally.   This year however, Butterfly Conservation is seeking ways of increasing participation by promoting ‘butterfly only’ squares that Butterfly Conservation organise. These are surveyed in exactly the same way as BBS squares.

With State of Nature highlighting not only a decline in 60% of UK wildlife but the fact that we do not have data for many species, now is a good time to get involved with recording other taxa.

Anyone interested in taking participating should contact:

Paul Warren
Butterfly Conservation WCBS Branch Champion
39 Pill Road
Milford Haven
SA73 2NS

h: 01646 697890
m: 07909 980867

In addition, participants may be interested in a free Butterfly Conservation led butterfly monitoring workshop in June:

Monitoring Butterflies Workshop: species, methods and schemes
11:00am – 3:00pm, 22 June, 2013
Corn Exchange, Welshpool Town Hall, Broad Street, Welshpool, SY21 7JQ.

This workshop will be led by Dr Tom Brereton, Head of Monitoring and Dr Zoe Randle, Surveys Officer at Butterfly Conservation. The workshop consists of a classroom session describing the range of butterflies found in Wales, the different methods used to count them and the national monitoring schemes in which volunteers can participate. This will be followed by a practical outdoor session nearby (weather permitting), putting theory into practise. Topics covered include butterfly identification, setting up a route and performing the different survey methods; including butterfly transects, timed counts and the Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey.

By attending this workshop you will be equipped to take part in future butterfly monitoring and to contribute data to the world-renowned UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. Data from this scheme is used to compile national statistics on the health of butterfly populations and of the environment in general. This is a free event but booking is essential as places are limited. Please bring a packed lunch and wear appropriate clothing. For further details and to book your place, please contact:

w: 01929 406006.


Counting Butterflies

In recent weeks a few butterflies have braved the elements, and taken to the wing. I’ve seen Brimstones, Speckled Woods and Orange-tips so far, but as the season marches on, more and more species will emerge, and thoughts turn towards the Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey, an ongoing project is a partnership between BTO, Butterfly Conservation and CEH.

Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus) by rhonddawildlifediary, on Flickr
Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus) by rhonddawildlifediary, on Flickr

Last year volunteers surveyed over 700 sites for the , including 276 Breeding Bird Survey squares, and recorded over 67,000 butterflies of 45 species.

Read about the 2011 findings or, if you are a BBS volunteer, find out how to take part on your own BBS square.

Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey (WCBS)

Common Blue Butterfly by gmajsicmtc, on Flickr
Common Blue Butterfly by gmajsicmtc, on Flickr

The Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey (WCBS) will be running from 2011 for at least another 3 years in a similar fashion to 2009 and 2010, as a collaborative project with Butterfly Conservation, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and BTO.

The aim of WCBS is to get a representative picture of the status of butterflies in widespread habitats such as lowland intensive farmland and upland grassland and moorland.  Results of the 2010 survey are now online.

The survey is carried out on your usual BBS route to enable future comparisons between birds and butterflies.  The survey requires that you make separate visits between June and August (i.e. in addition to BBS visits)  to your BBS square, recording butterflies with optional recording of day-flying moths and dragonflies.

More details about the survey and its methodology are available.

If you have any questions about WCBS, please contact:

Kate Risley
BBS National Organiser
tel: 01843 750050