July: Butterfly count & Parks week

Butterfly visits have been a bit on short supply in my garden this year so far. I’ve heard others mention this too. However, bring on a few warm, windless days in July and fingers crossed they will start to appear – although the short-term forecast isn’t too promising.

If you have been enjoying butterfly visits to your garden or seen them when you’ve been out and about please do share them in a comment. We’d all love to hear about them 🙂

Here in the UK, Butterfly Conservation would love to hear about any sightings you see for their 2nd big butterfly count that’s running this month – 16th-31st July 2011. 15 mins is all it takes and you can get details on their website. I hope I manage a count this year.

Interestingly enough, last night as I mowed our lawn I disturbed a number of small moths and what looked like a small heath butterfly in grass I am allowing to grow uncut on a mound I built last year. What a surprise I got there!

I’ve never seen that butterfly in my garden before. I didn’t get any photos for a proper ID as it was about to rain and after being on holiday I wanted to get the grass cut again.This year we didn’t use too much on carbon footprints for our holiday choosing to stay in Scotland.

We headed to the West coast where we enjoyed a great location which overlooked a river. I found myself doing a river watch with a couple of ID mysteries. One in particular, had me stumped for over an hour in a bookshop! I finally used my phone to send my query to a bird forum where I got my ID based on a description only. Video and stories to follow soon 🙂

Emails on my return included one on the Love Parks Week which is organised by GreenSpace and is a registered charity which works to improve parks and green spaces by raising awareness, involving communities and creating skilled professionals.

Being honest, I don’t suppose I consider parks much at all in the area I live. I guess this is partly due to the fact I have considerable green spaces to enjoy here. I also have my own personal green space that is my garden which I know I am lucky to have. I also visit larger gardens like Edinburgh Botanical Garden (shown in photo above) that I see as park-like.

Love Parks Week is “aiming to get one million people out into their local park. From Tai Chi classes to jazz nights, urban street games to teddy bear picnics”. You might even want to organise an event yourself.

Not being a park user I can still see that parks really have a strong community focus especially when “91% of people believe that public parks and open spaces improve their quality of life”. A park is not just for walking the dog at the weekend… it’s for everyone and hopefully for forever! That’s provided it gets support it needs.

Award winning garden designer and TV presenter, Chris Beardshaw is passionate about green spaces and giving his support to Love Parks Week:

“I spent most of my youth outdoors and I think exploring a local park is a brilliant way to get children thinking about their surroundings and the community they live in. Britain’s parks are an invaluable legacy from the past – many are more than 100 years old – but they are an important part of our future.

There is so much evidence now on the positive impact good green spaces have on our lives, be that our health and well-being, our social fabric, even helping the economy and reducing crime rates and the evidence is continuing to grow.

By visiting a public green space and witnessing the passion and enthusiasm of those who create and maintain them, you can enliven the senses and help keep these spaces alive and vital.”

Of course, butterflies can be spotted in parks too and the big butterfly count welcomes sightings from parks and woods as well as from gardens. I should also add (quite important too) that if you see no sightings at all in your count that result is valuable too so please send it in.

Being a nationwide survey, the big butterfly count is aimed at helping assess the health of our environment. “Butterflies react very quickly to change in their environment which makes them excellent biodiversity indicators.

The count will also assist in identifying trends in species that will help us plan how to protect butterflies from extinction, as well as understand the effect of climate change on wildlife. Butterfly declines are an early warning for other wildlife losses. That’s why counting butterflies can be described as taking the pulse of nature.”

That’s a lovely way to think of a butterfly . Wishing you a good weekend with many sightings of butterflies and enjoyable visits to parks 🙂

Oh… and do enjoy any Open Garden Visits you make. I visited some last weekend and that’s up next followed by a swallow tale and my river watch on holiday with an update on our House Martin nest fitted in somewhere. Hopefully it will be dry over the next few days to get my video camera out for a closer look at what stage the nest is at now. Gosh… I’ll need another holiday after all this 🙂

This post was written by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in July 2011.

9 thoughts on “July: Butterfly count & Parks week

  1. We've had very few butterflies in our garden so far just a couple of fritillaries. Saw more moths and butterflies out and about on dog walks. Seems to be very few ladybirds and lacewings about in our garden this year.
    I'm going to put the butterfly count in the diary and hope we have something to count.
    looking forward to the videos, Shirl.

  2. I haven't had too many butterflies in the garden yet this year either. It is beginning to heat up not though. In our area there is a July 4th butterfly count every year. I don't participate but have been tempted to do so. I don't know enough about butterflies to be much help. I only know the common garden variety of butterflies.

  3. We recently had an idea for a project to create a butterfly with local children in our much-loved park, King's Stairs Gardens. We worked with our local Council and the garden became a reality this week. The children did a great job with the planting and they were amazed that the butterflies were already fluttering around the plants. The Council's Parks team gave a wonderful hands-on presentation about the butterfly-friendly plants. The nature education does not stop there either as schools already have their live butterfly kits to learn about life cycles and will release the newly hatched butterflies in the park. The butterfly garden will be officially opened at our Butterfly Picnic on the 24th July – a Love Parks Week Event. Unfortunately our park is under threat. If possible please help by passing on the details of this and our petition all available at saveksg.com

  4. I should have also mentioned that we are also printing out information from the Butterfly Conservation about the big butterfly count so everybody who attends can get involved and be aware of what they can grow in their own gardens/balconies to attract butterflies. We will also have butterfly-friendly plants as prizes and a stall on the day. Our Facebook page is here facebook.com/mobileprotection#!/groups/120568491331332?ap=1

  5. Like you there are few flutters around the garden so far this year but also like you far more small moths in the grass.

  6. Butterfly count is a wonderful idea. I see scores of butterflies every day, but there is no count here. The Common Mormons, the Jays, the Common Crows, the Eggflies and the Blue Tiger are the regular visitors to my garden.

  7. Our buddleia and lavender are flowering and usually well visited by butterflies but very few have been seen so far

  8. Oh Shirl..our weather has been so wet, we didn't see a lot of butterflies, however, on the sunny days, they are there..swallowtail mostly. Lots of ants and earwigs this year so have lost a few plantings of this and that and first time ever, have asparagus beetle! Hummingbirds are grateful for the feeders but monarda is almost in bloom..they are clapping their wings over that!!

  9. Hello again everyone, hope you’re not get the heavy rain we have at the moment. I’m doubting the 2 layers of tarpaulin are keeping dry the area we cleared over the last couple of days to lay slabs :-O

    Janet, sounds like the moths are in good numbers then. The survey includes them too. Never seen a fritillary, I’d be delighted to see one. I love the shape of their leaves. Good luck with your count. You could do one on your walks too if you wanted. Looking forward to sorting my videos 🙂

    Lisa, interesting to hear butterfly sightings are low with you in Indiana. I’d guess your common ones are quite interesting compared to ours. I’m getting to know the butterflies that visit my garden after taking photos for ID’s. I’m still learning but as for Moths I’m lost there.

    SaveKDG, thanks for your comments and sharing info on your park project. As you know I tweeted on it for you. Good luck there, it sounds a very worthwhile place and you are doing lots to get the community involved 🙂

    John, interesting that you are finding the same observations with you.

    lotusleaf, yes I think so too. Oh… sounds a fascinating variety you have visiting. I’ll have to search your blog to see images of them 🙂

    Sue, that is a shame. Maybe they’ll arrive nearer August. Sadly I lost my lavender plants this last cold winter. Might get another one and keep it in a pot. I liked the planting strip I had 🙁

    Brenda, it’s very wet here at the moment too. Enjoy the sunny days with your swallowtails. I always admire photos of them in blogs. Oh… sorry to hear about your plant losses. Once again, I do enjoy seeing the humming birds at feeders in blogs too. Ah… Monarda, a plant I keep thinking about adding in my front garden where there is more sun but unfortunately less free space 🙂

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