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Big Butterfly Count

Big Butterfly Count

It's been several weeks since I last wrote here and the weather has been rather unpredictable to say the least, the end of July stayed mostly dry with temperatures in the low to mid twenties Celsius.

This is ideal weather for butterfly watching or a bit of lepidoptera in you want to be technical about it. It just so happened that the 2017 Big Butterfly Count was running from the 14th July until the 6th August. Personally I did over 20 separate counts in the Abbey over the period and had good results for the species the survey is interested in counting and monitoring, but first just to explain the count to those of you that may not be aware of what it is, it's scope or aims.

This from the official Big Butterfly Count website... “The big butterfly count is a nationwide survey aimed at helping us assess the health of our environment. It was launched in 2010 and has rapidly become the world's biggest survey of butterflies. Over 36,000 people took part in 2016, counting almost 400,000 individual butterflies and day-flying moths across the UK. big butterfly count 2017 took place from Friday 14 July to Sunday 6 August but sightings can be submitted until the end of August.”

So that's basically it in a nutshell. The survey looks to monitor the populations of 20 of our most common, widespread and easily recognised species of butterfly and day-flying moth. These are as follows: Large white, small white, green-veined white, brimstone, marbled white, large skipper, gate keeper, meadow brown, ringlet, speckled wood, comma, painted lady, small tortoiseshell, peacock, common blue, holly blue and small copper butterflies as well as silver Y and six-spot burnet moths. We have had all of these species present in the Abbey apart from the silver Y, which I am confident that we do have but it can be a rather inconspicuous and rather well camouflaged moth to find.

Our results do seem to be slightly better that the national trend has been after looking at datasets that have been submitted so far on their website, however a full picture will not be obtainable until after the end of August when the deadline has passed for submissions of data and all the number crunching has been done.

Other news over the last few weeks: Dragonflies continue to be in good number around both the ponds but damselflies seem to be waning slightly. This could be due to the inclement conditions we had in the last few days of July and beginning of August. Still plenty of fledgling birds in the grounds to be seen. Glastonbury's swifts have now all but left us for this year, but a few have been seen around feeding high up and heading south, I am sure these are not “our” birds but are from further north and are just passing through. Certainly the skies feel a lot emptier and quieter in the past two weeks. Some early fungi has started appearing in the grounds with the most spectacular a giant puffball by the footpath in the wildlife area, certainly looked impressive today (Saturday 12th).

That's it for now, enjoy yourselves.

Mark Huntington.

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Added: 14th August 2017