Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Record Low?

 As I come to the end of what was probably the best butterfly season of my life, I discover, courtesy of Butterfly Conservation and their Big Butterfly Count, that butterfly numbers this summer were down to the lowest levels recorded since the Count began in 2010 – lower even than the notorious wash-out summer of 2012. Hmm.
   This Guardian report has the figures, or some of them, and dismal reading they make. To its credit, the report does mention a couple of the factors that might make these figures questionable – notably the glorious spring weather that accelerated many butterflies' life cycles, leading to a lull in activity at high summer when the count was conducted. (As it happened, this lull was followed by another burgeoning in late summer and early autumn, again driven by warm sunny weather.) The Count's findings might be fairly reliable as a snapshot, but no more: the year as a whole was very far indeed from being the worst since 2010. And the figures for individual species quoted in the report are mostly way out of kilter with my own experience of this butterfly year: I have seldom seen more Peacocks than I saw this spring and early summer, the Small White has been vastly more abundant than the Large, and I'd have said Gatekeepers, Commas and Tortoiseshells were more than holding their own, and Meadow Browns well up on last year. Hopefully, when Butterfly Conversation's more detailed figures for the whole year come out, they will paint a very different, more hopeful picture from the Big Butterfly Count snapshot. 

   Meanwhile, according to The Guardian, we have but '36 days to save the Earth', so we'd better get to it...

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