Connecting for Nature

A Biodiversity Partnership for Ryedale, Scarborough and the Howardian Hills

Butterfly Conservation transects – volunteering opportunity

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Speckled Wood on Hogweed

Speckled Wood butterfly, The Dell, Eastfield, Scarborough, one of the species you might encounter on a Butterfly Conservation monitoring transect. Currently topping the charts of iRecord Butterflies app at 3079 records.

Next Spring may seem a long way off but as the nights draw in why not look into a rewarding butterfly survey role in 2017? Butterfly Conservation Yorkshire (BC Yorks.) coordinates a range of volunteer surveys in our region on behalf of the national Butterfly Conservation recording and monitoring schemes. Through the spring and summer months when butterflies are on the wing amateur watchers who can commit to walking a defined local route regularly can contribute very valuable data towards long term population trends. With a little help it is quite achievable for even a relative beginner to master the ID of a range of butterflies commonly encountered on a ‘BC Transect’. Some recorders work in pairs to make it more sociable and to help out with the counting, but the main thing is to be able to walk a route regularly on sunny, fine days through the spring and summer. The methodology is not complicated but consistency is important for transects across Yorkshire and the UK to be compared year to year and site to site.

Meadow Brown butterfly basking in the warm sunshine - one of the more abundant species of lowland meadows.

Meadow Brown butterfly basking in the warm sunshine. This species can be abundant in lowland meadows. In total almost 34,000 were recorded in 2015 across Yorkshire. (Source:Yorkshire Butterflies and Moths 2015.)

The Dell LNR, Eastfield just south of Scarborough had a transect route set up during Groundwork’s ‘Dell-ve into Nature’ project, when a Project Officer was regularly on site. This transect starts in the meadows of The Dell passing north into Deepdale valley following a bridleway up towards Oliver’s Mount. Part of the site was good for both Marbled White and Small Copper, recalls Dave Wainwright of BC Yorkshire.

It would be great to see this route monitored regularly again, especially since the meadow restoration work at The Dell has continued under the auspices of SBC since the Groundwork project came to an end in 2013. Common Blue, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood and Comma are also among the species you may find there.

If suitable volunteers come forward perhaps  a joint training day could be convened for new volunteers to resume lapsed transects, or even set up new ones. This may be something that Connecting for Nature can organize – provided there is sufficient interest. The data from transects is extremely valuable for monitoring population trends in butterflies which in turn are key ecological indicators, being sensitive to habitat changes, land-use in the wider countryside and climatic effects. Contact Tim Burkinshaw in the first instance if you think you might be interested.

For more informal, ad hoc butterfly records, you can email them to your local Vice County recorder, (see http://www.yorkshirebutterflies.org) or even download the smartphone app from Butterfly Conservation, to help you identify as you go and report sightings on a favourite site or wherever you see butterflies, using the location function of your phone.

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Author: Tim Burkinshaw

I work in ecology and biodiversity in North Yorkshire. I'm often found outdoors snapping nature and landscapes or spotting birds. In the garden I enjoy having my hands in the earth and striving for the perfect mix of greens and browns in my compost. As a Daddy and adopter I'm used to endless questions about the world around us, and generally have an answer up my sleeve for most things. If you spot me and my hat in real life or on social media do say hello!

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