By Karen Smeatham - 8th August 2015 6:00am
I have long had a fascination with butterflies. The life cycle from egg to caterpillar, chrysalis to butterfly is amazing! It always seems sad that once they are able to fly they only have a couple of weeks at best to mate and lay the next generation of eggs before they die. Their iridescent wings of beautiful colours and patterns are made of tiny scales.
I could watch them endlessly fluttering around, so when I heard that the Big Butterfly count was about to start I thought, well here's my chance to help something I love, watch and count butterflies, and combine it with a walk or just being in my garden.
All you need is a spare 15mins and a crib sheet, which you can download from the Big Butterfly count website, and then go outside to sit in the garden, or stroll around a local park, a meadow or woodland. I got my partner involved, as butterflies are easier to spot and identify with more eyes peeled at the same time. Once I spotted a butterfly I tried to follow it until it landed. I then used the crib sheet to identify it. A camera was useful to take along because I was able to take a photo to confirm a species afterwards if I was unsure. I also found a pair of binoculars useful for the butterflies that take off just as you catch up to them!
Blessed with far better weather than you might expect I have been able to do three counts so far whilst holidaying in Scotland. We managed to spot; Painted Lady, Speckled Wood, Common Blue, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper and Wood White during my counts so far. You can submit your results on the very easy to use website and you can do as many counts as you like until 11th August. So when the sun shines again and the wind is not too strong I may get chance to do a count in my garden or the woodland too. I hope you can too...happy counting!