The Big Butterfly Count Isle of Wight 2018

It’s that time of year again when one can encounters a great variety of butterflies flitting about on the edges of fields, footpaths, woodlands, meadows, downs and even beaches.

If only there was a national survey launched in 2010 that provided a fantastic mobile phone app, wall charts and spotter guides to encourage you to spot them every year? There is, I hear you shout! Yes, there is… it’s called The Big Butterfly Count and YOU can take part. You might be a local or visiting on holiday, but either way the Island has a wonderful abundance of butterflies.

I usually go spotting in the countryside surrounding my local village of Newchurch, particularly in Martin’s Wood, but this year I think I will venture further afield. I was encouraged to do this when I went for a walk on Tennyson Down the other day, not intending to see any butterflies, when I spotted the tiniest of butterflies that I later identified as a Chalk Hill Blue. It took me some time to confirm this as the underwing looks very similar to a Brown Argus — not to be confused with the Sainsbury’s Argos. The Chalk Hill Blue I spotted was in fact a female, which is actually mostly brown, unlike the chalky blue male.

Here on the Isle of Wight we have an elusive species of butterfly I have never seen (due to it mostly inhabiting the southern-most landslip areas of the Island) called the Glanville Fritillary. I do hope to spot it over the summer by going on the National Trust Compton Down Butterfly walk.

In any case, I guarantee that wherever you go, as long as you get outside you’ll encounter butterflies, even in the towns. And to help you I suggest you get a Big Butterfly Count spotter guide and download the app to help you spot some of the most common species. Then you can upload your results and look at a map of your finds alongside people from all over the UK. And then next year, do it all over again! 

The Big Butterfly Count runs from 20th July to the 12th August, but results can be submitted to the website until the end of August. 

Happy spotting!

Philip Bell Author Photo by Chris Cowley

1 August 2018

By Philip Bell in The locals' blogs