Eleven o’clock sharp, our small band of butterfly hunters set off to see what we could see for the Big Butterfly Count. Conditions were not the best for butterfly spotting, being mild, slightly overcast and breezy: butterflies are cold blooded and need to warm up before they take to the air, and like calm days. However, we went to the area just below the woods which Darren said held the best potential. This seems to be a spot which is rich in wild flowers – wood anemones, celandine and bluebells in the spring, clover, yellow pea vetch, and lesser knapweed now: it is also teaming with insects of many kinds.
In our allotted 15min, we spotted two large skippers, two six-spot burnet moths, several meadow browns and a number of ringlets. A subsequent walk around the park also led to sightings of a small tortoiseshell, and many more ringlets. Hanging on the nettles near the farm gate, we found a colony of black caterpillars just waiting to turn into delicate winged creatures: whilst a group of ragwort down near the Greenshaw Terrace gate is hosting some cinnibar moth caterpillars, which are toxic to birds because of the plant’s poison.
Looking at the Big Butterfly Count website there have already been a number of counts in the Airborough area, with ringlets and meadow browns seemingly the most commonly spotted. Other species we might have seen include the comma, small copper, or common blue – all of which have been spied in the Park.
Altogether, there are 59 species of British butterfly, although you will not see all of those in one place, or at the same time of the year. The Big Butterfly Count goes on until the 5th August, so there is still time to go and sit in the Park for 15min and do your own spotting, with the chart provided on the website: a warm, sunny day is best. Then you can record the findings on the website, and put Parkinson’s Park on the map.
Let us know on here what you spot, as we plan to make a butterfly walk in this area, enhancing it with other wild flowers.