Sid Valley Biodiversity Group report: results of butterfly count

PUBLISHED: 12:00 24 August 2020

Marbled White butterfly. Picture: Charles Sinclair

Marbled White butterfly. Picture: Charles Sinclair

Charles Sinclair

The Sid Valley Biodiversity Group contributes regular reports on its activities. This week, publicity officer Charles Sinclair gives the local results of the national Big Butterfly Count, which ran from Friday, July 17 until Sunday, August 9.

Common Blue butterfly. Picture: Jan MetcalfCommon Blue butterfly. Picture: Jan Metcalf

The Sid Valley contributed a massive 129 butterfly surveys to the Big Butterfly Count. This has given us a comprehensive set of local results from which to monitor our local butterfly populations.

The most numerous butterfly species in the Sid Valley is the Gatekeeper with 412 sightings. This was followed by the Meadow Brown (331), Large White (220) and Small White (157). This bucked the national trend putting the typical hedge and meadow species of Gatekeeper and Meadow Brown above the Whites. Looking at the locations of the majority of the surveys done nationally they were clustered around towns, thus favouring the Whites we commonly associate with our cabbage plants.

The high quality of some of our local meadows such as Alma Meadow gave rise to other interesting species. The Common Blue came in fifth with 84 sightings and the unusual black and white Marbled White was recorded 13 times below the Frog Stone.

Surprisingly we did not do so well with Peacock and Red Admiral butterflies, which are thriving in other parts of the country. The Small Tortoiseshell is struggling nationally, and very few were recorded in the Sid Valley; this is possibly due to the drier summers we are getting at the moment.

A Grayling butterfly, camouflaged against gravel. Picture: Charles SinclairA Grayling butterfly, camouflaged against gravel. Picture: Charles Sinclair

We have some rare species. Graylings were recorded well-camouflaged up on Mutters Moor. They enjoy open bare ground near coasts, and if you have a keen eye they can be seen basking on the gravel paths. More interesting again were reports of the very rare Wood White butterfly and Dingy Skipper. We will seek professional help to guide us how to improve our environment for butterflies.

Many thanks to all who submitted surveys to Butterfly Conservation; the information is of local as well as national importance. Butterflies are an excellent indicator of the health of our environment, alerting us to both the successes and the problems of its management.

For those of you who wish to take part in further wildlife surveys, please contact the Sid Valley Biodiversity Group for more information, email us at

Birds-foot Trefoil in Alma Meadow. Picture: Charles SinclairBirds-foot Trefoil in Alma Meadow. Picture: Charles Sinclair

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