There are 36 butterfly species resident in Bedfordshire and a further
two species arrive regularly each year as migrants.
With a bit of planning and travelling around the county it is usually possible to see them all within one season.
You may find that your interest and understanding will increase if you record the butterflies you see.
If you then
submit your records to the Joint County Recorders your observations will be pooled with those
of others to build up the picture of what our butterflies are up to.
As an example these web-pages are
the result of over 207,000 such observations and couldn't have been produced without them!
Butterflies are sensitive indicators of the health of the countryside and
recording them is helpful for advising wildlife conservation in general.
As development pressures impinge on our countryside it is important to know where our
most vulnerable wildlife live and where the most precious habitats remain.
Providing a centralised source of accessible information is an vital part of informing
the planning and conservation processes. By passing records of wildlife to County Recorders
(not just of butterflies, but for all wildlife) these can become available to the conservation
organizations that need to know and can act on wildlife's behalf.
What is a Record?
A comprehensive record would contain all of the following items about an observation:
- Quantity seen
- Stage/sex (i.e. Adult, Male, Female, Pair, Egg, Caterpillar, Chrysalis)
- Location description
- Grid Reference
- Observer name(s)
- Comment - anything notable about the observation. (Optional if nothing special about it).
An easy way to record on paper in the field is to write down the date, location description and its 1km grid square
at the top, then use an abbreviation for the common name of each species encountered and "five-barred gates" to
count observations as you go, e.g. "RA |||" would mean three Red Admirals seen. You can then make extra notes
if you see caterpillars, or mating pairs, or precise location details of any rare species you find, etc.
If you are unsure of an identification it is better not to record it than to guess, as this could result in an incorrect record.
However, if you can take a photo or write down a good description of the butterfly we will be happy to try to identify it for you.
It is sufficient for most species to record just the 4-figure number for the 1km square in which the observation was made, e.g. TL1245.
For sites that straddle 1km square boundaries (e.g. Chicksands Wood) please record each 1km square separately if possible.
For rarer species a 6-figure grid reference should be recorded if possible to indicate the 100m square of the sighting.
Do not use Tetrads. (If you don't know what a Tetrad is, don't worry, it's an old-fashioned way of recording that isn't very precise).
Which Species should be Recorded?
Records of all species are valuable, even common ones.
Butterfly distribution, abundance and flight-times change over time, so having a good set of records for all species and locations throughout the season
is a good way to pick up trends, so please report everything you see.
If you see any of the species marked for Immediate notification, please contact Peter or Keith as
soon as possible so that they can be followed-up while the species is still in season.
|Species ||6-figure (100m) |
|Dingy Skipper ||Yes|| |
|Grizzled Skipper ||Yes|| |
|Small Skipper || || |
|Essex Skipper || || |
|Large Skipper || || |
|Orange Tip || || |
|Large White || || |
|Small White || || |
|Green-veined White || || |
|Clouded Yellow || || |
|Brimstone || || |
|Wall Brown ||Yes||Yes |
|Speckled Wood || || |
|Small Heath || || |
|Ringlet || || |
|Meadow Brown || || |
|Gatekeeper || || |
|Marbled White || || |
|Silver-washed Fritillary || || |
|Dark Green Fritillary || || |
|White Admiral || || |
|Purple Emperor || ||Yes |
|Red Admiral || || |
|Painted Lady || || |
|Peacock || || |
|Small Tortoiseshell || || |
|Comma || || |
|Duke of Burgundy ||Yes||Yes |
|Small Copper || || |
|Purple Hairstreak ||Yes|| |
|Green Hairstreak ||Yes|| |
|White-letter Hairstreak ||Yes|| |
|Black Hairstreak ||Yes||Yes |
|Small Blue ||Yes|| |
|Holly Blue || || |
|Brown Argus || || |
|Common Blue || || |
|Chalkhill Blue || || |
|Anything else! ||Yes||Yes |
* 4-figure (1km) grid references are sufficient resolution for species not marked with "Yes".
When and Where to Record
If you visit a site in mid-May, mid-June and mid-July then you are likely to find most of
the species that are resident there. This can help discover unknown colonies and check on the health
of known colonies.
There are many areas of the county for which we have few records and recording these at any time in
the season may lead to interesting discoveries.
Recording throughout the year will also pick-up first and last flight times, as well as abundance,
which are useful for seeing how global warming may be affecting species.
HERE is a chart that can be used as a guide
to when each species may be found in flight.
If you really get the recording bug and want to record a particular site throughout the year, you could consider
doing a transect. This is a regular route walked weekly from the start of April to the end of September, and therefore
requires dedication and/or a group of enthusiasts to share the workload. Monitoring a nature reserve in this way year after year can
be very helpful to the conservation organization that manages it as butterflies are a good indicator of the health of the habitat.
If you would like to start to do a transect it would be best to discuss the approach with
Keith or Peter first.
Records should be sent to the joint County Recorders, ideally before the end of November.
Send them either to Peter or Keith, it doesn't matter which, but by preference if your records are on paper
please send them to Peter, or if they are in an electronic format, send them to Keith.
Records can now also be submitted on-line HERE.
If you are able to submit records on a spreadsheet please do so. With about 10,000 records to process
each year this really does help us! (Please use a separate column for each of the items to be recorded, and
a new row for each record). A pre-formatted spreadsheet is available HERE for use.
If however you wish to submit records on paper, please do so - they are all welcome.
6 Salcombe Close
Tel: 01234 304741
2 Sutton Gardens,
Tel: 01582 524994
Butterflies should be enjoyed, so don't feel obliged to record if you don't want to!