At­ten­bor­ough urges Scots in High­lands to count but­ter­flies

The Oban Times - - Outdoors -

SIR David At­ten­bor­ough is urg­ing peo­ple across the Scot­tish High­lands to take part in the Big But­ter­fly Count this sum­mer.

Sir David has warned that UK but­ter­flies face a crit­i­cal sum­mer after many com­mon species con­tinue to de­cline in numbers. Last year was the fourth worst on record for but­ter­flies.

Com­mon species such as the small tor­toise­shell, pea­cock, meadow brown and gate­keeper ex­pe­ri­enced de­clines in 2016, but the warm, dry spring and early sum­mer ex­pe­ri­enced over much of the UK so far this year could of­fer but­ter­flies some respite if the good weather con­tin­ues.

The Big But­ter­fly Count is the world’s largest but­ter­fly sur­vey, which en­cour­ages peo­ple to spot and record 18 species of com­mon but­ter­flies and two day-fly­ing moths dur­ing three weeks of high sum­mer.

Fam­i­lies are be­ing in­vited to take part in their gar­dens, lo­cal parks or at a free event at the Land, Sea and Is­lands Cen­tre in Ari­saig, Lochaber, from 10.30am un­til 4pm on Sun­day July 30.

A guided but­ter­fly walk will take place, with tea and cakes pro­vided. Find out more at www. but­terf ly- con­ser­va­tion. org/Ari­saig.

But­ter­fly Con­ser­va­tion pres­i­dent Sir David said: ‘The next few weeks are a vi­tal pe­riod for our but­ter­flies. They need to make the most of this chance to feed and breed.

‘In the past decade our but­ter­flies have ex­pe­ri­enced sev­eral poor years and, although re­silient, they sim­ply can­not sus­tain re­peated losses, es­pe­cially if the habi­tats they need in or­der to re­build their pop­u­la­tions are also un­der threat.

Sir David added: ‘Tak­ing part in the Big But­ter­fly Count is good for but­ter­flies and it is also good for us all.

‘The count is good for but­ter­flies be­cause your sight­ings will tell us which species need help and in which ar­eas we need to help them.

‘But the Big But­ter­fly Count is also good for you be­cause 15 min­utes spent watch­ing but­ter­flies in the sum­mer sun­shine is price­less. Spend­ing time with but­ter­flies lifts the spir­its and rein­vig­o­rates that sense of won­der in the nat­u­ral world.’

The count runs un­til Au­gust 6. To take part, find a sunny spot and spend 15 min­utes count­ing the but­ter­flies you see and then sub­mit sight­ings on­line at www. big­but­ter­fly­ or via the free Big But­ter­fly Count app.

Sir David At­ten­bor­ough.

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