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Category Archives: Science & Research

ID Day a sell-out

A number of people seated, some being helped by people leaning over their shoulders
People at the identification day. Photo: Georgie Laing

We hold an annual training course in butterfly identification, which particularly looks at the can-be-hard-to-tell apart families, like the whites or the blues. This year’s took place on 27 May in Cerne Abbas and was, as usual, a sell-out, with 23 people attending.

The day, run by volunteers of the Dorset Branch of Butterfly Conservation, looks not just at identification, but also how to survey and record butterflies.

In the morning, attendees learnt the techniques of butterfly identification. In the afternoon, when the sun fortunately came out, they went out to practice their new knowledge in the butterfly-rich location of the Cerne Giant. There was great excitement when, as well as adult butterflies of various species, a Marsh Fritillary chysalis was spotted.

Our thanks to James Gould (who said he enjoyed the day, especially the cakes!) for the following photos.

Marsh Fritillary butterfly with open wings

Marsh Fritillary. Photo: James Gould.

Chunky crysalis, cream with yellow and black markings, held by silk onto a leaf

Marsh Fritillary chrysalis. Photo: James Gould.

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How are Dorset’s butterflies doing?

Distribution map: Small Copper
Distribution map: Small Copper

In order to help butterflies, we need to know about them first. If you haven’t spotted our Distribution Atlas pages yet, do go and have a look at them; they can be accessed via our ‘Recording‘ page.

Our Records Officer, Bill Shreeves, has done a magnificent job taking both a long-term and short-term view of our records from 1970 to 2014, showing how the various species have fared in Dorset. Each species has a distribution map of sightings between 2010 and 2014, followed by information showing population trends.

This is still a work in progress. We will be adding Dorset flight-time charts soon, and Bill is working on further ways of illustrating trends, and hopefully we may be able to crunch the numbers to achieve some abundance data, too.

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OBE for Dr Martin Warren

A group of people walking towards the camera across grass
Martin Warren (far left) at Alners Gorse Butterfly Reserve

The Dorset Branch of Butterfly Conservation are delighted to see that Martin Warren, recently retired Chief Executive of Butterfly Conservation, has been awarded an OBE. Some people think this stands for ‘Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire‘; we think it’s for ‘Outstanding Butterfly Expert’! Continue reading

Big Butterfly Count 2016 – the results

Comma. Photo: Andrew Cooper
Comma. Photo: Andrew Cooper

Common butterflies saw their numbers collapse over the summer despite the UK experiencing weather conditions that usually help them to thrive, results from the Big Butterfly Count have revealed. Continue reading

2015 Butterfly Report

Example of a double page spread from the report

You can find out how the butterflies of Dorset fared during 2015 from our Annual Butterfly Report, available on our Butterfly Reports page. 36 pages, now in full colour! See whether it was a good butterfly year or not, and which species fared well or badly. Continue reading

The State of the UK’s Butterflies 2015

Wall Brown
Wall Brown. Photo: Bob Eade

More than three-quarters of the UK’s butterflies have declined in the last 40 years with some common species suffering significant slumps, a major scientific study has revealed. Continue reading

Neonicotinoids linked to UK butterfly declines

Small Tortoiseshell
Small Tortoiseshell. Photo: Tim Melling

The use of neonicotinoid pesticides may be contributing to the decline of british butterflies a new study by the Universities of Stirling and Sussex in partnership with Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology has revealed. Continue reading