Avoiding duplicate recording

view of a Peacock sunning on rocks with wings open wide
Peacock. Photo: Martin East

Thanks to everyone who has sent in butterfly records so far this year – we’ve heard about 1,582 butterflies of 17 species already – and that’s just via the website! We also gather records from:

  • Our transect walking programme: 64 sites each walked 26 times a year.
  • The Big Butterfly Count. This is organised nationally by Butterfly Conservation HQ, and the Dorset records are passed to us.
  • iRecord and Living Record. These are both national schemes designed to record all sorts of wildlife. Again, the Dorset butterfly records are harvested for our database.
  • The Wider Countryside Scheme – again run nationally by BC HQ, with Dorset results passed to us.
  • Garden Records. Another national scheme, once paper-based, now a combination of paper records and online records made to www.gardenbutterflysurvey.org/ with online records being given to us at the end of the year.
  • Casual electronic and paper records gathered locally
  • Migrant Watch – a national scheme asking for records of Painted Ladies and Hummingbird Hawk-moths, with Dorset records sent to us.

Numbers of butterflies reported obviously vary from year to year, but we average over 200,000 per annum in Dorset.

Before being treated as bone fide records, all reports are ‘verified’. If a record comes in for a Meadow Brown in Bridport it will not be queried: it is a common butterfly and if the time of year is right, the sighting is taken at face value. A sighting of a Silver-spotted Skipper in Bere Regis, however, would be investigated: the species is only known on one north Dorset site, so photographic evidence would be needed.

view o9f a Silver-spotted Skipper resting on a grass head showing silver spots on upper and under-wings

Silver-spotted Skipper. Photo: Mark Pike

What we need to avoid completely are the same butterflies being reported via different schemes. We realise you might occasionally have a sighting you want to share on our website, but also record elsewhere, so we have made provision for this on our website recording form by asking you to “Tick this box if you will also be submitting these records via any other recording scheme”. The effect of this is that these records will be omitted from the mass of sightings entered into our master database, as we will be receiving them from elsewhere.

It would be really helpful if you could use this tick box if appropriate.

Two other things:

  1. Moth Records are probably best entered via Living Record at the moment. The Dorset Moth Group (a sister organisaiton) is short of verifiers, so this enables the records to sit where they will not be lost until they can be handled.
  2. As far as possible, it would be good if you could not count the same butterfly at the same site twice. Obviously, this is not a precise science, but use your common sense: if you see five Red Admirals today and three tomorrow, they are quite likely to be the same ones. Wait a week or so and then record again. Adult butterflies live for very variable amounts of time, from months to only a few days.

Above all, enjoy seeing and recording these gorgeous insects!

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