Butterfly Survey

The Friends of Poets’ Walk are taking part in The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme using a fixed-route walk (transect) over Church Hill and Wain’s Hill drawn up and registered on-line in 2016 by our butterfly representative Bill Thompson.

This year we have been prevented from surveying the butterflies on Church Hill and Wain’s Hill during April and May due to Covid 19 restrictions. But on the 1st of June, by observing social distancing, we were able to restart weekly recording across our transect.

Latest news –  August 2020

Our thanks go to volunteer Cath Bennett who has recorded butterflies every single week since recording restarted on 1st of June. The large fluctuation in sightings reflects the extraordinary changes in weather this summer. See the graph below.

average versus actuals up to week 9

The 2019 national butterfly recording season closed at the end of September and Bill reported that butterfly numbers were up last year with a total of 1,990 butterflies compared with 1,754 last year and 1,323 in 2017.

painted lady with text

He wrote: It has been a spectacular year for the butterfly numbers on our transect. We can clearly see that the good weather in the early part of the year influenced the numbers and also perhaps the re-appearance of some species. We can definitely see a pattern emerging on our transect that reflects not only the weather but the emergence of two broods during the year.

The big winners this year were Gatekeeper, Common Blue, Marbled White and Ringlet with the big success story being the inter-continental migrant, Painted Lady.

Read Bill’s full end of season summary from 2019

The following graphs illustrate the end of the 2019 season statistics from our survey.

Click image to enlarge

Our sightings in 2018 are summarised in Bill’s end of  2018 season summary

Our sightings in 2017 are summarised in Bill’s end of  2017 season summary

Our sightings in 2016 are summarised in Bill’s end of  2016 season summary


Poets Walk Butterflies Transect map

To take part in the scheme a transect must be established at a chosen site and butterflies are recorded along the route on a regular (weekly) basis under reasonable weather conditions for a number of years. A transect route is divided into sections, which are chosen to represent the various habitat types and management activities across the site. It must remain unchanged to enable butterfly sightings to be compared from year to year.

Butterflies are recorded from the beginning of April until the end of September. Certain requirements apply relating to time of day and weather conditions. Data is recorded and summarized results submitted to the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS).

Our Church Hill and Wain’s Hill transect is divided into nine sections starting at the path (Hack’s Way) on Old Church Road and ending on the coastal path. Its total length is about 2.6 km (1.6 miles) and the walk takes around one hour.

Butterfly identification – hover over any image to name the butterfly or click to enlarge

For a useful guide to indentifying our British blue butterflies click here