The Big Butterfly Count 2019

It is that time of year again when every garden, hedge and field seems to come alive with butterflies. As we approach the height of summer many of our resident butterfly species will continue to emerge, reaching peak numbers in July and August, when temperatures and weather patterns are typically at their most favourable. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing effects of climate change, habitat fragmentation and the intensification of agriculture, many of our most common species have declined across the UK. These declines are worrying for many other species too as some butterfly populations act as ecosystem monitors, whereby their successes and failures may allude to the overall health of our ecosystems.

To monitor and mitigate these declines, Butterfly Conservation started the Big Butterfly Count in 2010. This annual programme asks members of the public to spend 15-minutes recording the butterflies that they see in their favourite spot and submit their records afterwards. These data are collated and analysed, allowing us to look at how butterflies have fared for the year. In the long-term these records allow us to track trends in butterfly populations. With this information researchers and conservation bodies can identify and act to protect some of our most vulnerable species.

The Big Butterfly Count of 2019 will take place from the 19th July to the 11th August. To take part, all you need to do is download the Big Butterfly Count App onto a smartphone or tablet, or print out a recording sheet from the website, spend 15 minutes counting the butterflies you see and then submit your records online at at https://www.bigbutterflycount.org or via the free Big Butterfly Count app.

The Big Butterfly Count asks you to record sightings of seventeen butterfly species and two day flying moth species. Here at NHBS we have compiled a short guide on which butterflies you are likely to see during your surveys as well as some tips on the features by which you can distinguish certain species.

Gardens

For many of our target butterfly species we need look no further than our back gardens. In the UK many generalist species of butterflies can survive in the patchwork of gardens that stretch out across the country. These species are drawn in by the bountiful supply of nectar offered by flowering plants such as Buddleia, which are seldom without a visiting Red Admiral or Peacock. Gardens with unmanaged patches are even more favourable as these can provide larval host plants such as thistles and nettles, the latter of which is used by four different butterfly species.

Look out for:

1. Large White: Large and often found near brassicas & nasturtiums
2. Small Tortoiseshell:
Medium sized, often bask in open sunny spots
3. Red Admiral:
Large and territorial, with unique black and red colours
4. Painted Lady:
Large fast flyers  with very angular wings
5. Small White: Medium size with yellowish under-wings, feed on brassicas
6. Peacock:
Large, dark butterfly with distinct eye spots on its wings

Grasslands, Parks and Fields

Grasslands are an incredibly valuable habitat to many of the UK’s moths and butterflies. For our target species the relevant habitats include areas of semi-natural grassland, pasturelands, arable land, urban parkland and any areas with rough unmanaged grass. In the height of summer these areas can be teeming with Skippers, Common Blues, Ringlets and Meadow Browns. Be sure to inspect any flowering plants (particularly thistles and knapweeds) as these can act as vital nectaring points for many butterflies. Pay close attention for the fast and subtle movements of smaller species as these can often disappear against such a busy environment. A prime example of challenge is the Small Copper which is notoriously hard to spot due to its minute size, fast flight and discrete colouration (when its wings are closed).

Look out for:

1. Meadow Brown: Very common, with dull orange patches on the wings
2. Green-veined White: Have a distinct green colour around the wing veins
3. Small Copper: Small and fast, have deep brown & bright orange wings
4. Common Blue:
 Small with a vivid blue colour and unbroken white border
5. Six-spot Burnet: Has distinct patterns and colours, often feed on Thistles
6. Ringlet: Common, wings can appear black and have distinct yellow rings
7. Marbled White: Large slow flyers with a unique chequered pattern

Hedgerows and Woodland-Edge

Edge habitats are well known for their butterfly diversity and abundance, housing many threatened and elusive species. For the Big Butterfly Count there are a few species which you are likely to see in these areas, however species such as the Brimstone, Speckled Wood and Gatekeeper can occur in several other habitats. Sunny areas with flowering shrub such as Bramble are hotspots for activity, particularly for Gatekeepers. Holly Blues may be hard to spot as they are mostly arboreal, only descending to feed on flowering plants such as Ivy. Woodland interiors are unlikely to yield many butterflies, particularly those with little light and/or limited forest floor plants, however open sunny glades are worth visiting.

Look out for:

1. Brimstone: Large with a powdered yellow/green colour and slow flight
2. Comma:
Large with a uniquely scalloped wing edge and fast flight
3. Gatekeeper: Small size, often found around hedges with bramble growing
4. Holly Blue:
Very small, flying around tree tops, especially those with Ivy
5. Speckled Wood
: Medium size, very territorial and regularly sun bask
6. Silver-Y: Very fast flying with a distinct silver ‘Y’ on the upper wing

Related products at NHBS

While you do not need any additional equipment to complete the Big Butterfly Count, there are a few items at NHBS which can make it a bit easier to help you tell apart some of the more fiendishly similar species.

Binoculars

Having a good pair of binoculars to hand is great for identifying butterflies from a distance; allowing you to quickly pick out distinguishing features. Binoculars with a short minimum focus distance (termed ‘close focus’) are an excellent choice for butterfly work.

 

Opticron Explorer Compact Binoculars
£59.00 inc VAT | 223738

 

 

 

Hawke Optics Nature-Trek Binoculars
£132.95 inc VAT £149.99 | 212966

 

 

 

Kite Caiman Binoculars
£249.95 inc VAT | 239178

 

 


Kite Lynx HD+ Binoculars

£519.00 inc VAT | 247915

Field Guides

Investing in a decent field guide is an excellent way to learn more about the butterfly species you are likely to see during your count. They provide you with detailed illustrations or photographs along with in-depth descriptions of butterfly development and behaviour for all 59 species found in the UK.

Guide to the Butterflies of Britain and Ireland
Unbound | January 2019
This collection of illustrations by renowned wildlife artist Richard Lewington are an excellent aid for quickly identifying the UK’s butterflies.
£3.99

 

Pocket Guide to the Butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland
Paperback | January 2019
This beautifully illustrated pocket sized guide gives detailed information on the distribution and life stages for all UK butterflies in an easy to use layout.
£8.99  £10.99

 

Britain’s Butterflies | A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Britain and Ireland
Paperback | March 2015
This comprehensive field guide details the complete life history for all butterfly species found in Britain and Ireland, and includes a wealth of colour photographs for reference.
£12.99 £17.99

Collins Butterfly Guide | The Most Complete Field Guide to the Butterflies of Britain and Europe
Paperback | April 2009
This extensive field guide is an essential text for those looking to further expand their knowledge of UK butterflies as well as those species that are found throughout Europe.
£13.99 £18.99

Please note that prices stated in this blog post are correct at the time of publishing and are subject to change at any time.

Butterfly Conservation

Thanks to Butterfly Conservation for letting us use their images throughout this article. For more information on UK butterflies and how you can help them please visit Butterfly Conservation.org. As the organising charity behind the Big Butterfly Count they have a wealth of information to help you find and identify butterflies and moths. They also host butterfly counts and moth trapping events across the country, which are great to attend if you want to learn a bit more about these charismatic insects.

 

The NHBS Guide to Badger Gates

The European Badger (Meles meles) is one of the most iconic species found on the British Isles. These shy and elusive animals spend much of their time during the day hidden away within their extensive underground setts, emerging around dusk to forage on smaller mammals, earthworms, roots, bulbs and fruit.

Within their territories, badgers will follow established routes between foraging areas. When these pathways become obstructed by fencing, such as exclusion fencing for stock or deer, badgers will often dig under the obstruction to regain access to a familiar site and in doing so they may cause damage to the fence and allow in potentially unwanted species. In these circumstances, many developers will install a badger gate to allow badgers to freely access the site. These rectangular gates are constructed of either wood or metal and often feature locking mechanisms to ensure badgers can only pass through in a certain direction.

Although badgers are protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, there are situations where developers need to temporarily or permanently exclude badgers from areas. This may be when they, or their setts, could be at risk of harm or disturbance. In these circumstances, and under acquisition of a license, one-way badger gates can be installed in sett entrances or in fencing surrounding a development to gradually exclude badgers from the area. These badgers will then either relocate to a new territory or to a nearby artificially-created sett.

At NHBS we manufacture a range of badger gates and this article will outline how they can be installed and used in different badger mitigation projects.

Softwood Badger Gate

This softwood badger gate has been designed in accordance with the specifications outlined by Natural England (available here) and is an excellent economic choice for many projects. It is constructed from untreated FSC-certified timber, which ensures badgers will not be harmed if they ingest any chewed wood. This gate has been designed so that it will not jam following periods of rain when the wood may swell.

The softwood gate is suitable for use where badgers require access through a fence. This gate can also be used in exclusion projects; however unlike our aluminium gates they can be damaged by chewing and often have a shorter lifespan.

 

  • Price: £25.99 inc VAT £27.95
  • Frame Dimensions: 450mm (H) x 285mm (W)
  • Entrance Dimensions: 250mm (H) x 200mm (W)
  • Material: Untreated FSC timber
  • Weight: 2.1kg

Access Badger Gate

The access badger gate is constructed from marine grade aluminium which ensures it is strong enough for repeated use while keeping it lighter than most steel gates. It features a heavy-duty grill panel which allows badgers to view what is on the other side of the gate, which can encourage some badgers to pass through. It has pointed legs which should be driven into the ground using a wooden mallet, however a hammer can also be used with a block of wood (striking the frame directly may cause warping and damage). The gate has two locking tabs that can be adjusted using a size 10 spanner to allow either two-way or one-way access.

This gate is designed for use in long-term projects where badgers need access through stock or deer fencing. For exclusion projects we would recommend our exclusion gates.

 

  • Price: £73.50 inc VAT
  • Frame Dimensions: 595mm (H) x 295mm (W)
  • Entrance Dimensions: 320mm (H) x 220mm (W)
  • Material: Marine Grade Aluminium
  • Weight: 3kg

Exclusion Badger Gate

The exclusion badger gate is also constructed from marine grade aluminium and comes fitted with a solid gate flap. This solid door has been designed based on evidence that some badgers can learn to use their claws to lift grill gates open. Another feature of this gate is that it does not have legs. This allows the gate to be positioned either vertically or horizontally  in awkward sett entrances where a typical vertical gate would not be suitable. By installing this gate ecologists and developers can be confident that badgers will not be able to re-enter an exclusion zone.

This gate is also available with pointed legs, for installation within exclusion fencing.

 

  • Price: £73.50 inc VAT
  • Frame Dimensions: 400mm (H) x 295mm (W)
  • Entrance Dimensions: 320mm (H) x 220mm (W)
  • Material: Marine Grade Aluminium
  • Weight: 2.6kg

Accessories

Badger Fencing

 

All of our gates can be incorporated into this high tensile wire fencing.  It can be erected as a freestanding barrier or installed across a sett to prevent badgers from digging to form new entrances or to get around any installed gates.

Price: £245 (50m)

Stainless Steel Cable Ties


These strong, corrosion resistant cable ties can be used to quickly and easily secure a badger gate frame to the surrounding fencing.

Price: £8.50 (pack of 20)

Caudon® High Tensile Steel Pegs

These steel pegs are excellent for securing fencing to the ground, particularly in areas where badgers are prone to tunneling. These pegs can also be driven through the access and exclusion badger gates to provide a firmer placement.

Price: £0.60 each

Further Reading:

Badger Behaviour, Conservation and Rehabilitation: 70 Years of Getting to Know Badgers
Paperback | Sep 2015
£19.99

 

 

 

Badgers
Hardback | May 2017
£15.99

 

 

 

The Badger
Paperback | Sep 2010
£4.99

 

 

 

Biology and Conservation of Musteloids
Paperback | Oct 2017
£44.99

 

 

 

Please note that prices stated in this blog post are correct at the time of publishing and are subject to change at any time.

NHBS Guide to Night Vision and Thermal Optics

There are many scenarios where our attempts to observe and survey certain species are hampered by our limited sensory systems. Many animals are difficult to detect because they utilise cryptic colouration or disruptive patterns, or they have evolved ingenious behaviours to conceal themselves within their environment. In other cases, environmental conditions such as low light levels or fog, can reduce visibility and disguise even some of our most obvious resident species.

Ecologists, researchers and amateur wildlife enthusiasts have overcome these sensory limitations by using thermal imaging and night vision optics. This article will cover how these different technologies function, highlight their key specifications and give recommendations for those looking to purchase one of these devices.

© Dûrzan cîrano

Thermal Imaging

Thermal imaging works by using an electronic detector element to convert the infrared light (heat) emitted by objects in the environment into a visible pattern of colours that vary depending on the temperature of the object. Thermal imaging devices (TIDs) are becoming increasingly common in ecological surveys because, unlike night vision devices, they can produce an image in daylight or complete darkness, even through fog.

When choosing a TID there are a few key technical specifications that you should consider for your project:

  • Resolution – The clarity of the images/videos is determined by the number of heat sampling points. The higher the resolution, the easier it is to spot small animals at a distance.
  • Refresh Rate – Determines how often the screen is updated with a new image. A refresh rate of 30Hz or more is recommended for fast-moving animals such as birds and bats.
  • Zoom – This is particularly useful for larger species identification and counting your target more accurately.
  • Field of View (FOV) – The horizontal and vertical angle of view that you can see through the thermal imaging device. A wider field of view is useful when detecting small animals.
  • Maximum Detection Range – Gives an indication of how far the device will be able to detect a human-sized object effectively.
Pulsar Axion XM38

This thermal monocular has a compact, ergonomic design and features all the excellent capabilities of Pulsar’s more advanced thermal imaging devices.

  • Refresh rate: 50Hz
  • Sensor resolution: 320 x 240p
  • Digital zoom: 2x, 4x
  • Field of view: 5.8° horizontal
  • Max Detection Range: 1700m
  • Video Recording: Yes
  • Streaming capabilities: Yes
  • Price: £2,059.99



See the full range of Pulsar Axion models

Pulsar Helion XP50

A powerful thermal imaging monocular with an impressive resolution and detection range, as well as full remote control through the Stream Vision app on a smartphone or tablet.

  • Refresh rate: 50Hz
  • Sensor resolution: 640 x 480p
  • Digital zoom: 2x, 4x, 8x
  • Field of view: 12.4°
  • Max Detection Range: 1800m
  • Video Recording: Yes
  • Streaming capabilities: Yes
  • Price: £3,949.99

See the full range of Pulsar Helion XP & XQ models

Seek Thermal CompactPRO FF

Designed to be used with a smartphone or tablet these compact thermal detectors can be easily transported and are excellent for impromptu use.

  • Refresh rate: 15Hz
  • Sensor resolution: 320 x 240p
  • Digital zoom: 2x
  • Field of view: 32°
  • Max Detection Range: 550m
  • Video Recording: Yes
  • Streaming capabilities: No
  • Price: £479.95

See the full range of Seek Compact models

Seek Shot

Designed to be used quickly and conveniently, these pocket-sized devices are excellent for obtaining thermal images of species such as bats when they are roosting in crevices and cavities. It is also available in a Pro version which has a greater sensor resolution and field of view.

  • Refresh rate: <9Hz
  • Sensor resolution: 206 x 156p
  • Field of view: 36° horizontal
  • Max Detection Range: 300m
  • Video Recording: Yes
  • Streaming capabilities: Yes
  • Price: £579.95

 

Night Vision

Night vision technology operates either by using an image-intensifier tube (analogue) or an electronic sensor (digital) to amplify the small amount of light present in dark environments to generate a bright image. They typically produce a monochromatic green or greyscale image, however some newer technologies are now able to capture colour images in low light conditions.

There are a few specifications that you should consider when choosing an night vision device (NVD):

  • Viewing Range – The distance to which you can see and distinguish objects using the device can be crucial for certain projects. A low-end NVD will typically have a viewing range of around 200m, while more high-end models can achieve viewing ranges of up to 500m.
  • Analogue Night Vision – These scopes are grouped into generations. Gen 1 scopes are the most economic but have a limited range (approximately 75m), lower resolution and limited field of view. Gen 2 and 2+ scopes offer performance improvements such as longer range, better image resolution and greater field of view.
  • Digital Night Vision – Digital devices typically produce higher quality images than Generation 1 scopes, often have a video output or SD card allowing video capture.
  • IR illumination – Most night vision devices have a built in IR illuminator to increase the brightness of the images it takes, however purchasing an additional IR illuminator may be necessary when working in extreme darkness.
SiOnyx Aurora

New for 2019, this innovative night vision monocular utilises SiOnyx’s Ultra Low-Light Sesnor Technology to record colour footage not only during the day but also in both low-light and night-time conditions. It also features a wifi module to stream or transfer photos and videos, as well as a GPS module to automatically geotag and timestamp recordings.

  • Digital: Ultra Low-Light CMOS sensor
  • Digital Zoom: 1-3x
  • Field of view: 42°
  • Display colour: Colour, phosphor green, monochrome
  • Video Recording: Yes
  • Streaming capabilities: Yes
  • Price: £799.99
Bushnell Equinox Z2

An impressive digital night vision monocular with a high sensor resolution and viewing range of up to 230m. It can take HD video recordings which can be streamed over Wifi using the dedicated Equinox Z2 App.

  • Digital: CMOS sensorDigital Zoom: 1-3x
  • Field of view: 105m @ 1000m
  • Display colour: Colour (in daylight), greyscale
  • Video Recording: Yes
  • Streaming capabilities: Yes
  • Price: £421.00



See the full range of Bushnell Equinox Z2 models

Yukon NVMT Spartan

An excellent gen 1 monocular that has been designed for ease of use in complete darkness. It is operated using only three buttons and features a lightweight and compact body-shell to protect against any damage.

  • Analogue: Generation 1
  • Lens diameter: 50mm
  • Magnification: 4x
  • Field of view: 15°
  • Display colour: Phosphor green
  • Video Recording: No
  • Streaming capabilities: No
  • Price: £235.00


MORE INFORMATION

To learn more about some of these products or to browse our full range of night vision and thermal imaging optics visit our online store at NHBS.com.

If you would like some more advice on choosing a thermal imaging or night vision device contact us via email at customer.services@nhbs.com or phone on 01803 865913.