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Archive for July, 2010

Butterfly News Roundup

Butterfly News Roundup

Well here’s a few snippets of butterfly news I’ve found on various topics.

1. The first is a news item from the Ledger, based in Florida. The title of the piece is ‘Surveys See Decrease in Butterfly Numbers‘. Yeah? Nothing new there then. Same thing happening around the world. OK, let’s skip then to the exciting bit, the place where they announce new legislation, new land conservation, new volunteers, new funds to help out, or whatever they’ve managed to achieve or pledge or acquire.

The last sentence  of this piece? Well here it is in its entirety:

“Oh, well, maybe next year things will be better.”

What?! That’s it?

That’s your contribution to the reducing butterfly population? Oh come on guys, surely you can come up with something a bit more proactive than that? What’s the point of reiterating what everybody already knows or suspects?

Sigh.

2. I reported on the Big Butterfly Count recently, and I see that the New Forest National Park Authority are also encouraging people to not only count but also to identify. This is a bit more proactive than the post I reported on above as it’s making people aware of their plight, the habitats and what upsets the equilibrium. There’s also links to more information on the Big Butterfly Count and the Wildlife calendar. Worth having a look.

3. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (the FWS), whose primary purpose is conserving the nature of America, have approved a long-term plan which conserves the endangered Karner Blue butterfly in Michigan. Now there you go, something very positive and action taken by a body that has influence. That’s what I like to report on. Thank you guys! You can read more here.

4. Here’s a good article on butterfly defences. Very interesting piece on the various ways a butterfly can defend itself from the large range of predators out there. And it’s a might cleverer than having a sting, claw or knockout-punch! I enjoyed this very much, so I’m going to go out on a high with that one.

Till next time.

Butterfly Photographers Handbook

The Butterfly Photographers Handbook

The Butterfly Photographers Handbook
The Butterfly Photographers Handbook

It’s not often that a book like this comes along. I’ve had difficulty finding references like this, so it’s a welcome addition to anyone who likes taking photographs of butterflies. The Butterfly Photographers Handbook, written by William B Folsum, is a hard-back book with 128 information-packed pages.

It includes, of course, many amazing photographic examples and at the time of writing, had attracted seven 5-star ratings from members of the public on Amazon. I’ve taken the words from the back of The Butterfly Photographers Handbook to show the range of subjects covered:

“Taking photographs of butterflies involves an understanding of the butterfly and its behaviour, technical knowledge of photography, good camera equipment, patience and lots of practice. Fortunately, author and photographer, William Folsom, has done a lot of the hard work for you. With the information and techniques collected in this book, you can skip years of trial and error, and head into the field with a lot more confidence – and come home with much better images.”

Features:

  • Understanding butterfly anatomy and behaviour
  • Where and when to find butterflies
  • Ideas for attracting butterflies and creating butterfly hotspots
  • Tips for approaching butterflies without startling them
  • Focusing and exposure techniques for more successful images
  • Selecting the right lenses and lens accessories for butterfly photography
  • Lighting tips for natural light and flash photography
  • Ideas for creating more effective compositions
  • Techniques for enhancing and printing your photographs

So that’s a good summary of the contents, although each chapter contains many subject points. All-in-all, The Butterfly Photographers Handbook contains a lot of useful material, although personally I feel you don’t need the equipment that he suggests. I get along fine with much cheaper and less flexible equipment than he’d ever even contemplate, and I think that’s more important in order not to make taking photographs of butterflies an elitist hobby.

I still use all the other techniques and tips though, so The Butterfly Photographers Handbook is still a recommended read.

For the USA:
For the UK:

My Big Butterfly Count

Well the Big Butterfly Count is on!

I see that quite a few places are now reporting the week-long event on the Web, including the USA. It’s good to see the news filtering out there so that as many people take part as possible.

Did I take part. Of course, and I probably shall be several times this week.

My results? Well you remember that Speckled Wood I saw a few days ago? It was back again. How do I know it was the same one? Well in my small garden over the years, I’ve got used to the fact that only small numbers of butterflies ever appear, and usually the same ones stay around for weeks.

So I found the Speckled Wood, a Green Veined White and a Holly Blue. All within the allotted 15 minutes. That’s pretty good going for my garden at any time although I have had up to around six I think, usually when the Buddleia

is in full bloom. As always, here’s proof of one of my sightings.

Holly Blue

Holly Blue In My Garden

Big Butterfly Count

The Big Butterfly Count Is Here

Well it’s been a few years since any serious butterfly counting was done, I think 2002 was the last time, so The Big Butterfly Count is an overdue item but most welcome.

Once again we are being asked to spend a few minutes of our time to count wildlife, and I hope you all join in starting tomorrow (24th July) or any time you can over the next week.

Butterflies are both exquisite as well as vital to the health of our natural environment. Their success is essential, however they are in significant decline.

Get involved in the Big Butterfly Count from the 24th July to the 1st of August this year and help to collect facts to conserve all of them.

Simply find a location wherever you may observe butterflies, such as a back garden or park, and count the various butterflies you see in simply 15 minutes. You can make counts in a number of locations throughout the week.

Submit your sightings at www.bigbutterflycount.org and you will be given ten per cent off plants when you go shopping on the internet at M&S. So you’re getting something back.

Butterflies are generally disappearing rapidly and we cannot support them without having your help. So please consider giving a few minutes of your time just to do a simple thing. You’ll get a free identification chart of the most common butterflies. Count them, tick them off, and then return to their website to submit your findings.

PLEASE don’t forget to do that last bit, EVEN if you only counted 1 butterfly! In fact, even counting that 1 butterfly is important as it may show us how bad things are. So your input is invaluable, even if you counted nothing!

See the Big Butterfly Count website for all the details and identification chart.

On a side note for some Chrome browser users – you may find you get errors when trying to download the Big Butterfly Count identification chart. Simply switch to Internet Explorer or FireFox to sort the problem.