Sir David Attenborough needs your help for world's largest butterfly survey!

Sir David Attenborough needs your help for world's largest butterfly survey!
Sir David Attenborough needs your help for world's largest butterfly survey!

Sir David Attenborough has urged people across the Upper Thames region to take part in the world’s largest butterfly survey - the Big Butterfly Count - which runs from this Friday 20 July, until Sunday 12 August.

People can take part anywhere, but butterfly walks are running on Saturday 28 July at Paices Wood near Berkshire and near West Wycombe in Buckinghamshire.

Other events are happening on Sunday 29 July at Aston Upthorpe Downs in Oxfordshire, on Thursday 2 August at Greenham Common in Berkshire, on Friday 10 August at Shirburn Hill in Oxfordshire and at the Kimble Rifle Range in Monks Risborough, Buckinghamshire on Sunday 12 August.

The UK’s butterflies are basking in the best summer conditions for more than a decade, but there are fears that if the hot weather persists and becomes a drought, butterflies could suffer catastrophically as plants wither away and caterpillars starve to death.

Sir David Attenborough has spoken of the mental health benefits of watching butterflies as he urged people across the Upper Thames region to take part in the world’s biggest butterfly survey over the next three weeks.

The UK’s butterflies are basking in the best summer conditions for more than a decade, with hot sunny weather enabling widespread species to fly, feed and breed.

The Big Butterfly Count launches today and Butterfly Conservation President Sir David said that taking part not only generates important data on butterflies, but also provides participants with precious time out from the stresses of life.

Research has indicated that spending time in nature, for example watching wildlife, can have positive benefits for mental health and wellbeing.

Sir David explained: “I have been privileged to have witnessed some truly breath-taking wildlife spectacles in far-flung locations but some of my most memorable experiences have happened when I’ve been simply sitting and watching the wildlife that lives where I do.

“A few precious moments spent watching a stunning Red Admiral or Peacock butterfly feeding amongst the flowers in my garden never fails to bring me great pleasure.

“Spending time with nature offers us all precious breathing space away from the stresses and strains of modern life, it enables us to experience joy and wonder, to slow down and to appreciate the wildlife that lives side-by-side with us.”

Butterfly Conservation is being supported by mental health charity Mind to champion the benefits of spending time in nature.

Stephen Buckley, Head of Information at Mind, said: “We’re delighted to see that Butterfly Conservation is promoting the mental health benefits of getting outdoors. At Mind, we have found that being in nature can have a powerful, grounding effect, with research indicating that it can help alleviate mental health problems like depression and anxiety.

“The Big Butterfly Count is a wonderful way of interacting with the environment so we really welcome the project and would encourage people to look at the tips and ideas on our website for even more ways to bring nature into our lives.”

The UK’s Big Butterfly Count is the world’s largest butterfly survey, which encourages people to spot and record 17 species of common butterflies and two day-flying moths during three weeks of high summer.

People are encouraged to take part at home in their gardens, in a nearby park or while out walking the dog.

A number of butterfly events are also taking place across the Upper Thames region where people can look for butterflies and do a Count, including two guided walks on Saturday 28 July.

The first starts from 10am at Paices Wood near Berkshire and the second is taking place near West Wycombe in Buckinghamshire from 10.30am.

Other events are happening on Sunday 29 July at Aston Upthorpe Downs in Oxfordshire, at Greenham Common in Berkshire on Thursday 2 August, at Shirburn Hill in Oxfordshire on Friday 10 August and at the Kimble Rifle Range in Monks Risborough, Buckinghamshire on Sunday 12 August.

Information on all these events can be found at:

www.butterfly-conservation.org/UpperThamesCountevents.