Butterfly bonanza


A woodland walk is the perfect way to get in touch with nature — and at this time of year you're likely to be bewitched by flying bling! Butterflies are nature's jewels in our woodlands and their magnificent colours will soon be seen across many of The Wildlife Trusts' nature reserves. To help everyone get inspired by these fascinating flying insects, Wildlife Trusts across the UK are running 'Our Woodland wildlife' events — activities, walks and talks that celebrate woodlands to help everyone get closer to nature — on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th April. Plus there's a new guide that shares special places in which to start searching. The new guide, Great places to see woodland butterflies, lists some great nature reserves around the UK, owned or managed by The Wildlife Trusts, in which to spot both showy and shy species. It is available to download at www.wildlifetrusts.org/woodlandbutterflies.

There are more than 50 species of butterfly in the UK, ranging from the common Large and Green-veined Whites to the rare Brown Hairstreak and Adonis Blue, and The Wildlife Trusts want to encourage endless enthusiasm for these sometimes elusive aerial insects. To find events taking place near you, and to get ideas on how to enjoy the beauty of our varied habitats and get closer to wildlife, go to www.wildlifetrusts.org/100, where you'll find plenty of 'Our Woodland wildlife' events and activities to choose from.

Brown Hairstreak (Pete Eeles).

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Patrick Barkham is the author of The Butterfly Isles — A Summer in Search of our Emperors and Admirals. During his journey around Britain in search of all 59 species, Patrick visited many Wildlife Trust nature reserves. He said: "The Brown Argus might not be the most spectacular of Britain's 59 butterfly species, but it is the one that started me off on my passion for butterflies. One summer holiday, my Dad and I set out to try and find this 'little brown job' on Holme Dunes nature reserve, which is owned and managed by Norfolk Wildlife Trust. There was something magical about that first day out butterflying — and when we finally found the Brown Argus I saw that brown butterflies could be beautiful too. It is a rich chocolate colour with vivid orange crescents on its wings. The Brown Argus is also a friendly butterfly — it lets you in quite close to photograph it!"

Brown Argus (Pete Eeles).

The Wildlife Trusts are working hard to protect and restore woodland so that they are thriving with wildlife, including butterflies. Butterflies are seen as a key indicator of the health of the natural environment and can give conservationists an idea of how well it is faring overall. Management work to help woodland butterflies flourish involves widening rides, coppicing and glade creation. Work with local farmers is vitally important, as surrounding hedgerows are very important for populations.

A new series of 'Our Wildlife' events will take place across the UK, starting in April, so everyone can get closer to nature. The events will celebrate some of the UK's most special places, focusing on habitats including woodland, meadows and wetlands. Wildlife Trusts will host weekend walks, talks and family fun events including mini-beast safaris and rockpool rambles.

The events take place across the UK on:

  • Sat 14th–15th April: 'Our Woodland' wildlife
  • Sat 19th–20th May: 'Our History'
  • Sat 16th–17th June: 'Our Meadow' wildlife
  • Sat 14th–15th July: 'Our Garden' wildlife
  • Sat 28th July–12th August: National Marine Weeks
  • Sat 8th–9th September: 'Our Wetland' wildlife
Written by: The Wildlife Trusts