As I chased the orange tip butterfly round the garden for several minutes waiting for it to land, Colin reminded me that, as part of the STERF project, I'm supposed to be counting butterflies not chasing them. Colin at this point was rolling round the grass in fits of laughter.... otherwise he might have helped!!!!
Anyway the above was the best I could do in the circumstances.
I have always liked butterflies, though this one pushed me to the limits, and when I read about my friend, Susan, joining the Suivi Temporel des Rhopalocères de France (STERF or, in plain English, the French Butterfly Atlas project) it prompted me to look further into this.
The project aims to record changes to butterfly populations with reference to habitat. It is a long term project aiming for national coverage. At present there are only around 120 volunteers to survey the whole of France which means there are some departments with no coverage. Volunteers are allocated two sites, each a square of 2 x 2 km, then within this square the volunteer surveyor must define 5 to 10 transects, each taking about ten minutes to walk whilst recording any butterflies seen.
Susan gives much more detail on the project in the blog, Days on the Claise
Of the two sites I was given I have chosen to do the detailed observations at Assay, near Champigny sur Veude.
The area is varied with agricultural land and woodland, with the lac d'Assay at the centre.
Volunteers are asked to visit their designated site once a month from April and until September or October - depending on the weather - and record all the butterflies seen at each visit.
It is hoped that this will give a national picture of the decline in habitat of many of our butterflies and highlight the need for more to be done to conserve these species.
If you would like to get involved or wish to know more about the work, please visit the STERF website.