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Friends of Greenwich Park

The Hunt for Butterflies

'Hot days in the heat of the midday sun are best for spotting butterflies and, armed with Factor 50 and hats, we’ve been out and about recording what we’ve seen. Under the watchful eye of Helen Wallis, Greenwich Park’s Partnerships and Community Engagement Officer, we undertook the Crooms Hill transect (a mapped-out path for the study of butterflies). The study was carried out for the National Butterfly Monitoring Scheme and the same walk is strictly adhered to every time, with the temperature, wind speed and how much cloud there is all recorded, as well as butterflies spotted, of course!

We completed two fantastic, interesting butterfly training sessions via Zoom with naturalist Joe Beale, so we were testing out our skills. The rule is to look 5 metres up, and 2.5 metres to either side of the path. Anything spotted outside of this distance is not counted.

We trekked through bits of the park that are off the beaten track and first up we spotted two pretty Holly Blues fluttering around together. We were hugely encouraged by this great start. We headed past Queen Caroline’s Bath under the shade of some trees, with dappled light around us, and a Speckled Wood landed on a leaf nearby. Another result. Those Speckled Woods really have the right idea as this cool section was definitely the best place to be on a sweltering hot day. Up high we spotted a Large White, recognisable by its fast flight.

We headed through the Rose Garden and carried on round the outside and past the Reservoir looping back through the trees towards the Anglo Saxon Barrows to an area of the hill where sheep’s sorrel grows. The Small Copper lays eggs on this plant and it’s a favourite food for the caterpillars, so it’s a good place to spot them. The Small Heath which likes a variety of habitats can also be found here. We spotted a butterfly – which one? We recognised the dark spots and vivid orange of the Small Copper.

I felt privileged to be able to take part. It’s such an enjoyable thing to do, and I feel that although I’m a complete beginner I’ve made some progress and am learning loads along the way'.

Contributed by Wendy Rigg (butterfly training course participant)