Norfolk’s butterfly numbers bounce back

Peacock by Tony Cox from the Butterfly Conservation. Photo: Tony Cox.

Peacock by Tony Cox from the Butterfly Conservation. Photo: Tony Cox. - Credit: Archant

It has been a good summer for butterflies across Norfolk, according to figures - but conservationists have warned it is too early to say the declining insects have turned a corner.

More than 1,600 people across Norfolk joined nature lovers up and down the UK to take part in the Butterfly Conservation's annual survey, the Big Butterfly Count.

Sightings recorded between July 19 and August 10 revealed that the most-spotted butterfly in Norfolk was the peacock, which was the most abundantly seen butterfly nationally with its highest ever placing.

Meanwhile, the world's largest insect citizen science survey also revealed that the small tortoiseshell, which has declined in population by 78pc since the 1970s, has seen numbers rise by almost a quarter compared to last summer.

While in Norfolk it failed to make it into the top five of most commonly seen butterflies, it was still spotted in healthy numbers across the county, including 114 recordings in the Shipdham area, 54 near Watton and 69 in the Newton Flotman area.

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Overall, the average number of individual butterflies seen per-count dropped from 23 in 2013 to 15 in 2014

Fifteen out of 21 of the target species decreased compared with 2013, only six species increased year-on-year.

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Judy Dunmore, chairman of the Norfolk branch of the Butterfly Conservation, said: 'There has been a good number of butterflies seen across the county and a lot of the local species have done quite well.

'We have yet to know whether there's been any detrimental impact at coastal habitats, such as sand dunes, because of the tidal surge in December.

'In general, across the county people have been seeing good numbers of butterflies and that's good.

'Numbers have bounced back but not as much as 20 years ago and the overall trend is down, however you look at it. I don't think we can assume we have turned a corner because I'm not sure we have.'

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