© Steve Marshall / Wild Future

As in previous years, a small but dedicated band of enthusiasts have recorded butterfly sightings during the summer of 2014. Each week, a recorder walked around the Lake recording all butterflies seen. Thanks to our excellent team of butterfly recorders, Carol and Dick Beeden, Cliff and Jacky Buckton, Carrol Scott, and leader Barbara James, we have some interesting results. For full details please download our 2014 butterfly survey report from here. Alternatively, read on for a brief synopsis of the main findings.

Total butterflies counted by year

The table, left, shows the total number of individual butterflies seen at Stocker's Lake for the following years (from left to right) : 1997, 1998, 1999 then 2012, 2013 and 2014. It shows a decline from 687 in 2013 to 497 this year, but an increase on 2012.  However, the total number recorded in 1997 was 1079!

The national picture

Stocker’s Lake results generally follow the national pattern. Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count held each summer states that in 2014 ‘The average number of individual butterflies seen per-count dropped from 23 in 2013 to 15 in 2014. In all, 15 out of 21 of the target species decreased compared to 2013…’

2013 was a bumper year for butterflies, although numbers have generally declined since the 1990s. Reasons for the decline in 2014 have been given as a colder August this year (despite a warm and sunny July) with temperatures that shortened flight periods and also pushed some species into early hibernation.

Butterfly species counted by year

Back to Stocker's Lake, some species such as the Large White, Small White and Green-veined White have decreased more dramatically than others between 2013 and 2014. On the plus side, several species saw an increase especially Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood and Meadow Brown.  Compared to the results from 1997-99, Skipper species have virtually disappeared, and Gatekeeper is also much reduced.  Our full report, which you can download from here, contains a number of charts showing, for example, the number of butterflies counted on the reserve by year and by species, the total number of butterflies recorded each week by year from 2012 -2014, and the average number of species recorded each week between 2012 and 2014.

October 2014