Nature Note – Insects Need Our Help

Except for a few glorious days in early May, the first eight weeks of the April to September weekly butterfly counts have been something of a disaster for insects. Only Orange Tip butterflies have appeared locally in numbers approaching ‘normal’. However, as you may have heard on BBC Springwatch, numbers seem to be down across the country. Common species such as Small Tortoiseshell, Comma and Red Admiral have been conspicuously absent.


In the second half of May a few damselflies emerged. These included Azure Damselflies and, a recent colonist locally, a Beautiful Demoiselle on 20 May. A single dragonfly may well have been a Hairy Dragonfly, new for the area, but unfortunately it showed only briefly. Our gardens, with pollinator friendly plants, ponds, shelter from the wind and temperatures a degree or two higher than the open countryside, play an important role in helping prevent further declines in numbers of some of these useful and beautiful insects. Hopefully I will have better news on insects when the Chronicle emerges from its summer hibernation in September.

Demoiselle Damselfly

Last month I wrote about the Global Birding Big Day on 11 May. I was invited to join the Rutland Team. In 30+ years of Big Days this team had neared but never reached 120 species in a day. Superstition decreed that this subject was not for discussion but it was at the back of our minds. Confidence was high throughout but at the end of the day some ‘expected’ species failed to show and the final count was 118.

The star species of the day was a Savi’s Warbler. This is a rare vagrant that has only been recorded on a handful of occasions in Leicestershire and Rutland. However, it was not a new Big Day species for some of the longer serving members of the Rutland Team. One had been heard ‘reeling’ 20+ years previously. Species that chose to avoid us on the day included: Marsh Tit, Grey Wagtail, and Common and Herring Gulls. They were all out there somewhere and were recorded on several dates both before and after the count!

Worldwide the Big Count recorded 7763 species, 17 more than in 2023 whereas in the UK the 239 total was down 6 species compared with 2023. Neither of these differences is significant but they do show a continuing interest in this annual event.

I know that some Chronicle readers like to visit the annual Bird Fair. This year’s Global Bird Fair is being held at Lyndon Top, overlooking Rutland Water, on 12 – 14 July 2024

David Scott