Butterflies at Bradley

Fiona Incoll, Volunteer Reporter, Bradley Fiona Incoll Volunteer Reporter, Bradley
A meadow brown butterfly at Bradley Manor

In the spring and summer months, butterflies can be seen dancing their way around the meadows and woodlands of Bradley Manor, a setting entirely becoming for the butterflies' ‘ballet in the air’ routines. Volunteer Reporter Fiona spent some time there, learning about the work that is done to monitor and care for butterflies and how best to spot them.

Counting butterflies

Counting and caring for butterflies is a volunteer's role at Bradley. Volunteer Mike identifies and records butterfly species on a weekly basis, to establish any changes in the number of species, as well as manage butterfly habitats to the best of their advantage. This means knowing when best to cut grass, clear woodland and carry out coppicing. It is through this vigorous monitoring that, should their numbers fall, action can be taken to encourage numbers and varieties to grow again. Weather is also recorded to establish the possible effects that climate change may have on either or all of the species. 


Joining in with the fun

Due to Mike’s enthusiasm I was soon captivated and filled with joy at the witnessing of so many species and in abundant and healthy numbers. Clipboard in one hand to tick off my findings, and a camera in the other, I soon got the knack of looking only ahead to seek out these enigmatic creatures with an eagle eye. Like a child in a sweet shop, I found it increasingly impossible to hide my growing excitement each time I spotted a butterfly, not to mention a new species. However, the real challenge was in finding one that would stop long enough to pose for me. Just when I thought I was in with a shot, off they would flit, tantalisingly close enough for interest but far enough distance to keep me chasing after them through the long grasses – definitely an alternative and much more fun way of keeping fit.

Well, after many attempts, my patience paid off. A sympathetic meadow brown took pity on me and stopped to pose long enough for my camera to get a good picture of it.


Scores on the doors

Feeling very chuffed with myself I headed off to our final meadow behind Bradley, where I was greeted by the wonderful sight of seven or eight beehives, whose residents were very active - and vocal. Here the meadow seemed even more alive with butterflies, perhaps the presences of the bees has something to do with this. Well whatever the case, our tally of butterflies for this star studded morning included: small white, small copper, red admiral, painted lady, peacock, meadow brown and coppa. Honestly, what more could you ask from a first butterfly adventure? Whoever would have thought that monitoring and identifying butterflies could be so interesting, fun and definitely worthy of a visit in itself?


Carrying out your own count

Tempted? Well here are some helpful facts for those embarking on a Bradley Manor butterfly visit: butterflies generally perform around 10.45am-3.45pm on warm to sunny days during the months of April to September. Species of butterflies can change from week to week, month to month. They certainly know how to keep you interested.