Welcome to the Yorkshire Branch of Butterfly Conservation

Butterflies are not only beautiful and fascinating creatures but are also highly responsive to the environment. David Attenborough described them as 'A thermometer of the health of our natural world' Almost every species of butterfly is in decline and a quarter are facing extinction. We have lost more than 97% of our traditional meadows and woodland in recent times so it is crucial we raise awareness about the threats facing our butterflies, moths, their habitats and our natural environment. Yorkshire Branch work in partnership with land owners, local authorities, conservation bodies, businesses and the local community to achieve this.

Here in Yorkshire the Duke of Burgundy and Pearl Bordered Fritillary are particularly vulnerable due to habitat loss and increasingly susceptible to extinction. Yorkshire also has the only remaining colony of the Dark Bordered Beauty Moth in England, on Strensall Common and is on the brink of extinction.

Become a member today and help us save butterflies, moths and their habitats. There are many rewarding roles volunteering in recording and conservation; you will be surprised to find out what is on your doorstep! We have a real challenge when 60% of children in the UK have never seen a Peacock butterfly according to a YouGov Survey and 78% of parents are concerned that children don’t spend enough time interacting with nature. Founded in 1981 Yorkshire branch wil be 40 years old this year and has more than 1800 members.

NB if you do a Big butterfly count please dont use teh same figures for our sightings or they will become duplicates

The Big Butterfly Count

16th July- 8th August

If you want to use the Big Butterfly Count app to take part then you can download the app and submit sightings during the Count period MORE HERE Download and print the sheet opposite


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Wednesday 11th August Join us at Honley Old Wood Bioblitz

BC yorkshire be joining the Friends of Honley Old Wood, Kirklees MBC and River Holme Connections for BioBlitz at Honley Old Wood

The aim is to identify as many animals and plants as possible at the Honley Old Wood site. There will be experts from local wildlife groups to help you identify the animals and plants you find, and act as fountains of knowledge for all your questions. We will be finding and identifying butterflies and moths; others will be there looking for and identifying insects, wildflowers, birds, amphibians and much more. We need all the help we can get to find out what there is on this site so please do come along and help on what will be a fun and interesting day starting at 10am while 4pm

For more information check out Facebook Page


or contact email: info@riverholmeconnections.org

For their July meeting the Rodley Robins, the Rodley Nature Reserve (RNR) Children’s Nature Club, invited Howard and Penny Smith, the RNR Butterfly Transect Recorders, to prepare them for the Big Butterfly Count to be undertaken between 16 July and 8 August 2021.

After a brief introduction to the Transect, butterflies found on RNR and within the UK, and the life cycle of a butterfly the whole group, including parents and regular leaders Denese and Sally, set off to the start of the transect. It was a cool, still, grey, damp, miserable morning but all set off on the 1.7km, 13 sector, route hoping to spot a selection of the 23 butterfly species seen at RNR. Only 16 butterflies of 2 species were spotted but hopefully the Robins will pick a warm, sunny, still day for their Big Butterfly Count and see even more than they saw at Rodley.


14th July The most northerly emergence of the Purple Emperor was captured on film after two days of waiting on the 12th July 2021 by Nicholas and Sam Browlee from inside Sherwood Forest. Brilliant piece of work! A number of pupae were located from caterpillars seen back in 2020 by using Ultra Violet torches at night when they fluoresce. Are they already in Yorkshire now becomes a burning question as this is just 15 miles from the border! If you want to help with the search please be in contact.

July 13th The Wildlife trusts concept of the Wild Belt gains followers amongst ministers to be incorporated in the upcoming Planning Bill. this would create a land protection similar in strength but lower than SSSI in creating the nature recovery network with the proposition that these areas would be proposed by local people see HERE

12th July Please help us save Brockadale North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) will on the 27th July determine the planning application to quarry nearly 10ha of open countryside immediately adjacent to Brockadale nature reserve. We and YWT and many others believe that the proximity of such extensive works to this rare and nationally important woodland and grassland reserve is at odds with government policy. While the planning application will not remove Brockadale’s ancient habitats, we agree with the experts that such close quarrying is likely to significantly impact the reserve’s rare species. Given the scarcity of some of these species locally and nationally, we will not be able to restore them if they are lost. They are irreplaceable. To support the campaign please email planning services at planning.control@northyorks.gov.uk quoting planning application: NY/2019/0002/ENV. by Tuesday 20th July 2021 and help us convince NYCC to protect Brockadale . More HERE . Anyone willing to add additional expert weight to BAG objections, then please email them at brockaction.group@gmail.com

9th July The first Grayling have been seen at one of their Sheffield sites. We welcome all sightings of this species particularly inland sites which are now extremely rare indeed. Photographed by Paul Leonard

25th June. A new project called Wild Ingleborough led by the University of Leeds will showcase an alternative future for the UK's uplands. In collaboration of NE and YWT the aim is to restore peatlands and expand native woodland and scrub in a 1,200 hectare area of the Yorkshire Dales National Park

24th June AVAILABLE NOW, the amazing 2020 Yorkshire Moth report HERE The full report including the butterfly section will follow shortly to all members.

June Highlights: Why have there been so few butterflies?

Why have there been so few butterflies ? You might be forgiven to thinking this since the short burst of butterfly activity in the final days of May when the ghastly spring finally gave way to sunshine and warmth. This was promptly followed by the traditional June lull that has proven to be exceptionally deep and long because of the cold wet spring causing species to emerge two weeks late in many cases despite June being largely sunny ,dry and warm . The disastrously low butterfly counts of May have continued till the third week of June when our summer species began to really take off, but, much slower to build than normal. Total counts were half those of 2020 over June from all our transects Apart from a short flush of Large White at the beginning of the month almost no whites have been seen flying throughout the month! Large Skipper were the first summer species to appear quite slowly then Meadow Browns and Dark Green Fritillary in the middle of the month with Ringlet a week later. Dark Green Fritillary continues to make progress spreading up the limestone ridge. Orange Tips, Green Hairstreak and Dingy Skipper continued flying to the middle of the month while they normally are all gone by the beginning of June. Marbled Whites also appeared in the third week of the month and as I write numbers are still going up, but, still no significant Small Skippers seen. Large Heath emerged on 9th , 2 weeks behind schedule, and have now peaked . The highlight of the month has to be the really good emergence of the first generation of Small Tortoiseshells with some recorders getting over 30 and a continuation of the good numbers carried over in hibernation from last year, in many cases they are the most common species seen this month. In addition reasonable numbers of migrant Painted Ladies appeared at the beginning of the month followed by Red Admiral later . The first White-letter Hairstreak on the 26th followed by Silver-washed Fritillary on the 29th, actually on time . Thank you for near 600 sightings this month despite the dearth and resultant waning enthusiasm.

Its is also possible that after 3 good summers for our butterflies that 2021 is an 'adjustment' in their trajectory which we should not be too surprised about.

Picture of the Month by Chris Cox of Marbled White at Kiplingcotes Chalk Pit on the 26th June

What our councils said when asked about maintaining conservation areas within their networks of road verges:

Thanks to Sophie Yeo of Inkcap journal who has been investigating how councils are managing their network of verges these last 6 months. See HERE for an interesting read and some pertinent results of her research. The quality of responses varied considerably see below! Sign up for INKCAP twice weekly summary of environmental news, always a brilliant read HERE

City of York: " There are arrangements in place where we cut 1 metre strips along the kerbside of grass verges on A and B roads, footpaths and cycleway. In addition, there are specific areas in certain wards where we have specific arrangements for leaving grass grow longer to form habitat environments for wildlife. There are some areas designated to wildflowers but this is being reviewed as part of the Council’s pollinator strategy."

North Yorkshire : "There are some known locations of special plant life within the County that, where possible, the local area office will try and delay the cuts in these locations to allow them to flower and seed successfully. However, this cannot always be done if there is a highway safety concern which means we must go in and cut roadside verge."

East Yorkshire: "We have Verge Nature Reserves that are only cut once per year to allow the establishment of wildflowers."

Bradford: " No existing conservation areas. "However, introducing biodiversity initiatives into our highway asset management operations in order to promote, protect or preserve the biodiversity of natural habitats and ecological features is being pursued/discussed."

Barnsley: "No existing conservation areas, although the council anticipates a new wildflower project this year."

Rotherham: "Bee orchids? – The area is protected from maintenance during the growing season. River of flowers – Wildflowers are sown every two years to create a corridor through central Rotherham."

Sheffield: "20% of our urban verges are set aside for wildlife/conservation areas."

Leeds+ Calderdale+ Wakefield city + Redcar+Cleveland : "No Plan"

Hull + Doncaster + Kirklees+ Dralington+ Stockton : No response

Sign up for the INKCAP twice weekly summary of environmental news, always a brilliant read HERE