Saturday, 9 August 2014



A few weeks ago, Charlie discovered a colourful creature crawling along the pavement. It reminded me of the toys - called magic twisty worms - that I used to put into party bags, but there was no invisible thread and it turned out to be the caterpillar of the Sycamore Moth. Back home, we looked it up online and found out what it fed on and what it would become. Charlie was intrigued.

Recently, we came across this fantastic display of butterflies and moths in a local art gallery. We spent a long time looking in wonder at the extraordinary variety of colours and patterns.

Yellow Silk Moth
King Swallowtail

Menelaus Blue Morpho

Spanish Moon Silk Moth

Indian Moon Silk Moth
As Charlie has since shown an interest in finding out more about butterflies and moths, I thought he might like to take part in the Big Butterfly Count, which takes place between 19 July and 10 August.

First, we downloaded an ID chart from the website.

We also needed a stopwatch (we used the free one we just had received for the Change4Life 10-minute Shake Up) and a pen.

Then we walked to a nearby park and spent 15 minutes sitting on a bench, looking out for butterflies. On the first occasion, we were there at the wrong time, as there were storm clouds gathering overhead. Butterflies don't like the cool air associated with approaching rain, or being pelted with rainfall, so they tend to go into hiding. We did, however, manage to spot this one, which Charlie chased across the grass until he was able to get a close-up shot.

It was just our luck that it didn't clearly match any of the butterflies on our ID sheet. The closest match was a meadow brown, but we couldn't see any black spots on its wings.

The following day, we returned. This time, it was sunny, so we were hopeful that we would spot more butterflies. Charlie had brought his binoculars to help him see better.

We spotted the same brown butterfly and this time we were able to get a closer look. Yes, it definitely did have a black dot on each wing and a small flash of orange: a meadow brown. We added it to our chart. We also managed to get a good close-up shot of a Small White butterfly.

Whilst we were waiting for the butterflies, we spotted other wildlife: we saw a large dragonfly hovering overhead, a lot of bees and several dandelion seeds blowing past. Charlie was intrigued by the number of magpies flapping around the park. We counted 12 in all. I looked up the rhyme later and it turns out that '12 is for wealth'. 

As we left the park, we noticed a sign: 'Come and support our fundraising event. All you need to do is arrive, set up your stall and sell. Donate just £10 to us!' Suddenly, here was a solution to the problem of getting rid of old toys, a way to raise a bit of money, as well as an opportunity for Charlie to practise giving change.

Maybe those 12 magpies really were going to bring us wealth.


  1. Aren't the display butterflies gorgeous? Like you, we plan on carrying out the big butterfly count but it keeps raining which stops us. However I spy some blue sky this morning so maybe today is the day!
    I look forward to seeing how the stall goes.

  2. Yes, the displays were really stunning. I recommend you take your butterfly net with you if you do the butterfly count - we really could have done with one ourselves. It's hard to identify the butterflies when they're on the move all the time. Thanks for reading.