Why are butterflies and transects so special?
Butterflies are key climatic change indicators. The range (where they inhabit), for some species, has been spreading Northwards and the Isle of Man is on the very edge of the range so we are a key location. The speckled wood wasn’t present on the reserve until the 2000’s and Butterfly Conservation UK produced an Atlas which clearly shows this spread of species northwards.
Manx Wildlife Trust have been keen for people to record butterfly sightings and have raised awareness of the species via our butterfly count campaign run last year. This was to help monitor the trend and produce records which the public, and academics, can access using the NBN Atlas Isle of Man.
Why do we do transects? Studying wildlife is difficult as there are so many different factors that can affect what you observe, so we try to follow set down protocol for observing butterflies. These include looking for butterflies during certain
- wind conditions
- along a set route which passes through different habitats
- looking at a set distance away.
This makes the conditions as similar for each period of observation as possible. The area will be surveyed every week from April to early September so we can see the trends of the species.
After lockdown we ran a training session for our volunteers which included walking along the transect in our Close Sartfield nature reserve. This was in sunshine and among the beautiful orchids too! We saw 1 small white, 2 red admirals, 8 speckled woods and 78 meadow browns. We also saw and recorded the presence of a beautiful wood tiger moth which is a day flying moth. It was a lovely way to meet like minded people and know that you are helping MWT to understand more about the Island’s wildlife too.