Butterflies are well placed to act as indicators of the state of the environment as they have rapid lifecycles and are sensitive to environmental conditions. The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) was launched in 1976 with a mission to assess the status and trends of UK butterfly populations for conservation, research and quality of life. The UKBMS has transect sites located throughout the UK with data collected each week from April to September.
Prestwood Nature has taken part in the UKBMS since 2006. The Prestwood Nature transect is about 5km long and is separated into 15 sections with each section reflecting different habitats. The transect is walked by a team of volunteers who identify and count all the butterflies they see, following UKBMS methodology to ensure consistency, so that results are comparable from year to year. A detailed description and map of the transect are provided here.
The chart below shows the total number of butterflies counted each year on the Prestwood Nature transect. Considerable variation has been shown over the years, with 2006 being a very hot summer which has set a record that has not been beaten. All results from the Prestwood Nature transect can be found here.
Since the Prestwood Nature transect first began in 2006, over 30 species of butterfly have been recorded, some of which are shown below. In 2021, the most common species of butterfly recorded was the Meadow Brown, followed by the Ringlet, Marbled White, Gatekeeper and Large White.