Butterflies of the Biosphere - a video odyssey
By Dr Dan Danhar
In the summer of 2014 UNESCO designated the Brighton and Lewes Downs Biosphere Region. Having spent a fair amount of time
contributing towards this project, I was keen to see it flourish and so was looking for a way to make a further contribution that might
see this happen. Earlier in the April of 2014, I had set up a FaceBook page entitled “Corfu Butterflies and other Wildlife”, as a means of
keeping in touch with people interested in the butterflies of this enchanting little island. As I gained experience administering the
page and the group discussion it contained, I became increasingly confident about replicating this for a Biosphere audience.
And so it was on the 17th of January 2015 that I created the “Butterflies of the Biosphere” FaceBook page and on the 12th February 2015, as part of an opening statement for the growing audience, I wrote:
“During 2015 I aim to search for all the 39 species of butterflies that I expect to see within the boundary of the new biosphere region and invite you to follow my adventures. I hope to share these exploits with a range of guests because this trial is not a scientific journey but rather a personal one. With each species I will give location and where possible some travel directions, by car, bus and train, so that you to can go to the same sites I have travelled to, to be sure to see these butterflies for yourself. I hope to encourage others to look elsewhere within the Biosphere and report their findings, which is why I have set up this “Butterflies of the Biosphere” Facebook page.”
I never did get to report on all 39 species and that’s because I got sidetracked, pretty quickly. This is because I wanted people to become familiar with the face of the new Biosphere Region, to know its boundaries, to know where it started and where it ended. Gradually it dawned on me that perhaps the best way to do this would be to make videos, so that I could speak from a location and show what was to be seen there. By virtually taking my audience to multiple locations, they would inevitably become more familiar with the new Biosphere region.
It wasn’t until Episode 5 ‘Looking for the Adonis Blue caterpillar in the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere’ that I felt that things were beginning to come together. In this hastily arranged installment Colin Knight and I went to a likely location to find the final instar caterpillars of the Adonis Blue. Within five minutes of being on site Colin had found an ideal specimen and so I did a “Local Butterfly News” style piece to camera. We were also able to discuss the reasons why these videos were being made and this is indeed the episode I often refer people to if they want to understand my motivation for making the series.
Episode 6, supplied the next big learning curve. It was with Nigel Symington, Chair of the Sussex branch of Butterfly Conservation, a very good friend and it was only in the editing stage that I really understood the value of humor. So many takes were filled with laughter and in the end I used all of these because the relaxed feel that it gave the episode, made for an enjoyable viewing experience.
By the 6th September 2015 I had completed what I thought would be the last episode of the year, the seventeenth. It was about the Brown Hairstreak and ran for a full 25 minutes and 24 seconds. This was in sharp contrast with many of the earlier episodes, which I deliberately tried to keep to less than ten minutes.
Then in October 2015 the swell of Long-tailed Blues started to appear along the south coast and most importantly deep within the Biosphere. This led me to decide to make the next video in “Butterflies of the Biosphere” series about this most remarkable butterfly.
An introduction to the Butterflies of the Biosphere
- Episode 1: An introduction to the Butterflies of the Biosphere
- Episode 2: Looking for Brown Hairstreak eggs in the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere
- Episode 3: Looking for Purple Hairstreak eggs in the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere
- Episode 4: Looking for the Grizzled Skipper in the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere
- Episode 5 Looking for the Adonis Blue caterpillar in the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere
- Episode 6: Looking for the Green Hairstreak in the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere
- Episode 7: Looking for the Orange Tip in the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere
- Episode 8: Looking for the Small Blue in the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere
- Episode 9: Looking for the Adonis Blue butterfly in the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere
- Episode 10: Looking for the Dark Green Fritillary in the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere
- Episode 11: The UNESCO designated Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere
- Episode 12: Looking for the Monarch of the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere
- Episode 13: Looking for the Silver-washed Fritillary in the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere
- Episode 14: Looking for the Silver-spotted Skipper in the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere
- Episode 15: Looking for the Chalkhill Blue outside the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere
- Episode 16: Looking for the Wall Brown in the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere
- Episode 17: Looking for the Brown Hairstreak in the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere
- Episode 18: Trailer for the Long-tailed Blue in the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere
This whole experience has now led to a new adventure. During 2016 I will be starting a "5 Year Mission" to make a video about every butterfly species in the UK, for the premier website on British Butterflies "UK Butterflies - http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk". A journey I’m really looking forward to.