Butterfly Atlas Project: Year Four

2013 was the fourth year of our five year Sussex Butterfly Atlas. After reading all the disappointed comments which accompanied people's emails and recording forms after the 'wash-out' year of 2012 it was great to read that so many people had a busy recording season in 2013. We received lots of records from some very happy butterfly recorders. Checking our database we received 31,867 butterfly records in 2013 - an incredible effort which is really helping us to learn more about our Sussex species. A huge thank you to everyone who sent in their sightings.

And in 2013's bumper summer season there were plenty of highlights. The amazing number of Purple Emperor sightings was a real boost to their map; we now have recorded this elusive butterfly in over a tenth of the tetrads in the county. The distribution map for Wall is now being stretched at either end with sightings of this butterfly in the far east and far west of the county. Silver-washed Fritillaries turned up everywhere in 2013 - even at Selsey Bill. Our Chalkhill Blue map was looking really tidy for the first few years of the survey with this late summer butterfly remaining neatly clustered on its downland colonies. In 2013 the Chalkhill Blue has gone crazy! There have been sightings all across the county - right up to the Surrey border and now there's dots all over the place - they've ruined our map!

I'm sure there will be plenty more surprises as we enter the final year of our survey and there's always plenty more work to do. In 2014 we'll again be asking people to help us fill in the remaining gaps in the maps. As usual I will be posting target areas where we need extra effort on the sightings page of the Sussex BC website. If you're at a loose end on a Sunday then why not take a trip to someplace new. If you would like to know what areas near you need recording please drop us a line. It may well be that there is a square just 'round the corner which needs checking out. If you'd like to get involved please get in touch.

Aside from recording and processing the data we are now starting to think about how we're going to present all this information. We've formed a sub-committee to take on the task of publishing our 'Butterflies of Sussex' book and we're hoping that it will be with you in 2016. Meanwhile we still have one more year to go!

Michael & Clare Blencowe