As part of the Butterfly Atlas 2021, high priority squares are an excellent way of contributing detailed information to the atlas. If you have 5-6 hours to spare each year to help us map Ireland’s butterflies, in high priority squares we ask you to:

  1. After checking your county plan, let us know which priority square you’d like to walk in at butterflies@biodiversityireland.ie. We’ll maintain a register of which squares are being walked each year to ensure all squares are walked by 2021.
  2. Choose a fixed route to survey for butterflies in a systematic way (details below). If you’re already involved in one of our monitoring schemes, thank you, you’re already contributing excellent records for that square
  3. Walk this route five times – twice between 22nd April to 16th June, and three times between 1st July and 31st August, leaving two weeks between walks.
  4. The route should be a minimum of 1 km in length and ideally include a variety of habitat types.

We’re aiming for each high priority square to be monitored for at least one year, meaning that each year you can choose a new high priority square in which you can monitor butterflies.

 

What does a monitoring walk ‘look’ like?

Overall, if you have a particular walk you enjoy and have permission to access the area, then wherever you want! As along as it is a minimum of 1 km in length and you can walk the route five times per year, then it will be a valuable contribution to the atlas. You should divide your walk up into 5-15 smaller sections e.g. from your front door to the start of the hedgerow, section 1; from the start of the hedgerow to the end of the hedgerow, section 2; etc. Per section, as you walk along you record all the butterfly species and numbers of each you see within 2.5 m either side of yourself and 5 m in front (a 5 m3 recording ‘box’).

 

Pollard walk
Recording ‘box’ within which all butterflies are counted as part of the Five Visit Monitoring and Irish Butterfly Monitoring Schemes.

Example transect
An example butterfly monitoring transect walk divided into nine sections. Per section, all butterflies are recorded and the % sunshine noted.

 

Under what conditions should I walk my route?

Recording should be undertaken between 11:00 and 17:00. Clearly, butterflies do fly outside of these times during ideal conditions in the summer, but at other times of year smaller species will be less inclined to fly at cooler morning or evening temperatures and may not be on the wing when you walk.

Only record when weather conditions are suitable for butterfly activity: at temperatures of at least 13°C or above, and at least 60% sunshine (e.g. when 60% of the sky is cloud free). When temperatures are 17°C or above, the % sunshine is no longer a constraint. The wind speed should be less then Beaufort scale 5 (small trees in leaf being to sway).

 

What should I record each time I walk?

Bring along a notebook or downland and print one of our recording sheets and note:

  • date
  • time you started, time you finished
  • average temperature throughout your walk
  • average wind speed throughout your walk (Beaufort scale 0-6)
  • average wind direction throughout your walk (N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW)
  • per section of your walk the % sunshine, the species and numbers of butterflies you see

 

Where do I submit the information from my walk?

This information is collected in line with our new Five Visit Monitoring Scheme, please register online with the scheme here: https://surveys.biodiversityireland.ie/

Once registered, there’s a full tutorial on how to enter your records online here: Tutorial for High Priority Square Records

As always, never hesitate to get in touch if you need any help: butterflies@biodiversityireland.ie