Butterflies, Sir David, Ingrams, Waitrose and windfalls

I’ve done my bit for Butterfly Conservation this weekend and carried out a Big Butterfly Count in the back garden.

This very serious survey was postponed as when the rain fell this morning I nipped in to Waitrose in Rushden to stock up on cheap white wine and found that my local Waitrose store was giving me another opportunity to help butterflies.  As you leave the store you are given a green plastic token which you can put into one of three boxes representing local good causes.  At the moment one of these is Northamptonshire Butterfly Conservation and so they got my token.

That’s a form of democracy in action – I wonder when the government will adopt a similar approach to deciding public spending?  War in Iraq or habitat recreation?  Pillar 1 payments or reducing student fees? MPs’ pensions or my Mum’s pension?  Badger vaccine or badger cull?  Still, that’s just a dream.

Richard Ingrams is just a nightmare though!  Although I was told today that I might be turning into an Ingrams-like grumpy old man.  Grumpy? Old?  In yesterday’s column in The Independent Ingrams mentioned the Big Butterfly Count and said he’d rather count butterflies by squashing cabbage white caterpillars in his garden than counting adults.

And that’s exactly why he should get out and do that count today or over the next couple of weeks.  There is no such thing, or there are perhaps three such things, as cabbage white butterflies.  And whereas he says, in different words, that the errors of counting that he might make in his garden would be compounded if lots of us were doing similar things he is wrong about that – at least as far as inaccuracy is concerned.  The more the better – Mr Ingrams’s over-counting will be compensated by my, or your, under-counting this year.  And if we both do it again next year then the changes between years will be pretty comparable.  At least that’s the theory and it is backed up by some real statistical theory too.

I had to look fairly closely at the white butterflies in my garden to work out if they were Small Whites, Green-veined Whites or Large Whites and I’m sure that Mr Ingrams would benefit from doing the same.  They were, I’m pretty sure, all Small Whites and there were a couple of Gatekeepers too.  No doubt if I nip out later this afternoon the garden will be full of more interesting and rarer species, but that is the fate of many a citizen scientist – or at least it often seems so.

Being in the garden I admired the potential bumper crop of apples on our tree but looked sadly at the number of them already windfalls on the floor.  The best preserved were collected for apple jelly production.

Having got into the mood for looking at insects I saw a few hoverflies and noticed quite a few Cinnabar Moth caterpillars at the end of the garden.

The Big Butterfly Count is well worth doing for the fun of it – it’s only 15 minutes – and because David Attenborough supports it and Richard Ingrams decries it.

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8 Replies to “Butterflies, Sir David, Ingrams, Waitrose and windfalls”

      1. Mark you say "The Big Butterfly Count is well worth doing for the fun of it – it’s only 15 minutes – and because David Attenborough supports it ........"

        I say "you know you shouldn’t support something – just because Sir David does"

        "I won’t then – particularly Sir David King in this instance(?)."

        Silly!

        "No sign of an announcement yet?" -

        As i've said elsewhere - Cameron has probabley said to Spelman - "Not now dear - Can't you see I'm busy?"

        This may work to the benefit of "the imminent announcement" in that the weak, contrived, corrupt, irresponsible and disreputable opposition to culling sick diseased badgers may have shot its bolt!.

        Personally - the sooner we get on with the real business - the sooner we get rid of Tuberculosis in both Badger and Cattle.

        Aaron doesn't have a clue - and it would appear that you are similarly positioned.

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          1. Alistair Driver (Farmers Guardian)

            "On Monday morning, the likelihood of the announcement being postponed yet again seemed high. With the next available time slot being September, when MPs return, further delay would put a question mark over the planned summer 2012 start date, if the (badger) cull is sanctioned. However, by early afternoon the situation appeared to have changed again, with clear signals that the announcement would, after all, take place on Tuesday.

            Mr Kendall (NFU) said on Monday morning that the NFU was working closely with Government to try and ensure the announcement, which had been pencilled in for last Tuesday, goes ahead tomorrow."

            After the Met resignations I can't see it being announced - unless it's viewed to be a " good day for announcing (more) 'bad news' " or as a 'diversionary tactic'.

            Come to think of it again - they probably will !

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          2. FG - just Monday 5:10 pm

            "DEFRA Secretary Caroline Spelman is set to announce the Government’s decision on a badger cull in England tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday, July 19).

            There has been speculation over the past days that the Government was planning to postpone the announcement yet again because of the distraction of the phone hacking scandal.

            Senior figures in Government and their advisers were understood to be unwilling to make what will be a controversial policy announcement at a time when it is on the back foot over the scandal.

            But it has now been scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, when Mrs Spelman is expected to unveil plans for a licensed, farmer-led badger cull in England."

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  1. Mark, you missed an opportunity to raise the issue of another persecuted wildlife species - ragwort.

    As I read "cinnabar moth" I thought aha! Mark has read the recent correspondence between Buglife et al and the Telegraphocracy - but no. So here are the links

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/letters/8630940/Don-gloves-when-dealing-with-rampant-ragwort.html

    and

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/8603595/Toxic-weed-or-an-essential-part-of-British-ecology.html

    tally ho!

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