My Big Butterfly Count 2021 at Ranmore Common in Surrey!

Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count 2021!

Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count runs from Friday the 16th July 2021 until Sunday 8th August 2021.  I’d really like to encourage you to join in and take your own Butterfly Count – this is such a lovely thing to do.  A Butterfly Count only lasts for 15 minutes – this activity won’t take up much of your time – you could take a Butterfly Count in your lunch break.  Butterfly Counts are fun and relaxing.  The best thing is, you don’t need to know anything about butterflies to take part in this lovely activity – Butterfly Conservation have provided identification tools to help you identify the butterflies you spot during your count.  You could take a Butterfly Count in your lunch break or take as many Butterfly Counts as you wish – why not spend an entire afternoon watching butterflies?

Spending time in meadows and chalk grasslands is my favourite thing to do. I just love Ranmore Common, it’s one of my favourite places in Surrey. These white flowers are Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and the purple flowers are Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra). Can you spot the butterfly?

How to take a Butterfly and Moth Count

It only takes 15 minutes to take a Butterfly Count.  You can choose to take your Butterfly Count in your garden, at your allotment, or in the gardens of your school, college, or university, in a forest or woodland, at a park, or nature reserve, or whilst you’re taking a walk!

Butterfly and Moth Identification

Don’t worry if you’re not a butterfly expert – you’ll find butterfly and moth identification charts on Butterfly Conservation’s website. There’s a Big Butterfly Count app, which will help you to identify, count, and submit your results – you can find it at both the Apple and Android app stores.

See the results of my Big Butterfly Counts and discover which butterflies I spotted at Ranmore Common, in Surrey, in this article….

Counting Butterflies and Moths

If you’re taking your Butterfly and Moth Count during a walk, then each time you see a butterfly or moth you record it – so if you see three Peacock Butterflies, you record these as three.  However, it’s a little bit different if you’re taking a Butterfly and Moth Count in a static location, say for example, in your garden or at your allotment, where you’ll remain in the same area.  For this type of stationary Butterfly Count, if you see three Peacock Butterflies at once, you record these as three, but if you see a single Peacock Butterfly three times, you record this as one Peacock Butterfly – this is to make the count more accurate – as otherwise you might be counting the exact same butterfly time and time again!

If you don’t see any butterflies or moths at all this would be disappointing, but it’s still important to record this result and let Butterfly Conservation know.

You can take as many Butterfly Counts as you want.  What could be more relaxing than spending a day counting butterflies and looking for day flying moths?

This is Steer’s Field at Ranmore Common in Surrey; it’s one of my favourite places in England. When I am here, I relish being immersed in nature and away from the sound of traffic. I adore the views and peace and tranquility. I would simply love to live here!

I headed over to Steer’s Field at Ranmore Common, in Surrey, to take my first Big Butterfly Counts of 2021.

This is Ranmore Common an area of outstanding beauty in Dorking, Surrey.
There are many Essex Skipper (Thymelicus lineola) and Small Skipper Butterflies (Thymelicus sylvestris) at Ranmore Common, in Surrey. If you visit this species-rich, chalk grassland, you’re bound to spot one of these tiny, triangular-shaped butterflies.
I stayed at the top of Ranmore Common, on Steer’s Field where the ground is fairly flat. Ranmore Common is a wonderful place for a hike; there are a number of different walking routes up and down the hills and through areas of woodland.
Ranmore Common is owned by the National Trust. This species rich chalk grassland features lots of beautiful wildflowers, including orchids.

My Big Butterfly Counts at Ranmore Common

This is the Small Heath Butterfly (Coenonympha pamphilus) a very small, low-flying butterfly that can often be found in groups dancing and twirling around other, in amongst the shorter grasses, along the path to one of the prime view points at Ranmore Common, in Surrey.

I saw these butterflies during my first Big Butterfly Count of 2021 in Steer’s Field, at Ranmore Common, in Surrey……..

  • 10 Small Heath Butterflies (Coenonympha pamphilus)
  • 2 Meadow Brown Butterflies (Maniola jurtina)
  • 2 Small Skipper Butterflies/Essex Skipper Butterflies
  • 1 Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album)
Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra) is a superb plant for butterflies. This Essex Skipper Butterfly is feasting on Centaurea nigra nectar. Pictured at Ranmore Common, in Surrey.
The Small Heath Butterfly (Coenonympha pamphilus) can be difficult to identify if you’ve not seen one before. Small Heaths are very small, fast-moving butterflies that flit around at ankle height. They rarely open their wings at rest and tend to hunker down in amongst shorter growing plants where they are nicely camouflaged and can be hard to spot.
I spotted this Meadow Brown Butterfly (Maniola jurtina) resting on the clover and grasses whilst I was taking my Big Butterfly Count 2021.
Small Skipper Butterflies (Thymelicus sylvestris) and Essex Skipper Butterflies (Thymelicus lineola) are very similar. I need to see a photograph to distinguish one butterfly from another. Look at their antenna – Essex Skippers have black tipped antenna whereas Small Skipper Butterflies’ antenna is not as dark. This is an Essex Skipper Butterfly feasting on Hawkweed nectar.
Small Heath Butterflies (Coenonympha pamphilus) look rather like a small Meadow Brown Butterfly, but these butterflies are two different species.
This Meadow Brown Butterfly is feasting on the nectar of Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra) flowers. The yellow dandelion-like flowers are one of the many species of Hawkweed (Hieracium).
I was so happy to spot this pretty little Small Heath Butterfly (Coenonympha pamphilus) as it paused to rest on a Plantain (Plantago major) leaf.

After taking my first Butterfly Count, I moved to a different area of Steer’s Field where I spotted these butterflies during my second Big Butterfly 2021 Count…

  • 4 Meadow Brown Butterflies (Maniola jurtina)
  • 3 Small Skipper Butterflies/Essex Skipper Butterflies
  • 2 Marbled White Butterflies (Melanargia galathea)
  • 1 Dark Green Fritillary Butterfly (Speyeria aglaja)
This Dark Green Fritillary Butterfly (Speyeria aglaja) is pictured feasting on the nectar of Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra) flowers, at Ranmore Common, in Surrey.
It’s always such a thrill when a butterfly opens their wings, rather like a glamorous model taking off their coat to reveal a beautiful surprise outfit hidden underneath.
In this picture, white-flowered Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), mingles with yellow-flowered Hawkweed (Hieracium), purple-flowered Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra), and grasses, on Steer’s Field at Ranmore Common, in Surrey. Can you spot the butterfly?
This handsome Small Skipper Butterfly (Thymelicus sylvestris) paused to rest on a blade of grass whilst I was taking my Big Butterfly Count at Ranmore Common, in Surrey.
I was eternally grateful to this Essex Skipper Butterfly (Thymelicus lineola) for pausing to rest on one of the clover (Trifolium repens) flowers near me.

My third Butterfly Count was taken in another area of Steer’s Field, at Ranmore Common in Surrey, where I spotted the following butterflies…

  • 5 Marbled White Butterflies (Melanargia galathea)
  • 5 Small Skipper Butterflies/Essex Skipper Butterflies
  • 4 Meadow Brown Butterflies (Maniola jurtina)
  • 2 Ringlet Butterflies (Aphantopus hyperantus)
  • 2 Burnet Moths
  • 1 Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa atalanta)
This is one of the Burnet Moths a number of commonly seen species of day-flying moths. Their vibrant black and red coloured wings make these moths stand out and shine in the sunshine!
Many butterflies display eye-like markings on their wings; these ‘eyes’ can help to confuse any would-be predators. In this case, the markings also help to distract the predator from the most vital part of this Meadow Brown Butterfly (Maniola jurtina) – its body. This Meadow Brown Butterfly paused to rest in amongst the clover and grasses on Ranmore Common whilst I was taking a Butterfly Count.
This Marbled White Butterfly (Melanargia galathea) has sustained some damage to its forewings; this kind of damage is often caused by birds trying to catch butterflies. Sometimes the butterfly escapes, leaving just a small section of wing behind. Thankfully this wasn’t a serious injury and this Marbled White Butterfly is still able to fly and feed as usual.
Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca) is such a decorative plant. Butterflies, moths, bees and other insects all feed from these exquisite purple flowers. I observed Small Skippers, Essex Slippers, and Meadow Brown Butterflies feasting upon these glorious flowers at Ranmore Common.
This Ringlet Butterfly (Aphantopus hyperantus) was sheltering in amongst the grasses and Dockleaves (Rumex obtusifolius) on Steer’s Field, at Ranmore Common, in Surrey.

I went back to Steer’s Field the following day to take more Butterfly Counts. This time I spotted these butterflies….

  • 5 Small Skipper Butterflies/Essex Skipper Butterflies
  • 3 Marbled White Butterflies (Melanargia galathea)
  • 3 Meadow Brown Butterflies (Maniola jurtina)
  • 1 Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa atalanta)
  • 1 Brimstone Butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni)
Brimstone Butterflies are one of the first butterflies we see in early spring, when their pale green or buttery-yellow coloured wings lift our hearts as they flutter by our gardens, heathlands, and woodlands, but we can spot Brimstone Butterflies (Gonepteryx rhamni) at almost any time of year.
This is a male Small Skipper Butterfly (Thymelicus sylvestris). Small Skipper Butterflies and Essex Skipper Butterflies are very similar indeed. I need to see a clear photograph to distinguish one butterfly from another. If you’re trying to establish which butterfly you’ve seen, view a butterfly from the front and look at their antenna – Essex Skippers have black tipped antenna, whereas the Small Skipper’s antenna is more softly coloured, as we see here in my photograph. Male Small Skipper butterflies also have an angled or curved thin black line of scent scales (known as a sex brand) running over their forewings. In contrast, male Essex Skipper Butterflies’ also have a thin black line on their forewings, but theirs is shorter and straighter, running parallel to the outer edge of their forewings. Male Skippers of both species release pheromones to attract females through this area of their wing, it’s known as a sex brand.
In the hot sunshine, the butterflies at Ranmore Common were very active. I was so happy when this wonderful Marbled White Butterfly (Melanargia galathea) paused to rest on one of the thistles (Cirsium arvense) and allowed me to take this photograph.
Brimstone Butterflies are much larger in size than many of the other butterflies I spotted during my Big Butterfly Count 2021.

During my final Butterfly Count at Steer’s Field, I spotted these butterflies….

  • 4 Small Skipper/Essex Skipper Butterflies
  • 3 Marbled White Butterflies (Melanargia galathea)
  • 2 Ringlet Butterflies (Aphantopus hyperantus)
  • 2 Chalk Hill Blue Butterflies (Polyommatus coridon)
  • 2 Meadow Brown Butterflies (Maniola jurtina)
  • 1 Dark Green Fritillary Butterfly (Speyeria aglaja)
I spotted this Essex Skipper Butterfly (Thymelicus lineola) feasting on Hawkweed nectar.
Here is a male Chalk Hill Blue Butterfly (Polyommatus coridon). This was the first blue butterfly I spotted at Ranmore Common this year; I hope that many more blue butterflies will be enjoying the chalk grasslands, now the weather has finally warmed up.
Chalk Hill Blue Butterflies (Polyommatus coridon) reside in the grasslands at Ranmore Common, in Surrey.
I spotted a few other Fritillaries in the distance, whilst I was at Ranmore Common, but this was the only one that stopped near me. This is a Dark Green Fritillary Butterfly (Speyeria aglaja), a stunning butterfly with warm-orange coloured wings decorated with the most gorgeous brown markings. Did the Fritillaries inspire the decoration on Mr. Kipling’s Bakewell Tart?
I spotted bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, crickets, and grasshoppers at Ranmore Common. Observing insects is a lovely and very relaxing way to spend the afternoon.

How to Submit the results of your Butterfly Count

If you’re taking part in your own Big Butterfly Count, please don’t forget to submit your results to Butterfly Conservation’s website.  Butterfly Conservation will use your butterfly recordings to discover how the UK’s butterflies are faring this summer.  This is important information that can help Butterfly Conservation’s experts develop methods to help create a brighter future for butterflies.

Butterfly Conservation ask that anyone who wishes to take part in this year’s Butterfly Count, records their sightings and sends the results in to their butterfly and moth experts, who will study the findings to evaluate the growth or decline of our British butterflies and moths.

Other articles that may interest you…………

See the results of all my Big Butterfly Counts by clicking here.

See the results of my Moth Night Moth Count 2021 by clicking here.

For information on how to plant a meadow or flowering lawn, please click here.

Read about more brilliant plants for bees and butterflies, in this article.

Even more ideas of plants for pollinators can be found here.

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