Wildlife broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough is urging people across Scotland to take part in the world’s biggest butterfly survey over the next three weeks.
The Big Butterfly Count starts on Friday, July 20, and Butterfly Conservation president Sir David said that taking part not only generates important data on butterflies, but also provides participants with precious time out from the stresses of life.
The UK’s Big Butterfly Count is the world’s largest butterfly survey, which encourages people to spot and record 17 species of common butterflies and two day-flying moths during three weeks of high summer, and Sir David believes in the mental health benefits of watching butterflies.
The UK’s butterflies are basking in the best summer conditions for more than a decade, with hot sunny weather enabling widespread species to fly, feed and breed. A number of events are taking place in Scotland to help with the count.
Research has indicated that spending time in nature, for example watching wildlife, can have positive benefits for mental health and wellbeing.
Sir David explained: ‘I have been privileged to have witnessed some truly breath-taking wildlife spectacles in far-flung locations but some of my most memorable experiences have happened when I’ve been simply sitting and watching the wildlife that lives where I do.
‘A few precious moments spent watching a stunning Red Admiral or Peacock butterfly feeding amongst the flowers in my garden never fails to bring me great pleasure.
‘Spending time with nature offers us all precious breathing space away from the stresses and strains of modern life, it enables us to experience joy and wonder, to slow down and to appreciate the wildlife that lives side-by-side with us.’
Butterfly Conservation is being supported by mental health charity Mind to champion the benefits of spending time in nature.
Stephen Buckley, head of information at Mind, said: ‘We’re delighted to see that Butterfly Conservation is promoting the mental health benefits of getting outdoors. At Mind, we have found that being in nature can have a powerful, grounding effect, with research indicating that it can help alleviate mental health problems like depression and anxiety.
‘The Big Butterfly Count is a wonderful way of interacting with the environment so we really welcome the project and would encourage people to look at the tips and ideas on our website for even more ways to bring nature into our lives.’
People are encouraged to do the count at home in their gardens, in a nearby park or while out walking the dog.
There are also a number of events taking place across the country where people can look for butterflies and do a count, including one on Sunday 22 July at the Aberlady Bay Local Nature Reserve in East Lothian, between 10.30am and 3.30pm.
A free family event is also taking place just south of Aberdeen near Portlethen on Sunday 29 July.
Running from 2-4pm, people will be invited to take part in wildlife walks, the Big Butterfly Count, peat experiments, and other activities for the children.
A guided butterfly walk is also taking place on Saturday 4 August at Tentsmuir Forest in north east Fife, from 10am until 2.30pm and on Sunday 12 August at Preston Grange, Musselburgh, East Lothian, between 11.30am and 4.30pm.
More information all of these events can be found HERE.
The Big Butterfly Count is sponsored by B&Q.