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Friday, 10 November 2017
Fifty years of Butterfly Conservation
Next year marks the 50th anniversary of Butterfly Conservation: scroll down for a celebratory calendar:
Welcome to November's ‘all aflutter’.
With the frights and fireworks of mid-autumn now behind us we can happily revert to milder outdoor pursuits such as gardening and butterfly-spotting. Find out why the Secret Gardener tips birch trees this month and get planning for Christmas or beyond with our gift range and new calendar for 2018.
The Last Butterfly Of The Year
The Peacock was the first butterfly to be seen flying this year; spotted in both Somerset and Wiltshire on New Year's Day. But which species will be last on the wing in 2017?
Many butterflies are still on the wing despite the plunging temperatures and early-morning frosts experienced since the start of November.
In the last few days there have been unseasonable sightings of Brown Argus, Common Blue, Holly Blue and Meadow Brown. Small Copper are being seen widely across southern Britain as are more common late-flying species including the Comma, Speckled Wood, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Small White.
Red Admirals were still being reported widely last week, even from northern Scotland. If you are near the south coast of England you may still catch a glimpse of a Clouded Yellow.
Please report your sightings and help us monitor the life cycle of different species across the UK.
November is the perfect month to plant a tree and the Secret Gardener recommends birch.
A symbol of renewal and purification in early mythology, birch was prominent during the festival of Samhain - a pagan celebration at the end of October to mark the beginning of the 'dark half' of the year.
Bundles of birch branches were used to administer whippings in prison up until 1962 but these days they are more commonly found in floristry arrangements. If you are a witch with an ambition to get airborne, birch twigs would make an excellent broom.
Discover how birch is beneficial to wildlife in this month's gardening blog.
The good news keeps rolling in for the Red Admiral. After a bumper summer with record numbers of the species reported in the Big Butterfly Count and high figures emerging from the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS), this butterfly has remained abundant throughout autumn too.
Red Admirals commonly feed on ivy in November, so look out for their distinctive bright red stripes among the flowers of this evergreen climber.
Woodland, gardens, scrub and wasteland can all harbour ivy nectar banquets for late butterflies. Your local churchyard may also be a good place to look.