Royal Canal Butterfly Transect – 2015 Results

I recorded 12 species on my Royal Canal transect this year as part of the Irish Butterfly Monitoring Scheme; again, no Wood White or Small Copper. Numbers fell back from the 612 high of 2014 to 450, similar to the 2013 level. The most numerous species was the Small White at 82, closely followed by Speckled Woods at 79 down a little from their 2014 high of 104. The Common Blue has made a small recovery this past two years although it is still in single figures. However, the Holly Blue has been doing really well from the single individual I recorded in 2013, to 22 last year and 38 this year. Holly Blue numbers tend to fluctuate quite a bit, largely as a result of parasitism I understand.

This lovely wildflower meadow appeared during the summer on a patch of bare ground which was left after a major water scheme finished up – could it have been the work of a guerrilla gardener I wonder?? It was nice while it lasted and enjoyed by the butterflies until it fell foul to men with rotavators and grass seed. However, there may have been time for some self-seeding to occur – we shall see …








This transect being on a waterway is of course rich in other wildlife which makes it always interesting to walk even when there’s not much butterfly activity. I’ve improved my identification skills with regard to dragonflies and damselflies although females and immatures still pose a challenge. Here’s a couple of my dragonfly videos. The mating pair are Migrant Hawkers and the ovipositing female is a Brown Hawker.



Royal Canal Butterfly Transect – 2014 Results

I recorded 12 species on my Royal Canal transect as part of the Irish Butterfly Monitoring Scheme – I didn’t see a Wood White or a Small Copper this year. Numbers increased again from 455 to 612. The most numerous species was the Ringlet at 134 (up from 58) and there was an even larger explosion of Speckled Woods (from 24 to 104). This can be seen in the weekly counts plot with Ringlets and Meadow Browns contributing mainly to the mid-summer peak and Speckled Woods to the late September peak. This is very different from my garden profile which is strongly influenced by Small Tortoiseshells and Red Admirals – the latter in particular feature very little on this transect even though it is only a 10 minute walk away.

Plot of R Canal transect 2014

When I started playing around with the Venn diagram below a few years ago it was quite different to what it looks like now. There has been a gradual convergence of the species I see on the transect and in my garden especially since the Common Blue and Small Copper turned up in my garden this year – this is the now crowded middle section of the diagram. I’ve never seen a Painted Lady on the transect somewhat surprisingly and I’ve never seen a Wood White in my garden.

Venn Diagram of butterflies

Royal Canal Butterfly Transect – 2013 Results

I recorded 14 species again  on my Royal Canal transect as part of the Irish Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. Numbers increased from 261 in 2012 to 458 – virtually all species increased with the notable exceptions of the Holly Blue and Common Blue (again). There was an especially large expansion of Small Whites from 36 to 164 and Large Whites from 15 to 61.

Wood White
Female Orange Tip

Royal Canal Butterfly Transect – 2012 Results

I carry out a weekly butterfly count on the Royal Canal here in Maynooth as part of the Irish Butterfly Monitoring Scheme which is co-ordinated by the National Biodiversity Data Centre. There are about 150 volunteers all over the country and I’ve just sent in my data for 2012. I recorded 14 different species compared to 12 last year – Wood White and Small Copper were the new ones – but overall numbers were down (from 385 to 251) which is not surprising I guess given the bad summer. The picture is somewhat complicated though as some species had increased numbers while others were down. However, the really significant development was a near collapse of the colony of Common Blues which was my most numerous species last year. I took both of these photos this year though so there is hope for next year – the one on the right is a male and the female on the left is on its larval foodplant Bird’s-foot Trefoil.

common blue on feed plant birds foot trefoil 9 common blue 8