Butterfly Conservation - saving butterflies, moths and our environment
Butterfly Conservation
Hertfordshire & Middlesex Branch
Saving butterflies, moths and our environment

Butterflies of the Wide Countryside Recording Survey

Link sections on this page . . .
Where are we surveying?
How to plan the survey
Obtaining access to the survey route within squares
How to survey
When to survey and recording criteria
Exceptions to general recording rules
Species identification
Co-ordinator contact details
National results for year one (2009)
National results for year two (2010)
National results for year three (2011)
National results for year four (2012)
National results for year five (2013)
National results for year six (2014)
National results for year seven (2015)
National results for year eight (2016)
National results for year nine (2017)
Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey - national link
Return to Recording Introduction Page

Can you spare time on 2 days in July and August to visit a grid square and do two 1km walks to record butterflies? This method is intended to compliment, not replace transects, and enable records from a wide variety of habitats to be collected. Some squares will be rich in butterflies, others less so, but all results will be important.

This survey is done in 1km squares and selected at random by the national survey co-ordinator. The squares are:

1km square


Volunteer found

Wider countryside map for Herts & Middx


Welwyn (not Garden City)






Ladbroke Grove



Aston (SE of Stevenage)



south of Henlow (N tip of Herts/Beds border)


eastern Letchworth


north of Hexton (part in Beds)


Apsley End (part in Beds)


Swanley Bar/Little Heath


Northaw Great Wood


between Clothall and Rushden


Cuffley Camp


west of Crews Hill


south of Cottered



Broxbourne Wood (south of Brickendon)



High Cross



North east of Nuthampstead



North of Widford


west of Bury Green near Little Hadham


Trimms Green west of Spellbrook, south of Bishops Stortford



Harrow Weald Common southern half



Bentley priory/Stanmore Common



London Shire golf course west of Monken Hadley


east side of Hampstead Garden Suburb



Baker Street/Regents Park


How to plan the survey

If you are a surveying a square that has been allocated to you, it will be necessary to establish a fixed survey route through the square The survey route is two parallel 1-km long survey lines across your square (running N-S or E-W), that are subdivided into ten continuous 200m sections numbered 1-10.

Obtaining access to the survey route within squares

A large number of 1-km squares have paths, roads, bridleways or open access across them. This information can be gathered from an OS map and the open access website (www.gov.uk/right-of-way-open-access-land/overview). Unless there is open access to your whole square then it is important that you contact the landowner to gain permission to carry out the survey visits. We advise contacting the nearest dwelling to your square either by telephoning to arrange a visit or by sending them a letter. A letter template is available which outlines the reasons why the surveys are being carried out and what they entail. Click here for a copy of the template

How to survey

When to survey and recording criteria

  • A minimum of two visits to each square are required to take part in this survey and these should take place in July and August, with at least 10 days between the two visits.
  • In addition, one or two further visits can be made to the square during May, June, July or August with at least 10 days between visits.
  • If possible return visits to squares should be made at the same time of day.
  • Record the time at which you start and end each survey line (1-km) on the survey recording form.
  • Survey lines should generally be walked between 10.45am and 15.45pm and only when weather conditions are suitable for butterfly activity: dry conditions, wind speed less than Beaufort Scale 5 and temperature 13°C or greater if there is at least 60% sunshine, or more than 17°C if overcast.
  • If a distinct shadow is cast (bright cloud) then conditions may be classed as sunny.
  • If possible, sunshine should be estimated for each section to the nearest 10% of the time it was sunny while you were walking that section (shade cast by features such as trees does not count).
  • At the end of each survey visit, record shade temperature (e.g. with a portable thermometer placed in a shaded position at the beginning of the first survey line before you start), estimate average sunshine (based on section data), and average windspeed, using the following Beaufort Scale (see Table 1).

Exceptions to general recording rules:

  • It is also permissible to record from 09:30-10:45 and 15:45-16:30, if at these times the majority (>75%) of the survey area is unshaded and the standard (described above) weather criteria have been met.

Species identification

Try to identify and separate all species you encounter, including where possible similar species such as Small and Essex Skipper, and the 'cabbage' whites.

If you would like to volunteer to survey one of the vacant squares or have more information please contact Andrew Wood (details on Committee page)
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