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Winging It With Brettenwood’s Butterfly Spotter Alan Griffiths

One of the best things about living on our estate is the nature nurturing it provides. The rolling hills, the indigenous green belt and the beautiful dams all come together to form a sanctuary for birdlife, wildlife and beauty. They also make for brilliant butterfly spotting. We chatted to resident butterfly enthusiast Alan Griffiths about this.

BCE: What piqued your interest in butterflies?

AG: I am a keen gardener and was always mesmerized by the butterflies within Brettenwood. I started taking the odd photo with my iPhone, but butterflies never sit still for long so the pics were never great. When lockdown came about I bought myself a butterfly net….

BCE: What are the ideal conditions and environment for butterfly spotting?

AG: I know very little about butterflies but they tend to be conspicuous by their absence when it’s raining (of course) and one hardly sees them when it’s overcast. Brettenwood’s flora is so diverse that it allows one to find different species in unique areas. I normally go out around midday with my favourite spot being the Golovan Trail and its surrounds.

BCE: How do you manage to catch them, photograph them and release them?

AG: The most exciting part is spotting a species I have not observed before. I carefully catch them in my net… paying careful attention not to damage their fragile, flimsy wings. I then take them into a bathroom and they instinctively fly to the (closed) window. I have learned that with patience I can carefully coax them on to my hand. (One can put a bit of honey or banana on a finger but I have never deemed that necessary.) I then take photos with my (new) phone. Once satisfied I release them and then post the pics on our newly founded Butterfly Forum and our ‘brains trust‘ Diane graciously identifies them. Diane and Hazel are really active on the group.

BCE: What is the most rare or interesting butterfly that you have spotted?

AG: Not sure which is the rarest but my two favourites are a ‘Purple Tip’ and a ‘Painted Lady’. My most exciting moment was finding and photographing not a butterfly but actually an elusive moth… viz a Peach Moth.

BCE: Where you expecting such a positive response by so many of our residents when you started your Butterfly Forum?

AG: I’m just excited to be part of the group… especially because we can share photos with folk who are unable to get out that much. I love the solitude of being alone and often get lost in the moment… and sometimes even the forest.

BCE: Any advice or tips or message you would like to give to someone who is just starting out in butterfly spotting?

AG: The enjoyment is simply in being out on our beautiful estate with the sun on my back. Although my prime focus is butterflies… one can enjoy the marvelous bird life, or perhaps even stumble upon a gorgeous Bush Buck or duiker.

Click on the image to read the article as it appeared in our last newsletter.