"What you have to do Gordon, is to spend 15 minutes in a sunny spot and then record how many of each species you see."
Sounded straightforward enough.
"I shall carry the chart and pen and you tell me when you see a butterfly and we will mark it off."
And with that our keen contingent of Wattlebury Spotters set off into the field. Accompanied by Harvey and Honey and Dad. Not sure if that was a good idea or not - but you can't stifle enthusiasm, as I have often said.
"Are you coming Penny?" Mum asked Mrs Peahen. Penny turned her back and nibbled at a tasty leaf. "And you Drongo?" Drongo was engrossed in a pink iced cupcake. So off we went without them.
Dad said that they were on the list - we could count them! Hoorah! A Silver Y Moth apparently. Honey tried to pounce on one.
"They fly in the day and the night and they are very abundant." Little Josie was lugging Harvest's Collins Handguide to Butterflies and Moths along behind her.
"Well done Little Josie! Harvest would be so proud of you!"
Dad put his glasses on for a closer inspection. But it flew off.
"Look! There! A brown butterfly!" Mum sprung across the thistles to examine it closely. And it flew off.
I could see that this wasn't exactly going to be as easy as we had initially thought. There were plenty of bees. We could count them instead.
"Or a Meadow Brown?" chipped in Mum.
"I think it is a Gatekeeper too, Dad. Pyronia tithonus. Sometimes called the Hedge Brown. It is usually seen along hedges where blackberry or bramble is in flower. The name 'Gatekeeper' may refer to its frequent occurrence near field gates, or perhaps to the keeper of a toll gate, who was a man who spent his life beside the road 150 years ago. It is by the blackberry bush and it is the right size."
Thank goodness for Little Josie.
"Thank you Josie! There are lots of those." Dad put his glasses on again for further inspection and cautiously eased himself towards the little butterfly - but guess what? It flew off.
We made our way to a new bramble bush and spotted a tiny blue butterfly. The air of excitement in that remote corner of the meadow was something to behold. After some debate we identified it as a Common Blue. A male. And whether or not there were three or just one, remains a mystery to this day.
On our return to the yard and with just three boxes ticked we happened upon the jewel in the crown. The piece de resistance - a Peacock! Even if it was just Harry! So we cheated a bit and ticked that box too!