Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey



Established in 2009, the Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey (WCBS) generates important data on the abundance of widespread butterfly species from under-recorded habitats such as farmland, plantation woodland, uplands and urban green spaces. Thus, the WCBS compliments the traditional UKBMS ‘Pollard walk’ transects which generally focus on monitoring semi-natural habitats which are rich in butterflies.

Wider countryside monitoring is organised in partnership with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).

The WCBS is both scientifically sound (random sampling of the countryside) and efficient (2-4 visits per year). Its method is broadly based on the BTO’s Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), surveying two parallel 1-km long transects subdivided into 10 sections, located within randomly selected 1-km squares. The surveys' core recording period is in July and August. The background to the WCBS sampling framework can be found here.

Taking part

We are always looking for new volunteers to help us survey WCBS squares. If you are interested in being involved then please get in touch with your local WCBS Champion to be allocated a random square in your area.

If you have been assigned a Butterfly Conservation WCBS square (not a BTO BBS square) and wish to continue with the survey, then please download forms and instructions from the guidance and recording forms page. Any questions please contact your WCBS Champion, or the national WCBS Officer via email survey@butterfly-conservation.org  

BTO Breeding Bird Survey recorders

If you are a BTO BBS surveyor who has already taken part in the WCBS on your BBS square then you will receive details from the BTO in May on how to continue taking part.

If you are a BTO BBS recorder and wish to start the WCBS survey this year then please contact bbs@bto.org to register and take part.

Holiday squares

The purpose of the Holiday Squares web page is to improve coverage of WCBS squares in the uplands of northern and western Britain. Few recorders live in these areas, but they are very popular holiday destinations. Squares are currently available in Cumbria, Lancashire, North East England, Scotland, Wales and Yorkshire.

If you are planning a holiday to, or are passing through any of these under-populated, remote, yet popular holiday destinations please do look at the webpage and sign up to a holiday square. If you can only manage one visit that is fine, someone else could do a second visit. The WCBS provides great opportunities for getting off the beaten-track and generating new 1km square records for butterflies in the UK.

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