HAMPSHIRE: Sir David Attenborough calls on the county’s wildlife fans to join the UK-wide Big Butterfly Count to see which varieties are thriving butterflies counting on you!

PEOPLE across Hampshire who fancy a flutter will have the chance to take part in the Big Butterfly Count this summer.

In a bid to protect the species broadcaster Sir David Attenborough is encouraging nature lovers in the county to get out their clipboards and start counting today.

It’s a national conservation survey that will last three weeks and can be done in the garden, from a park bench or while strolling through a countryside field.

This year the mission is to reach a count of one million butterflies, which hasn’t been done since the first count four years ago, but hopes are high that this could be possible thanks to a few months of hot, sunny weather.

In 2012 the butterfly count was at its lowest but numbers have slowly been on the rise with last year’s results revealing a total of 800,000 butterflies and day-flying moths.

The garden favourite the small tortoiseshell enjoyed its best year for a decade last summer, while peacocks, small and large white also had good years, but migrants including red admiral and painted lady struggled.

Sir David is now encouraging wildlife detectives to embrace nature by counting commas, marbled whites, small coppers, gatekeepers and other common butterflies.

The president of Butterfly Conservation, which is running the survey, said: “The UK is a nation of amateur naturalists and we have a proud tradition of celebrating and studying our wildlife.

“By taking part in the count you can contribute to this heritage and discover the fantastic butterflies and other wildlife that share your garden, parks and countryside.

“Butterflies are a key indicator species of the health of our environment – if they are struggling, then many other species are struggling also.

“Every single person taking part in the Big Butterfly Count this summer can produce a statistic that is of real value as their records help build a picture of how butterflies are faring and how we can best conserve them.”

The count starts today and will end on Sunday, August 10. For inspiration on which butterflies to look out for cut out the butterfly chart printed in the Daily Echo or visit  bigbutterflycount.org to submit your results.