Searching for swallowtails
Back in 1996, my first job with the RSPB was as a very youthful residential volunteer at Strumpshaw Fen in Norfolk. One of my tasks there was to count the caterpillars of the ultra-rare but incredibly spectacular swallowtail.
This Art Deco masterpiece of a butterfly, Britain’s largest, is only found now in nature reserves in the Norfolk Broads. To count them I had to scramble delicately in my wellies (not easy, I can tell you!) through giant beds of reeds looking for their astonishing caterpillars. Mint-green, black and orange, they look like something out of Alice in Wonderland.