27th and 28th June- lots going on at Collard.

Within the last few days, there have been many Large Blue butterflies flying at Collard. On Wednesday there was in fact a newly emerged butterfly which seemed a bit dopey – perhaps as it was just adjusting to the world above the Myrmica sabuleti nest it will have come from. This guarantees the flight season to extend for another week at least as the butterflies live for around a week (plus or minus a few days depending on the weather or the risk of being eaten) as adults.

Yesterday, after I returned from the National Trust office, I saw Large blues mainly along the Eastern Glade slope but also along the paths (leading from the Ivythorn gate entrance to the bench and blue rope). As it wasn’t too windy until late afternoon the butterflies seemed to be able to visit the Wild thyme on the higher slopes too and still a few are flying around the “Quarry area”. Here too, I noticed Hedge bindweed, Calystegia sepium is starting to flower.

Based on observation, the Marbled whites are increasing in number and the Meadow browns and Small heaths are still in high numbers. The 6-spot burnet moths are everywhere too. Although I didn’t have my camera on me, myself and some visitors spotted a caterpillar in the process of weaving a cocoon. I did get some pictures of a caterpillar and an adult later that day though.

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6-spot burnet moth caterpillar- Taken by C.Faulkner 2012

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6-spot Burnet moth adult on Field or Small scabious (plant leaves not noted at the time but both listed as growing on site). Taken by C.Faulkner 2012

The orchids are also doing well perhaps due to the rain. No doubt the Pyramidals especially will do very well this season with all the day flying moths and butterfly activity ensuring pollination (Harrap & Harrap 2005).

The main excitement for me in the last few days was that I realised that within the grassland on the other side of the fence, there is Greater yellow rattle, Rhianthus angustifolius  due to the purple tip on the top lip of the yellow flower (Rose 2006). I will get a picture today if I can. A visitor also pointed out to me the Restharrow, Ononis repens’ pink pea-like flowers that have recently come out. The wide diversity of flowers at Collard are yet another example of how the management for the Large blue benefits the wider ecosystem.

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