Today has been mainly sunny and absolutely beautiful despite a breeze. Makes a change after all the rain this June. I am extremely excited to report that this morning when I arrived on site, I met with Sarah Meredith and we found the first Large Blue caterpillar for Collard this season and my first ever!
I then spent the rest of the day running up and down the hill with visitors in the search of Large blue adults. The first visit to the sheltered areas between the gorse above the main track was successful and we saw adults flying but later in the day there were fewer there- perhaps hiding from the brief shower. Using the binoculars of one member of a visiting family, we checked out the eggs on the Wild thyme here by turning the binoculars upside down. After a month at Collard and with Sarah’s help I have learnt to identify the Large blue eggs between the Wild thyme buds.
Later on today, myself and a few determined ladies carried on from this sheltered area back towards the Eastern glade. We saw one Large blue above the track and then another at the base of the Eastern glade(the area beneath the blue rope). A few of the Large blues looked really fresh. Some seemed very flighty up on the higher slopes but at the bottom of the Eastern Glade (See map at the top of the this blog) they seemed very calm and confiding- perhaps as they were the lady blues. I have been told that the females are much dopier than the males- poor things.
In other news at Collard, today and yesterday the first Ringlets were popping up and I am having to make sure I don’t confuse them with Meadow browns- which I will no doubt be seeing in my sleep as they have been so constant this season! Also, this afternoon, we saw what I assume to be a Small skipper rather than an Essex at the bottom of the Eastern glade slope too.
Yesterday too there were some more dragonflies about. Myself and some visitors watched a Common darter resting on a Hawthorn for some time and near the area where the orchids grow a 4-spot chaser was flying:
Also, here is the Greater yellow rattle from the side where the horses and cattle are now living (until the blues stop flying). This is a new record for the site and looks different from ordinary rattle as there is purple on the top lip of the flower which I looked up in Rose (2006).
So, I am sad to say I shall be finishing as the Large blue ranger at Collard tomorrow (as it has just been a short contract with the National Trust) but I shall be updating the blog for a week more at least so when the Large blue finishes flying the word can get out. There will be other volunteer rangers on duty most days in the next few weeks though to help you find the blues.
I am really sad to be leaving my post as I have really enjoyed leaping about the hill showing people as much of the site as possible- in fact I doubt I will manage to stay away for long!
For those that have sent pictures in, I will be doing another blog post this week with your pictures in. as soon as I can. However, I graduate on Wednesday from Reading uni so I can’t say when exactly. Thank you for sending them in and keep them coming to firstname.lastname@example.org
Lottie- LB ranger