Just a quick note to say that yesterday a freshly emerged Large blue was spotted (amongst others). Also the wasp orchids, bee orchids and pyramidal orchids are all continuing to bloom. All making a visit to Collard worthwhile.
Lottie- LB ranger
So having popped to Collard in the last few days during other activites, I know from speaking to the volunteers on duty and with my own eyes, that the Large Blues are still very much around!
Yesterday, myself and a group of students from Strode college actually sat halfway up the bank of the Eastern Glade (not on any Wild Thyme of course) and saw a few flying on the lower half of the slope. This morning, behind the gorse I saw 4 flying and volunteers Roger and Barry saw at least 12 during the day today.
Having spoken to Dave Simox it is likely that the Large Blues will be flying at Collard for at least another two weeks but diminishing in numbers so it will still be worth visiting to see the Large Blues until around mid July. I shall put a notice on here once the flight season has been deemed over.
Evening all, Lottie here.
I am going to wrap up the weekend a bit.
So yesterday, a Large blue was not only seen attempting to lay eggs on self heal but also drinking nectar from a pink pyramidal orchid. Therefore, they are either utilising the other purplish plants nearby or being very confused I assume. Now that much of the grass around the Wild thyme has been pulled (thanks all you took part in that activity), they should be finding it ok to lay eggs on.
Today was indeed a glorious day for butterflies as the sun was shining from roughly 11am onwards. Thankfully this meant that the muddy paths were dry by this afternoon although I did increase by about 1cm in height from mud on my shoes this morning on my way down the Eastern glade!
Throughout the weekend, I saw around 4 very tatty individuals, more brown than blue. This may be because they emerged earlier in the week and are now nearing the end of their lives, having completed a successful lifecycle I hope. In the “Quarry” area, a mating pair of Large blues actually flew together up the slope very briefly which was amazing to see. I also saw a female egg laying in the Eastern glade. These and some others were not too tatty in appearance so chances are that more emerged today and the season will elongate for a few weeks yet. Certainly today Hayley and I counted 14 on the afternoon survey.
Yesterday, a visitor wrote that there was a cream spot tiger moth on site which I did not see unfortunately. Today, a large dragonfly (unsure of the species) and lots of Marbled whites were flying out in the open. The Meadow browns appear to still be going strong but the Small heaths appear to be reducing in number, but 6-spot burnet adult moths are out now and some cinnabar moth caterpillars.
Although I shall be on site briefly tomorrow to give a talk to some students from Strode College, I shall be away for most of the next two days on my time off. I intend to return to Shapwick heath as I have been going there to see barn owls, marsh harriers, bitterns amongst others in the last few weeks. I am not sure if I will see the great white egrets again but I did see them a few weeks back so not to worry. The only bird news at Collard today were the resounding calls of the Long tailed tits. The swallows and swifts were a little less numerous at Collard today but no doubt this is because the stormy skies are a bit clearer for a change!
I have just got back from enjoying a glorious sunset at Walton Hill just up the way from Collard. You really are lucky here in Somerset with the views and the swallows so low down, skimming the surface of the grass as they hunt…
Today was a fairly quiet day on both the butterfly and people front although some visitors from St.Albans, Devon and even New Zealand managed to see some Large Blues. I saw 3 myself today alongside a Marbled white and Common blue. On the way to the orchids I did slip over on the muddy path at the bottom of the Eastern glade slope so, everyone be warned!
However, the orchids seem to be revelling in the wet June and I am seeing more and more pyramidals all over the site. Down at the bottom the slope near the hedge (see map) there are more Wasp orchids are still coming up too.
However, a few visitors and myself spent some time admiring the plants starting to bloom. Those that really stand out at the moment are Welted thistle, Yellow wort, Dog rose and the Agrimony and we are just waiting for the Centaury to come out properly really.
Hoping for it to be a bit warmer tomorrow as the blues I saw did not want to open there wings although I did catch the Common blue basking as we did have more sunshine today. This evening was a pink sky so here’s hoping for the next bit of that verse tomorrow…
Apologies if you went to Collard today and didn’t see a ranger as myself and Barry retreated from Collard due to the rain this afternoon. I have had the chance to upload some of the visitors’ photos that have been sent in though.
This mornings sunshine brought out between 6 and 9 individual Large Blues. The ones I saw were looking pretty bedraggled after last nights rain but Barry saw one looking in more pristine condition. As well as in the usual places (behind the blue roped area we call the Eastern Glade or in the quarry area) I saw one flying on the slope above the oak tree alongside a Marbled white. If you intend to visit, tomorrows forecast looks a bit better.
What a great day on Collard. As I had volunteers in today, I didnt arrive on site until 10am. Already, there were eager photographers down on the Eastern Glade taking pictures. I am really pleased they were there, as it gave me an idea on numbers of the large Blue – 5 in fact just within that area!
With the sunny weather, the blues were out in their numbers, 30 + in actual fact. They even showed their inside wings to the passing cameras.
I would say that by the end of today, at least 100 people passed through on Collard to see the Blue, its lovely to see all the support this little Butterfly is getting.
Quite a few Marbled whites are about on the hill now, most over towards the pine trees. The Wasp orchids are just passing their best now, but still looking pretty. There are plenty of Pyramidal Orchids out now, looking lovely and pink.
It was lovely chatting to people today, getting to know where people are coming from, to name a few, bristol, Minehead, Southhampton, Isle of White…
As always, if you have been to Collard and would like to share some of the pictures on this blog then you can email them to: Collard.firstname.lastname@example.org
Hayley Dorrington – Ranger for the Mendip and Poldens
Lottie here. I have just heard from Hayley the National Trust ranger on duty today that there were 30 Large Blues flying! Absolutely fantastic news and I am just sad that I have not been around to see them during my days off but, thankfully my trip back to Reading has proved a success and I am relieved to now have my university results.
Looking forward to hearing from Roger, Jim, Barry and Hayley about the news on the butterfly numbers in the last few days and I shall update you all as soon as possible.
I hope all the visitors to Collard in the last few days went home with some great shots too and if you want them shared on the blog, email email@example.com.
Evening all, Lottie here.
In agreement with Hayley, today was certainly a success with at least 15 Large Blues flying and 3 pairs seen during the morning sunshine. As it was the open day I was joined by rangers Ian and Hayley alongside the very knowledgeable Matthew Oates. Between us and the many visitors, Large blues were spotted everywhere on site, particularly behind the gorse bushes, along the Eastern Glade and in the “Quarry” (here also there were a few newly emerged 6-spot burnet moths!). I shall add a page on the main tool bar with the map I added in yesterday -as I heard from some of you today that it is a useful addition to the blog.
Aside from successfully finding the butterflies, we also engaged in some grass picking activity. Many of you may know but the drought in April followed by the ongoing rain since May has led to a sudden flush in grass growth at Collard (and everywhere else!) which is why the horses, pony and cattle have only just been taken away from the main slope. This can be problematic for the Large blue females as they cannot find the Wild thyme easily to lay eggs on so we are encouraging everyone to give them a little helping hand and clear the long grass from around the flowers.
I also had the pleasure of meeting some other predecessors from Collard; Rob (The former NT ranger for the Poldens) and Guy (Large Blue ranger in 2004). It was great to hear about the past experiences at Collard and despite the breeze and drizzle this afternoon, we all managed to see some blues, including a determined butterfly feeding upon the Wild thyme. Even at 5pm, some visitors I spoke to had managed to find 3 blues. I think omens are good for the next few days!
To sum up the open day, I think for some visitors it was a good Fathers’ Day and for one visitor in particular, after years of missing the butterfly, on finally seeing it today, all doubt regarding the existence of the Large Blue in Britain was resolved once and for all!
I hope you all have a good few days with the Large Blues. I shall be away catching up on University bits and bobs in Reading during my days off from tomorrow for a few days. There will be a ranger on site everyday though, ready to help you find the butterflies and I shall see you all later this week.