Well what a day. A really good day but a busy day. The morning started off with blue sky and cloud but rapidly the cloud cover built up and the sun vanished. The Large Blue was flying well to start but the more the cloud cover built up the quieter the site got. OH NO, was my thought, a lot of people were on site and if the butterfly wasn’t flying what could I show them.
But the butterflies didn’t disappoint to my relief, the hillside to the right of the main track as you go down it had a number of individuals perching and flying short distances, and due to the cool temperatures they were opening their wings for photographers. So in fact everyone was really happy and really enjoying getting good clear sightings.
Later in the day as the sun broke through the cloud a little, I picked up two Large Blue’s that were showing signs of potentially mating. I followed them slowly across the hillside as they danced their way across it. Finally they landed behind an ant hill sheltered from the wind and started mating.
The excitement of witnessing the courtship and then the actually mating was a joy (sounds slightly wrong), gradually a small gathering built up, visitors got good sightings and photographs of the pair, while this was going on, nearby there were 3 Large Blue’s perching on 3 different small patches of gorse, a photographer per butterfly joking with each other about who’s butterfly was going to open their wings first!!! Each one did in turn and then preceded to fly off, as this happened the mating pair broke apart and the female flew the a Thyme flower and laid an egg.
The blue/white dot on the bottom of the Wild Thyme is the egg. Yes they are tiny, this one is quite visible compared to others I have found over the past few days.
The sun came out this afternoon around 1.30pm and stayed for the rest of the afternoon with intermittent cloud, after leaving the laying female I encountered 4 individuals flying around the main track. I couldn’t help smiling to myself. This was a brilliant day working with a brilliant butterfly on a wonderful site. Everybody I speak to is always so keen to see and enjoy the butterfly and to be able to show them the Large Blue in such good numbers is wonderful.
The numbers on the wing must still be 40+ and most of the individuals seen today are looking pristine and stunning. There are also so many other butterflies on the wing, especially Meadow Browns, Marbled Whites and Small Heaths. Also on site today we had a visitor who had pheromones to attract the Six-belted Clearwing moth, he managed to attract around 20-30 individuals. There are stunning little moths, which don’t really look like moths.
I hope you decide to visit Collard Hill over the next week or so if you can so that you can witness the wonders that the site has to offer and see why Collard Hill makes me smile so much.