Evening all, Christine here after a full day on Collard that’s been a patchwork of sun and shade. I arrived on site in bright sunshine just before 9am to find intrepid visitors from Sussex and North Yorkshire had been up and about since around 7am, and had seen three or four Large Blues at the Eastern Glade, and four or five along the ridge.
I was joined by Jim, volunteer photographer for the National Trust and we went in search of some Large Blues on the wing. We had some luck on the bank alongside the main gravel track on the site, where a large patch of Wild Thyme coming into flower attracted a nectaring Large Blue, while another couple flew to and fro while we watched. The track proved to be a good spot for the rest of the day, with many visitors who tried the ‘sit and wait’ technique encountering Blues there. We also came across several Cinnabar moth caterpillars in the Eastern Glade.
The cloud cover increased and by the mid-morning transect, we got some great open-wing views along the top of the Eastern Glade. We saw 8 Large Blues along the transect, and more Marbled White were flying. One visitor with butterfly whispering skills was lucky enough to get a shot of the Marbled White perched on his finger! Another painted lady appeared this afternoon, obligingly perching right by our welcome area.
Large Blues were seen flying well into the afternoon, and the long grass at the scrub edges along the ridge slope were particularly good areas for sightings. A mating pair and an egg-laying female were observed in the Eastern Glade during sunny spells. By mid afternoon the cloud cover had thickened and the temperature dropped somewhat, and the remaining Blues were more likely to be seen at rest in scrub edges and rides. Our afternoon transect recorded just one Large Blue, but I later spent some time watching a female perched among the brambles just off the Eastern Glade.
The patchiness of today’s weather meant that conditions were good for observing differences in Large Blue behaviour under sunny, and warm but overcast conditions. Some great egg-laying, open-wing and resting shots were taken by some of our visitors, which I look forward to seeing!
Tomorrow, rain is forecast, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed it will help reduce the effects of the recent drought conditions on the Wild Thyme and ant colonies on site. If heavy rain appears the butterflies will sensibly choose to remain hidden away. Sunny intervals are predicted for next week so it’s looking good for a strong continued emergence. It was great meeting everyone who visited Collard today, and I look forward to chatting to more of you soon.