Sunday 5th June – Rain and Waiting

Hello all, Christine here, finally warmed up after a wet day on Collard. I had the hill to myself today, which was just as well as there were no Large Blues about, for a very good, and rainy reason. The occasional  well wrapped up dog walker passed by, often declaring ‘No butterflies today then?’ when they caught sight of me. Here is the view that greeted me this morning when I arrived at Collard in heavy rain about 9am:

Bereft of butterflies but blessed with rain

The rain lasted for a couple of hours, but lifted over the middle of the day. I walked the transect route and saw not a flutter until nearly twelve, when a couple of robust Meadow Browns ventured out. A handful of Small Heaths, a Common Blue and a Large Skipper joined the micro moths and Six-spot burnet moth caterpillars as my companions for the afternoon. In the absence of Large Blue sightings today, have a look at the Flickr album that Jim Elliott, volunteer photographer has put up from his visit to Collard yesterday.

Large Skipper - Christine Tansey June 2011

Six-spot burnet moth caterpillar - Christine Tansey June 2011

Yesterday on the hill a couple of people mentioned the many anthills that are all over Collard. They belong to Yellow Meadow ants, whereas the Myrmica sabuleti ant nests are well distributed under the soil all over the site. Nevertheless the anthills do play a role in the Large Blue story, as they often support large patches of Wild Thyme, which seems to thrive on the microclimate they provide.

An anthill supporting Wild Thyme - Christine Tansey June 2011

I left Collard early today, as the second band of rain of the day moved in, I’m just hoping it keeps going for a few hours this evening to help conditions on the hill. The next few days weather forecast includes some sunny spells that should help a continued emergence of the Large Blue. I’m off site for the next two days, but will be keeping a close eye on what’s happening and look forward to meeting more of you later this week.

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