Evening everyone, Christine here after a rather interesting day at Collard Hill. It was another morning of watching the weather move towards us, and predicting exactly when we’d need to retreat to the shelter of the Oak at the top of the Eastern Glade. In the morning’s weak sun, two Large Blues were spotted at the bottom of the Eastern Glade at around 10am. Shortly afterwards two visitors from Lincolnshire who had had a very early start to get to Collard by 8.30am reported seeing four or 5 individuals by the scrub above the main gravel track. They also pointed out a very fresh female Emperor dragonfly, only the second dragonfly I’ve seen on site!
By 11.30 heavy rain had set in, and we were unable to walk a morning transect. It had largely stopped by lunchtime and we were able to show a couple of groups of visitors the Wasp orchids. In fact, several more spikes of Wasps, Bees, and interesting intermediate variations were found by the many pairs of eyes. By this time the sun had come out, and on a slow walk up the main track, at least 6 individuals were flying. The kestrel also reappeared, and seemed singularly unconcerned by our presence, as it proceeded to catch and then rip apart a vole about 20m from our vantage point.
This afternoon brought the excitement of a camera crew and a presenter in the form of James Wong from Countryfile, ready to film a segment on the Large Blues at Collard, that’s due to be broadcast on 3rd July. Jeremy Thomas, an expert on Large Blues and one of the founders of the reintroduction project was at Collard to be interviewed and explain their complex ecological relationships. As the weather had become increasingly overcast, one recently emerged female had settled on a grass stem right on the main path, and she very considerately remained there in time to become one of the stars of the show!
The afternoon slowly got cooler as rain moved in, however visitors managed to get sightings despite the weather. The afternoon transect picked up two Large Blues, but by this time they were certainly less active. Weather conditions are forecast to remain unsettled over the weekend, with Saturday likely to offer the most sunshine for butterfly hunters.
Some more photos from 2011 flight season courtesy of our visitors, today David Habbershaw’s, Daphne Hayden’s and Nick Freeman’s lovely shots. Colin Knight has also written a great report of his visit to Collard Hill, with plenty more photos. Keep them coming everyone!