Morning everyone, Christine here after a blustery and pleasantly surprising day at Collard yesterday. I headed off to the hill anticipating little Large Blue activity given the dark clouds scudding across the sky in a brisk wind. Arriving on site however, I bumped into a couple just leaving who had stopped by en route elsewhere, and found a lethargic Large Blue to photograph in a sheltered spot. This was to be the theme of the day, with Blues spotted in the intermittent sunny spells and sheltered areas of the site.
Some visitors and I spent the first part of the morning spotting three individuals at the bottom of the Eastern Glade before a heavy rain shower forced our retreat to shelter under the scrub. One Large Blue was busy contradicting the good rule of thumb that they don’t go to yellow flowers as Common Blues do. This did seem to be a recently emerged individual however, that was orienting itself.
Two individuals were seen on the morning transect, which was brightened up by stumbling on a stoat wrestling a rabbit into the scrub in the Eastern Glade. In the Quarry area I also came across a Bee Hawkmoth. By the afternoon transect I recorded three Large Blues. Due to the changeable weather today, the other diversions at Collard provided some exciting moments, with a Kestral hovering over the slopes for much of the day, even seen with it prey at one point.
It was also a good day for spotting Large Blue eggs, and it’s great to be able to share this first stage of the life cycle with those visiting the site. With the rain over the last few days, the Wild Thyme over much of Collard is starting to show more visible buds and flowers, especially the slopes below the ridge area. This should become a good spot for the butterflies once the wind drops somewhat! The Eastern Glade is still looking quite dry, and consequently the Thyme in this area in not as far forward in it’s development, something those of you visiting the site have noticed. We’re hoping the rain this week will help push the Thyme forward in this area.
The bottom of the Eastern Glade, Quarry area and the lower of the two rides came into their own today as Large Blues could be found there in the windy conditions. I saw about 14 individuals throughout the day, and one lucky set of visitors found a mating pair in the Eastern Glade this afternoon, making the most of a sunny spell. Despite low numbers flying, I think everyone got to see Large Blues, and some great photos were taken of the resting butterflies. The last butterfly of the day very obligingly posed for nearly half an hour and seemed quite happy with three cameras pointing at it!
The final excitement of the day came when during the afternoon transect my eye was caught by a pink flash next to a Pyramidal Orchid in the Lynchets area of the site. Remembering the report of a ‘Wasp’ Orchid, an interesting variation of the Bee Orchid in 2009, I paused to take a look. The good news is that the Wasp is BACK! And not one, but 5 spikes have appeared this year. This is a lovely addition to our slopes and I’ll be happy to show you where the Wasps can be found on your visit.
With another couple of days of sunny intervals and rain showers being forecast, Large Blues should be flying through parts of each day. If you’re planning a visit soon, keep checking the blog for updates on numbers being seen at Collard.
Lastly, we’ve started to receive some fantastic photographs from those of you who have visited Collard Hill in the last week. I’ll be showcasing a few in the daily posts over the coming weeks, but they can also be found in the Photos area of the blog. Thank you so much for sending them in, it’s brilliant to have a record of what’s going on at Collard from the people who visit, so please keep sharing any photos or video you wish to. Today is Lynne Newton, who got some amazing shots of Large and Common Blues!