Thursday 16th June – Bursts of Blues

Hello everyone, Christine here after another mixed day at Collard. When I arrived on site there in some morning sun, a very cool breeze was blowing. All was quiet until after 10am, as I saw neither butterfly or visitor on my walk around. Finally I came across the first Large Blue, roosting in the shelter at the bottom of the ride nearest the foot of the Eastern Glade. It was a fairly worn individual, and one of several such butterflies I noticed today. Some of the earliest visitors found a freshly emerged female with one slightly crumpled wing by the side of the main track near the bench.

Freshly emerged female - Christine Tansey June 2011

I started the morning transect during a sunny break in the clouds and immediately saw three Large Blues in the Eastern Glade. Their activity was interrupted by a brief but heavy rain shower and when I continued my walk around site saw six Large Blues in the Quarry. Between 12 and 2 a warm and sunny patch saw most of the day’s butterfly activity. The sheltered areas of the site continue to be the best for sightings, with the Eastern Glade and parts of the main track being good spots to try. The best place today was again the Quarry. During my visits there I saw a couple of dozen Large Blues, and mating pairs were at this end of the site during the afternoon.

A few rain showers later and I attempted the afternoon transect in heavy cloud. There was very little activity, but the Quarry came up trumps once more with a solid 6 Large Blues flying even in cloud. It cooled off somewhat in the late afternoon and the hill has quieted down by around 4pm. Despite the patchy weather visitors managed some excellent sightings of Large Blues, and there were some brilliant photos being taken. There’s always something going on at Collard and at one point today a visitor and I had a fantastic view of a Green Woodpecker in flight, as we clearly disturbed it’s peace by chatting about butterflies and it flew over our head. I also enjoyed coming across a Six-spot Burnet moth caterpillar with a very picturesque perch on a Pyramidal orchid!

Burnet moth caterpilar on Pyramidal orchid - Christine Tansey June 2011

Some added excitement on site today was the presence of Matthew Oates, the National Trust’s butterfly expert being interviewed for Radio 4’s Saving Species. They were on a quest to find a mating pair to talk about and ended up with two couples! The programme is due to be broadcast on Tuesday 21st June at 11am, more details will be posted here soon. For an interesting take on the butterflies, take a listen to Radio 4’s recent Ramblings programme on the Quantocks, the Large Blue gets several mentions and also a song called ‘The Large Blue Butterfly Blues’, sung from the point of view of a Myrmica sabuleti ant!

Continuing with the photos sent in by visitors, thanks to Geoff Bathe for this lovely shot of a Large Skipper, and Colin Baker, David Habbershaw and Clive Burrows for some beautiful Large Blue pictures.

Large Skipper - Geoff Bathe June 2011

Female ovipositing - Colin Baker June 2011

Large Blue on Salad Burnet - David Habbershaw June 2011

Large Blue on Gorse - Clive Burrows June 2011

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