Thursday 23rd June – Return of the Sun

View over Collard on 23rd June - Christine Tansey June 2011

Hello everyone, Christine here after a lovely day on Collard Hill yesterday. At last the weather sent us some sun! The morning started slightly overcast, and the first sighting of the day was at the bottom of the Eastern glade. A lethargic female posed very happily for myself and a few visitors, and with the first sun escaping the cloud offered some stunning open wing views. We spent some time discussing the differences between males and females, and the fact that wing colouration is not a very reliable method of sexing Large Blues. Aside from watching a female egg laying, abdomen size and length is the best feature to look at. Females have in general shorter and fatter abdomens, that do not reach the edge of the hindwing. Males have longer, slenderer abdomens that often do reach the end of the hindwing. It’s not a very clear shot, but you can make out the abdomen below.

Our morning performing female - Christine Tansey June 2011

By the morning transect, more sun had appeared and I recorded seven live Large Blues on my walk round, five in the Quarry alone. I also noticed two deceased individuals, caught up in another spiders web on Gorse on the main track, clearly Gorse is a hazardous shrub to frequent if you are a Large Blue! Winds were high at Collard again, and the upper slopes continue to get fewer sightings. Throughout the day there were a couple of reports of mating pairs from the Quarry end of the site, which remains an excellent spot for sightings. Aside from the Eastern Glade, the main track proved to be a good place to see Large Blues, many flying around the warm upper bank, or hiding in the Gorse like the newly emerged individual spent over an hour in the vicinity of the track.

Freshly emerged and battling the wind - Christine Tansey June 2011

On the afternoon transect, six Blues were recorded in the Quarry, while the rest of the site was buffeted by the Westerly wind. Despite this, fleeting sightings continued on the main track, where I also saw my first Comma at Collard. Another new species for me on the hill was a Green veined White in the morning. Over the day I had 15-20 sightings, and I think all visitors had success in the sun. We are forecast some more sunny spells and warm weather over the weekend, and expect reasonable numbers to remain on the wing.

Peak flight has been hard to gauge this season, as our sightings have fluctuated according to the weather, however it seems there is still plenty of activity, with both newly emerged and tatty individuals being seen at Collard. Do come and see them for yourself. During the weekend Glastonbury festival traffic should be at a minimum, they’ll all be stuck in the mud, so its a perfect time to come Large Blue searching!

A Comma at Collard - Christine Tansey June 2011

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