Collard Hill, the proud parent

Hello all,

Sarah the Large Blue warden from last year here. As some of you may be aware I have been involved with the wider Large Blue project this year and have been looking at a number of sites including Collard Hill along with the two re-introduction sites in the Cotswolds.

Would this caterpillar emerge as a Large Blue adult in 2011? - Sarah Meredith 2010

As  I wrote last September Collard Hill was one of the donor sites where eggs were collected from while we were undertaking the egg count surveys. Green Down, a Somerset Wildlife Trust reserve also allowed us to collect eggs and larvae for the re-introduction. Needless to say the whole experiment has been implemented with the approval of Butterfly Conservation and Natural England and its Licensing Team.

I can proudly tell you that Large Blue’s are once again flying in the Cotswolds, we have had a good emergence over the past
3 weeks and egg laying females have been witnessed so there is hope for a second generation to be flying this time next year.

Large Blue female showing off her beauty - Sarah Meredith 2011

 

Large Blue showing off her fresh underside - Sarah Meredith 2011

 

I must admit when I saw the first one flying in the Cotswolds I could not remove the smile from my face for about two days. My little heart did a little skip as did I and I am sure I remember punching the air and yelling YES they are flying !! They were flying and I played a part in that , I also felt proud for Collard Hill, that this lovely site had a helping hand in providing  larvae to produce a population in the Cotswolds.  I was on Collard today starting the egg surveys and found my first larvae of  the season which was really pleasing.

Large Blues fly in the Cotswolds - David Simcox 2011

To be able to use Collard as a donor site is a brilliant feeling it shows just how far the site has come since the re- introduction in 2000 when 267 larvae were introduced. With approximately 1300 adults flying on Collard last year, this site is going from strength to strength. Will a similar number of larvae being introduced to one of the sites in the Cotswolds the potential to establish a solid colony over the next 10 years or more is high.

Cheshire cat smiling and one of the first Large Blues to emerge in the Cotswolds - David Simcox 2011

Make sure to watch Countryfile this weekend to  see the Cotswold Large Blues flying,  not only  have the caterpillars been featured on Radio 4 saving species but the adults are now film stars!!

Filming for Countryfile occurs - Sarah Meredith 2011

As the Large Blue season slowly comes to an end we will continue to monitor the population numbers and we are starting to carry out egg counts to discover the true population sizes on sites.

I have also been  undertaking ant and Thyme surveys on prospective introduction sites in  Devon, Somerset and the Cotswolds to establish whether populations could survive on these sites. Sites not only need the right management in terms of grazing, but also enough wild Thyme and of course enough red ant (Myrmica sabuleti) colonies.

I would like to say thank you to those people who bought NT Large blue virtual Christmas gifts as this has helped to fund my work this year  together with Oxford University. Thank you to everyone involved with the Large Blue project and allowing me to continue to journey with the Large Blue this season.

Hopefully in the near future we will be able to report on the estimated number of adults flying on Collard this season. As Christine has been reporting the numbers flying on site are declining but they should be flying for the next couple of days so if you have not visited Collard yet this season then you are not to late yet. Come and see the beauty of the Large Blue and discover a species that means so much to me has captured my heart completely.

Newly emerged female - Collard Hill - Sarah Meredith 2011

Up close and personal - Collard Hill - Sarah Meredith 2011

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This entry was posted in 2011 Season by largebluewarden. Bookmark the permalink.

About largebluewarden

I am the Large Blue warden for Collard Hill, and will be on site Wednesday through to Sunday with other volunteers. I graduated in December 2009 from Reading University, with an MSc in Wildlife Management and Conservation. Before coming to Glastonbury to work with the Large Blue, I was carrying out research into the Glanville Fritillary on the Isle of Wight. While my thesis for my Msc was looking at ‘The habitat requirements of the Small Heath Coenonympha pamphilus in the uplands’. Butterflies and photography are my passion and I am looking forward to a great flight season on Collard Hill and hope to meet many of you who are reading this blog.

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