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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.