Hi all, Rob Holden here
Well, amazingly the season has been and gone already. It arrives in a blur of excitement, hope and a certain trepidation and it passes in a blur of blue, and this year quite a windswept blur it was.
Our huge thanks go to Christine for all the hard work and enthusiasm she put into her time with us. Her knowledge and enjoyment of being a part of the large blue butterfly project was appreciated by the many hundreds of visitors to the hill and of course the 7,000 odd visits to this blog. Not to mention the team of staff and volunteers based on the hill. Christine has now moved on to another butterfly research project in another corner of the country but is still helping us by finishing off the data input and report writing – keep up the good work Christine!
We took down all the signs and information boards and rope etc. this week, which is always a sad moment, but we are comforted by the fact that so many people visited and saw the butterflies and enjoyed the stunning views from Collard Hill and the great array of downland flora.
In fact we had more visitors this year than any previous years. And crucially, I am pleased to say that the preliminary figures suggest it will have been another record-breaking year for the numbers of large blue butterflies. Thanks to the hours and hours put in by David Simcox, Sarah Meredith and Jeremy Thomas combing the hill for pin-sized blue-tinged white eggs we are in a position to provide a reliable guide to the butterfly numbers. Full details will be released later in the year but the omens are promising.
This potentially record-breaking flight season was , as many veterans of the hill this year can attest, in the face of decidedly mixed weather. Indeed, butterfly numbers have increased on Collard every year since 2005 despite periods of very bad weather most notably in 2007 and 2008. So Britain’s rarest butterfly is perhaps more resilient than it is sometimes given credit for.
Another first this year was the length of the flight season. It began we believe on 25 May – fully one week earlier than the previous earliest sighting at Collard, and then continued until last Sunday when one final butterfly was seen by David Simcox. This bumps the flight period up from the previous maximum of 33 days to 45 days.
We will continue to post details of our work on the hill over the coming months, and announce more news about egg and butterfly numbers when we have them, so do pop back to the blog from time to time.
To round off here are the last photos that have been sent in by visitor. Thanks to all who have taken the time to e-mail such fantastic images and share them with us all.