Collard Hill 2011 – How did the butterflies do?!
2011 has been a strange year with warm, very dry weather in April and May followed by a wet and windy June. These do not make ideal conditions for Large blue butterflies and can be quite devastating for small populations particularly when grazing has been either too light or too heavy.
Thankfully, the National Trust team, in partnership with their graziers, have managed Collard perfectly throughout the last year and their efforts have more than mitigated against the negative effects of the weather. In 2010 the Collard egg estimate was 30,579 and I’m delighted to announce that this year’s egg population has increased to 39,602 meaning that nearly 1600 adult butterflies flew on the site this year.
I believe that this number could have been much larger if the more exposed parts of the site had not been adversely affected by both the Spring drought and the high winds during the flight period. Over the last few years the careful management of the scrub has provided much larger areas which are now afforded shelter and this year that has paid dividends.
Over the winter we will look at how we can maintain the site management and, if possible, increase the breeding area to further ensure that the Large blue butterfly continues to thrive on this wonderful site.
I would like to congratulate Christine Tansey who was superb at welcoming visitors, answering their many questions, helping them to see the butterfly and for writing a highly informative blog.
Finally, I would like to thank all the visitors to the site for their enthusiasm, joy at seeing this remarkable butterfly and their numerous appreciative comments. Personally, I am already looking forward to next year.
Egg surveys were carried out by Jeremy Thomas (Oxford University), Sarah Meredith (National Trust and Oxford University) and David Simcox (Butterfly Conservation and Centre for Ecology and Hydrology).