Evening all, Lottie here.
In agreement with Hayley, today was certainly a success with at least 15 Large Blues flying and 3 pairs seen during the morning sunshine. As it was the open day I was joined by rangers Ian and Hayley alongside the very knowledgeable Matthew Oates. Between us and the many visitors, Large blues were spotted everywhere on site, particularly behind the gorse bushes, along the Eastern Glade and in the “Quarry” (here also there were a few newly emerged 6-spot burnet moths!). I shall add a page on the main tool bar with the map I added in yesterday -as I heard from some of you today that it is a useful addition to the blog.
Aside from successfully finding the butterflies, we also engaged in some grass picking activity. Many of you may know but the drought in April followed by the ongoing rain since May has led to a sudden flush in grass growth at Collard (and everywhere else!) which is why the horses, pony and cattle have only just been taken away from the main slope. This can be problematic for the Large blue females as they cannot find the Wild thyme easily to lay eggs on so we are encouraging everyone to give them a little helping hand and clear the long grass from around the flowers.
I also had the pleasure of meeting some other predecessors from Collard; Rob (The former NT ranger for the Poldens) and Guy (Large Blue ranger in 2004). It was great to hear about the past experiences at Collard and despite the breeze and drizzle this afternoon, we all managed to see some blues, including a determined butterfly feeding upon the Wild thyme. Even at 5pm, some visitors I spoke to had managed to find 3 blues. I think omens are good for the next few days!
To sum up the open day, I think for some visitors it was a good Fathers’ Day and for one visitor in particular, after years of missing the butterfly, on finally seeing it today, all doubt regarding the existence of the Large Blue in Britain was resolved once and for all!
I hope you all have a good few days with the Large Blues. I shall be away catching up on University bits and bobs in Reading during my days off from tomorrow for a few days. There will be a ranger on site everyday though, ready to help you find the butterflies and I shall see you all later this week.