At the start of every Blue season here at Collard, the conservation team gets together for what we call the Large Blue ‘Training Day’. The training day is really important for teaching all of the National Trust’s (amazing) volunteers the basics for surveying the Large Blue populations and understanding the basic ecology of the site.
The weather was not kind to us. Traditionally we’d be walking the transect routes with the exciting prospect of actually seeing a Large Blue, which wasn’t going to happen in today’s pouring rain! We still got stuck into learning the vegetation around the site.
Getting the basics of the butterfly transect was helped along by Sarah’s excellent Large Blue impression.
Despite the weary weather, it was an excellent chance to find some of the rare plant species which are out on collard at the moment, such as this super cool bee orchid. This unique orchid is not only shaped to mimic the female bee, but also produces a scent similar to that of the female bee in order to attract the male for pollination.
Every now and then the sun shone through the clouds, allowing me to try out my fantastic shiny new macro lens. On some of the slopes we found a few Common Blues drying themselves along with a (fantastically named) Grizzled Skipper.
For me, today was all about meeting some amazing new people; some amazing experienced conservationists and some incredible volunteers who are willing to give up their valuable time to help us out. A special mention has to go out to Dave Simcox (who led the training day and has been involved in the reintroduction of the large blue since the very start). He is like a walking tome of knowledge.
Tomorrow’s forecast is looking really really positive, and the conditions in the sward look perfect for the Large Blue to start emerging, some thyme flowers have just started to show their colours. Tomorrow could be the day!
I’ll keep you all updated! Thanks for reading
Jono, The Large Blue Ranger
P.S. Some of you might be interested to know that the ants I posted about aren’t nest building, but it’s likely they’re actually engaging in aphid farming (you can just about make out one of the aphids in the picture I posted yesterday) and you can read more about the process here if you’re as interested in ants as I am!