Large Blue Report – 18th June

NEVER TRUST THE WEATHER FORECAST.

Today turned out to actually be a pretty great day for searching out Large Blues. The weather was a nice mix of cloudy/sunny spells. Any photographers out there probably already know that a bit of cloud is essential for good butterfly weather if you want to do anything other than see them whizz past you at a distance. Under cloud, you can follow them until they roost, at which point you can snap away to your heart’s content or just get a bit of time to really study them in detail.

I was joined on-site today by the extremely knowledgeable and experienced butterfly enthusiast Niel Hulme (link to his excellent UK Butterflies diary). We spent a lot of the day together searching out the best spots on the site to find Large Blues.

Although difficult to estimate the precise numbers of individual Large Blues present at the sight right now, we couldn’t find proof that there are any more than two individuals. Our first sighting was of a male, in the sheltered area above the main track, at around 10 o’clock.
I later saw a male at the very top of the track, set down on the ground to roost as a cloud came over, allowing me to line up my first proper shot of the season! It’s far from spectacular, but catching these guys with their wings open is nigh on impossible.

Image

Neil and I compared photographs and decided that this was the same individual as the original sighting. I later sighted an LB flying out of the South entrance to the quarry – unfortunately it moved too quickly for me to get a proper look at it and it was straight over the scrub.

Much much later in the day Niel spotted a female, on a very different part of the site, laying her eggs on budding thyme. This is a really encouraging sign that things are moving in the right direction and that numbers should start to increase soon.

For the rest of the day there were few sightings until after the butterflies had had their usual siesta (they rest from around 1 – 3 if they’ve been active). We then saw what may well be the same male from before racing around the Eastern Glade at breakneck speed. Trying to keep up with it was both extremely good fun and extremely tiring.

It’s still early days here at Collard, but we’re starting to get a hold on their preferred flight areas so if there’s good weather and you’re in town there’s a pretty good chance you might just catch one while they’re still in their fresh pristine condition!

Thanks for reading!
Jono, The Large Blue Ranger

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2 thoughts on “Large Blue Report – 18th June

  1. 19th July – great to meet up with you, Jonno, and thank you so much for leading us right to the female Large Blue (via the many bee orchids, Clouded Yellow etc, etc). A remarkable 20minutes watching such an unusually docile specimen (‘drunk’ on the nectar from the Pyramidal Orchid it was resting on for literally hours?) – and then, to our incredulity, it came and settled on my shirt for over 5 minutes and opened its wings as I tickled it with a piece of grass. A moment of wonder!

    If we have some gentle rain for a day or two I imagine numbers in a couple of weeks could be memorable. Today we certainly memorable for us – thank you for the part you played in it.

    John

    • You definitely picked a great day to come hunting! Glad you all had such a great trip, it was a pleasure to meet you all and show you the sights πŸ™‚
      I had a little chat with the people who REALLY know their stuff about the LBs and they’re fairly certain that they were behaving so strangely simply due to exhaustion. This was in part caused by the complete lack of cloud today. It takes a huge amount of energy to mate and to egg-lay so it’s fairly normal for them to be so exhausted. It is however, extremely rare to find them in this state (because they’re essentially immobile & hard to spot) which is why the behavior is rarely observed πŸ™‚

      Thanks for coming along!
      Jono, the Large Blue Ranger

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