Just thought I’d post a quick summary of all the cool little things I’ve found on Collard this past week. For the most part, I’ve only been on site for the mornings, conducting a single butterfly transect. This is partly because visitor numbers have dwindled and partly because I’ve had 6 weeks worth of data-inputting to do in the afternoons!
Aside from all the boring paperwork, I’ve actually had a pretty interesting week at Collard. I said it at the start – “I don’t think I’ll ever have a day up here where I don’t find something new or interesting” – and it’s held true for a whole month now.
In terms of butterflies, there are three species which have begun to steal the show at Collard.
Gatekeepers have really exploded over the past two days on the hill, almost to the point where their numbers are overtaking Meadow Browns.
Peacocks are a familiar site across England, but I can’t help but really admire their beautiful shimmering ‘eyes’. They really are a fantastic butterfly. These can now be found in huge numbers in patches of scrub around the site, especially along the Eastern Glade.
Brimstones are back! The July-August individuals are brand new offspring. It’s believed that Brimstone’s yellow, buttery wing colour is what first gave rise to the name ‘butterfly’!
This (Hummingbird?) Hawk-moth caterpillar narrowly avoided being squashed beneath my boot as I spotted it in the undergrowth just in time. I’d never before seen a Hawk-moth caterpillar and oh man, they are something to behold. Check out the yellow-tipped spike at its tail-end. This picture really doesn’t do it justice, but I didn’t want to bother him too much. Incredible.
These spiders are absolutely brilliant. Goldenrod spiders have an AMAZING ability to change their colour based on the flower where they reside. They also have the coolest eyes ever.
I came across this pretty sinister looking creature on a Wooly Thistle absolutely covered in aphids, which drew in crowds of diverse insects preying on them. This is of course, a Ladybird larva!
To top it all off I saw my first Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in the pines on Thursday! Photographing birds is too much for me, so I’m afraid you’ll just have to imagine that subject.
I can’t speak highly enough of my experience here at Collard Hill, leaving is going to be very strange and I’ll miss it a lot. I’m sure I’ll be popping along next year to see how the Large Blues are getting on!
I’ll leave you with a list of all the species I’ve been lucky enough to see while on Collard Hill this summer (and there are still a few to come yet!).
For the last time, thanks for reading everybody!
Jono – The Large Blue Ranger.