2016 at Collard Hill – early observations

On 20th May, Sarah Meredith and I visited Collard to assess where we were in the season. The site was looking absolutely wonderful and grazed to perfection.

better view

We were delighted to see that the Wild thyme was growing well and that early indications suggest that it will produce large and plump flowers, just what egg-laying Large blue females will be looking for.

Checking Thyme

 

soon to be flowering

Everywhere we looked we could see foraging workers of red ants. Sarah picked one up and examined it under her hand lens and she whooped with joy and confirmed it was Myrmica sabuleti, the species of red ant which is essential for the Large blue butterfly.

picking up ant

identifying ant

The omens are good for the season ahead after last year’s record population of over 58,000 eggs. We look forward to welcoming Abbi Gosling who will be this year’s Large Blue Ranger. Please keep checking this blog over the coming days to find out when the first butterflies have emerged and to plan your visit to this amazing site.

Fingers crossed for good weather and a hillside of shimmering blue!

David Simcox and Sarah Meredith

(Large blue ecologists)

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