Today has been a fabulous day for the Large Blues. First, a huge thank you to the team that worked clearing scrub fencing, overgrown thistle and ragwort and left Collard looking all the more beautiful. Also, thank you to the scorching afternoon we had, because several groups of visitors were at last able to see the Large Blues! Overall, we had three sightings today, and with many having travelled a long way I was delighted that they were able see this rare butterfly and to take some beautiful photographs. We also saw our first mating pair on Collard which was a very encouraging sign.
Myself and a couple of visitors spotted this one on the path near the bottom of the wooden steps. It flitted from Thyme to Salad Burnett before resting on this Thistle. We waited a while nearby for it to open its wings and the below photo was caught in the few seconds that the breeze died down enough for it to bask. This very one was then amazingly scouted by a male LB and they began to copulate!
I passed on some knowledge that one of the Large Blue experts, David Simcox, shared on a training day, and that is male LBs often zig- zag from the bottom of the slope, where unmated females instinctively congregate, to the top where females are newly emerged from the red ants nests in the search for a mate. This led me to believe the above is a female…
David also passed on tips for identifying the Large Blue against the Common Blue (which are present at Collard Hill as well) at a distance. Not only can you look out for the orange spots on the underwing that Large Blues do not have, but Common Blues are much more likely to land on yellow flowers as opposed to Large Blues which more often land on purple ones. Hope that comes in handy to any future visitors!
Other volunteer rangers will be filling in for me until Tuesday but the weather is looking to be sunny in Street tomorrow (Monday) for anyone planning a visit. Remember to write in the comments book about your experience as we’d love to hear from you!