I have watched the crops grow golden, the Large Blues come and go and the sun rising and falling in Somerset since the 30th of May. What a wonderful experience it has been, but all good things must come to an end. Therefore, it is time to say goodbye to Collard Hill and all of it’s inhabitants. A new chapter of adventure awaits me.
Here are a few images I have taken over the course of my time on Collard Hill which I did not manage to put on the blog posts:
Goodluck to the 2017 Large Blue Butterfly Volunteer Ranger. May the Large Blues be another success in your presence!
What a great day today turned out to be. There was sunshine, there were new butterflies and there were visitors to keep me company. But there were no Large Blue butterfly appearances, instead I was graced with the presence of another beautiful butterfly; a Peacock butterfly.
It was also a great day for Cloud Busting! Can anyone else see a Poodle in the clouds?
I also saw these, but wasn’t sure on what they were exactly, can anyone help?
Silver Y Moth again?
Bee or Wasp?
It is getting closer and closer for the end of my time at Collard Hill, even with the extra week I still do not want to leave. It is a gorgeous site and no-one should under-appreciate it for a moment.
We are nearing the end of the second week of July now and sadly there have not been any more sightings of Large Blues. I believe there to still be some on site but with compromising weather conditions they just don’t want to show themselves.
I will still be walking the transect route twice a day for this week, when the weather conditions feel right and I will still be updating the blog, until further notice, with photographs I have taken from each day when searching for the remaining Large Blues on Collard Hill.
There will always be a lot to see on Collard Hill, from the wildflowers in the meadow to the Red Devon cattle in the fields (and of course the unforgettable view of the Levels). So please do come along and help in the search for the last Large Blues of 2016.
Here are some photographs from today, including a photograph of a Cinnabar Moth taken by a National Trust volunteer and a photograph of the Caterpillar:
Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar
NT Volunteer: Ronnie Harkness
Ox Eye Daisies
Silver Y Moth
I had a guess that the above was a Silver Y Moth, but if not then please do correct me.
Enjoy the rest of your week!
Well I never! Today I saw a very fresh Common Blue. So, as the Large Blues are dwindling their way into the second week of July, the Common Blues are returning.
Common Blues have orange on their underwings, have no black spots on the upperwings, do not have a thick border and are a sky blue colour. Large Blues – as you all should know by now – have no orange on their wings, have prominent black spots on their upperwings, do have a thick black border and are a deep shade of blue (when in flight the colour blends with the purple shades of selfheal).
Common Blue in Flight
Pristine Common Blue
Today’s Large Blue
The weather today was cloudy with few sunny spells, very windy and a little rainy towards the end of my shift today. All in all, I saw just the one Large Blue a few times and that was in the space of 20 minutes. It was fluttering about the sign that directs visitors onto the Eastern Glade or down the slope towards the bottom of the site.
Here is what else I found on site today, any ideas on the moth identification would be wonderful:
Pied Shield Bugs
Plus some visitor images of their time at Collard Hill this year:
Both Graham and I would love to know what caterpillar is in his photograph – the caterpillar and parasitic wasp.
Sadly, the Large Blues are nearing the end of their reign on Collard Hill. Plus, the weather conditions do not help the last few that still remain, but there is hope that they will stay for the beginning of next week at least. Therefore, I am set to stay volunteering at Collard Hill for an extra week, than was originally planned, in order to see these last few off.
Today on site, the winds were blowing at 25mph! The sky was cloudy in the morning and blue in the afternoon, however there was quite a bit of mist hanging about, which I don’t think the butterflies liked (again, I believe this causes the air pressure to be wrong for them to fly).
However, here are some pictures I have taken from today, including a Large Blue, a Green Woodpecker, an unidentified Caterpillar and a photo of lots of grasses:
Red-Tailed Bumble Bee
What is this species of Caterpillar munching on rose leaves?
If you can identify the caterpillar or any grasses you can see in the photographs that would be fantastic!
Another day on Collard Hill, searching for all sorts of wildlife (whilst wishing and hoping that Andy Murray will win the semi-final and go on to win Wimbledon for a second time!)
In the morning I was helping the National Trust volunteers to pull up ragwort, by the trough and on the Lynchets, again. I then completed a transect in which I found just two Large Blues. One was found on the Eastern Glade which was very small, tatty and losing it’s blue scales – due to age. Whereas, one found at the Quarry (- near the pine trees) seemed to be a more vibrant blue colour, but still not very fresh looking.
Large Blue in Quarry
Large Blue at Eastern Glade with Meadow Brown – to show how small it was!
Getting on to the afternoon, a few visitors from all over the UK started to buzz around the site; including a family from Rhondda Valley (South Wales), a man from Glasgow (Scotland) and two men from Heathrow (England).
I was then walking my second transect of the day where I stumbled upon a very very small, battered, brown winged and blue-bodied butterfly that caused a slight dispute amongst visitors. We were having difficulty as to whether it was a Large Blue or a Common Blue.
I didn’t get the perfect photograph (unlike the visitors I was showing the butterfly to), but hopefully they will be happy to send me the photographs they have of the individual so I can make a clearer decision as to which it was. [However, it would be very surprising if it was a Common Blue as I have not seen a Common Blue since the second week of June on Collard Hill.]
Large Blue or Common Blue?
Remember to check the weather forecast before heading out to Collard Hill – Large Blues also do not like strong winds, so if there is a way to check, it could be useful.
Today, they just didn’t want to settle it seemed and when they did they had disappeared. Over the course of today, I believe I saw around 7 individuals flying around the more sheltered parts of the site, due to a high Southerly breeze.
I trust the experts when they say the Large Blues will still be around for the weekend and for next week. So there is still a good chance of seeing one this year! Plus, the view is spectacular from Collard Hill, so is definitely worth the trip down anyway.
Flag to show Information and Visitor Comment Books
I managed to photograph a Red Admiral on site today – the first sighting this year, amongst other butterflies and invertebrates today:
We also have many types of thistle on site, but I couldn’t figure out which this could be, and thought it best to ask yourselves! [update: It is not a thistle, it is Teasel! That’s why I couldn’t find it in the thistle section of my identification guide!]
Firstly, a brief update about the happenings of Collard Hill yesterday, when Becky Woodgate was in my place:
Collard Hill (Becky Woodgate – BW)
The morning was cloudy with sunny spells and the afternoon showed glorious sunshine. The quarry area seemed to be the hotspot of the day (south facing hillside located by the cross roads entrance; by the pine trees). Becky’s first sightings of the day were 2 Painted Ladies (which were also playing about today too!), but in total she had recorded 11 butterfly species altogether; Painted Ladies, Small Heaths, Marbled Whites, Meadow Browns, Ringlets, Green-Veined Whites, Large Whites, Small Tortoiseshells, Comma, Speckled Woods and Large Blues (ofcourse)!
Today, I am quite sure I could add Gatekeepers, Large Skippers, Small Skippers and Small Whites to this species list, and possibly (although I am not confident of what I saw, and didn’t succeed in taking a photograph for records) Brown Argus.
I shall share some of Becky’s fabulous photographs from yesterday and then some from today too.
Painted Lady (BW)
Six-Spot Burnet Moth (BW)
Small Skipper (BW)
Ovipositing Large Blue (BW)
Open Winged Large Blue (BW)
Marbled White (BW)
Six-Spot Burnet Moth Caterpillar
Ovipositing Large Blue
Farmer at Work
As you can see the Large Blues are still on the wing and in large sightings too! Altogether, I saw around 20 individuals again, just today.
[I called this blog post ‘Aerial Flowers’ as that is what John Samways refers to butterflies as in his book that he gave to me as a gift today. The book is called, God’s Fingerprints – the evidence is everywhere. Again, I would like to thank him for keeping me company whilst at Collard Hill, for his enthusiasm and energy and for this gift.]
Well I never… we are back in double figures with sightings today. All it took was a bit of sunshine magic and there were butterflies everywhere!
When having lunch on the bank, by the oak tree, about 5 danced around me – 3 all at once. It was such a glorious day and has filled me with hope that there is actually a good chance of seeing them next weekend (providing decent weather).
Some individuals of Large Blue are looking weathered and more brown (as they are losing their blue scales with age). Yet there are others that are so very vibrant and fresh looking too. A good mixture for the future, and for seeing us into July 2016.
Not only was the high number of Large Blue sightings exciting, but also I saw this little fella buzzing around:
Not so long ago, a visitor was describing a Hummingbird Hawkmoth to me, as I had told him I had never seen one before, of which I could remember. But now I can say I have seen and photographed one for the records, and that I agree; they are stunningly beautiful.
I also saw a very big bush-cricket today:
Young Great Green Bush-Cricket [updated]
A Young Great Green Bush-Cricket hiding behind leaf
Also, there is some gorgeous flowers blooming on site at the moment, including this delight:
Also, some more photographs from visitors:
Kelvin Irwin – Capsid Bug
Please do: call the Large Blue hotline, comment on the blog posts, email in (firstname.lastname@example.org) and write in the visitor book at Collard Hill. I would love to hear from you!
Today I saw only 1 Large Blue, disappointingly. It was half way up the bank on the far side of the Eastern glade. I noticed it when walking my transect route around midday. This was just after a band of heavy rain had passed, causing clear blue skies to appear in it’s trail, and another band of rain looming in the distance.
A visitor to the site spotted the first Large Blue of the day just along the track going away from the bench, towards the next field where it was sheltered from the high winds. Although, the visitor said it was not around for very long. I proceeded to tell him my theory that they can sense the rain coming our way, possibly due to air pressure. I pointed towards the South, East and North at this moment in time, to show more rain creeping closer from over the Levels and then I prepared to take shelter under the oak tree.
Collard Hill View
But today was still pleasant, I greeted visitors; some new to the site and some “regulars” who live close by using the site to walk their dogs. As I stopped my transect to tell some where I had seen the Large Blue, we saw a Comma landing and then zip off again. The first sighting of a Comma on site so far! Unfortunately, it was too quick for me to take a photograph to show you all. (Next time!)
I am sure the Large Blue are still at Collard Hill in quite high numbers considering it is July (late for Large Blue flight season). My guess is there are 5-10 individuals on the site as a whole. But you will be lucky to see them with weather like today! I do hope it clears up so I can see the last few survivors.
I write about politics, nature + the environment. Some posts are serious, some not. These are my views, I don't do any promotional stuff and these views are not being expressed for anyone who employs me.