Apologies for my quietness this week I was taken back to Reading for my graduation, so I am proud to say I am now the holder of First Class BSc in Human and Physical Geography! However, on a sadder note my last recorded sightings of Large Blues were the 6 I saw on Sunday 5th July! It appears the wind and rain put an end to the 2015 reign of the Large Blue, however it is not a season we can complain about, we can hope now the number crunching can begin that this year the numbers will have grown, but only time will tell!
I would like to give many thanks to the visitors who have come along to Collard and shared in my enthusiasm for the Large Blue and the great outdoors I have learnt so many nuggets of information from the vast range of conversations I have had with many of you over my time at Collard! As well as you guys, I would like to give particular thanks to the National Trust North Somerset Ranger Team for allowing me this opportunity and training me as the Large Blue Ranger giving me access to such a wonderful site as Collard! I learnt so much while taking part in my 6 week placement in Somerset and that would be a lot less if I wasn’t treated the fantastic knowledge and expertise that came in the form of Sarah Meredith and David Simcox! I do hope many of you will visit Collard next year and hopefully see the Large Blue continue to thrive in the Somerset countryside and share the experience with next years Large Blue Ranger!
Here is a wonderful image taken by a visiting Wildlife Trust group of a mating pair of Large Blues that exemplifies this species fight to remain here for us to see and enjoy!
I also have a little treat of a “Thyme” Series as I would like to call it to see how this patch of Thyme changed throughout the season I spent at Collard! You can see it coming into flower ready to feed the Large Blue Larvae.
Over and Out
(Although I will hopefully be crossing paths with many of you as I embark on my next steps with my masters and enjoyment of the outdoors at various wonderful sites the UK offers)
Today the weather on Collard did a full circle from sunshine and blue skies to wind, thunder and rain! We had 6 Large Blue sightings some still looking fresh!
On another exciting note – the egg counts have commenced by David Simcox, Sarah Meredith and Jeremy Thomas! The site is split into sample areas and canes thrown out to great randomised sampling and all the Thyme plants within the quadrat are sampled and eggs recorded! The results shall be interesting to see what awaits us for next year’s generation!
David Simcox and Sarah Meredith undertaking the Egg survey
Large Blue on Selfheal
A rather battered Large Blue
A rather battered Large Blue
Here are some pictures from visitors over the weekend.
Here are a few of the other butterflies I came across today, including Gatekeepers, Ringlets, Meadow Browns, Marbled Whites, Small Skipper and the one and only Large Blue!
I also stumbled upon these two Solider Beetles working on their brood upon the Ragwort!
Solider Beetles Dance of Love
Today upon Collard the sun was shining but the winds were up! I was treated to 13 Large Blues throughout my day with most of the sightings in the morning and early afternoon. Their whereabouts are becoming somewhat difficult to predict, the sightings were spread right across the site from the Eastern Glade right the way to the end of the Quarry!
Large Blue roosting on the Brambles in the Wind
Here is some impressive images sent in to the blog from another wonderful visitor to Collard capturing the true beauty of the Large Blue!
Today the butterfly scene comprised of Meadow Browns, Small Heaths (although numbers seem to be falling), Marbled Whites, Small Skippers, Ringlets, Gatekeepers and Small Tortoiseshells.
Here is a Linnet that decided to grace me with its presence!
I have another Soldier Beetle enjoying its time on the Ragwort.
We have some examples of Milkwort about to come into flower! It’s time to see if I can work on my botany skills and ascertain whether this is Common Milkwort or the Chalk species!
Hope to catch some of you before the Large Blue season ends, but if you do come early tomorrow as it looks like rain is forecast for the afternoon!
Hi nature enthusiasts,
Today the Large Blue sightings continued in good numbers with an impressive 29 sightings! There were a variety of moths some which looked to have weathered storm while other newly emerged specimens! It looks like when the sun came out last night the Large Blues were busy as there was a large number of egg laying females this morning!
Here are some of the Large Blues I captured today!
This Large Blue has weathered the storm!
Look how deep that blue is!
I was treated to a bonanza of butterflies today!
The first Gatekeepers of the season emerged today favoring the brambles!
I was treated to both Large and Small Skippers!
There were numerous Large Whites out today also! Truly Large in comparison to the Large Blue!
Ringlets, Small Tortoiseshells, Painted Ladies, Small Heaths, Marbled Whites and Meadow Browns! Slowly more and more butterflies are being added into the mix!
I finally managed to grab a picture of the pesky Green Woodpecker- a productive day!
I also have some more moths ready for I.D if anyone would like to message in suggestions!
Come to Collard to enjoy the Large Blues continuing progress!
Although the skies decided to open its doors right across Collard there were still 2 sightings of the Large Blue in the breaks of the pouring rain. The coming forecast looks promising for all the Large Blues that roosted away today from the grizzly weather! After a day in the rain it is now bright with clear blue skies so I expect the Large Blues will be drying their wings ready for us tomorrow!
I enjoyed my time inside the clouds of Collard
Here are some of the fantastic Large Blues captured by some of visitors in the past few days!
This visitor captured an extremely impressive shot of one of the Hummingbird Hawk Moths!
I had glimpses of the Marbled Whites and the Meadow Browns, the hardier ones briefly putting in appearances today!
Marbled White and the famous Thyme
Hope to see you all to enjoy the 2015 Large Blue season
The Large Blues make it into July! Today I had a rather successful 22 sightings including more egg laying and more mating. More emergent Large Blues were brought out by this phenomenal heat wave so we can expect sightings to continue over the next few days at least! These sightings took place even though it has been over cast all day with some intervals of rain so don’t let the clouds put you off! There is still a chance for the Large Blue to greet you in 2015.
This Large Blue was caught in the act minutes before!
I was also treated to a Comma today from the second brood, obviously enjoying the heat wave! They were once rare in the UK but now they are on the rise again!
A Ringlet absorbing the heat this morning on the brambles!
The Small Heaths continue to flit close to the ground!
There is still a chance to enjoy the Pyramidal orchid and the wonderful view of Somerset!
I also came across this Common Red Solider Beetle enjoying its acrobats on this grass stem!
Common Red Solider Beetle
This Cinnabar moth caterpillar continues to munch on the Ragwort, it’s really gone to town on this particular plant!
Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar
Hope to see you all in the next few days! If I do get the pleasure of meeting you in the coming days make sure you come armed with plenty of water and sun cream!
As promised here is a video filmed by one of our visitors of a female egg laying! Enjoy!
Here is a photo by another of our visitors of an egg laying female… We can be glad to see the next generation is upon the slopes!
There have been numerous sightings of Emperor Dragonflies right across Collard, their size and colour never cease to be impressive!
This photo of an underside of a Red Admiral I thought was a truly impressive shot by Rupert our visitor. This one of the Largest of the British species and although not as vivid on the underside is still leaves a stunning impression, they often land with their winds wide open!
One of our kind readers, wrote in and we believe the left is a Ghost Moth and most likely female due to its yellowness marked with orange while the males are white!
The right seems to be a very interesting find of a Mecyna Flavalis, a micro moth species that is quite rare in the UK, but it does favor chalky downland and grassland slopes so fits with Collards environment but is usually found on the South Coast, and in South Wales! They have been found away from the coast indicating smaller colonies inland so we could well have one here… do write in if you think any differently!
Hope to see you soon
The sun came out and so did the Large Blues and wonderful Visitors! As well as a selection of others of Collards treats and a record of the season of 38 Large Blue recordings on and on off transect! There were multiple mating pairs, and a lot of egg laying females! With the current weather forecast it looks like a promising week ahead!
I am currently working on how to upload a video onto the blog captured by one of visitors of an egg laying female! You will notice the abdomen curving round into the thyme. They will lay their eggs on the thyme before it has flowered as you will see in the video. This is to ensure there is enough of the stamen and sepal of the thyme flower to sustain the larvae until it’s time to drop down in the fourth instar ready for Myrmica sabuleti to come and pick them up! So look out for this kind of activity on your visit! Hopefully the video will be up soon!
Here is why a Woolly Thistle is Woolly…
Woolly Thistle – this is why!
Another Six Spotted Burnet Moth, there are caterpillars and pupae on site so you can see them at all staged!
6 Spotted Burnet Moth
A Small Tortoiseshell showing off its true beauty and a Marbled White on a Field Scabious. Just for fun let’s just enjoy the Marbled White and Small Tortoiseshell hanging out together!
Marbled White on Field Scabious
Nectaring in Harmony
I captured this little rabbit also, you see their little cotton tails running across the meadows!
Peter making a dash for the bush!
Here is a couple of moths that I could do with a hand in identifying 100 points for both!
See you soon
Hope you are all having a lovely Friday night!
This morning there were 14 sightings of Large Blues while the wind was blowing and the Collard was covered by clouds, but breaks in the clouds allowed for the blues to break out in activity! A bit of bad weather won’t stop the innate need to mate within the males! Late afternoon Collard received a much needed watering! Here is a couple of images capturing the clouds setting in! The weather on Collard can change so quickly, and even in over cast conditions the Large Blues continue their daily lives!
This is a Large Blue I found this morning defying the odds – out in the rain, on a yellow flower!
Large Blue defying the odds!
When identifying to differentiate it from a Common Blue, is looking at the colour of the plant it lands on. Common Blues favour yellow plants such as Birds Foot Trefoil, whereas you are likely to see a Large Blue on pink, purple and blue plants. Necataring or laying on Thyme or nectaring on plants like the Common Centaury or Selfheal.
This Small Skipper seems to be favoring Self-heal as they continue to thrive upon Collard!
Small Skipper on Selfheal
Other butterfly treats is the first 2 ringlets I have seen upon Collard as well as another Small Tortoiseshell sighting.
Small Tortoiseshell and you can see how much the rain is needed!
I was lucky enough to come across a Common Darter.
One must see on Collard is the nationally scarce Woolly Thistle, it is another limestone species and equally a great attraction not only for people but for the insects of Collard!
The famous Woolly Thistle
You can see here in Geoff Eatons photo the female Marbled White I spoke of yesterday as she trying to balloon her wings before this young man had his wicked way!
Evening Large Blue enthusiasts!
Today upon Collard the sun was shining and the blues were out! I was surprised today to have 29 sightings!! The majority of the Large Blues were seen in the shrubbery areas above the main track in the middle of the site. There were 3 sightings on the Eastern Glade and 3 within the Quarry, highlighting the middle ground area as the place to be!
It has to be admired!
Small Skipper sightings continue. Meadow Brown airspace is still off limits for other butterflies, if an unsuspecting Large Blue flies to close to a Meadow Brown it will be soon seen off their property!
The Marble Whites continue to flutter around! A few visitors experienced 2 males pounce on a newly emerged female still trying to balloon her wings, seems she was just too irresistible!
Success at last !
A little botanical treat, the Lesser Centaury seems to be thriving upon Collard, this is a calcareous grassland species!
I thought some of you may be interested to see Myrmica sabuleti, the Large Blues underground host! This little guy wanted to enter my clipboard!
Here is a little treat to share with you from Matthew Oates, this was captured when he visited Collard last week. Matthew was lucky enough to see a Hummingbird Hawk Moth lay an egg and here is the wonderful egg!
Hummingbird egg Collard 19.6.15 – Matthew Oates
Here is the perfect selection of Large Blue shots captured by one of Collards Visitors!
Let me give you another reason to visit Collard…. this view…
See you soon