Who looks after Collard Hill?

Ian Clemmett – Head Ranger

Ian - Head Ranger

It’s curious how things can turn full circle – well very nearly. My background in nature conservation and countryside management has taken me on a journey from the sand dunes of South Devon to the wooded denes of north east England, the uplands of Scotland and back to the West Country – via a seventeen year stint in the Lake District. Now as Head Ranger for the National Trust I have the privilege of managing countryside from the North Somerset coast through the Mendips to the Polden Hills culminating, of course, with Collard Hill. The limestone grasslands, woodlands and wildflower meadows of East Somerset are a refreshing and stunning place to work.

Without doubt the return of the Large Blue to Collard has to be one of the jewels in the crown of nature conservation. It’s quite literally a global success. Collard Hill is now the second best place in the world to find this most precious butterfly. NT is proud to be part of the partnership responsible for managing the Large Blue in Somerset, working with others to ensure the Polden Hills continues to grow as a stronghold for Maculinea arion well into the future.

Ian Clemmett – Head Ranger

Hayley Dorrington – Ranger

I’m the Ranger for the Mendip and Polden Hills. I am responsible for the ‘ground work’ at Collard Hill. I  joined the Somerset countryside team in September 2011; after previously being based on the Golden Cap Estate in Dorset  doing a Ranger apprenticeship for three years. I really am passionate about my job and love the variety. I think the best part of the job is getting people out into the countryside. Seeing peoples faces when they see something for the first time or learn something new is second to none. Day to day, I work with volunteers looking after the hills- jobs range from drystone walling, scrub cutting with big bonfires and jacket spuds to taking children out on walks, building dens and generally just having loads of fun!  I annually look forward to the Large Blue season. Its not very often you get to help such a rare butterfly.

David Simcox – Large Blue Committee Project Officer

David Simcox

I am a Research Ecologist and have been fortunate to work on both the scientific and conservation aspects of the Large blue butterfly re-introduction project for over 30 years. Because we now understand the ecology of the butterfly it is proving an excellent species to study the impacts of climate change. Research feeds directly into the conservation and management advice that I give to partner organisations and their staff to help them create and maintain sites that can support Large blues and many other associated species. I work closely with Butterfly Conservation to obtain funding and run landscape scale restoration projects in the Polden Hills in Somerset and in the Painswick valleys of the Cotswolds. I have worked with National Trust staff at Collard for about 17 years and it gives me enormous pleasure to see both the butterfly prosper here and to watch the hundreds of visitors who travel each year to marvel at this iconic butterfly. The whole project is overseen by the Large Blue Committee with representatives from many partner organisations and my role as Project Officer is to deliver the committee’s objectives. I now work freelance and have my own company, Habitat Designs Ltd, with clients including Butterfly Conservation, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Oxford University, National Trust and Network Rail.

Steve Clare – large blue volunteer ranger for season 2013

Steve Clare

Steve Clare

I am the large Blue Volunteer Ranger for the 2013 season. I’ve just finished my second year at Plymouth University studying a BSc in Environmental Science which included a fantastic field trip to Malaysia studying an endemic rainforest plant which was an incredible experience! I have had a strong interest in nature all my life and am extremely glad to be a part of this project, particularly as it is so local to me having lived in Glastonbury all my life. I am also a keen fencer and cricketer and will be the Captain of my university fencing team next year. I shall be around for the whole of the flight season and hope to meet many of you!

Charlotte (Lottie) Faulkner – Large Blue volunteer ranger for season 2012

I am the Large Blue Butterfly ranger for 2012 and now on my second day here, have been lucky enough to find the first Large Blue of the season! My interest in conservation began whilst volunteering at a National Trust property near my hometown in Norfolk. This led me to study a Countryside Management BTEC at Easton College and recently I finished a BSc in Applied Ecology and Conservation at the University of Reading. As well as butterflies, I enjoy birdwatching, learning about plants and generally enjoying nature. I have previously volunteered on nature reserves, at environmental education events, carried out ecological surveys and taken part in projects abroad. I would say that being out in the field, finding and monitoring species has made me very passionate about conserving wildlife. So I am very pleased to be involved here at Collard hill, helping to conserve the Large Blue butterfly which is such a great conservation project and success story.

Anyway, enough from me, already the butterflies are making the most of the summer at Collard Hill and I am excited about what the season has in store for us…

Rob Holden

I’m the Area Warden for the Polden Hills and have day-to-day responsibility for managing Collard Hill. The joy of the job comes from the people we work with and the variety of tasks we undertake: one day I can be working with volunteers on the apple harvest or scrub cutting, the next I can be joining in the excitement of helping wheelchair users get to the top of Glastonbury Tor. June is definitely one of the highlights of my year: the story of the Large Blue is one of nature’s minor miracles, and helping hundreds of visitors to share in this wonder is a real pleasure.

Christine Tansey – Volunteer Ranger 2011

 I am the Large Blue ranger for the 2011 season, and have arrived to find the earliest emergence ever seen at Collard! I’m delighted to be spending the flight season here, and am looking forward to meeting many of you and hearing about your experiences with Large Blues. I have recently volunteered with Calderdale Countryside Services in West Yorkshire, and got involved in bumblebee and moth surveys. After finishing an MSc in Applied Ecology and Conservation at the University of East Anglia I had a wordy diversion with some freelance work for the Oxford English Dictionary. In the past I have volunteered with Norfolk Wildlife Trust, worked on small bush restoration projects in New Zealand and spent six months in Glencoe with the National Trust for Scotland. The summer of butterflies has now begun, so I’ll see you on the hill…

Sarah Meredith – Volunteer Warden 2010

I was the Large Blue warden for Collard Hill in 2010, and was on site for the record-breaking flight season! I graduated in December 2009 from Reading University, with an MSc in Wildlife Management and Conservation.  Before coming to Glastonbury to work with the Large Blue, I was carrying out research into the Glanville Fritillary on the Isle of Wight. While my thesis for my Msc was looking at ‘The habitat requirements of the Small Heath Coenonympha pamphilus in the uplands’.  Butterflies and photography are my passion and I enjoyed meeting many of you this blog’s readers last year.

11 thoughts on “Who looks after Collard Hill?

  1. Richard Banbury

    Hi Sarah,

    Any further sightings of Adonis blues at Collard Hill? We took some nice images of a single male on the 11th. A nice surprise amongst the common and large blues.


    Richard Banbury

  2. Frank gardiner

    Thanks Sarah for all your help on Thursday. Great morning taking pics, and i got some good ones. I’m Zonda on ‘uk butterflies’ website.

  3. Hi Sarah,

    Afraid I missed meeting you on Tuesday – I’m just about to make my own trip for Heath Frit! One tip: most of the Large Blues were keeping their wings closed in the strong sunshine but could be persuaded to open them by moving my body shadow across them (very gently). I got a good topside pic this way – now on my website.


  4. Brian Laney Northamptonshire County Recorder for Reptiles and Amphibians

    Dear Sarah,
    Thanks for your help today. I stayed a lot longer than I should but it was well worth it. I will see if I can send a pic but they might be not as good as ones I have seen on here already.
    Hope you get the rain and hope you get good numbers of Large Blue.

    • Hi Brian,
      Glad you enjoyed the day yesterday, the site was a different and overcast place today! Luckily we’ve had some rain, and I’m hoping it’ll continue this evening.
      We enjoy seeing all the photos people send in, even those of us (me!) with wee cameras seem to get some good shots. Look forward to seeing any pics you’d like to share.
      Thanks! Christine

  5. Frank Gardiner

    Christine was extremely helpful this season, guiding me and Chris to where the action was.

  6. Many thanks, Christine, for your help in finding the Wasp Orchids on a very hot slope on Sunday! I got good photos of the orchids and of a mating pair of Large Blues in the quarry, so was very satisfied with my visit.
    I’m not sure how to post photos here but will have some on my website soon.
    It was good to see how much the site has been improved since my first visit in 2004.


  7. Hi Christine thanks a lot for helping me and my wife and son Max (the one with the hat…) last Friday. I didn’t get any decent pictures of the large blue but it was still wonderful. Unfortunately I found that I had lost a shutter release for my Nikon camera, I don’t suppose it was found was it? Look forward to the next visit, hopefully I’ll get some decent shots and not lose any gear. Cheers Chris

    • Hi Chris,
      I’m very pleased you had a good visit to Collard Hill last week, you’ll just have to come back next year for some more pictures! As far as I’m aware nothing has been found, but I’ll check and see if anything has been put aside. I’ll let you know if there is.

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