Farewell

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.

FB_IMG_1468608660608[1]

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!

Abbi

Advertisements

Newbies!

 

DSCF3582.JPG

Sunny Collard Hill

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.

Peacock butterfly.JPG

Peacock Butterfly

It was also a great day for Cloud Busting! Can anyone else see a Poodle in the clouds?

cloud poodle

Cloud Busting

I also saw these, but wasn’t sure on what they were exactly, can anyone help?

Silver Y moth

Silver Y Moth again?

bee or wasp

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.

Abbi

Mid-Week Wonder

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:

Bumble Bee

Bumble Bee

Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar

Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar

Ronnie Harkness

NT Volunteer: Ronnie Harkness

Ox Eye Daisies

Ox Eye Daisies

Silver Y Moth..

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!

Abbi

Weekend Blues

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:

Bee

Red-Tailed Bumble Bee

Caterpillar

What is this species of Caterpillar munching on rose leaves?

Gatekeeper

Gatekeeper

Grasses

Grasses

Green Veined White

Green-Veined White

Green Woodpecker

Green Woodpecker

Large Blue

Large Blue

Large Skipper

Small Skipper

Painted Lady closed wing

Painted Lady

Ringlet

Ringlet

If you can identify the caterpillar or any grasses you can see in the photographs that would be fantastic!

Abbi

Friday Forecast

It’s July and the butterflies have made it! They had an early emergence and are going to have a late disappearance. Absolutely wonderful news considering the awful weather we have had over most of June. They have definitely surprised me this year.

A brief update on today and then on to pictures.

My first Large Blue sighting of the day occurred at 9:50am, at the bottom of the Eastern Glade. My second, third and fourth Large Blue sighting were around the quarry area, around 11:00am. From then on only a handful more were sighted. Then, bands of rain followed by blinks of sunshine occurred. So, after showing visitors around the site, I stopped looking for butterflies in the wind and rain and started Ragwort pulling with other NT members that were already on site.

(Please do not pull up ragwort if you are going to leave it on site, because it sweetens and becomes more attractive, yet more toxic to animals. If you wanted to get involved with pulling ragwort to help maintain Collard Hill and other NT sites, get in touch with head office, or email me at largeblueranger@gmail.com thank you.)

Pictures as promised, firstly from today, then more from visitors who have visited the site in the last week or so and then todays identification challenge to you:

Common Green Grasshopper

Common Green Grasshopper

Helophilus pendulus (common hover-fly)

Hover-fly (Helophilus pendulus)

Sloe Bug

Sloe Bug

 

Identification Challenge #1:

Some say this is a Rhodicilla orchid, but some say otherwise. What do you think?

 

Identification Challenge #2:

 

I would love to see your ideas, so please do comment below.
Abbi

 

 

Visitor Knowledge

This morning I thought it would be a wet day, but I took the journey to Collard Hill to be more optimistic. The wet weather held off until 2pm, but this didn’t automatically mean it was the weather for butterflies.

There was hardly any sightings of wildlife, other than birds and bees. So I said to visitors I would show them Bee and Wasp orchids whilst hoping a Large Blue would float our way. Well it worked, I showed visitors through the quarry and towards the orchids and cutting right across our path was a Large Blue. It landed long enough for everyone to get a good look at it – some for the first time, others had seen one before. Then we headed on to the orchids, which again, some visitors had never seen before.

It’s great to show visitors new things and even more wonderful if I get to learn something from visitors too. Today I learnt what this was:

Robins Pin Cushion.jpg

Robin’s Pincushion

It is a Robin’s Pincushion. This may be a well known fact amongst readers, but I had never laid eyes on one before (of which I could remember). It had a very fibrous texture and so I asked a visitor what he thought it could be and he knew straight away ofcourse and he explained to me that it is a Bedeguar Gall caused by the larvae of Dipoloepis rosae, gall wasp. These baby wasps, if you like, feed on the plant it is attached to throughout the winter months ready to emerge in spring as adults. Something so simple, but I would never have thought it was a wasp gall.

It’s a great feeling when I get to share excitement and joy with visitors; this is why I like you to email in photographs from your visit to Collard (at largeblueranger@gmail.com) and why I like to read the comments you make in the visitors book (only out when it is not raining).

Now for a quick reminder; Glastonbury and the surrounding areas will be overcrowded with transport tomorrow, so if you are travelling to Collard Hill by bus or by car try to check for traffic warnings for your route.
Abbi

P.s. Information on Robin’s Pincushions can be found following this link: http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/species/robins-pincushion

Large Blue Report & Picture Submissions! – 12th June

Still no Large Blues!

Image

Today once again looked like it might be the day, a gorgeously misty and dewy morning gave way to the sunniest day I’ve seen yet at Collard, there was barely a cloud in the sky and hardly any wind at all.

Image

Perfect flight weather brought out all number of invertebrates in addition to our wealth of butterflies. In particular, Mayflies were out in huge numbers today. A mating pair flew into my face at one point which was uhh… an experience.

Image

Butterfly species seen today included: Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood, Small Heath, Meadow Brown, Marbled White, Painted Lady, Clouded Yellow, Common Blue and Large White. Unfortunately I’ve not seen the Small Copper since it’s first appearance, which makes me sad as it’s one of the most striking species of butterfly I’ve had the pleasure of seeing.

Image

Today’s other points of interest:
I spotted some cool fungi growing on our spectacular Oak near the viewpoint & bench.

Image

Whilst I was resting in the shade of said Oak, I was visited by a pleasant little Chaffinch.

Image

I also spent a hilarious 15 minutes chasing around after the ridiculously mobile Hummingbird Hawk-Moth we’ve got on site:

Image

… It didn’t go too well.

Image

Seriously these things are fast.

This is pretty much the best I could do.

I’m so sorry everyone.

Image

Other than that there’s really very little to report from today, we’re still waiting with baited breath for the first Large Blue to emerge.

Thanks for reading!

Jono, The Large Blue Ranger

 

Today’s excellent picture submissions are from John Aldridge, you too can get your best pictures featured on the Blog if you submit them to Collard.hill@gmail.com. Unfortunately it seems that wordpress’ library feature seems to ruin the image quality so we’ll try to work on this!

John Aldridge

 

Chrysoteuchia culmella

 

John Aldridgemeadowbrown

 

Large Blue Report – 11th June

Image

Back on the site today! I’m beginning to fear that “Still no Large Blues” is becoming a bit of a catch-phrase.

Today was a nice calm day up at Collard, both in terms of  the number of A) visitors trickling through our gates and B) the weather. Despite being predominantly cloudy, occasionally the sun shone through and the temperature remained high. Additionally the wind up here seems to have really died down since last weekend, if the sun was shining properly I would have expected to see a huge amount of butterflies on the wing today!

Since I’ve been away the Small Tortoiseshells and Meadow Browns have come out in fairly good numbers across the site.Today also saw the first Marbled White on the wing! No pictures of this one I’m afraid – It was definitely on a mission every time I saw it and went whizzing past at the speed of light.

I did manage to (just about) capture one of our mesmerizing Clouded Yellows today though!

Image

The Thyme still seems to be fairly slow to flower across Collard – This is probably the most developed example I found today.

Image

The Pyramidal Orchids towards the bottom of the slopes, in the open area of the site, are starting to show themselves and they’re out in better numbers than we first thought!

Image

I also managed to catch my first decent shot of a Common Blue Damsel Fly! You can find a fair few Damsels flitting about around an the Lynchets (an area just to the south of the eastern glade).

Image

Most of the fungi across the site have been turned into a black mush by solar exposure, but there are still a fine few to be found. There’s really something magical about even the most simple mushrooms.

Image

Thanks for reading! I’ll keep you posted on the Large Blue status as well as all the cool little things and fun I’m having on site! Thanks for reading!

Jono, The Large Blue Ranger

P.S. Near the end of the day, I’m pretty sure this little guy tried to murder me.

Image

 

Large Blue Report – 8th June 2014

Not too much to report today really, no Large Blues, but we’re still expecting them any day now!

Collard saw another day of really nice weather, mostly sunshine with spells of clouds. The weather meant there were fairly good numbers of butterflies out on the wing again, especially along the bottom slopes of the eastern glade.

Today I mostly found myself focusing on the vegetation across the site, trying to spot species which I’d not yet seen and drawing up a rough list of flowers on Collard. Two such new species were; Cowslips, found along the top of the main track through the site.

Image

Along with the amazing little wildflower, Eyebright. This is famously known for its use as eye medication, hence the name!.

Image

One of the great things about being able to focus on a single site on a daily basis is noticing the change in individual plants. I’ve been looking forward to the Yellow Wort coming into flower since I arrived and today it made good on its promise. A really striking little plant which really stands out in the sward.

Image

That’s about all for today! The only new flying species we saw on site today was a Hummingbird Hawk-Moth.

Technically I’m not on duty for Monday and Tuesday, but there’s a good chance I’ll find myself up the hill at some point, so if you see me come and say hello!

Thanks for reading!

Jono, The Large Blue Ranger

Large Blue Report – 7th June 2014

Luckily, Collard managed to survive last night’s thunderstorm. The only evidence that it had ever passed were a few broken boughs, which had to be cleared from the paths and a lot of mud on people’s boots.

Image

But to the important news: still no Large Blues! 😦

Don’t be too disappointed they’re not here yet! We’re still expecting a bumper year. Despite the extremely wet weather early in the season, the site recovered really really well. The grazing timing has been bang on and the Dexters have grazed the grass to the perfect height. If the vegetation is too thick, the ground can’t warm up enough for the ants to get active. We’ve also had a really mild winter, which has hopefully benefited the ants. The Thyme is thriving across the site, although it can be a little tricky to spot before it’s in full bloom. This is an example of a really good nest with a thriving population of Wild Thyme:

Image

The weather was on fine form for the second day in a row, allowing lots of other butterflies to get out on the wing again.

I saw my first Cinnabar moth of the season today. These things in flight are a pink blur and look like they belong in the tropics more than the British Isles.

Image

The sunny weather also brought out the first Clouded Yellow and Painted Lady of the season! Both of these butterflies undergo migrations which are spectacular given their small size.

Image

The usual suspects are still very much on the scene; plenty of Common Blues, Meadow Browns, Small Heaths and Brown Argus were flitting about.
As I was walking along the tree line at the very bottom of the site today, a buzzard flew DIRECTLY over my head, casting it’s shadow over me. It was only about 30ft away and completely stopped me in my tracks. Seeing birds of prey so close feels like a real privilege.

I can’t help but love these tiny little mushrooms which can be found across most of the site (if you look hard enough). The clover leaves here should give a real sense of scale.

Image

By now I’m fairly au fait with 90% of the vegetation across the site, but these two caught me out today. Answers in the comments please! (Click for full size)

ImageImage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, another fantastic day atop Collard Hill, no Large Blues yet but it would be no fun without all this anticipation!

Today I even caught this cheeky couple of Common Blues.

Image

Thanks for reading! See you out on the hill.

Jono, The Large Blue Ranger.