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.

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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

Newbies!

 

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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

Common Blues are back!

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

Common Blue in Flight

Common Blue

Pristine Common Blue

Large 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:

Skipper

Skipper

Pied Shield Bugs

Pied Shield Bugs

Moth id me

Moth

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.

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

Final Wimbledon Weekend!

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

Large Blue in Quarry

MB and LB

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.]

LB or CB debate

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.

Abbi

 

 

 

Flutterbys

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.

Collard Hill

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:

Gatekeeper

Gatekeeper

Harvestmen

Harvestman

Marbled White

Marbled White

Meadow Brown

Meadow Brown

Red Admiral

Red Admiral

Ringlet

Ringlet

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!]

Any suggestions, as always, are welcome.

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

 

 

Monday & Tuesday Site Catch Up

Over the last two days Becky Woodgate has been standing in for me. As previously mentioned she is the appointed Polden Landscape Champion for Butterfly Conservation, so any questions about this role are welcome. She has been sending me notes about her two days on site so that I can fill you all in on the days that I have missed.

27th June, Monday:

“The day started quite cloudy but the sunny spells allowed for a decent transect and I counted 7 adults along with meadow browns, small heaths and marbled whites.  The skies cleared just after lunch but I had to dash off to New hill and Tannager, further along the Polden ridge, to walk the transect there as the weather isn’t looking great for the rest of the week.

I came back mid afternoon whilst the sun was still shining (although was pretty breezy) and I recorded 6 adults along with meadow browns, small heaths, marbled whites, ringlets and large skippers.  I enjoyed meeting the visitors and chatting to them.  I hope that I was helpful and also my local knowledge of the Poldens and surrounding area useful for visitors wanting to experience other good sites for butterflies.” [Becky Woodgate]

Here are some of the images that she had taken for Monday:

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28th Tuesday

“I only did the morning transect as the weather took a turn for the worst.  Although windy, the slopes further down were better and quite warm and I recorded 10 adult large blues (6 on section 1).

I watched the weather closing in, coming across the levels and so packed up at about 1pm. Before the rain arrived I stood and watched a Kestrel hunting (my favourite bird of prey).  I noticed it about yesterday too.  Today I managed to get a couple of photos with my battered old bridge camera.” [Becky Woodgate]

Here are those wonderful photo’s that Becky captured, taken on Tuesday:

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Again, any questions please do ask.
Abbi.

P.s. A big thank you to Becky and all of the other volunteers that have stood in for me!

 

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