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

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Wicked Westerly Winds

I woke up this morning to treacherous rainfall flooding the garden path. “Oh no, there is no way my waterproofs are going to survive that!” I thought to myself and laughed.

I got on site around 12 today – once the rain had passed and the day looked brighter and warmer – only to feel a strong Westerly wind (reaching around 8mph). “Well no butterflies are going to want to fly in this wind.” I thought. However, I was proved wrong as some were zipping past me. But there were others clinging on to any vegetation they could whilst some were battling with the wind when trying to feed or oviposit.

If only the wind had died down, I am sure there could have been many more sightings than the 20 I recorded this afternoon. Although, the visitors all seemed to have seen an average of 6 today which is fantastic news! Most also managed to get great open winged and closed winged photographs of the Large Blues.

Here are some images from visitors, including Becky Woodgate (who will be standing in as the Large Blue Volunteer Ranger this Monday and Tuesday). Becky has also been nominated as the Polden Landscape Champion for Butterfly Conservation this year, so please do feel free to ask her questions about butterflies, what the PLC role involves and about the LBVR role too.

Don’t forget to write in the visitor’s book about your own Collard Hill experiences.
Abbi

Wet & Windy Weather

When stepping foot on site, at 9am this morning, there were already a few keen, excited and enthusiastic visitors searching for Large Blues. (One of them being Martin, who I’d like to thank for pointing me in the direction of the well trained Ringlets!)

 

Collard Hill today saw most of the many forms of British weather; sun, rain, gales, thunder, cloud and blue sky. This unfortunately proved difficult to conduct a full transect for the day. However, in the morning the average visitor saw around 6 Large Blues on the Eastern Glade and I managed to record 14 Large Blues across the Eastern side of the site in just half an hour – before the thundery downpour soaked me through and through. (All good fun!)

Passingby thunderstorm

I also managed to photographs these delights, but wasn’t sure if I had identified them properly;

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Plus, here are some visitor photos from around the YHA carpark and on Collard Hill itself:

Thank you to visitors sending in their images to us, they really are lovely to see!
Abbi

What a “wow” day!

Walking on the site like most mornings, I did not expect to see as many butterflies as I had done today. Coming off of site and looking at my charts, it really was a “wow” day!

I reckon the Large Blues are set to peak this week or the next looking at my sightings from today’s transects. The morning transect saw 13 Large Blues, whereas the afternoon transect saw 29 Large Blues! Wow!

Collard Hill

Collard Hill

Large Skippers, Small Whites, Ringlets, Common Blues, Painted Ladies, Small Tortoise Shells, Marbled Whites, Meadow Browns and Small Heath were also seen today in their numbers. That’s 10 species of butterfly in 1 overcast, but bright, day!

Small White

Small White

LB

Large Blues were mainly open winged in these warm and overcast conditions.

Large Skipper

Large Skipper

Identification challenge for today:

Moth....

Can you identify this moth?

Happy cameras all round!

Abbi

Open Day on Father’s Day

What success! The weather may have been a let down once again, but the day as a whole certainly was not.

The experts Dave Simcox (who helped with researching and introducing the Large Blue butterfly to Collard Hill) and Sarah Meredith (a former Volunteer Large Blue Ranger) were on site to guide the tour. What a fantastic help they were too! We all saw Marbled Whites, Large Blue butterfly eggs nestled in Wild Thyme and 5 Large Blues in total on Collard Hill (despite the rain and lack of sunshine). We also pointed out the Wasp, Bee and Pyramidal Orchids nearer the bottom of the Hill.

Ruby Simcox - Open Day (10yrs old).jpg

Ruby Simcox pointing out her favourite butterfly species; the Large Blue. Her second Large Blue sighting of the year. Happy Father’s Day Dave!

Overall everyone seemed delighted at the end of the Collard Hill tour and had already gained very respectable images for the first half of the Open Day. Next tour for the day was Green Down with another expert Matt Green, accompanied by Dave and Sarah.

Plus my day started with a walk around the YHA where I found these:

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Not sure what Orchid this is – any guesses?

20160619_143836 (2)

Orchid Flowers

Six-Spot Burnet Moth

Six-Spot Burnet Moth

Abbi

 

 

 

On the wing…

This morning the weather forecast was looking bright. However, not long after arriving on site around 9am, the weather took a bad turn – not as bad as previous days mind – no rain but also no sunshine. There was even a period of time when nothing was buzzing around and all fell silent in anticipation.

Around 2pm is when the sunshine started to break through and the sightings of Large Blue (some were spotted mating) increased dramatically. Blues were seen amongst a freshly emerged Small Tortoiseshell butterfly, Marbled Whites and Painted Ladies. (The visitor image below is from yesterday, but it is a similar photo to what I have seen today.)

John Beaven (1).jpg

John Beaven

Another visitor had the best seat in the house today, as a Large Blue decided to land right in front of her and oviposit!

We were also graced with the pleasure of seeing, what I believed to be, a Silver-Spotted (updated to: Large) Skipper!

Silver-spotted skipper.JPG

Large Skipper

Let’s hope the weather forecast for tomorrow changes for the better as it is our Open Day! More information about the open day can be found on the link below:
http://www.somersetwildlife.org/Large_Blue_Open_Day.html

I look forward to meeting more visitors willing to share their images with us!
Abbi

15 Sightings in an Hour!

Today, despite the odd shower of rain, was great for Large Blue sightings! Around 2pm today, when the sun was shining down on Collard Hill, I recorded 15 sightings of Large Blue butterflies in the space of an hour all on the Eastern Glade (a steep hill, which is usually a warmer part of the site as it is sheltered from wind). I also met some lovely visitors today and am looking forward to seeing their images from today.

I managed to snap a Painted Lady today; these butterflies are long-distance migrants. They spread northwards from North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Such a long distance, for a small and fragile butterfly, absolutely amazing!

Painted Lady.JPG

Painted Lady

I have another challenge for you all; can you help identify these fungi found on Collard Hill?

Fungi

Fungus 1

Fungus

Fungus 2

Fungus.jpg

Fungus 3 (or Wild Flower?)

Abbi

More information on Painted Ladies and other UK butterflies can be found at the link below:
http://butterfly-conservation.org/679-849/painted-lady.html

Marbled Whites have arrived!

Today, was absolutely excellent weather, compared to yesterday and the forecast. There were a lot of Large Blue sightings today. A colleague and I also saw two Marbled Whites (the first on site this year) and a Small Tortoiseshell when completing the afternoon transect.

They are all coming out and getting ready for our Open Day on Sunday (19th June)! The expert Dave Simcox will be there to chat to visitors and answer any questions you may have about the site and about butterflies. We kick off with a guided tour at 10:30am of Collard Hill. Then in the afternoon (2pm), there will be a guided tour of Green Down with Mark Green. Both sites have uneven and quite steep terrain, so please have sensible clothing. If you are looking for somewhere to park, follow the YHA signs (near Ivythorn Hill, BA16 0TZ).

You may even end up having smiles and photo’s like the ones below!

 

Hatched egg - dave simcox

Hatched Large Blue Butterfly Egg! – Dave Simcox

Collard LB male - dave simcox

David Simcox

Happy visitors - dave simcox

Happy visitors around a Large Blue!

Marbled White

Marbled White

Small Tortoise Shell

Small Tortoiseshell

Today, I also had the pleasure of meeting last years Large Blue volunteer ranger – Rosie!

Collard LB Rangers - Dave simcox.jpg

I look forward to seeing more delighted visitors!
Abbi

Butterflies, Martin and I

Good vs. Bad weather

Uhoh! (Taken before Martin – a visitor – and I hid from the rain under the oak tree)

This morning – before the wet weather – I completed my first transect of the day, and spotted quite a few sightings of Large Blue butterflies! (6 in total were under 5m away from me) One in particular today was very well behaved and allowed me to take these great images:

However, my images are not as rewarding as seeing visitor images coming through on email. Here are just a few from visitors I have met on my journey so far, well done to all of you and I look forward to future visitor images:

 

Keep your diaries clear for this Sunday (19th June), as this is our Large Blue butterfly open day, where the EXPERT experts will be on hand to talk to visitors.
*Fingers crossed for sunshine!*

Abbi

It’s about Thyme!

Hope you all enjoyed the weekend!

Today there was said to be about 7 Large Blue’s fluttering around the site – they just seem to be hiding from me. There is no set hotspot yet, so sitting patiently with binoculars (or a camera with a relatively good zoom) in one place seems to be a good way of spotting them at the moment.

The Thyme is gradually blossoming (with some images below), so please do be careful where you are walking. If you could try to stick to the cattle and sheep tracks, so as not to trample on this very important species along with the orchids that are about, that would be a great help to the Large Blue’s. I have marked out some Orchid’s and areas with a lot of Thyme growing, with logs and sticks, so that you are more aware of what’s around.

Thyme Marked

Thyme bank

Thyme marked (2)

Beginnings of Thyme on anthill, marked with log

Thyme

Close-up of blooming Thyme

Another nag from me, would be to have plenty of water and lots of suncream when visiting, as the site has been reaching around 30ºC-35ºC in places. But that’s enough nagging from me today, just enjoy the site!

Abbi