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

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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

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

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

Glastonbury Festival Fun!

Today’s traffic was madness; it reminded me of ‘Operation Stack’ back home in Dover! Complete gridlock.

After waiting around for a long time at the bus station, I jumped on the first one that was seen that morning. I then endured a walk from Street in the rain and when arriving on site hoped it would have brightened up or to be greeted by butterflies or visitors. Instead, there was quiet, not even the busy road nearby had many cars whizzing down it. It was rather eerie. Just the rain, the birds, the bugs and me.

I paced the first transect of the day at 11:30am, when the rain had stopped and was around 20ºC, there was hardly any wind and so I expected to see a lot of butterflies. However, this wasn’t the case. The clock hit 12:40 and I had only seen a few Meadow Browns. At this time I was in the Quarry, the Western side of the site, the sun had just started to peek through the dark clouds when I saw BLUE! Blue wings were fluttering by! At the end of the transect I had logged 13 sightings of Large Blues.

 

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Large Blue

Around 2pm, there was a huge sunny hole in the clouds, this was when I was having a late lunch and managed to count roughly 5 Large Blues, Meadow Browns, Small Heaths and at 2 Marbled Whites. So I thought I would get on with pacing my second transect of the day, by the time I had finished it was 4pm, the wind had picked up, but it was now 30ºC. I had sighted 11 Large Blues, 2 Common Blues, 2 Small Tortoiseshells, 3 Marbled Whites, 31 Meadow Browns and 9 Small Heaths. Overall, a good day was had (even if I had started the getting soggy socks).

Common Blue.jpg

Common Blue

Also, some identification challenges of some other wildlife on site:

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If anyone knows there mushrooms I would be grateful if you could confirm the above species for me.

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If anyone is good with plants, moths and grasshoppers then please let me know about the above images.

Thanks,
Abbi

 

Small Eggar moth

I have been meaning to let you know this snippet of exciting news for a few days now. When we were visited by the West Dorset Ranger team a couple of weeks back, one of the volunteers got rather excited over what we thought to be a tent moth web. He had reason to beieve that it was in actual fact a Small Eggar moth. With confirmation from Matthew Oates, it is in actual fact the small eggar moth (Eriogaster lanestris) larval web which is scarce and rapidly declining. This is new to Collard.  The moth flies in late winter. The adults, which fly in February and March, are seldom seen, but the larvae, when present, live gregariously in silken webs on the foodplant, hawthorn (Crataegus) and blackthorn (Prunus spinosa). Photos of the webs are below.

Taken by Matthew Oates

Taken by Matthew Oates

Taken by Matthew Oates

Taken by Matthew Oates

Taken from the UK moth website

Taken from the UK moth website

Not such a good day for those that Fly.

As always, the British weather certainly does stir things up a bit! Today I joined Lottie on the Hill. I was really looking forward to it as I was hoping to get a glimpse of a)A Large Blue and b)the Small elephant Hawksmoth that Lottie saw yesterday.

Over in the distance, the clouds began to lower but it stayed reasonably dry and not windy all morning. I did my first survey with Lottie at 11am and saw a couple of small heaths and plenty of Meadow Browns – but know Blues 😦

In the afternoon, I managed to get the second survey complete before the weather really did set in and the rain began.

A really nice day getting to know the ins and outs of Collard Hill. I will be on the hill again on the 17th June for the Open Day.

Hayley – Ranger for the Mendip and Polden Hills

 

A good day for those that fly!

Small elephant hawkmoth found at Collard today.

It has been a very successful day at Collard Hill for both people and butterflies due to the much improved weather conditions. There were many Large Blues in flight and nearly everyone I spoke to had managed to see one. Other butterflies making an appearance were Grizzled Skippers, Large Skippers and a Large White.  This morning a group from the Somerset Earth Science Centre came to visit Collard and the highlight for them I think was an Small Elephant Hawkmoth found in the Eastern Glade.

The best areas to see the blues today were around here and also in the quarry area by the pines where I glimpsed a mating pair! On this mornings survey I saw 8 Large blues  but I would estimate that there were at least 15 on site.

At the end of today, Sarah Meredith and Christine Tansey, the rangers for the last two years stopped by and managed to find a Large Blue female laying an egg, which is brilliant news after this weeks wind and rain.

Three generations (Sarah Meredith, Christine Tansey and Lottie Faulkner) of Large Blue butterfly ranger on the hill.