Scenario: Three friends go seeking rare butterflies across the border in England.
Second location: Collard Hill, in Somerset. A hot walk up the steep hill for more incredible views across picturesque Somerset. And we weren’t far from the legendary Glastonbury Tor.
Support act: Marbled white. My first sightings of these little beauties for the year, and we saw several flitting back and forth above the long grass.
Star attraction: Large blue. Incredibly, this butterfly was declared extinct in Britain in the 1970s but was reintroduced from Sweden to Green Down, a Somerset Wildlife Trust site, in 1992. Since then the butterflies have mostly thrived (though they are affected by weather, habitat and ant conditions – for more on that, check out the National Trust Large blue blog) and they’ve been reintroduced to several other areas, including this site at Collard Hill.
During our visit, it was very windy at the top and very hot in the lee of the hill, not ideal conditions for seeing the butterflies but, after following the animal tracks back and forth across the hillside, we finally had good sightings of three Large blues on their favourite food plant, Wild thyme. One female was even ovipositing, which bodes well for the coming years.
It was amazing to see both these Large blues and, earlier in the day, the Heath fritillaries, both lifers for me, and I want to say a huge thank you to Gareth and Alan for letting me join their butterflying expedition. It was a truly magical day!