Sunday, 8 June 2014

Polden Hills, Somerset 9/6/14. Orchids, Butterflies and stunning Views

The aim was to walk the Polden Way from Walton Hill to Hurcot walking across Ivythorn Hill, Collard Hill and Hatch Hill etc. A beautiful sunny day saw us only get to Gilling Down and back simply because there is so much flora, fauna and beautiful views to stop and observe eventually a total of 8 glorious miles.
Grassy meadows and slopes are filled with wild flowers from the deep blue Meadow Cranesbill to Trefoil, Buttercups, Cow Parsley, Rock Rose, many Grasses etc simply breathtaking is the only way to describe the colours in some of the glades and meadows.
5 species of Orchid were seen, thousands of Common Spotted from white to pink and deep purple in colour. The beautiful Butterfly Orchid was seen in a few places along the walk as was the Pyramidal Orchid which is just starting to flower. Just one single Bee Orchid was found but what a perfect little plant.  Common Twayblade was also in good numbers.
No sign of the Large Blue butterfly but we did see Small Heath, Dingy Skipper, Speckled Wood, Common Blue, Meadow Brown, Large White, Green Vened White, Brown Argus, Small Tortoishell and Red Admiral. A few moths made an appearance a Cinnabar, Burnet and Silver Y.  A couple of dragonflies were seen hunting around their territory and a single 4 Spot Chaser on Walton Hill.
Not many birds around just a Kestrel, Buzzard, Swifts, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Great Spotted Woodpecker.
The views on this walk are outstanding and yes we will be back to do it all again.

Meadow Cranesbill - a great flower for bees.

View across the Somerset Levels

Meadow Brown - lovely fresh colours and great to see them back in the meadows

Stinking Iris - lovely plant covering the hillsides near Collard Hill

Wild Somerset

Grassy Meadow - huge wild meadow to skip through! Packed with wild flowers and insects.

Just beautiful! The views along the walk are stunning

Common Spotted Orchids - thousands of them in this walk

Butterfly Orchid
First time we have seen this elegant orchid.  We found it in quite a few locations along the way.

Butterfly Orchid

 Common Spotted Orchids

Bee Orchid - only one found on the whole walk

Bee Orchid from the side

Pyramidal Orchid - a few of these now starting to flower

Common Twayblade - supposedly common but a first for us.

Common Twayblade

Monday, 2 June 2014

Rodborough Common - Butterflies galore! 1/6/14

At long last we made it to Rodborough Common on a beautiful sunny day.  We arrived at 9am to sunny blue skies and a few dog walkers.  Skylarks were singing and it didn't take long to see our first butterfly a Brown Argus flit on by.  Wow what a place - a vast area of upland steep slope grassland with a variety of grasses, clover, trefoil etc and orchids.  Quite honestly the place is just simply amazing for anyone looking for butterflies, insects and wildflowers.  The views are pretty breathtaking as well!
We have never seen so many butterflies in one area before - just magical! Our day brought us Brown Argus seen all over the area, Small Blue loads of them and the most numerous butterfly of the day. Common Blue and the stunning Adonis Blue in very good numbers.  Just one battered Green Hairstreak was seen but it is the only one we have seen this year.  A few Speckled Woods in the wooded areas and just one Large Skipper in the long grass. Plenty of Small Heath in the grasses looking quite orange in flight. Surprised to see so many Dingy Skippers still on the wing - great to see them 'perch' on a flower though.  A couple of Large White and also a Small Copper was also seen.  Though we searched and searched we did not locate the Duke of Burgundy.
Quite a few moths were also seen as well as some amazing coloured insects.
3 species of Orchids one of them new to us was a great find amongst the grassy hillsides.  Both the Common Spotted Orchid and the Fragrant Orchid were in huge numbers.  Only a couple of Bee Orchids were found.
We will definitely return to this wonderful area mid summer to see what else this truly magical place has to offer.

Brown Argus on Fragrant Orchid

Rolling hillsides and views from the common

Small Blue - the first I have ever seen, must have been hundreds on the day! Beautiful little butterfly

Adonis Blue - in good numbers here.  We have waited many years to see this stunning blue butterfly.
Adonis Blue

Green Hairstreak - a rather battle worn specimen 

Bug on Fragrant Orchid - unsure of what type of bug but plenty around

Small Blues on dung heap either for moisture or nutrients?

One of the many moth species seen

Common Spotted Orchid - hundreds on the hillside

Orchids, Yellow Rattle, Rock Rose and grasses - wildflower heaven!

Large Skipper - only one seen but looks newly emerged

Fragrant Orchids - a new species for us and plenty growing here and yes it does have a sweet scent.

Bee Orchid - only found 2 plants during our walk

View across the fields

Dingy Skipper - we saw plenty of these across the grassland

Amongst the many Spotted Orchids we found this one white type

Brown Argus pair

Spotted Orchids