Sunday, 24 May 2015

Sand Bay & Crook Peak - Butterflies, wild flowers and a Cuckoo

A beautiful sunny day and a chance to catch up with some butterflies at Sand Point near Weston Super Mare. A short climb to the top of the peninsula then off onto the butterfly paths around the cliff edge. As we approached the first grassy area it was alive with Common Blues and Brown Argus - wow!  So many wild flowers covering the area as well from the yellow Trefoil and Rock Roses to the beautiful 'moon' daisies and Valerian etc - paradise! 
Whitethroats were busy singing from many areas and all of a sudden a Cuckoo started calling and we had a great view of it. Such a surprise to see a Cuckoo here when we are so use to seeing one on the Somerset Levels. The Whitethroats were clearly not happy with the Cuckoo and it was great to observe the Whitethroats chase and mob the Cuckoo out to sea only to return to a different area. The Whitethroats looked tiny against the Cuckoo! Sand Point is a stunning little area well worth a visit for flora, fauna and scenery. We shall return in a couple of weeks in search of Orchids.
From Sand Bay we journeyed inland only about 10 miles to the lower slopes of Crook Peak. It was really hot here in butterfly alley and the butterflies did not disappoint! Fantastic views of Grizzled and Dingy Skippers as well as Brown Argus and Common Blues.
From both sites we saw a total of 13 species of butterfly today - I just hope that the weather can now settle down and be in the butterflies favour!

'Moon' daisies - a great host for insects and looking splendid at Sand Point

                   Sea Campion and hosts - great muscles on these beetles!

   Faded Common Blue - not surprising with the horrendous May weather we have had

                   Thrift - a typical coastal plant

   Common Blue - female

                   Common Blue - male

   Small Copper

                   View to the Point and onto Flat Holm

    Wall - typical pose on stone 

                    Brown Argus 

   Cuckoo - our closest view of one yet but just out of reach of a decent shot

                   Cuckoo calling from the Hawthorn 

    Grizzled Skipper - good numbers at Crook Peak

                   Brown Argus pair

   Dingy Skipper typical pose

                   Dingy Skipper - a different view

   Dingy Skipper

                   Grizzled Skipper- great underwing colours and markings

   Smalll Heath - a typical pose usually in the grass!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

In search of The Duke of Burgundy - Rodborough Common 12/5/15

An hours drive to Rodborough Common near Stroud in Gloustershire with the promise of a sunny afternoon. We were off in search of the rare Duke of Burgundy Fritillary and anything else that might be around.  We arrived to cloudy skies and very strong winds!
This area is stunning both for its views and the common itself. At present it is full of Cowslips and Early Purple Orchids which will soon give way to other summer flowers.
As we looked for butterflies in less than favourable conditions we caught sight of our first Small Heath of the year closely followed by a stunning fresh Adonis Blue. The blue on this butterfly really is intense and is one of our favourites.
Passing on to a sunny glade at the top of a steep hill we spotted some folk photographing something. I called down and Duke of Burgundy was the response! Well we were down that hill like a shot and it was steep! We spent the next half hour or so watching and photographing the Duke in the pleasant company of fellow 'Twitter' nature nuts Lee and Vic - great to meet them both!
We wandered across a bit more of the common and also saw Dingy Skipper, Common Blue, Green Hairstreak, Speckled Wood, Brown Argus, Peacock and Green Veined Whites. Not forgetting seeing the awesome massive Roman Snail that are to be found on the common!
A fantastic afternoon out and we shall return for more butterflies later in the season.

Cowslips and Orchids - parts of the Common are covered in them

                    Roman Snail - a big Roman Snail! 

    Small Heath - sheltering from the strong wind

                    Adonis Blue

Adonis Blue

               The one and only Duke of Burgundy 

Mating Dukes

         Duke of Burgundy 

   Just so honoured to have seen this beautiful small butterfly 

Mendips - Butterflies, Bluebells and Orchids - 11/5/15

Another breezy but sunny days walk on the Mendips. Starting at Charterhouse and through the small wood to Ubley Warren. Plenty of Willow Warblers singing and the small wood was full of bird song but no sign of the Spotted Flycatcher.
As we walked across Ubley Warren we scrutinised every gorse bush in hope of finding a Green Hairstreak, in fact no butterflies were seen I guess it was just too windy. Ubley was however covered in Early Purple Orchids in selected areas - a nice surprise!
Onwards to Velvet Bottom and both a Peacock and Orange Tip were seen on some bluebells. The Spring scene through Velvet Bottom is wonderful at the moment. Just before going into Long wood we reached a sunny glade and bank. It was in this area we saw Peacock, Green Veined White, Dingy Skipper, Orange Tip, Common Blue and Green Hairstreak butterflies all in the space of 15 minutes! A magical butterfly glade and at last we got to see a Green Hairstreak!
Into Long Wood and you just can't help being overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of the bluebells and Ramsons carpeting the woodland floor. Here and there Campion, Orchids and Yellow Archangel added more colour to the carpet. Truly stunning!
A superb walk with nature at its best!

    Willow Warbler - it's song a true reminder of summer!

                  Unknown caterpillar on wild Forget Me Not

    Early Purple Orchids at Ubley Warren

                    Speckled Yellow moth

   Peacock on Orchid

                                                           Common Blue - first of the year

  Common Blue

                   Dingy Skipper

   Green Hairstreak

                   Blue carpet - Long Wood


                  As long as my path leads through nature my heart and soul are happy!

   Breathtaking and intoxicating both sight and smell

                                                                               Hunting Spider

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Blackdown Hills, Somerset - Orchid Heaven 10/5/15

Barrington Hill Meadows in Somerset, wow what a place!  We arrived to cool grey skies and a strong breeze with a bit of 'mizzle'. That did not put us off heading up the meadows to look for Green Winged Orchids and hopefully a white one. 
4 grassy meadows full of Orchids, the second meadow was just simply breathtaking with Orchids as far as the eye could see of all varying degrees of purple, pink and even one single white one. We had found it at last! A Cuckoo started calling from the trees in the hedgerow but the Orchids were the stars - the sight of 100's of Orchids in one area is just simply breathtaking!
Although the weather was not good we went on to Buckland Wood to check out the site for butterflies. No butterflies but a great site with some lovely wild flowers. We will return to both areas!

  A swathe of Green Winged Orchids

   Pink and purple forms

                                                                              Strong group

    Nearly white! Bending in the strong breeze

                                                                              Beautiful markings

   In the meadow grasses

   Pink form

                    Just stunning!

    Buttercups as well!

                    In the pink!

   Orchids as far as the eye could see

   The white one


Yellow Archangel at Buckland Wood

                                                                            Unknown Primula - Buckland Wood


                                                                              False Oxlip and Cowslip

Bens Copse

                                                                              Early Purple Orchids - Bens Copse

   Very tall Early Purple Orchids in Bens Copse - almost 'mutant'size!