Thursday, 25 May 2017
A new place and adventure for us, a two hour drive across beautiful countryside to the reserve of Martin Down near Salisbury. We arrived to blue skies and hot sun ideal for the butterflies we were searching for.
Yellowhammers were seen and heard as soon as we opened the car door as were Skylarks like a chorus for our arrival! We took a recommended track that eventually led us across grassland to the edge of a small copse. Along the way yet more Yelowhammers and we heard the 'purring' of a Turtle Dove. Eventually we reached a sheltered very sunny grassland dip and wow we saw our first ever Marsh Fritillary, what a beauty! Several other butterflies also in this area the stunning Adonis Blue, Small Blue, Common Blue, Grizzled Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Green Hairstreak, Small Heath and Brimstone.
We got chatting to a fellow 'butterflier' who very kindly accompanied and showed us where to find the Burnt-tip Orchid further along the ridge. This orchid is beautiful and again another lifer for us.
Could not believe our luck when along this ridge top walk we also saw several Corn Buntings a first for us in the UK as well as more Skylarks and Stonechats. A single Red Kite and Buzzard flew over, always nice to see.
After resting up and admiring the Orchids for a while we walked back to the 'butterfly dip' to see the Fritillaries and Blues again. From here we walked to the top of the hill to get some fantastic views of the reserve and surrounding countryside and from here we saw a couple of Grey Partridge. After a stop for lunch our path took us to a small woody scrub area where we hoped to hear and see a Turtle Dove. The area did not disappoint, the dove was 'purring' loudly but at first we could not see it. Ann found a path through the scrub which led into a sheltered clearing. There at the top of the scrub sat the Turtle Dove, just couldn't believe our luck. It sat there preening and purring for a couple of minutes and then flew. Wow! what a moment and another bird seen for the first time in the UK.
A cuckoo was heard throughout the day but we didn't spot it. Also seen were Whitethroat, Green Woodpecker and Linnet. Other butterflies seen were Orange Tip, Red Admiral and Green Veined White. Have to mention as well the amazing number of Small Blue butterflies seen all over the reserve.
A superb day out, a beautiful reserve for flora, fauna and walking I am sure we will return.