Thursday, 27 July 2017

Mendip Hills - Butterflies & Views 25th July

We set out on the Mendips from Stockhill forest crossing to Priddy mineries early morning and to stunning blue skies. Butterflies were already active in the grasses with hundreds of Small Skippers taking flight as we walked past and a few Marbled Whites. For a few seconds a single Painted Lady landed and then was off over the hill. Great to see a Small Copper land on the clover plus a Scarlet Tiger Moth clinging to the grass.  
From Priddy we followed the Monarchs Way through the fields of grass, corn and wild flowers to reach Dursdon Drove. A Kestrel, Redstart and Raven were seen along the way as well as singing Skylarks. Dursdon Drove would take us to the Old Bristol Road from where we would take a path across more fields before reaching the mast on Pen Hill.
Again along the way were plenty of butterflies mainly Red Admirals, Peacock, Green veined Whites and Meadow Browns. Still lots of bramble flowers for insects plus the lovely purple Knapweed is starting to bloom. Superb views from the top of Pen Hill, anyone who has walked the Mendips will be familiar with the sight of the mast on Pen Hill. We have always wanted to stand on the hill, and yes it was well worth it, the views across Somerset are outstanding.
From Pen Hill we retraced our steps back to Dursdon Drove  to the top of Ebbor Gorge where again we had great views across the Somerset Levels, Wells and Glastonbury. 
A slow walk back through Priddy Mineries for butterflies and we saw an unusual sight of a Shield Bug perhaps feeding off a Ruby Tiger Moth and a Marbled White.
In summery a beautiful 8 mile Mendip trek with amazing views, flora and fauna. This walk we will definitely do again.

   Painted Lady


    Small Skipper



                  Small Skippers, the most numerous butterfly at Priddy this year

         Small Copper



  Just a couple of Small Coppers seen

                 Marbled White 

                Marbled skies! A rare summer blue sky

   Scarlet Tiger Moth 

                    Scarlet Tiger the other side

   Typical Mendip field and scrub. A juvenile Redstart was seen here

                    Meadow Brown

   Stunning views

                View from Pen Hill

   The Pen Hill mast

                                      Purple hue of a meadow grass

   Small Skippers


   Five spot Burnet Moth


    Predator!? We've never seen this before a Shield Bug of some type with a Tiger Moth


                 Even a Marbled White wasn't safe

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Butterflies, Birds & Dragons, Somerset Levels 24th July

A mixed day of warm sunshine a strong breeze and a little cloud for our walk that would take us along the track end to end and return from Sharpham Ham Wall to Shapwick end, a total of 8.5 miles!
We started our walk from Ham Wall carpark and made our way past the first platform and onto the Avalon hide. Not too much going on from the hide but we did see Marsh Harriers and Great Egret over the reeds. Reed Bunting and Reed Warblers were still busy gathering food flying too and fro around the hide. 
As we left the hide we caught sight of a Hobby in the sky no doubt hunting for dragonflies. Our path then took us along the grassy path past the screens. From one of the screens we had a great but distant view of the island which was crammed with a Great and Little Egret, Lapwings, Black tailed Godwits, a Glossy Ibis, a couple of unidentifiable Sandpipers plus some duck species.
Eventually we joined the main track again and walked towards the Sharpham end keeping an eye out for the Little Bittern ...  just in case! 
 Plenty of Hemp-agrimony now in flower which was attracting a whole range of butterflies and other insects. What a superb plant! In fact for the day we saw a total of 15 species of butterflies. Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Small,Large & Green Veined Whites, Peacock, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Brimstone, Ringlet, Painted Lady, Holly Blue and a Clouded Yellow.
Heading back towards Ham Wall we were lucky to see a Bittern fly off. Also plenty of Dragonflies around but seeing them settle and land for a while a different matter! The pond area at the carpark was also very rewarding for dragonflies.
Disappointing that the scrape area is now flooded in the hope of 'drowning the weeds' that have grown on the little islands. Not sure if this is a good idea and most certainly the birds and waders have gone elsewhere!
Still, it's a great walk along the track and drain and at the end where a mass of wild pea is growing we found a few fresh Brimstone butterflies. 
Another great day out with nature, you can't beat it!

Small White


Red Admiral

                   Common Hawker

   Common Hawker

                   Great Egret

   Great Egret

                    Speckled Wood

    Great & Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Black tailed Godwits and a couple of Sandpipers

                   Glossy & Sandpipers etc

   All together on one island!

                  Godwits and Lapwings

   Just too cute not to include

                   Speckled Wood 



   Jersey Tiger Moth



                  Large White

    Holly Blue



                    Painted Lady

                  Painted Lady

    Common Hawker

                   Hemp-agrimony so good for butterflies 

   Common Darter

                   Emperor Dragonfly

                   Brown Hawker whizzing on by



  Four spot Chaser


                   Small White

   Brimstone - good to see fresh new Brimstones in the 'pea' area at Shapwick



   Common or Migrant Hawker?