Friday, 11 August 2017

Dorset Butterflies 10th August , Silver Spotted Skipper, Hairstreaks etc

With the promise of a rare sunny day we decided to head for Fontmell Down nature reserve in Dorset to try and find the Silver Spotted Skipper a new butterfly for us.
It took us just over an hour and a half to travel across the beautiful Somerset and Dorset countryside to reach the reserve and yes we had sun but there was also a strong breeze. As we walked into the reserve noting the grasses and wild flowers along the way we suddenly saw the hill area that we would be searching for the Skipper and wow what a steep hill. There were already a few people searching for the Skipper and as time passed others would join us. It was great to have so many eyes peeled for the butterfly and everyone was very friendly.
As the morning warmed up we saw Common Blue, Brown Argus, Chalk-hill Blue, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Gatekeeper, S. Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Peacock, Small Heath, Silver Washed and Dark Green Fritillary, Brimstone and a Clouded Yellow.  
Suddenly a shout went out for a Skipper and we walked towards the shout. I had a quick glimpse before the butterfly took flight. I hoped this wasn't the only sighting we would have. About 10 minutes passed and Ann suddenly spotted a Skipper land, a lovely female that rested for a good 5 minutes. The shout went out and I think all present on the hill got a good look and photos of the beautiful Silver Spotted Skipper. Our 4th 'lifer' of the year.
With our target butterfly seen we decided to visit Alners Gorse reserve on the way home hoping to see a few more butterflies. Alners didn't disappoint and the wildflowers were stunning adding an array of colours to the grasses. A good few people here as well and all very helpful and friendly. 
As summer is coming to an end and in view of the very unseasonal rainy summer we are having,  many butterflies were quite ragged and faded. We did however see Brown Hairstreak, Purple Hairstreak, Small Skipper, Small Copper, Small & Large White, Speckled Wood,  and a Valenzia Silver Washed Fritillary to top up our days count to 22 species.
Not a bad day out all in all we even saw a lovely Brown Hare as we got close to home.

    Echium Vulgare - Viper's  Bugloss, love finding this wildflower 

                  Common Blue - female


    Striking colours on this female Common Blue

                   Artists pallet 

   Brimstone - male a lovely sulphur yellow


   Common Blue - male

                   Clouded Yellow - very flighty and the breeze didn't help!

                   Common Blue flat in the grass away from the breeze

   Chalk-hill Blue - female

                    Silver Spotted Skipper - our 4th 'lifer' of the year

   The silver spots showing that this one is a female                          




    Stunning skipper 

                  Silver Washed Fritillary on Scabious

   Ragged and worn but still a good flier



   One of the many great looking planes flying over the reserve

                Faded purple Hairstreak as always at the top of the tree! Alners Gorse reserve

 Still good numbers Silver washed Fritillaries at Alners Gorse if a little ragged and worn



                   Meadow Brown

   Small Tortoiseshell 


   Common Blue

                   Small Skipper

   Brown Hairstreak


                   Once again a tiny butterfly in the tree tops

                   Over the moon to see this elusive butterfly

   Silver Washed Fritillary- Valenzia form


  Despite its very worn appearance this butterfly was still able to fly well

                  Tiny Purple Hairstreak 

   Small Copper


Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Ham Wall 8th August - Water Rail, Warblers, Kingfisher & Dragons

A mixture of sun and cloud for a walk around Ham Wall and not a bad temperature as well. There seemed to be loads of small birds coming and going flitting here and there probably celebrating a period of no rain after the previous days deluge! 
 The reeds at Tor View hide have been cut and from here we had a stunning close view of a Water Rail. A few Kingfishers whizzed by and perched once or twice for seconds on the branch in front of the hide. Several Martins and Swifts overhead no doubt heading for a warmer climate and a Marsh Harrier hunted low over the reeds. We also had good views of Sedge, Reed and Cettis Warblers from the hide.
Not much to report from the Avalon hide so our walk took us on past the screens eventually onto the path leading to Sharpham. Good numbers of Peacock, Red Admiral, S. Tortoiseshell and GateKeeper butterflies along the way most feeding off the Hemp Agrimony. Great Egrets, Marsh Harriers and Sparrowhawk were seen at various points across the reserve.
Back at the pond area by the carpark there were Common Darter and Emperor Dragonflies on the wing. On our way home driving across Tealham Moor we spotted a Marsh Harrier, the first time we have seen one here.  Another wonderful morning spent on the levels but you can tell that Autumn is well and truly in the air! 

   First view of the Water Rail from Tor View Hide

                   The Rail wanders a little closer

   The Rail starts to squeal!


   Lovely bit of leaf camouflage 



   Such a stare


                   Pochard gliding by

   Reed Warbler, there seemed to be plenty of juveniles flying in and out of the reeds

                   For a couple of seconds a Kingfisher landed

   Reed Warbler


                   To think these small birds will be off to Africa soon

   Lesser Black Backed Gull with a young coot

   Small Tortoiseshell               

                    Plenty of Rabbits along the track

Red Admiral

                    Grey Heron

                   Common Darter

    Emperor Dragonfly