Friday, 11 August 2017
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
Still good numbers Silver washed Fritillaries at Alners Gorse if a little ragged and worn
Wednesday, 9 August 2017
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!
The Rail starts to squeal!
Reed Warbler, there seemed to be plenty of juveniles flying in and out of the reeds