Monday, 19 May 2014

Birds, Butterflies and Orchids

A glorious weekend with plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures and we had a very busy time ahead of us.  On Saturday we were taking a delightful couple from London into the New Forest meeting them at lunchtime and going through to dusk.  Before we left a message came through to say a Wood Sandpiper was in the bay so Nick popped out quickly and found the bird, which also started singing.   

It seemed a good start to the day! We started at Acres Down and up the hill to the viewpoint for a bit of raptor watching.  It didn’t take long before a male Goshawk was found perched in a tree giving great scope views.  A Cuckoo was calling continuously and everywhere we went we heard them even late into the evening when it was quite dark.  The stars of the show were definitely the Wood Larks with very good views, on the ground, flying and eventually even singing.

We arrived at Holmsley in the evening to wait for dusk and the more specialist birds to be found here.  It was quite late before the first Woodcock appeared only to rode once which seemed strange.  Then the amazing sound of the first churring Nightjar, only just back in so it was good to hear them again.  We heard at least four individuals but unfortunately we did not see them, but then the Snipe started their “yapping” call.  We were heady with all the sound and then the familiar grunt of a Woodcock which flew one area of the heath across in front of us to the woodland on the other side.  A superb way to finish our day.

Our Sunday monthly group met at Martin Down and were greeted in the car park by singing Yellowhammer, Chiffchaff and Skylark.  Crossing over to Kitts Grave our first butterfly of the day was Small Blue, back to birds we had a Tree Pipit singing from the wire and Common Whitethroat.  Walking the woodland path we had Speckled Woods and Brimstone butterflies, singing Blackcaps and the quiet call of a Bullfinch.  There were Bluebells and Ransoms just going over and the simple but lovely Woodruff.  Though we never did see any of the Blackcaps we heard we did get to see a female Bullfinch.   We also had Song Thrush, Willow Warbler and Green Woodpecker.  We found a few spikes of Early Purple Orchids now just past their best, while the Common Spotted Orchids were not quite out yet and a Roman Snail was found on the path. 

Woodruff with accompanying Crab Spider
Back on to the main reserve we had Yellowhammers, Skylarks and Common Whitethroats with us all the time but it was the butterflies and plants that kept our attention.  Nick was the one to spot the very tiny Early Gentian and we found two plants, but the Burnt Orchids made an amazing display and drew many admirers.  We also had some beautiful butterflies and a full list is below.

Early Gentian © Nick Hull
Burnt Orchid © Nick Hull
Small Blue, Speckled Wood, Brimstone, Dingy Skipper, Green-veined, White Peacock, Grizzled Skipper, Marsh Fritillary, Adonis Blue, Small Copper, Green Hairstreak, Common Blue, Orange Tip & Brown Argus.
Brown Argus © Nick Hull

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